Pre-departure Orientation

28 Jul

Today I rose at the crack of dawn (7 am; this is beyond early for me) to head to New York for pre-departure orientation.  I drove my beloved car (a periwinkle 2010 Honda Fit called Prissy) one last time to a friend’s  house, and it was a bittersweet parting… with my mother and sister, who had come to bid me farewell, as well as with the vehicle in question.  But after goodbyes were said, it was time to put my bags into my friend (S)’s mother’s minivan and trek off to New York.

I’ve been incredibly lucky through the JET application process that my friend’s parents own a small apartment in New York that they’ve let us use every time we’ve needed to come to New York for JET.  Finding lodgings would have made the whole ordeal ten times more stressful, so I’m eternally grateful for being put up.  Even better yet, the apartment is only 2 blocks from The Nippon Club, where pre-departure events are held.  Because of the close proximity, walking time necessary to get to orientation was minimal, and we arrived at the apartment in time to grab a bite to eat and get changed at our leisure.  We also met up with a third friend, J, who is sleeping over with us tonight in the apartment, as well.
Fed and clothed, we headed to the orientation, where we received our passports back (nothing like spending a month without your passport, hoping that it hasn’t gotten lost somewhere in the bureaucracy) along with an envelope of odds and ends from the travel agency– special luggage tags, a JET identification sticker, a card to hand to the CLAIR associates on arrival in order to redeem our bus tickets, etc.  The departure process was explained in great and painstaking detail by various people and questions were asked by JET participants before, an hour later, we were dismissed.

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After the orientation was a farewell reception being hosted by the Japanese ambassador.  We freshened up before hopping a cab uptown to the ambassador’s residence, which was swanky.  There was a live koto player and delicious food, and we spoke to a variety of alums, 2012 JETs, and guests from Japan.  All in all, it was a wonderful party, with words of support from the ambassador, a JET alum, and someone from the 2012 New York JET group.  The opportunity to talk with more people in our departing “class” (if you will) as well as reacquaint ourselves with people we had met at the pre-departure seminar in June was fantastic.

However, we were all tired from stress and traveling, and so as the party began to wrap up, we headed back to the apartment.  Time for final preparations and rest– we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow!

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