Category Archives: USA

Planes and Shuttles in D.C.

This post may be a little all over the place. I’m sick and have foggy brain and have therefore decided that spending my time blogging whilst simultaneously attempting to do some sort of festive Christmas design on my nails is a good idea. Especially given my distinct lack of artistic talent.

My mother and Step Father were in town a few weeks ago for my wedding. My father is obsessed with planes. My father-in-law is obsessed with planes. My now husband is obsessed with Space. The only logical conclusions were a family trip to Dayton or a family trip to DC to visit an air and space museum.

For my stepmother and me, the choice was easy. So we loaded up the car and we went to DC. Specifically to the National Air and Space Museum, because really, what else in DC is worth driving 7 hours each way for an overnight trip?

The museum was actually better than I expected. Much better. Probably something to do with the fact that this country is the country of NASA or something.

Image

The entire things was a giant hanger. It looked really impressive. it was basically divided into three wings (or whatever they are known as in hangers). One wing was commercial aviation, one was military and one was space.

ImageIt really interested me how the different planes seemed to have ways of giving them character, almost making them fun, a direct contrast of the brutal realities of the wars.

This was especially jarring when it was on the bombs. The cartoon character on the American bomb and the sakura on the Japanese bomb below struck me. They are both symbols I relate with being carefree  – the Saturday mornings of childhood and Hanami picnics welcoming in Spring.

Image

Image

Kyle was happy though. He was able to stand with the space shuttle (Discovery, I believe). Apparently, when he was a child his father, who worked for NASA at the time, brought home some of the tiles used to show him and his siblings how they worked.

Image

After we had our fill of the museum we headed into DC proper to go to our hotel. We were so tired that we ate at the hotel restaurant and fell into bed. The next morning we didn’t have a lot of time, so we went to the White House to take the obligatory photo, and then saw part of the American History Museum before heading home. I definitely want to go back in future though, The quality of the museums is amazing!

Incidentally, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza, which we got for a steal through hotwire. I hadn’t used hotwire before, but will most definitely use again.

Image

Advertisements

Amish Country Day Two: Inside an Amish House

So. I am a bit overdue with this. In fact, I have been back to Amish country twice since the original post. Whoops.

Anyway, I figure I should on occasion finish what I started…

So, on the second day I wanted to visit an Amsih house. This was an Amish styled house – we didn’t just turn up to a random person’s house. Not this time, anyway. We took a tour of the house, the barn and the school house.

Image

This is the garden outside. I thought it was really quaint and pretty.

Image

I believe this was the washroom.

ImageImage

In some Amish orders, dolls don’t have faces to avoid making graven images.Image

Bedroom. The beds looked so snuggly.ImageImage

Super glad I don’t have to try and cook  every day in a kitchen like this. On the other hand, I’ll happily eat Amish food forever…

ImageImageImageImageImage

The craftsmanship of everything is amazing.

I really love Amish country. It is so peaceful and quiet and welcoming. I will find myself there a few times I suspect!

Exploring Amish Country – Day one

So. I have a new obsession.

Everything Amish.

I became fascinated with the Amish years ago. Watching documentaries and readng books made the Amish seem like something foreign and far away. Something I would never encounter. Therefore, I was beyond tickled pink when I found out that I now live less than an hour away from the largest Amish settlement in the world.

A couple of weeks ago, Kyle had a couple of days off, so we went to explore. We arrived in the evening and headed off to dinner. I had been told that the family dinner at Der Dutchman was not to be missed, so we decided to head there.

Image

We then discovered one of the biggest problems one encounters whilst driving in Amish Country  – getting stuck behind a wagon. As a result, we almost missed dinner. Thankfully, my giddy excitement over the fact that I was stuck behind a real Amish wagon meant that our moods were high regardless.

I had read about Amish food. It seemed like very simply country fare, and I naively assumed that it would therefore be bland.

Image

I have never been more wrong in my life. Seriously. I am still talking about the creamed corn we had. I had previously only had it from a can. That stuff is the greatest substance known to mankind.

011

We finished dinner with pie. Kyle had a ground cherry pie. Ground cherries are green cherries that grow on the ground. The pie was basically everything that is good in the world.

After we were thoroughly stuffed we were forced to call it a night. Turns out Amish Country shuts down really early!

Quintessential American Experience #1: The county fair!

