Advice from those who have gone before...
This e-mail is from a teacher named, Travis, who went two years ago.
Hey Rachele, No problem.
I'll try and answer as best I can, but everybody's experiences were different, so take mine with a huge grain of salt. HUGE.
1) Did you feel like you needed to bring your computer? I'm debating whether I should or not, I don't really want to carry it around if I don't have to, but I also don't want to not have it if it's needed.It wasn't much of a problem to carry mine around - of course, "mine" was the school's, so that took some pressure of me in case I lost it. But it came in really handy for my follow-on project, which was the website. I was able to write my journals right there when they were fresh in my mind and have them saved. Of course, you could do this old school writing on paper style, but I found it easy. I felt a little worried about carrying around an expensive piece of equipment, but I felt safe, so everything went well. You don't NEED it, but it comes in handy.
2) You mentioned that you went to Kinkos to e-mail. Did you do that often? Was it expensive? Was it close to the hotel?I went to Kinko's, when I was in Tokyo, about every two or three days later in the evening (around 9 or 10 or 11 pm). It wasn't expensive, but honestly, I can't remember how much - nothing major though, considering. It's about one-two blocks from the hotel. The FMF desk will have directions to it.
3) Are business cards something that I need to get? I haven't heard that yet, and I didn't know if I needed them.If you get them now from altavista.com or some place like that, they'll be relatively free (minus S&H) for something like 250. My problem is that I waited until the last few weeks and paid a ton for S&H. So get them now and they won't be too much mula. Honestly, I only gave out about five to Japanese folks, but at the end of the trip, I gave out about 20-30 to fellow FMFers. The FMF organization says you should bring about 250 or so, and if you get them now, they'll be inexpensive. I'd get them, just in case.
4) Did you walk around a lot. It seems like you did and I'm trying to decide what types of shoes I should bring (since girl's dress shoes are a bit different then men's).We walked around a ton. I brough my relatively comfortable school dress shoes and some Dr. Scholls insoles just in case, and I was in good shape. Definitely bring something comfy/dressy - not crazy dressy, but casual dressy, if that makes any sense.
5) Did you have a place to do laundry?Most of the hotel's have a service, but it's expensive, so I stayed clear of it. I did, at the end of week two, have to break down and wash my pants/shirts, but I was able to wash undies/under shirts/socks in my hotel room shower. If you can bring some polyester (like running shirts) under garments, they'll wash and dry easy, and that'll help.
6) Did you feel like you only needed the amount of clothes you packed? I'm such a pack rat and can't imagine only bringing two or three shirts. Shoot, this one is going to be hard! :)At first I thought I didn't bring enough. I only took two shirts and one dress shirt and two pair of Docker's. But it turned out to be quite enough. You end up seeing different groups every day, so they have no idea taht you haven't changed your clothes in three weeks. I brought a lot of socks/undies/under shirts and washed those a lot, but I'm glad I didn't bring lots of other stuff. You just don't need it. And at the end of the trip, when your trying to stuff all your clothes and all the stuff you end up buying or gifts your received, you'll thank yourself for not bringing tons of clothes.
7) What was the weather like? Should I pack more long sleeve types of things and sweaters? What season would you compare it to in Cleveland?We were there in Tsunami weather, so it was warm, but wet, wet, wet. My umbrella broke due to all the rain. Hard to tell if that's going to be the same for you guys, but you never know. In terms of warm clothes, I had one sport coat and ... well, that was it. I wore that when it got cold, which for us, it didn't get. It was mostly warm, so I'd compare it to ... our Spring...? Don't hold me to that though - it's a bit warm but wet. Or at least was for us.
8) Was the people on the trip a mix of ages? I'm young (I have only taught two years) and wondered if there would be other newer teachers. If you are in your mid to late 20s, and your experience is like mine, you'll be the minority. Out of the 200 of us that went last year, about 10 of us were 20-something. Most the participants are late 40s, early 50s. But they were a lot of fun, even with the big age differences. It takes some time to hook up with people, but once you do, age didn't seem to matter. That sounds beautiful, doesn't it?
Hope that helps....Travis