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View Full Version : So, what's the deal with pre-departure orientation?



TomOmnomnom
May 21st, 2014, 06:14
Apparently, London pre-departure orientation is 10th-11th July this year. But as far as I know, that's all the info we've been sent regarding the matter. I'd like to get organised and buy my train tickets and sort out accommodation in advance as I live quite far from London. Could anyone please tell me where the orientation is held (does JET rent a venue to house all ALTs for the seminars -or is it held in the embassy itself?) and whether they put us up for accommodation, as it is a two day thing. I read somewhere that seminars were scheduled 10:00-19:00 in a previous year! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Shincantsen
May 21st, 2014, 06:54
It's likely the embassy hasn't finalized the location yet. Is this an optional orientation? If so, they probably won't provide accommodation. It's probably best to call or email the embassy to see if they have more up-to-date info.

ChristinaKeke
May 21st, 2014, 07:01
It's mandatory (I think). I'm curious too so please let me know what they say if you do call them! Travelling from up north to London isn't cheap!

yingyangryder
May 21st, 2014, 08:08
Accommodation is provided. You will likely be staying at a university campus (I forgot the name) near Mile End station in London. If you have to travel far and will be staying in a hotel the night BEFORE pre departure begins, you will have to sort that out on your own. Last year, I came the night before and stayed in the university campus (but had to pay for the first night). Hope this helps.

From what I remember last year, the first day ran from around 9am - 5pm then we were free to do as we please.
The second day was just Japanese classes, this finished around 4:30, you could go home but the majority of JETs went to the Embassy reception. I went to the Embassy reception but managed to get the very last train home (I lived around 2 hours from London).

Jiggit
May 21st, 2014, 08:48
Oh god pre-departure orientation. I'd forgotten about that, what a joke.

mrcharisma
May 21st, 2014, 08:50
Oh god pre-departure orientation. I'd forgotten about that, what a joke.

It was shite except from the shindig at the Japanese embassy. Looking back the lectures were among the most laughable I've encountered on JET, which is saying something.

The introduction to Japanese was ok.

Jiggit
May 21st, 2014, 08:59
I can't remember any of it tbh. The introduction to Japanese... I guess they were just making sure everyone could say "my name is Mr. Smith I come from America" and count to ten before coming over here but I'd hope that people would be at least smart enough to go and learn that on their own.

coop52
May 21st, 2014, 10:52
Don't they send the beginner Japanese book to you before you come anymore? I remember getting a book with a CD about a month before departure that had hiragana/katakana and some basic survival Japanese.

Antonath
May 21st, 2014, 10:55
They do, but the UK does (or did) some language lessons at pre-departure as well. It almost as if they think people should learn some Japanese before moving to Japan...

word
May 21st, 2014, 10:57
It's mandatory, but you can get out of it if you have a good excuse. I did, so I didn't attend mine.

par92186
May 21st, 2014, 11:33
It's mandatory, but you can get out of it if you have a good excuse. I did, so I didn't attend mine.

Oh, thank god.

word
May 21st, 2014, 11:41
Email your coordinator ASAP; let 'em know what's going on. They'll encourage you to attend anyway, but they (if they're anything like mine) should be understanding and will make sure you know all you need to know.

par92186
May 21st, 2014, 11:45
good advice word. I'm not trying to cop out of the predeparture OT, but I live in Korea and applied to Guam, so just to attend a 1-2 days OT that costs $500-800 just to fly to...is hopefully enough to get me out of having to do this. Hopefully most of the major details can be sent through email.

Ini
May 21st, 2014, 11:46
i went to mine, it wasnt that bad. some boring meetings, quick japanese lesson then got drunk the first night. second day some more japanese lessons, a decent reception at the embassy then into the pub to get drunk.

jacklostinred
May 21st, 2014, 12:02
Mine was basically a breakdown of your first 3 days, giving us luggage tags, a JET sticker, and airport meeting information which took maybe 2 hours tops. Then we bused to the Consulate diplomat's house and had lunch, a toast, a few speeches and mingled for a couple hours. Finished by 3 and I was off to do as I pleased.

Ini
May 21st, 2014, 12:04
technically the 2004 london pre departure orientation was the first ITIL-orama. the fancy new forum was the talk of the town.

jacklostinred
May 21st, 2014, 12:51
Edit: I forgot I wasn't in the lounge.

Gizmotech
May 21st, 2014, 13:04
If you're not in country near your application point you generally don't need to come. Hell, in Canada I remember one of our applicants was about a 12 hour drive (no train, no plane) to the embassy, and the first time I met her was at the mandatory day before orientation. We had a whole bunch of orientations before that and even the "mandatory" one before that wasn't mandatory given her distant and expenses.

I doubt AVN had to leave the country for orientation.

par92186
May 21st, 2014, 13:21
If you're not in country near your application point you generally don't need to come.

Thanks for the heads up Gizmo! What a relief.

Gizmotech
May 21st, 2014, 13:50
Thanks for the heads up Gizmo! What a relief.

