Wednesday, 22 July 2009

James Bond night at the embassy

The night before last was the celebratory reception at the embassy in London. I'm not sure I've ever been to such a formal (and exclusive!) party. As well as reacquainting with people I met at the orientation I met more JETs, organisers, interviewers and ex-JETs.

On arrival I was gently ushered upstairs to a large hall, at which point I was very promptly asked if I'd like a glass of champagne. When in Rome, and all that. And for every mouthful I took there was someone at my side, impeccably dressed, offering to top up my glass. After becoming just a little innebriated I was told this is a very Japanese thing to do, and if you've had enough you should let your glass fill and/or overflow. Oops. Point noted.

In addition to this year's crop of JETs, there were also representatives from JETAA (the Alumni Association) and a Japanese recruitment service, both of which would certainly prove useful contacts when any JET decides to step off the rollercoaster, or indeed during, should it be needed.

The evening was bisected with speeches from Japanese representatives as well as one from a current JET (in Japanese!), the JETAA Chair, and the Japan Local Government Centre Ambasssador Shin Ebihara, who jokingly added his dislike of the Japanese summer heat.

The evening for me was finished in a little pub around the corner from the embassy, drinking with Tom (Kyūshū-bound), Rebecca (Ibaraki-bound) and two ex-JETs.

Good stuff!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Preparation, preparation, preparation

That's all I'm doing at the moment, aside from meeting up with friends and spending time with family. For someone who isn't a shopaholic (or indeed, that good at shopping) I think I've done a solid job so far of purchasing essentials for Japan. However, despite being quite selective with what to take I seem to have spent a considerably large amount of money in a short time... where the heck is it all going?!

I've also just sorted one-way travel insurance and am now starting to attempt the various shipping forms and papers for my extra, unattended winter baggage. I'm ocean shipping with Yamato Transport who offer a good Japan-bound rate for JET ALT's. I've never heard of them before but they are obviously Japanese... I like that.

Next on the agenda: my introductory speech. I'll post it here when I've finished it.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Pre-departure orientation

Now that was intense - two days of quick-moving Japanese lessons, lectures and talks. All of it was useful and informative of course, but at the end of it I felt somewhat like Neo having all those martial arts forced into his brain. In a word, fried! A lot of it has sunk in though, and I found myself reciting chunks of Japanese to myself on the tube ride home.

Today is the 4-weeks-to-go mark. After the orientation I must admit the nerves are really starting to kick in, and my overworked brain is starting to realise that in just a month I won't be living in the UK.

I didn't manage to start my 'list' of things to take initially last week, but I will be making a conscious effort to do so tomorrow. Right now I'm trying to relax and enjoy the baking heat that is currently gripping the country - our teachers at the orientation took delight in telling us that Tokyo will be hotter and as high as 91% humidity. Can flesh melt?! Yikes.