Well, I have arrived and started to settle into my new life in the USA. A small housing development in rural NE Ohio to be precise. We picked up our marriage license today, and, since Kyle has two days in a row off, have headed down to Amish country. I am really excited to be here – the Amish were always SO foreign to me, yet so fascinating. I am really excited to explore more and learn about their culture and lifestyle.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago Kyle was working on a Saturday, so my in-laws took me to the county fair. It was a really fun experience. Prior to this, I had never heard of tractor pulls or elephant ears, nor had I had the chance to sample the glories of deep fried oreos. (On an unrelated note, 3 weeks in the US plus 2 in Nz plus a couple of not caring weeks in Japan = Laura’s weight going in the wrong direction. Time to do something about that. From Wednesday, when I get home from Amish Country).

Anyway, without further ado, here are some photos:

IMG_2055

There were a bunch of animals (duh). They were cute. I wish their cages were bigger though, even if the fair was only short term.

IMG_2059

Oh my goodness gracious me, way more rides than we have at fairs in New Zealand. My sister-in-law and I went on the ferris wheel. I forgot my fear of heights until it was too late – It hadn’t dawned on me that it was a non covered/outdoor ferris wheel, so you could feel the breeze and see the tractor pulling, and freeze in terror at any rock or creak the ferris wheel made.

IMG_2062

Dinner. I attempted to get quintessential American fair food: A corn dog and nachos. After about 3 minutes, I realised the folly of my ways.

IMG_2070

And THIS is tractor pulling! Basically, tractors compete to see who can pull a weight the furtherest. Well, the people driving the, do. These were loud. Really, really loud. (sorry it’s blurry – my phone doesn’t take great motion pics)

After a while, watching loud tractors made me a little restless, so my sister-in-law and I went for a wander.

IMG_2076

This looked really American, so I made her pose in front of it.

IMG_2078

I found the fair quen of a different county fair. Apparently the represent their county at other fairs as well.

IMG_2079

This is a giant pit of dried corn. Really. And I got to play in it. My life is fantastic.

IMG_2085

This sort of thing reminds me that I’m not at home any more.

IMG_2086

Deep fried oreos. And stunning photography, no?

Anyway, that was the first of many adventures I anticipate having, in between sitting at home shouting at my computer in an attempt to somehow turn that shouting into a masters degree.

Also, a big welcome to Ohio to Molly, at A Move to America http://themovetoamerica.wordpress.com/ . Molly has just made the big move here as well, and is much better at actually updating her blog!

Expat 2.0 = USA

Well. Yesterday was one of the most important days of my life. More than ten months after filing, I had my US fiancee visa interview.

I had it at the US embassy in Tokyo. I have literally never been somewhere so secure in my life. I had to get permission from a friendly Japanese police officer to cross the road to get to the queue to be allowed to go through the first security check. They have it set up that the only way to get to the embassy is through this crossing. After going through initial security (like airport security, but wi a few added bonuses – they take your phone!) I walked over to the consular section, where I went through another metal detector and had my bags searched, before going through to the consular lounge.

There were a number of people waiting. I was given a number, and sat down to wait to be called. The room had multiple windows, like a bank. I was called up three times – the first to look at my enormous pile of documents, secondly to get fingerprinted, and finally for the interview itself. My nerves were thankfully calmed by a little boy who befriended me. This little 5 year old boy could seriously name every station in Tokyo, and was directing me everywhere I could possibly want to go (I explained to him that I had to go tony hotel in Ikebukuro, then over to Tokyo station to catch e shinkansen home. He gave ,e correct directions, including the lines to take etc). He also absolutely insisted that he had walked by my house in semi rural Kansai, and was quite the expert at a sport that was a combination of tennis and soccer. He also spent a good 10 minutes comparing the details of the sinking of the Titanic, Britannica and a couple of other ships. Kid was smart!

Eventually it was time for my interview. It was a fairly simple process. The officer was really friendly and put me at ease. At the end of the interview I was to,d I was approved, and to expect my visa in a week or so.

OHMYGOODNESSTHISISREALLYHAPPENING!

Everything’s coming up roses

Well. Yesterday my health check arrived in the mail. Last night I finished filling out my last form for a while. Next weekend I will fly to Tokyo for my visa interview the following Monday. I still have a whole lot of gathering of proof our relationship is legitimate to do, but that shouldn’t be difficult, considering we communicate daily.

