First week living in Iwakuni

We survived our first week living in Iwakuni, Japan!  It was a jam packed week but I am all about getting stuff done to feel settled ASAP and I think we made pretty good progress!
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Like any good Iwakuni residents, our first adventure was to the Kintai bridge and Iwakuni castle.  These are landmarks in Iwakuni and total necessities!  Jet lag had us up early the first few morning here so our friends were nice enough to take us out to explore.  I cannot wait to go back when the cherry blossoms bloom in a few weeks.  We also adventured to a McDonald's out in town and tried the infamous Shaka Shaka chicken (worth it!)
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On Monday, we attended the mandatory Welcome Aboard brief.  This was mostly helpful but also VERY long (7:30am - 4pm)!  After the welcome aboard brief, we headed downstairs for the SOFA drivers class and test to get our drivers licenses in Japan.  I was SO NERVOUS for this!  Anyone who has driven with me knows I am not a very good driver in America...let alone trying to drive on the left side of the road with all of the signs in Japanese!  Luckily, after a two hour class, we took the test (they made Rob and I have different forms of the test!) and we both passed!  Woo!
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With drivers licenses in hand, we headed out the next day and bought our first car here in Japan!  Proud owners of a bright orange Cube we named Fanta! haha  Everyone here buys old, cheap cars and there are used car lots everywhere.  It was literally the easiest car buying process ever - the only hard part was waiting 3-5 days for the inspection and paperwork to be finished. UPDATE: more on this here!  Not quite as easy as I originally thought ;)
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Our express shipment was delivered and it was great to see the first half of our stuff.  Now just patiently waiting another few weeks for the rest of our stuff!  We also took the bus tour on Wednesday which took us around base and off base to downtown Iwakuni.  They showed us some favorite local spots and gave us lessons on how to use the bus and train systems here.  It was super helpful!
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I have been feeling more confident with my shopping off base!  I have gone with friends to Fresta (a grocery store), Uniqlo (a clothing store), a local coffee shop/bookstore, and Daiso (100 yen store, like a dollar store).  I also got lunch with my friend Margaret and her kids at Rai Rai Tei Ramen out in town.  We finished off the week with our first mongolian night and our first Friday (St. Patricks Day!) at the officers club on base.
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It took almost the whole week but the jetlag subsided and we are sleeping through the night like normal people.  I guess that means this is officially our home now!

Patriot Express Flight + Layover in Seattle

We made it! We are officially in Iwakuni, Japan!

We left South Carolina on Monday and spent 2-3ish nights in Seattle.  We chose to break up the long flights and explore Seattle a bit which was awesome.  Especially since we had a chaotic, extra long flight to Seattle (rerouted then ran out of gas; had to divert and land in Salt Lake City before finally making it to Seattle past midnight).  We did a food tour of Pike Place Market with Savor Seattle, explored downtown, and finished some last minute shopping to use up any giftcards.  The weather was much colder (and wetter!) than we were used to but it was still fun.

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On Wednesday night/Thursday morning, we had to be at the airport by 1:50am.  We arrived at 1:15am and there were already 200 people in line in front of us!  It was insane!  After a minor incident of passing out in the airport line (eek! preggo problems!), we made it through and were able to hide out in the Centurion lounge until our flight took off at 7:50am.
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I'm not sure if it was because our flight to Seattle was so rough or if I had just overhyped it in my head, but the flight from Seattle to Japan was not too bad at all!  We settled in, ate breakfast on the plane, and then went to sleep.  Noise canceling headphones, a good neck pillow, and an eye mask work wonders!  We woke up in time to eat dinner and only had about two hours left before we landed in Yokota AFB (Tokyo).  When we got to Yokota, the entire plane had to deboard and we had roughly a two hour layover.  Unfortunately, there is no wifi in the "terminal" so calling/texting home was not an option!  I used this time to brush my teeth and hair, wash my face, and put a little makeup on.  After the layover, everyone heading to Iwakuni or Okinawa got back on the plane in their original seats and we were off again.  The quick final flight to Iwakuni was a little over an hour.
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After 25+ hours of travel, we finally landed at the airport right on base in Iwakuni.  Home sweet home!  There were over 25+ people from Rob's squadron, wives, and kids (most of whom we have never met!) at the airport to welcome us to Iwakuni, which was SO nice!
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We were given the keys to our new home right at the airport and moved straight in. Usually people go to temporary lodging (hotel) but because our house was ready, we were able to go straight in. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to have a sweet sponsor who stocked our house with food, toilet paper, sheets, towels, etc.  Unfortunately, this meant no wifi or cell service until we set all that up the next morning. As jetlag would have it, we walked to the food court to grab dinner and crashed pretty quickly after we got home.

The next morning, our friends took us to get cell phones and our internet service set up.  We were also able to go to the commissary and do a big grocery run.  That night, we had dinner at their house with a few other couples and their kids.  Everyone here has been SO kind and helpful which has made this transition so much easier!

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