Departure + Tokyo Post-Arrival Orientation
August 3rd was the day I left Toronto for Japan. It was also the start of Caribana which made driving out of our neighborhood a little bit difficult. I arrived at the airport with Mom, Dad and Nikola at 10AM which was when we were supposed to meet the travel agency who we had to check in with before checking in our baggage. I ended up bringing 2 check-in luggages, a carry-on suitcase and a backpack. My check-in luggages were a wee bit overweight but my parents improvised and put some of the stuff into my carry-on which ended up being pretty heavy.
Our flight was Toronto –> Tokyo (Haneda) and it was supposed to take about 12.5 hours. Due to a medical emergency, our flight ended up being delayed by an hour. This was nothing compared to the Montreal group’s delay of about 5 hours. They had some sort of mechanical issue with the plane.
The same hotel, Keio Plaza, has been used for JET post-arrival orientation since the ’80s!
Breakfast was always really good at the hotel but the lunch always left us a little bit hungry. The highlights of the breakfast were really smooth eggs and delicious sausages along with various fruits, breads, yogurt and even salad. The lunch on the first day was penne pasta with vegetarian sauce and on the second day it was vegetarian curry with rice. The reception on Monday was worth going to although some people skipped it. There was a large variety of food to try: different types of fish, meat and the one thing that went by the fastest was definitely the dessert.
Little did I know how small of a world it is. Turns out Evelyn and I had a mutual acquantaince through cadets! I also met another person from my prefecture, Tiffany, who was related to another friend.
We had to wear business formal during the orientation, so that meant suits all day every day! But that’s ok because the AC in the hotel was working and they would give us ice cold water outside of the rooms. The participating countries for Group B included Canada, United States, Sweden, UK, New Zealand, Philippines, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and Singapore. There were over 600 participants! Which is wild considering there was an intake just last week of another group.
Some presentations like the keynote speech and mental health awareness were excellent whereas some of them… not so much. I was placed in ES workshops with the first workshop on the first day probably being the most energetic and fun. Attendance was done for every workshop to ensure that everyone was accounted for. The second day depended on how much energy the presenter could emit since many of us were still very jetlagged and tired. Some of the Toronto JETs complained that they had already learned some of these lesson plans during P-Dot weekend so it felt quite repetitive. I didn’t attend that second day of P-dot weekend originally so this was great for me.
I was pretty tired each day and in the effort to preserve my mental health and stay awake during the day I didn’t go out that much after. The day usually ended pretty late and I would be exhausted. On the first night I managed to still go for a walk with some other people and marvel in the nearby bright lights. On the second night, our embassy hosted a reception with “light refreshments” which ended up with some really good information about how to keep in touch in terms of voting and disaster warning, but with a bit of a disappointing “light refreshment” since we were so tired and hungry. After that, Tiffany, Sam and I went to eat some yummy soba noodles!
Our hectic first 3 days were finally completed and I am so excited to finally get to Oita Prefecture and meet everyone there!