I’m really excited, but really nervous. Not just about the interview, but about the move itself. The US has so many awesome things to offer, but there are still cultural differences I need to learn to understand, and the usual worries that come with a big change, especially career wise – my degree is in primary teaching and the elementary job market is tough to break into. It makes me incredibly nervous. I’m working toward my masters at the moment, and I honestly don’t want it all to be in vain. All I can realistically do though is push. We’re prepared to move states if that’s what it takes to find a job. If I’m allowed to test in (depending on state), I might look at adding middle school credentials, especially in math – in New Zealand primary school lasts longer than US elementary, so my students were technically middle school aged.

It’s also the usual nerves of trying to meet people, make friends and find my niche. I plan on volunteering though, which will hopefully help. Also driving – we called the DMV in Ohio and I’m allowed to drive on my international permit for a year, which is great but terrifying – I’ve driven on the right hand side a grand total of twice in my life – the first time my friend made me switch back with him because I was driving too slowly – the second time I chose to switch because there were, gasp, other cars on the road. Even though I’ll legally be allowed to drive, I’ll go for a few practice drives around the neighbourhood with Kyle before venturing out alone!

On the plus side, I get to go to Tokyo soon :). That’s really exciting!

NOA2!

Kyle and I are in the application process for a fiance visa. It’s a long process. Too long. But on Wednesday it finally arrived. The second piece of paperwork – only 8 months after we submitted the first! That means exciting months ahead of filling out forms, having medical tests done, and a trip to Tokyo to visit the embassy. Yay!

The intention is that, if things happen in the timeframe we hope, I’ll have a short holiday in New Zealand in August, before heading off to the USA. I seem to be about equal parts excitement and nerves, which I think is normal.

Anyway, on Wednesday, 3 friends and went out to celebrate!

Image

Blue cheese burger = best ever!

Image

We went to the free footbath they have in Kobe. It’s just randomly in the middle of a street.

Image

There was a man in the spa who was trained in relflexology. He gave us all free foot massages.

Image

Baskin Robbins. 😀

Image

This taiko game is really fun. Even if I am the worst of my friends 😉

Overall, it was a really fun night, and a good way to get excited about my future!

America, but pretend

So. My ear started to feel better a couple of days ago. Sadly, any hope of flying was gone, but Kobe was starting to drive me insane so my neighbour and I decided to go to the most American restaurant we could find. I could escape reality for a couple of hours, and pretend that I actually was with my fiance, and not my cold shoebox apartment (actually, my apartment is perfectly adequate for one person, but that doesn’t sound as dramatic).

We looked around Kobe, and realised that the only American restaurants were takeaway, so figured we’d simply duck over to Osaka and go the the most American of American restaurants – Outback Steakhouse. So long as we ignore the theme…

Outback is located in one of the prettier parts of Osaka – Osaka isn’t exactly known for it’s prettiness in general, but this area is.

IMG_1131

Osaka, the pretty part

We had to wait for a while to be seated, but is was super worth it. The drinks were some of the best I have had, the food was tasty (and calorific) and the portions were huge. I know I’m in Japan, and therefore have an abundance of extremely fancy food around me, but I haven’t been so excited about a meal in a long, long time.

IMG_1135

Amanda looking amazing

IMG_1134

I felt like I was 13 again, and eating all of my favourite things.

IMG_1139

Yum!

After we finished eating, we took the underground route back to the station. The Osaka station has been done up over the last few years and is huge and sparkly and fancy. We wandered through a few shops, before heading back to Kobe, and therefore reality.

IMG_1132

Oooh. Pretty.

IMG_1140

According to Amanda, fountain of knowledge, a lot of the new station was done in the original style of the old station, from decades or even a century ago!

 IMG_1143

Happy New Year ❤

Why I’m not in Ohio

I had planned to visit Kyle (my fiance)  in Ohio for two weeks. I had spent months planning the trip. I was going to visit the Rock and Roll hall of fame, was going to try on wedding gowns and was going to eat pierogies for the first time ever. I was going to eat at Lolita (saving Lola for when Dad comes for the wedding).

I’m in Japan though. Japan is not Ohio. Japan is nothing like Ohio. Ear infections and flying don’t mix. So I’m here, and deciding what to do for the next few days. I plan on gapping it somewhere. Maybe a couple of nights as a backpacker in Kyoto, or take the train up to Tokyo and go to Disneyland?

We shall see…