But like other's have said, obviously contact your consulate/embassy and inform them of the situation.

miamicoordinator
May 22nd, 2014, 00:07
From my point of view:

Yes, they are "mandatory". I put it in quotations because the mafia is not going to show up at your doorstep and force you to go, but we do require it. Is there a lot of stuff that we talk about that is ridiculous? I am sure there is, but CLAIR requires us to instruct all departing JETs on certain topics so that when they arrive in Japan they cannot say "Oh I didn't know that!"

I know most people don't remember everything that is said, but believe me that we coordinators put forth effort in trying to make these as instructive as possible without having them be too boring. Think about anything you have planned in your life for other people and they decide not to show up because they don't feel like it. It sucks. Gizmo is correct that if there is some reason you cannot make it, then you need to tell your coordinator as soon as possible. Do not wait till the last minute to let them know, that is unprofessional and disrespectful if you knew ahead of time.

The PDOs are usually in the departure city the day before you travel to Japan, so travel costs are going to be the same, especially since flights from the US to Japan (I am unsure about flights from the UK and Au and Nz) leave in the morning.

Please try to make it to the PDO if you can.

That being said, if you are in Korea, eventually you are going to have to go to Guam anyway to process your visa before you get to Japan. Make sure to straighten that out with the coordinator there.

P.S. If anyone has ideas about how they think PDOs can be better, please PM Me. (Dont clutter this thread with it, thx).

johnny
May 22nd, 2014, 01:29
The PDO out of Vancouver was awesome. It was held at the Japanese consulate, we sat through a few nice speeches and then were given free booze and a nice lunch while we chatted with new and former JET's. How anyone could complain about that, I do not know.

TomOmnomnom
May 22nd, 2014, 04:34
I kinda figured there'd be a few sleep-inducing talks during the orientation, haha. But still, I'm quite looking forward to it. Thanks for all the input, guys, I might give the embassy a ring tomorrow if I can fit it in around work.

webstaa
May 22nd, 2014, 08:35
The biggest thing for it being mandatory, is that they give you your passport back at PDO on the day you leave/day before you leave.

miamicoordinator
May 22nd, 2014, 09:13
The biggest thing for it being mandatory, is that they give you your passport back at PDO on the day you leave/day before you leave.

Correct. Coordinators in the States at least, will return your passports and yakkan shomei either at the PDO or at the airport. In Miami, I hand out the insurance handbooks at the PDO, and the actual passports bright in early in the morning on Saturday.

Most other coordinators do not go to the airport though, so they will hand back your documents at the PDO.

jacklostinred
May 22nd, 2014, 09:51
For those already living in Japan who are NOT on a tourist visa you can have your visa changed while in country. My wife is doing that this year and has just finished working out the details with our PA.

It sounds like she is going to skip the predeparture orientation but has been in contact with our coordinator to make it happen.

par92186
May 22nd, 2014, 10:38
From my point of view:

if there is some reason you cannot make it, then you need to tell your coordinator as soon as possible. Do not wait till the last minute to let them know, that is unprofessional and disrespectful if you knew ahead of time.
Please try to make it to the PDO if you can.

That being said, if you are in Korea, eventually you are going to have to go to Guam anyway to process your visa before you get to Japan. Make sure to straighten that out with the coordinator there.

Thanks for the information MC! I am definitely not trying to skip the PDO, but strict finances and my current teaching schedule/contract obligations in Korea really prohibit me leaving during my contract period. My current Coordinator in Guam is on vacation, so I am going to definitely reach out to him asap to sort this issue out. I don't want to give an unprofessional impression, but again my teaching contract in Korea really prohibits me any ability to exit Korea during contracted teaching days.

MC, do you know if it is possible to have my visa processed via mail? I was able to do that with my Korean visa before I came.
Thanks!

miamicoordinator
May 22nd, 2014, 11:05
Thanks for the information MC! I am definitely not trying to skip the PDO, but strict finances and my current teaching schedule/contract obligations in Korea really prohibit me leaving during my contract period. My current Coordinator in Guam is on vacation, so I am going to definitely reach out to him asap to sort this issue out. I don't want to give an unprofessional impression, but again my teaching contract in Korea really prohibits me any ability to exit Korea during contracted teaching days.

MC, do you know if it is possible to have my visa processed via mail? I was able to do that with my Korean visa before I came.
Thanks!

I will PM you the answer.

Gizmotech
May 22nd, 2014, 11:07
In Ottawa we were given back our passports the day before the flight at the embassy departure reception.

Ini
May 22nd, 2014, 11:49
In my day you handed in your passport at PDO and you got it back at the airport the day you left.

par92186
May 22nd, 2014, 12:53
In my day you handed in your passport at PDO and you got it back at the airport the day you left.

For your PDO was it a day or two before the flight to Tokyo OT? I still don't have the dates for my PDO yet, but read over the online handbook and the PDO usually takes place a day or two before the new ALTs fly to Tokyo. Anyone have experience with this?

