Japan Changed Me!

Ah Japan!

Have you ever been somewhere so amazingly different that you wonder how it could actually exist?  This happened to me more than once in Japan.
My school, Clinton Middle School, has a foreign-exchange program, with students from our school visiting Japan for two weeks every year. Japanese students reciprocate by coming to visit the U.S.

Last summer, it was my turn. But before I could even think of going to Japan, I had to get the money.

Just how much?

At first it seemed simple, and remarkably cheap, because all of our basic costs were paid by the school in Japan. All that our group had to pay for were the plane tickets and souvenirs.

When we started planning the trip, they were only $800 each, a bargain for flight to Japan. Then something unexpected happened.

It turned out we hadn’t purchased our tickets yet. When fuel prices jumped in February 2008, the tickets went from $800 to $1,400, nearly doubling the price!

I had to start saving, big time.
When you're only fourteen, it's difficult to get $1,400 dollars, plus $300 spending cash. Luckily, I didn't have to raise all if it. My parents agreed to pay half of the cost of the plane flight and lend me a portion of my share at no interest. Still, I had to raise about $900, pretty close to the whole original cost.

I had just put $500 in a 17-month CD at the credit union, so I couldn't use that money.  I like to keep $200 minimum in my regular savings account, so I had about $400 for the trip.

That meant I had to raise approximately $500. I only had a little while to do it before I went to Japan.

How to earn it?

Click to see one of my fellow travelers.
I live in a small town where there aren't very many places to get a job. I wasn't old enough to get a real job or to drive a car to work.  I only had two ways of making money, mowing lawns and writing for C-Note.

While I needed the money quickly, I also had to get a lot of it, which meant I had to strike the right balance between the time I spent on each job. Mowing lawns took only about an hour per lawn, not that tough. The cash came fairly regularly, but I earned only $10 from my neighbor’s lawn, and only $4 from my parents.

On the other hand, writing for C-Note paid a significant amount of money, but it took much longer to write one story.    

It would be nice to say that by working hard, I managed to pay off my trip to Japan. Unfortunately, the truth was not quite like a fairy tale. By the time I left, I still owed my parents $300. But I was off to Japan.
Or, at least that's what I thought...

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