Commuting through London during rush hour to get to the JET Two Day Pre-departure Orientation (a mouthful in itself!) only confirmed further that moving to rural Japan was the right plan of action!
Meeting the UK JETs
The Pre-departure Orientation was first time the UK JETs could finally get to meet each other and truly find out what they had let themselves in for. (On a side note, the advantage of Japanese formality meant that other JET participants were easy to spot and strike up conversation with during the two days, as they were the only students to ever grace Brunel University campus in full business attire!)
Over the course of orientation much information was delivered to the JETs, from flight details to Japanese education structure, teaching pointers to aspects of Japanese culture (a compelling photo/story talk by Martyn Kingsbury who gave great insight into the little details, like the quantity of vending machines, the onsen and how to find the tastiest bento boxes).
Day Two saw us divided into Japanese language abilities, then into regions to allow us to fully embarrass ourselves linguistically with our new neighbours – nothing prepares you better for the agony of karaoke than struggling through a mess of romaji and hoping that the sounds emanating from your mouth can be likened to Japanese.
Finally, the time I had been most anxious and excited about was fast approaching – giving a speech at the JET Reception at the Japanese Embassy (see feature photo).
I’ll confess, my speech was half written by Mark Twain thanks to his wonderfully appropriate musings on travel and life, but nevertheless I felt proud as I stumbled across the finish line, ending with a horribly garbled Japanese paragraph, to a much appreciated pause.
Clearly I had come across well by the number of business cards I gained from interested Japanese business people, and I managed to enjoy a number of Japanese canapés and champagne whilst making conversation.
I’d like to think this small experience, of saying yes to scary challenges, is the first of many to come during my Japanese year.