Monday, August 6, 2012

Orientation Day 1

I had my first day of orientation today and I got bombarded with things to do and/or check on as new residents in Japan. God bless you if you decide to read this whole thing....

First of all, our sponsor got our kids signed up for childcare before we arrived. You cannot bring kids to the orientation and the main childcare center fills up quickly. We were lucky that we had such a proactive sponsor. All I had to do when we got here was to make sure I went by the Child Care center and filled out some paperwork about the girls before the first day of orientation. We dropped them off this morning and though it was their first time being separated from each other (separate classrooms), they both had a great time and even took naps! They will be going all week and when I sign into the orientation each morning, I also sign up to receive a childcare voucher at the end of the day so that my childcare will be free. Can't beat that.

  • Fleet and Family Services Center
    • You can do all sorts of things through FFSC: Personal Finance Management, Life Skills Workshop, Transition Assistance, Family Readiness Group (for deployments), Employment Assistance, Relocation Assistance, Modeling Fair, Clinical Counseling, Family Advocacy Program, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, New Parent Support, and International Programs.
    • I am going to try to attend at least one class a month about Japanese culture, language, or food - all of which are offered through the FFSC. 
    • I am also going to sign my kids up for the modeling fair. Apparently, since Japanese people look so similar, the look of Americans - particularly blond hair and blue eyes - is very exotic and is in high demand for commercials and photo shoots. FFSC hosts modeling fairs throughout the year where modeling agencies throughout Japan come and register you and/or your children for free. Apparently, this is no joke. Like, people seriously make some good money doing this - and not people that we would label as a "model" back home. Prime example: some old guy that works in the FFSC and has a beard is hired for commercials all the time. I don't know if Thing 1 would like to do it, but I'm sure I could probably get a few gigs for Thing 2. 
    • I am also going to try and sign up for the "Space A" class. It's a class about how to take military flights to other countries for free. How could that not be useful?!
    • Oh, and I may also attend their class about becoming an English Teacher. Japanese people learn English grammar in schools, but never really get a chance to practice conversational English. So, the going rate for someone to just sit and talk with them in English is about $25/hour and lots of people make money this way.
  • American Red Cross
    • There are lots of volunteer positions in the Red Cross.
    • They also talked about how they could transmit emergency information from families if the service member is deployed or out at sea.
  • Family Preparedness
    • Remember that giant earthquake that hit Japan a year ago? Yep, we have to get ready for another one or any other emergency event. We have to make sure that we know evacuation procedures, safe zones, and that we have an emergency kit put together. Fun times.
  • Housing
    • So while I was sitting in the orientation this morning, The Hubs snuck away to attend the first of two mandatory housing briefings that are required before we can get on- or off-base housing. The one this morning covered off-base housing. When The Hubs made it back to orientation, he said there was no way we were living out in town. Houses are different, you have to sort your trash 5 different ways, and he just didn't want to deal with any possible hiccups involved in living off-base.
    • He left again this afternoon to attend the second briefing about Military Family Housing (MFH). I will write another post about housing a little later, but we are signed up and on the waiting list. The Hubs was told that we would probably be offered something within the next 15 days. So, fingers are crossed that we'll get that phone call sooner than later!
  • Passport Stamped/ID System
    • On our lunch break, The Hubs and I went over to another office to get our passports stamped. We had to have it done within 14 days (I think) of arriving. 
    • We also have to go and get our ID cards entered into a larger base system this week. The system allows the military to know at any time (in case of emergency) how many people, and who exactly, is on base at any particular time.
  • Fire Department
    • This was one of the better presentations because it was done by a Japanese national. His accent was thick and he joked that he liked to do the presentation because he wanted us to get used to hearing the Japanese trying to speak our language. Apparently, the fire department on base is made up of all Japanese firemen.
  • Post Office
    • We have to get a post office box this sometime this week. I'm so excited to get this done so that I can start ordering anything online that I can't find here (like a cheap iPhone case, for example).
  • Navy College
    • Unfortunately, I don't have many opportunities with this program since I already have a Masters degree AND my husband is a higher-ranked officer, but they offer a TON of opportunities for people to get their GED, Bachelors and Masters degrees through online and on-base classes. 
    • I was hoping to check into getting a scholarship for a Japanese Language Studies Certificate, but my husband is just above the cut-off rank for a spouse's eligibility. Bummer.
  • TriCare Prime
    • Even though we also had TriCare in the states, we have to re-register since we have moved to another base. We'll be reassigned a Primary Care provider and unlike in the US, we will be able to see a dentist at the Naval Hospital instead of having to find a private provider. 
  • Security
    • This super-intimidating cop told us not drink and drive - not even a single beer - on- or off-base, how to ride a bicycle on-base without getting into trouble, places to avoid in town, and how to keep ourselves out of trouble.
  • Legal
    • The woman from legal scared the crap out of me. She told us about relatively minor offenses that get you MAJOR jail time in Japan. She even said that after everything she's seen, she won't drive off-base. Basically, a lot of stupid sailors have done things over the years that have made things stricter for the rest of us.
  • Navy Exchange (NEX)
    • The exchange is basically like our Wal-mart or department store. They have a main store similar to a small Wal-mart, a clothing section with nice brands like Victoria's Secret and Chaps, an entire Kids' NEX with a Hello Kitty section that Thing 1 drooled over yesterday (and pretty darn cheap prices on clothes too!), a Home Accents store similar to a small Bed, Bath and Beyond, and even a furniture store. 
    • We were told that they can also special order items if we want something that they don't normally carry.

So.... it seems for every one thing I get marked off of my to-do list, I add another two or three the next day. But, at least we're keeping busy. And, I made two friends today with some officers' wives that sat beside me at orientation. They seem really nice and have kids the exact same ages as mine. We are already talking about setting up a babysitting co-op so that we can get time away from the kids without having to spend a chunk of change on a babysitter. I'll update you tomorrow with Day 2 of orientation. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I read somewhere that living in Japan you have to sign a contract with rental houses that you will not wear shoes inside the house. I think base would be easier for the girls as well : ) Looks like you're having fun and I can't wait to see your pictures of the Giant Buddha : )