Last-minute Nerves, Packing, and Japan?

Lesli Patino
January 5, 2019

When I applied to IES Abroad - Nagoya in the summer, it seemed pretty far into the future. Throughout the fall semester, after receiving my admittance, I still didn't register what it meant. The past 48 hours have been unreal. I realized that I am going to JAPAN. Yes, I am going to an Asian country with only a year and half of language study under my belt, and no guarantees that there will be another Latinx student at Nanzan University with me. 


Had I considered that before I applied? Yes.  

Am I ready for it? I believe that I am capable of handling it and getting through it. I don’t know if I am ready, but you rarely are ever fully prepared for great adventures...or at least that’s what I tell myself – an avid planner. 

I’ve concentrated on packing and researching what I need for Japan, but as my flight departure time approaches, I’ve gotten more and more nervous. So, what to do about these nerves? 

Well, relaxation techniques could work for you, but I’m more of a reflection-type of gal. So, I’m going to let you know of hurdles I’ve already encountered and overcame. 

First, we’ll start with CELLPHONE USAGE

Having recently returned from Mexico, I admit I was pampered because my data plan allowed me to continue using my phone with all its functions. Now I’m faced with a minor problem, but probably a slightly more complicated problem because of the language barrier. How do I choose a data plan in Japan? Is a rental phone better? Do I need a rental phone? What is PocketWifi? 

Somehow, after hours of research, I decided on SIM card rental. Not only does it seem to be a cheap and decent option, but I also get to continuously use my phone instead of just relying on WiFi. 

(PocketWifi is exactly what it sounds like. You carry a little WiFi device around that you turn on and off. I’ve read it’s better for larger groups.) 

I’m not going to lie. Until I have a SIM card in my phone, I will be very nervous to be in a new country with an insecure communication method. I’ll probably talk more about this once I’ve handled this issue in Japan! Keep an eye out! 


I’ve traveled domestically a lot, and, although I have gotten better at packing, I always struggle to pack LESS. This time, I really cut down on what I will bring, but I was STRESSED. Besides the usual essentials, here are some handy items I packed after some research: 

  • Hand towel(s) – Apparently, Japan’s bathrooms don’t usually carry towels/napkins. 
  • Slippers – You definitely need these if you want to go inside Japanese homes/some buildings. 
  • New Socks – If you don’t wear shoes inside, people will definitely pay attention to your socks. As someone who loses them often, I am worried. 
  • Wall Plug Adapter – If you have a charger with three prongs, you’ll need an adapter to use it in Japan. 
  • Medicine – This one was more about figuring out what medications you CAN bring and which you CAN’T bring. I don’t have a list (mostly, because I couldn’t find a comprehensive one), but one I read over and over again that you can’t bring is Adderall. 
  • Feminine Products – I brought a pack, but I read that feminine products are pretty easy to find and purchase. 
  • Birth Control – I put this one by itself because I want to emphasize it! If I abide by the general, but vague, restrictions, then birth control is not a controlled substance and I should be fine taking more than a month’s supply. However, I am still worried, despite reading others’ experiences and advice. I will definitely update everyone on this next time! 
  • Deodorant – Japanese deodorant is very different than U.S. deodorant and you probably won’t find the brands from home in Japan, so take as many as you need for a semester! 

For now, I can only be content with what I’ve packed and learned. The next step is to start the journey and see how it goes.  

Wish me luck!

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Lesli Patino

<p>I like rainy days. Once I saw a triple rainbow. I'm just a female Latinx low-income student studying abroad in Japan, learning to navigate an environment completely different from home. Let's get this パン.</p>

2019 Spring
Home University:
Amherst College
Elgin, IL
Latin American Studies
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