Sojourner's Highlight: Set your expectations high but remember: You CHOOSE to need to buy.
Yup, I know the address of my apartment in Sapporo and I finally got emailed from its previous tenant (JET is great for hooking you up with former participants to learn from their experiences). Apparently, it is plenty spacious for one individual, and has the requisite fixtures: a stove, a washer, a microwave, even a TV - though I wasn't so concerned about the last.
I've already received quite a few emails from former ALT's (assistant language teachers )trying to lighten their material loads and sell off their possessions that won't fit in a suitcase. I've decided to basically wait till I get to Japan and see what appliances/etc I have a serious need for. So far, I've been sorely tempted by a coffee maker, a snowboard, and a really cool futon/bed.
I don't actually snowboard, or ski, despite having grown up on a ski hill. However, Sapporo is surrounded by skihills (from the sound of it), so I thought maybe I could try and become a little more adventurous and alpine inclined. If I don't have the energy, opportunity, or funds to get involved with the speedier of those pursuits, I thought maybe I could get into snowshoeing, which better suits my patient personality, which is well adapted to hikes and long treks in general. I'm not a huge thrill seeker, though I've been trying to work on that as well.
Returning to living conditions, I'm not too worried about the size or even condition of my apartment. I've never lived on my own before, so I don't have the pain of past squallor to temper my enthusiasm for having a place, ANY place, of my own. I am a little concerned about my rent, which sum I have yet to find out.
Hmmm. I have a lot of thoughts tonight. Two other quick points:
One: concerning my financial concerns, I realised that all the shopping lists and budgets I made for myself are over and above what I already own. Worst comes to worse, I could leave tomorrow, taking only what I have, and probably get by OK. Yes, I want a laptop. Yes, I want a camera. And Yes, I want a new, 'cooler' wardrobe. But all these things I want because I have set my expectations so high. I'm not saying my high expectations are bad, I'm merely saying I should moderate my worry with a reminder of the voluntary nature of some of these expenses.
Two: I talked to someone who just got back from four months working in the J-Spot. Basically all he had to comment on was the immense expense of... EVERYTHING! Pretty much everbody I talk to contributes to the stereotype of extremely high living costs in Japan, which can't help but lend the rumour credence. In short, I've got to dump any thrifty tendencies I may have had and accept that money is like water, it may flow through your hands, but it never really belongs to you. Of course, if you knew how much I was spending on equipment for my Juan de Fuca hike, you might remind me that I don't seem to have any thrifty tendencies to get rid of - in which case I'm all the more ready for the J-Spot.