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Saturday, February 28, 2015

No place like home...

Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2012, at 8:27 AM

Me in the Pacific Ocean!
I will be back in the United States soon! It's been quite a journey and I am so thankful I received this opportunity.

Quick side note: If any of my readers find themselves stationed overseas and have children in college back in the states, the military provides one ticket a year to bring your children overseas.

I have had some wonderful experiences this Christmas break, and if you feel like sifting through a few zoo photos, I have created a public album of the trip on Facebook.

If you're ever in Okinawa, you HAVE to go to the Four Seasons restaurant just outside Kadena Air Base. YUM.

I managed to get my parents to take me to the Pacific side of the island so I could complete an item on my bucket list: Dip my feet in both sides of the Pacific. I completed part 1 of that in April. (Now I just have to get to Europe and knock out what I started in Virginia ten years ago!)

I got to feed an elephant at the zoo, it was gross, but really cool.

I got to see the East China Sea...several times. :)

The McDonald's here are better. I recommend the black pepper Shaka Shaka Chicken. Japanese lesson for the day, Shaka means shake.

Getting here was interesting. Airplane food is still awful, except for the desserts. But is anyone really surprised?

Sitting in the Houston Airport, 90 minutes before boarding time, I notice a long line of people waiting at the counter by our Jetway.

Oh how I panicked. Why were they loading already??

They just needed everyone to verify their passports. Silly me.

My mom tried to prep me for what to expect when I landed in Tokyo, where I had to go through customs before my flight to Okinawa, but there were some things that she could not have really warned me about.

"Follow the crowd of Americans when you get off the plane," she said. Apparently, I was one of only a few Americans whose final destination was Japan, because I was almost completely alone.

I filled out my embarkment and declaration forms "to the best of my knowledge" but I didn't know what my family's address in Okinawa was, and they ask where you will be living on the form. The man directing people in customs was mean, and between the sleep deprivation and nerves, I burst into tears while standing at the counter they provide for passengers to finish their forms. I walked up to a woman who looked like she was there to help people. I asked her for a phone so I could call my parents, and a man walked up and said, you must go through customs, the phones are out there. To which I responded with more tears while trying to explain that I couldn't get through customs.

He was nice about it, and told me they would accept "Okinawa" as my address.

Japan's file photo of me is the most unflattering photo I have ever let someone take. I look tired and I am red and puffy from crying.

I made my parents rice-filled sock snowmen to accompany their Christmas gifts and had to have quarantine look through them. The man and woman thought they were so adorable, they ran and grabbed a camera and asked me if they could take a photo, cooing at the snowmen.

Yeah...they were pretty adorable. :)

I imagine getting back into the US will be a lot less hectic.

Between getting to go to my first foreign country (Thanks, USAF, for never giving my family the cool assignments until AFTER I go to college!) and getting to see my family, I hate to leave so soon, but at the same time, I'm anxious to get home. I miss my fraternity brothers and my job and my boyfriend and school. I love Japan, and I already can't wait for my next visit.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I have a niece and nephew stationed there. I am so glad that you had the experience. I wish I could have gone with you.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 8:45 AM

Quite the experience you had. Customs can be kind of tricky, but you made it!

-- Posted by jessiemiller on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 6:21 PM

Customs in the U.S was much better, and I got a really nice a gent. Hint: you can use your dependent military ID to go through the military passport check. Wish I had known sooner. :)

-- Posted by lilmissmelmo on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 5:42 PM

Much easier time than I had in Toronto on 9/16/2001.

Of course that might have had something to do with my luggage riding the carousel for a couple of hours while I was shopping for gifts in the airport.

My travel agent had told me customs was in Seattle.

My CC permit finally bailed me out.

-- Posted by wh67 on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 8:19 PM

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A Different Perspective
Melodie Lettkeman
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I'm a staff writer for the Tiger Tribune, and I have a lot to say! Music, books, movie reviews, my opinions and updates around the high school.
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