Sunday, June 20, 2010

bfg on Orientering

I have said this before, but it always amazes me that people in the past have actually discouraged me from joining the JET Programme. Many of them openly said that they avoided JET when deciding to leave for Japan to teach preferring to go with an agency. I think this weekend proves exactly why I am oh so happy I did not listen to these fools who blow more than farts out of their ass.

This past weekend, the Japanese Consulate here in Japan hosted an Orientation Weekend. All of Saturday and Sunday was spent with JET Alumni who shared their knowledge and experience so that we can prepare for departure.

Don't get me wrong - the idea of getting to McGill's Thomson House at 9am on a Saturday in business attire is not how I would prefer to spend most weekends. Especially when said place is nestled away at the top of what should be an illegal steep hill and it just happens to be 32 degrees Celcius in Montreal. The bf was kind enough to escort me to through Mont-Royal so the walk was beneficial in that I took lots of pictures of the scenery and Sasha the dog. Can't forget about her.

Once inside though it was down to business. Armed with Name tags, I was able to introduce myself to all those I had not met during Japanese language class and chatter away about placement and luggage colours. Quickly we were encouraged to settle in our seats as presentation after presentation given by Alum went on.

And boy did they cover it all: what to pack (or better yet, what NOT to), how to deal with relationships while on JET, Grocery Shopping and Cooking in Japan, what to expect when living in the countryside (inaka), a Reality Check of our expectations and lessons to remember, how to deal with Culture Shock, how to Team Teach (meaning how to work with the Japanese English Teacher), how to lesson plan, advice on money and taxes. By God! They even had a Problem Solving scenario exercise where in small groups we strategized on how to cope with issues that have actually occurred to JETs in the past.

Luckily, I was equipped with a beloved Moleskin and was able to take notes. I honestly highly recommend it even if it means being the only fool scribbling away furiously. Not only can I send out copious notes to dear Ashley in Ontario who doesn't have her Orientation until July but you have to remember that the seminars are speaking in general terms. They present to you several possibilities that you or your peers can be faced with; it really is a case-by-case scenario. So, always ready to colour code, the purple V5 Pilot in hand was devoted to questions I wanted to go over with Melissa my predecessor. Just to give you an idea, on Friday she had responded to all of my 20 questions and I felt ready to conquor! Now I have about 50 new questions and she is nice enough to SKYPE with me though it means a 6am wake-up. The things I do for love.

For any prospective JETs who are considering not going to their Orientation, if you "know" Japan so well you don't think you need to go well then just do it to bond with the gang. Which with the karaoke event on Saturday evening, we did!

You can see by the few pics below that there was lots of song searching, duck lips and eye bulging as we belted out the tunes. But the carefree sing-along (well, it was really yelling but...) to old school tunes while sharing a glass does, for one reason or another, create camaraderie. And these guys will have my back: when your suitcase wheels break off and there isn't a hope in hell, you think the little Japanese man will be helping me? No! Most likely its Guillaume or Andre or whoever else I was lucky enough to belt out Bohemian Rhapsody with.

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