Ini
May 22nd, 2014, 15:16
My PDO was about 3 weeks before we flew

webstaa
May 22nd, 2014, 15:38
For your PDO was it a day or two before the flight to Tokyo OT? I still don't have the dates for my PDO yet, but read over the online handbook and the PDO usually takes place a day or two before the new ALTs fly to Tokyo. Anyone have experience with this?

My PDO was the day before and the morning before the flight out. It was held in a hotel next to the airport. I schedule went - drive to hotel in the morning, wait to check in with orientation, after orientation go to fancy JET dinner. Then go to AJET/JETAA afterparty down the road. Then return to hotel. There were two speeches (one from a former JET writer and some other dude) and then question time for the people still freaking out about OMFGIMMOVINGOVERSEAS / MUKADEWILLEATMEINMYSLEEP / ILLGETRADIATIONPOISONINGFROMLIVINGINKYUSHU.... Other than that is was just talking about TO itinerary and how they wouldn't save your ass if you have a mental breakdown in the first 48 hours in Japan/get arrested etc... Everything was paid for (hotel, crappy lunch, fancy dinner and even the 'afterparty'. AFAIK, at least one person did not show up for PDO (or even the airport) and a couple of people were VERY late.

Sleep, wake up, shower, and dress for the flight and check out, pick up passport from coordinator. Take bus (5 minutes) to airport, stand in line for 1.5 hours to check in. Head to gate, board plane and fly to Narita. Go through immigration/customs. Send luggage ahead (you will want to do this with ALL your larger suitcases - only take one to orientation), board bus to Keio Plaza. Then sign in and get room assignment 3 strangers in a two single bed room (par for the course of business travel.) Go out shopping. Attend all mandatory TO events and a few workshops during the day, in the evening do whatever I felt like (went shopping etc.) Meet with CIR/Prefectural Supervisor and got on the train north.

Coolmanio
May 23rd, 2014, 03:35
I just received an e-mail about a 'Pre-departure Seminar' that is happening in the middle of June. It is at the University and not the embassy. Is this the same thing as the PDO? It seems rather early to do it and does not mention anything about bringing our passports.

miamicoordinator
May 23rd, 2014, 04:02
I just received an e-mail about a 'Pre-departure Seminar' that is happening in the middle of June. It is at the University and not the embassy. Is this the same thing as the PDO? It seems rather early to do it and does not mention anything about bringing our passports.

In June, we hold Q&A sessions, which are called seminars, or Alumni-led orientations in bigger consulates. Its just a meet and greet to discuss important things like packing, money, and meet your fellow participants. This is not the same as the Pre-Departure Orientation which happens the day before you leave.

Coolmanio
May 23rd, 2014, 04:07
In June, we hold Q&A sessions, which are called seminars, or Alumni-led orientations in bigger consulates. Its just a meet and greet to discuss important things like packing, money, and meet your fellow participants. This is not the same as the Pre-Departure Orientation which happens the day before you leave.

Ah, this makes sense. So I assume these are not mandatory?

And to those who have been to them, are they worth attending?

miamicoordinator
May 23rd, 2014, 04:18
Ah, this makes sense. So I assume these are not mandatory?

And to those who have been to them, are they worth attending?

Mine is not mandatory (but I highly encourage it!) If you are interested in meeting the JETs from your area, or Consulate, then by all means, go and have a good time. It is normally more relaxed than the formal PDO.
Whether or not it is worth it would depend on how much you enjoy interaction with other people. I know some prefer to be to themselves, and have no interest in getting to know anyone departing from the same city. If you would like to get to know some people before the PDO, then it is a good opportunity.

Some of the JETs I sent last year became good friends through these events and still see each other frequently in Japan.

There are many people who do not know about ITIL and do not get a chance to see all the threads about packing, and what to bring and not bring, so this is a good opportunity for those to get that information.

webstaa
May 23rd, 2014, 08:16
Ah, this makes sense. So I assume these are not mandatory?

And to those who have been to them, are they worth attending?

Went to mine - got ZERO information I didn't already know, but I'd lived in Japan for 9 months before that. We also went to a 'Japanese' restaurant afterwards, which was pretty meh (they lost the group reservation and the next open table was at least 2 hours away.) If you have questions, go - someone will give you an answer, it might be wrong, but ESID...

kenkennif
May 23rd, 2014, 12:30
Someone mentioned something above about needing to 'sort out accommodation' and I didn't see any reply on that for them - The London Orientation my year we had it at Uxbridge University campus and we were put up for free in the student halls. I'd never ridden the tube so far in my life before though and it was a right pain in the arse getting there.

It was quite good to go though because it made it feel like the whole experience was actually really and actually happening to me for the first time - it was also a good chance to form a group of friends for Tokyo orientation so you could go out and enjoy a bit of the city with people you kind of already knew before hand - I also met some people from my prefecture which was great and we all went out to the pub together to get to know each other.

Might be a bit of a hassle but it's not all that bad.