1 August 2011


Posted by Roland under: JET; Personal .

The schedule for Tokyo orientation was a bit imposing. We all expected the fact it would be non stop meetings morning to night, but the JET program, knowing that it sends its participants into a variety of situations across the country, offers just as many workshops for each person to choose from based on their interests. The fact you could pick and choose what you wanted to listen to helped break the monotony of the day, although in the end, you’re still being lectured at, which unfortunately meant for almost everyone here (except for the lucky New Zealanders), that you were fighting jet lag as you tried to stay awake.

So I fully expected to fall asleep during various points in the day. I withheld from coffee for breakfast even though falling asleep would be bad times. However, to my surprise, most of the speakers during the day made it easy to stay awake. They all had interesting things to say about the topic at hand and many were also surprisingly humorous. Notably, the robotlike hosts of the JET Info DVD had their turn on the stage and turned out to be actually interesting and humorous speakers. When one came up to give the keynote and speak for an hour, it may have been a bit of a warning sign to many in the crowd who remembered his performance, but by the end of the speech we didn’t even realize the hour was up as he had kept us going the whole time with great stories and advice, punctuated with many jokes. Why that couldn’t have been on the DVD, I’m not sure, although I would think Japanese formality would have some hand in it.

Another large part of the day was dedicated to seeing how life would be in Japanese elementary/middle/high schools. It was easy to fall into the trap of all the fun and good pictures/videos the presenters chose to highlight and believing your life in Japan will always be the same. Of course that stuff makes for more engaging presentations. However, they would be careful to point out 1) your life in Japan is not going to be like theirs, 2) there will be challenges. You may expect genki (energetic) kids everyday, but as one person said, Japanese kids are still kids. English still equals study. And kids anywhere in the world do not like to study. You’re going to get blank stares, sleeping kids, etc. Just don’t let it get you down.

During the culture shock presentation, they spoke about the stages of shock, the initial one (Stage 1) being the euphoria experienced while being in a new country. And even though I’ve done Japan and Tokyo so many times, the infectious Stage 1 happiness of other JETs made it quite easy to share an izakaya night (after a failed attempt at karaoke…too many) as we all talked about where we came from and where we were all going. I’m saving my Stage 1/2 crisis point for when I get to Kumamoto and see where I’ll actually be living for the next year. Unfortunately, I don’t get to live in a nice hotel in Shinjuku for my JET experience…if only!

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