Orientation was May 11. It was 3 hours, and though I think I knew at least the basics of everything they talked about (I'm not kidding when I say I've read and reread EVERYTHING on the JCMU site, and then some), but they went into more detail, of course, so it was very helpful to go. Some things were cleared up, too--for example, one of my biggest concerns is what to wear, since I'm not really good with being, er, fashionable, so they gave some examples. I was also able to talk to a couple people afterwards that were able to give some tips, such as, instead of having to bring 2 formal outfits like I keep reading and that other people have said, someone I talked to afterwards told me that we really only need to bring one formal outfit, kind of like something you'd wear to a wedding. I was also to give them my passport, so I wouldn't have to mail it to them later. I feel better about how to handle getting money, too, which I'll explain in a moment. Unfortunately, I and my family are still unsure on how to handle having a phone and communicating, which I'll also explain a bit more in a moment. I know there's more they went over, but I can't remember it all. Basically, though, I feel a lot better about everything after having gone to orientation.
Handling money isn't as difficult as I was thinking it'd be. Essentially, use ATM's. There's a few right in Hikone, not very far from campus, and as long as you have a Master or Visa card, then it shouldn't be a problem to get money from the ATM's. And right now, the exchange rate between the US dollar and yen is pretty equal, which is great, though who knows what it'll be later on. It does cost a bit to get money from the ATM--just ordering yen from my bank was about $8, and then you'll also have the amount the ATM charges on top of that. So, when you get money, get a large amount, like $200-300, probably. In fact, I ordered $300 to be changed into yen at my bank just recently--which is what JCMU recommends to do, just to have with you when you first get to Japan, so you don't have to worry about finding an ATM and stuff when you first get there. I'll also bring probably about $150-200 with me, for use at the airport and for when I come back from Japan--all just in case.
Phones are a bit complicated, I think. Well, or maybe it's just that it's so expensive to make international calls. Prepaid phones seem to be what everyone keeps recommending, though I don't know exactly how all that works quite yet. However. we're going to be upgrading our phones soon--ours are so incredibly outdated. I wanted to put some pics from my phone onto my computer, which means I needed to download the program online, but it doesn't even exist anymore. So, basically, we're due for upgrades anyway, and certain phones are free because of that. And what this means is that I'll actually have the type of phone most everyone else has (finally), and so will my sister, which means free internet on it if there's wifi, which means we'll probably just communicate through Skype or something, through our phones. But then--and I think I'm less concerned about this than my parents seem to be--the concern is how I'll be able to communicate with whatever friends I make while in Japan. That is, how I'll communicate with people in Japan while I'm there. And it's kind of a comfort thing, like just in case I happen to be off on my own for some odd reason and I need to call anyone. Or if I need to call my host family--if I have one--about anything that may suddenly come up, like if I can't make it back around the time I said I would. Hence possibly a prepaid phone. But some people we were talking to also mentioned something about SIM cards. Unfortunately, for certain reasons, I'm a bit behind in how phones--or maybe the phone companies--work. In any case, this seems to be one of the bigger things we'll be working out in the next few months.
The last thing is, I'll FINALLY be able to buy my plane ticket in less than a week, I hope. I'm actually going to check it now. The price is, unfortunately, around $2080 for the recommended flight, which is what I'm taking. Well, once I do that and turn in that last form for JCMU, that'll have been everything.