My dear friend Reiko once looked at me in Tokyo and
said, "Are you going to go back to America and claim to be 'an expert on
"No," I replied. "The main insights
I've acquired in Japan have to do with being American."
And the lessons continue. Last night, after months
of living here, I finally registered my presence with the U.S. Department of
State. (Any American living abroad, or traveling for an extended period,
should do the same here.)
I also found
There's lots more on these sites; they're definitely
worth some browsing time. (I imagine Prince
Roy will have some things to add in the comments for this back on the blog.)
Registering as a citizen living abroad has several
benefits, one of which is notification by the State Department when they get
information pertinent to your life in the region for which you registered.
I, for example, have registered for both
"China-Mainland" and "Hong Kong SAR" mailing lists (since I
live about three minutes from the Hong Kong border). And, if there is
significant civil unrest either here or over there--the sort that might call for
an evacuation--I have a better chance of hearing about it as a registered U.S.
Along with such "emergency" services, I also
get updates on conditions whenever they become available. I received one introductory
report each for China and Hong Kong upon registration. If you do nothing
else today, read through these lengthy-but-useful reports. They are
Bookmark them and check for updates. And if I get
any, I'll let you know here.
(You can also read about other countries starting here.
Notice that I had to go through an anonymization
service to get to these pages from within China.)
In addition, some of the same information--and much
more--can be found in the CIA