Pre-Departure Orientation

I realise it’s been a week since I last posted, but it’s currently the week before I leave for Japan so things have been getting busy, and I changed my mind on what I was going to post about as well.

I thought I’d write a bit about the Pre-Departure Orientation so people can get a bit of an idea what it involves. I went to the one in London since I’m in England, so other Pre-Departure Orientations might be a bit different, I don’t know.

At the London one, for people departing in August, there were two different groups, whose sessions started at different times (one beginning at 9.15am, one at 10.15am).

Firstly, you get given an hour for registration, which is just going to a desk and giving in your passport and getting your flight info and textbooks (yes, textbooks!). For the ALTs, an hour might be barely enough time to get through them all, but as there were only about 11 CIRs in my session it felt a bit like my ギリギリ getting there in time for the start of that hour long session wasn’t really needed after all. I would advise still trying to get there in time for the start of it though, as then you can find and chat to the other CIRs before the actual information sessions start.

The first lecture was a Japanese language session, for which you’re put into different groups (CIRs have a group to themselves). In the CIR session we focused on keigo, extremely useful since we’ll be working in a Japanese office so keigo is pretty necessary. We did self-introductions using keigo, then went over answering the office phone, taking memos and things like that. The CIRs get a specific textbook of language they’ll use, relating to office tasks, meetings, visits, speeches, receiving visitors, interpreting and other useful stuff like how to read place names and computer vocab. The lesson lasts about an hour and a half.

After that there was a welcome address from the Japanese Embassy before a PowerPoint about the travel arrangements (which the travel agent also emails to you afterwards, super helpful when you need to check things like baggage allowance).

Then there was an almost 2 hour break for lunch before the sessions resumed – the first one of the afternoon for the CIRs being the inventively-named ‘Session with a Former CIR’, where you could basically ask a former CIR any questions you had about the job, life in Japan, what omiyage to take, etc.

The final session of the day was ‘How to Get the Most Out of Being a JET’, which was really interesting apart from the fact that it was done entirely by two former ALTs with no CIR input…so the soon-to-be ALTs were asking them questions to which a lot of the responses seemed to be ‘oh, I just asked my CIR and they helped me out’, which was extremely unhelpful and slightly daunting to our row of soon-to-be CIRs who will also be new to the whole thing. Telling the soon-to-be ALTs to just ask their CIR for help with stuff when us CIRs won’t probably know any more about the area or system than they do seemed pretty counterproductive, but oh well. しかたがない, as they say.

After the last session there was a Pre-Departure Reception, which was held in the same hall/room we did registration in. After a busy day of sessions it was a bit of a struggle to stay standing on aching feet in a room with no air conditioning while various people we didn’t really know the significance of did speeches, but afterwards there was sushi and a stand sampling various Japanese alcohol, including Nihonshu and umeshu, among others.

All in all, it was an interesting day, just also very exhausting.

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