Arrival

Well I have settled into everything in Japan. I have been here for a week and a few days and have had the chance to really adjust to life.

The flight really wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was kind of crappy because the movie-on-demand feature was broken (it always is), but there was enough to do and I talked to an older Japanese lady. She was really interesting, she said that as long as you make an active effort to fit into Japanese culture, you will receive a warm reception. I got lucky though and was able to have an isle seat with two empty seats to my left. It was a little annoying because I was near the bathroom, but overall it wasn’t too bad.

Anyways, after I got to Narita and got through customs I had to buy a bus ticket. At customs I had practiced a little Japanese, but it mainly consisted of me nodding and saying “Hai” (Yes). I bought the bus ticket with no problem at all. There was a little bit of confusion when the lady asked “Nan nin desu ka” (How many people?), but somehow I managed to get by. After I bought my bus ticket to Hon-Atsugi, I decided to call my parents. It was a pain in the ass to figure out the phone, but somehow I managed to call my dad to tell him that I had got to Tokyo fine. I also called Asahi Kasei to tell them when my bus arrived at Hon-Atsugi.

Next I went out to my bus stop. I took all of my luggage (there was a ton) on the luggage cart out to the bus stop. The minute I walked outside I realized something about Tokyo, it is very very humid. I thought coming from Houston I would have been used to humidity, but damn this was like 100x worse. Anyways I had about 45 minutes until my bus arrived so I decided to just hang out near the bus stop. At this point I took a picture, but I was really way too jetlagged to care about anything. The bus came and from there it was about 2 hours to Hon-Atsugi. We passed through Yokohama and over a bridge that overlooked the Pacific Ocean (never saw it from that side). Bus didn’t seem too bad, but like I said, I was too jetlagged to care.

Once I arrived in Hon-Atsugi, Shieri (the intern coordinator) was waiting to pick me up and take me back to Atsugi Youth Heim (my apartment complex). She spoke English very well. Once we arrived at the Youth Heim and dropped my luggage off she showed me were the 7-11 (or conbini) was so I could get food and snacks. When we came back to the Youth Heim, a few other interns had gathered. I met Marek (the Polish intern) , Juan (the US Spanish intern), Alex (the Canadian intern), and Marco (the Italian intern). After talking for a while we decided to go to a Yakiniku (BBQ) restaurant that the interns had dubbed “Cheap Cheap”. It was awesome. Basically they just brought out raw meat and a mini charcoal grill and everyone cooked their own meat. Afterwards some of the interns went to karaoke, but I decided to go back to the Youth Heim and sleep. I was so tired at that point. I will post pictures here a little bit later as well as catch up with my posts.

I have already done so much and have a ton to write about. It’s been so crazy that I haven’t really had the chance to update the blog recently. But anyways, I will try my best to keep it up to date.

Intern Day at National Instruments

Now for a post not about Japan at all. Before I start my internship in Japan, I have an internship at National Instruments in Austin Texas. It is really really fun. I’ve met a ton of people and learned so much about LabVIEW and other products NI makes.

But anyways, last Friday was the intern day. This day essentially consists of the interns getting paid to come to work and run around playing games… kind of like getting paid to go to recess in elementary school. Anyways the day started with the group intern picture. Aparently we were supposed to wear our school shirts, but I never got the memo. Incidentily, I was wearing my school’s IEEE shirt. I think the picture turned out well. Somehow, I don’t think all 180 interns showed up, but it is a nice picture anyways.

Can you spot me?

Here is a school spirit one. I have my gun up in this one.

Anyways, after the picture we went to a few presentations about NI as a company and future careers at NI. It was pretty interesting and I can definitely see myself working at NI after I graduate.

After the presentations we were divided into groups. These groups would be our teams for the rest of the day. I was in group eight, or as we were known, “The Crazy Eights”. We thought of doing The Crazy Eighty-Eights, like Oren Ishii’s bodyguards in Kill Bill vol. 1, but decided to just stick with eight. Here is a picture of our team. I am the one on the left with the blue shirt.

Our first task was actually pretty fun. We were grouped with another team and had to make a bridge out of materials that they provided us. The building materials consisted of chocolate bars, twislers, marshmallows, pipe cleaners, and other various objects. The challenge was that each pair of teams had to make half the bridge in different rooms and then combine them at the end. We ended up making a bridge that looked more like a roller coaster than a bridge, and on top of that we named it “The Hersey Highway”. It was the most ghetto/inappropriate bridge in the entire completion, but we won 3rd place!

Next came the scavenger hunt. In this, we ran around the NI campus based off of clues that we were given. When we got to different locations we had to perform different tasks. The tasks ranged from singing the national anthem to chugging a root beer. It again was really fun. We came in 5th in this competition.

After the scavenger hunt was the Olympic competition. We played everything from water dodge ball to tug-of-war. One thing to note was that because Austin is ridiculously hot, the sand in volleyball courts are also hot. I think I have second degree burns on my feet.

Overall I really enjoyed the internship. My project kept me busy and the people I worked with were great. I leave for Japan a week from tomorrow and am very excited. I have to do a few things before I leave such as buy some more shirts and buy some Japanese yen. One thing that the current intern over in Japan suggested to me was to bring a year’s supply of deodorant. Apparently Japan doesn’t sell it, and the only thing available is women’s deodorant O_o. Anyways, I’m sure I’ll get some looks at customs when I have six sticks of old spice in my luggage.

Everything’s Good to Go

Well I finally got my visa. It was pretty uneventful really. I drove to Houston to the Japanese consulate about a week ago to drop off my application along with a certificate that the company I am working for in Japan sent me. Surprisingly, it only took a couple of minutes. I was told that the entire visa issuance process would only take a few days. I think I could have just mailed in my application, but since Austin is only a few hours from Houston I decided to take a nice road trip. After my trip to drop off my application, I had to come back to Houston again to actually pick up my visa.

Here is some information that the office lady at the Japanese consulate gave me. Essentially it outlines Japan’s process for aliens entering the country. For some reason it reminds me of those flight safety brochures from Fight Club.

I also have all my airfare finalized. Despite wanting to fly on a Japanese airline, it seems like I am going to be flying with United Airlines. I can’t complain though, free airfare is good airfare. Having the visa and airfare though really puts things in perspective. I am going to be in Japan for a year. The whole experience will be a very good experience both personally and professionally, but I can’t help be a little nervous. Like I said, being a little nervous is going to be good, as it will keep me on edge.

While I was in Houston the first time around I went to an Astros game. I have been trying to get more and more into baseball like I was in high school as it is pretty popular in Japan. I went to the Astros v. Red Sox game and it was really fun, especially since Houston won. It was really heart-warming though to be standing up in Minute Made Park while the national anthem was playing.

It is weird meeting all of my friends like it is the last time I will ever see them. I may be moving to Japan for a year, but in that year a bunch of my friends will be graduating. When I come back there will still be a few around, but most of the students I knew in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will be gone. Right now I am in my sister’s apartment in Galveston. My parents are visiting me one last time before I depart. This is going to be my last US holiday in the United States until when I come back. I am pretty excited. I get to go watch the fireworks on the beach tonight.

Anyways, I am sure once I am on the plane or in an airport I will have more to type here. I should be brushing up on my Japanese, but in between work and everything it is really hard to find time. I am going to make it a point however to post here as much as possible.