Sunday, July 30, 2006

I've arrived in Japan safely!

It's been nearly 24 hours but I have finally arrived in Tokyo!

A big thank you to Paul for accompnaying me all the way to the airport early on Saturday morning to send me off!!!

We are staying at the KEIO Plaza Hotel which is in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. Unfortunately, I didn't have time (or the foresight) to exchange any money before I left the US, so here I am, pathetic and hungry in my hotel room. I wandered around for awhile and got a little overwhelmed by all the shops and lights and sounds and people and the cars on the opposite side.... I'm sure when I get to Miyazu, things will be a lot different.

Well, a few more days in Tokyo and then off to Kyoto-Fu on the bullet train! Once I arrive at my new apartment, I'll have to update you all and tell you the best way to come and visit.

Till then, thanks for all the support and love!


Thursday, July 27, 2006

2 days left... and my Japan Contact Information

So my last couple weeks in California were pretty awesome.... It was HOT and sunny and I'm burning the images of the greenery, rolling hills, blue skies and bluer waters into my memory.

It was great to see my family (welcome Kayla, my newborn niece!), the extended family at the red egg and ginger party, friends, former classmates and coworkers, and family friends (long live the Five Families!)...
San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast, as always, was a treat. I got my fill of Mexican food, clam chowder, coffee, and chocolate chip cookies from the old haunts. OK, enough of the shoutouts and yearbook like entry.

I'm back in New York City and I have two more days here. It's pretty hectic finalizing the last minute details when you're leaving the country for a year, but also really exciting. Last night was one of those truly New York moments- having drinks at a rooftop bar in midtown Manhattan, right under the Empire State Building. When I return, we'll have many more...

It'll be another year before I see many of you so please use this blog to keep in touch, leave comments, email me, or for those so inclined, write/send me letters, postcards, and care-packages (I know there's a few of you out there who still know how to correspond the old-fashioned way!!). I would also love to host visitors!

For more information on the program/my location, etc. read the next posting (Optional reading, etc.)

My contact information:

Email address:

Photo blog:

Apartment address (REVISED):
Laurie Cheung
Apartment 202, Takiba 244-1
Miyazu Shi, Kyoto Fu 626-0034

(Primary) School address (REVISED):
Laurie Cheung
Miyazu High School
Miyazu Shi, Takiba 23
Kyoto Fu 626-0034

When I get a fancy shiny new cell phone, I'll also post/send that out.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Getting Ready! and Optional Reading about the JET Program and where I'll be

Alright I finally got a blog!

2 days left before I head off to San Luis Obispo!
6 days left before I head back to New York!
11 days left before I head off to Japan!

Here's a brief description of the program and where I'll be:

JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) PROGRAM:
I will be an "AET" or "ALT" (Assistant English/Language Teacher) at a few high schools in the rural Miyazu area, located about 2 hours north of Kyoto, on the Sea of Japan. The program runs for one year, with an option to renew up to three years. Most likely, I will only do the one year and return to New York after that. There are about 4000 people who do this program each year from all around the world. Most are in my category and are spread out all over Japan in schools from elementary to high school. For those who have more advanced Japanese skills, they are placed in governmental positions, international relations, prefectural advisors, etc.

Information on the JET Program(me):


I fly out of New York City on Saturday morning, July 29 to Tokyo, with a stopover in Minneapolis. We will have a couple days in Tokyo for orientation and then we head off to our assigned districts on August 2nd.

My primary school will be Miyazu High School, which is a few minutes walk from the apartment. I will be assisting/teaching there 3 days a week. There's another high school about 15 minutes train ride away that I'll teach at probably once or twice a week, and a pretty rural high school I will be going to about once every couple weeks that's about an hour bus ride away. So I'm basically like a district school teacher.

My students are between 16-18 years old and I will be helping them with their pronunciation, grammar, and writing. In addition, it will be a bit of a cultural exchange, although as many of you know, my knowledge of American pop culture is pretty limited. I'll have to brush up on my celebrity knowledge and skim US Weekly or something on the plane!! Hopefully I will be able to incorporate some of my creative/art skills and architecture knowledge into the classroom and get the students interested in eating/travelling internationally and excited about learning and speaking English! However,
I was forewarned that the students may be disappointed upon meeting me for the first time because I am Asian, and they expect English teachers to "look" American or European, as in tall, blonde, and blue eyed. I will have to do my best to convince them that my English is "SO GOOD" because I AM American, not just an Asian person who speaks English well!

Of course, I am going to try my best to learn to read, write, and speak Japanese. I think that the students will feel more comfortable speaking English when they hear how bad my Japanese pronunciation is! I was just told that I will have to give a speech to the students and faculty at two of the high schools at the end of August- in both English and Japanese. Yikes.

I will be getting a set salary, like I would in the US (considerably less- but it's all about the EXPERIENCE, not the money!!) I have to pay my rent every month to the landlady, pay bills, buy groceries, cook my own meals, and open up a bank account like everyone else.
I have photos of my new apartment but I will post those when I figure out how. The apartment comes with two bicycles so I'll have to get back up and get on that if I want to ride the 20 minutes to the beach and around town!! Since I will be living in such a small town, I hope to get involved with community activities and meet a lot of people in the area. I can't wait to sample all the local specialties (especially the seafood) and go to the grocery store to see all the exotic foods and packaging.

From my research, I am pretty close to the coast, and the area I will be living is considered one of the top three "most scenic" areas of Japan. Not bad!!

Information and links on my location:

Miyazu, Japan is located on the Sea of Japan coast on the main island of Japan. It is a popular resort town with sandy beaches and fine swimming. Miyazu is best know for Amanohashidate (a floating bridge to the heavens) and is located in Miyazu City. Amanohashidate is a year-round sightseeing spot and is one of "the scenic trio in Japan". It is a sand-bar, 2 miles long, about 200 feet wide and is covered with some 8,000 pine trees. It has formed naturally over thousands of years.

Its view is nothing but mystery. Each vista possesses its own special atmosphere.

Amanohashidate - The Bridge to HeavenLikewise, each season has it own special attractions. For those who like swimming, summer is the best time for visiting, for those who like quiet, reflective walks, spring and autumn are beautiful. And winter offers unparalleled beauty, featuring the white brilliance of the snow against the contrasting green of the pines. Over two million Wisdom Ringpeople visit Amanohashidate each year.

Miyazu used to be a castle town and developed into one of the most prominent Catholic Churchports along the Japan Sea coast. It is dotted with many notable and picturesque places like the Romanesque Catholic Church (the second oldest church in Japan), as well as several magnificent Shrines and Temples.