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Experiencing life a world away

Caryn Haller

My name is Caryn Haller, and I am filling in as a staff writer while Laura Brunzlick is on maternity leave.

I worked this summer as an intern for both The Record-Courier and the Nevada Appeal.

This is my first column and I am a little apprehensive about it. My mom asked me if I was going to be witty and funny, and I told her I would be happy if I came up with a topic.

I live in Coleville, Calif., with my husband Ed, who is a Sergeant at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center. Ed and I will be moving to Okinawa, Japan, in July for a three-year tour.

I am half Japanese, but very Americanized, so this time will be good for me to get back to my roots.

There is so much preparation that needs to be done, and I don’t have the slightest idea where to begin. I suppose, first, we need to decide how many of our belongings we can take with us on the airplane, how much needs to be sent to us later and how much we will put in storage.

We hope after we get to Okinawa there will be a house ready for us, so we don’t have to rent one in town. After we get settled in, there will be the issue of transportation, which I am not looking forward to.

We were sent a driving manual for Japan that explains the laws, but it’s the part about driving on the left side of the road that worries me. I don’t do well on the right side of the road.

I bought some audio tapes to help me learn Japanese, but I have only listened to the first side of the first tape once. My grandpa Watanabe came from Japan to the United States during World War II and he taught me how to count to 10 in Japanese, but I doubt that will get me very far.

My mom is both excited and sad for us to move so far away from home. Coleville is the farthest I have ever lived from home and it’s only a four-hour drive.

Some people who have been stationed in Okinawa told Ed and me that we don’t ever have to leave the base if we don’t want to, but I can’t wait to get out and experience the food, the people, the culture, and did I mention the food?

July seems so far away, but I know it will be here before I know it. Hopefully, everything goes smoothly, and the culture shock isn’t too bad.

Maybe I will run into some distant relatives, but considering the name Watanabe is as common in Japan as Smith is here, I’m not expecting to.

Life in the military is an ever-changing one, with many ups and downs, but with my husband and an English-Japanese dictionary by my side, I’ll be OK.

n Caryn Haller is a staff writer in training when she’s not busy learning the ancient skill of eating rice with chopsticks.