Monday, 30 July 2012

Olympic opening ceremony

I watched the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday night. I'd researched quite a bit about it for the radio piece I've been working and it turned out to be really entertaining. I think Danny Boyle did a great job of covering the historical and the contemporary, and touching on everything the UK is famous for around the world. The scene with Mr. Bean and the one with James Bond and the Queen were inspired, and having the Arctic Monkeys perform to kick off the Olympics was great.

I finished off my radio piece and handed it in on Friday. I just have to write the critical appraisal to go with it and then I'm done with this masters. 

These last few weeks before I go to Japan seem to be going more quickly than they have in the past, but I've been busy with various things, including working quite a lot. My last shift is this Friday. 

On Wednesday everyone from work went on a night out. It was a couple of people's birthdays and a couple of us guys from the kitchen are leaving as well. We went to Corp, but there weren't many people there so it shut at 12. Strange.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2012


It feels like summer has finally come to Sheffield - yesterday and today it's been around 25°C. The weather was great for Tramlines at the weekend as well. This year was the first time I actually went to Tramlines. Me and a mate checked out the Drop Dead stage at Plug, then just walked around the city centre and enjoyed the atmosphere. The main stage on Devonshire Green was operating one-in-one-out and there were big queues to get in. I've never seen anything like it to be honest. Division Street was covered by a sea of people eating, drinking and generally having a great time. 

These last few days I've been working some more on my radio project. It's mostly done now. Just need to tweak and polish it, then write the critical appraisal. 

At the weekend I ended up on TV in Japan again, albeit in a more static form this time. My friend who works for NHK contacted me asking for any Olympic-related photos I'd taken recently. I sent a few across and they used three of them to show how England's getting ready for the Olympics. It's part of a bigger piece on a British guy who teaches English in Aomori and used to be a CIR at Aomori City Hall before me. Dunno how long it'll be up for but you can see the video here:

Things are progressing well on the Japan front. I bought my coach ticket down to Heathrow last night and I'll be getting my yen soon. 

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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Working holiday visa comes in the post

So eight days after applying, my passport came in the post with a visa attached:

It would be useful if I received my pension returns before I head back out to Japan - when I was on JET I had to pay into a pension as part of the job, and when you leave Japan you can claim most of this money back (脱退一時金).  You have to fill out a lot of paperwork (this is Japan we're talking about) and it seems the refund can take up to six months. I sent the forms off to Tokyo in March, and I still haven't got the refund.

The weather here is abysmal at the moment. We've had a couple of days of sun this week, but it's been torrential rain for the most part. There's been quite a few flood warnings etc.

My uni project is going well. Last Sunday I went to film some morris dancing in town (nice weather that day) and spoke to a few of the people involved. I always enjoy getting a glimpse into these kind of hobbies/communities. Here's a video I took of one of the performances:

Then on Wednesday I did a phone interview with Diarmaid MacCulloch, presenter of How God Made the English, a BBC series from a few months ago which I really enjoyed. He looked at how England's religious history has affected our culture today so I thought he'd be perfect for my piece. That day I also went to a new eatery on Glossop Road (Sheffield). It's called California Fresh and it's American/surf themed. They serve massive burritos, the tables look like surf boards and they play surf music over the speakers. Great place to enjoy a bit of lunch.

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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Working holiday visa

On Thursday me and my mate went down to the Japanese Embassy in London to get our working holiday visas. We'd followed the instructions on the embassy's website and prepared everything in advance. We'd also read these two blog posts which contain some useful information.  It was simply a case of handing over all our paperwork, signing it and paying the 23 quid. Took no longer than five minutes. The only advice I can add to the above resources is that they seemed to expect us to come back and pick up our visas when they were ready, but as we're from Sheffield we weren't able to do that. We just went to the nearest Post Office and each bought a Special Delivery envelope and addressed it to ourselves, then went back and handed over the envelope. We could have saved a bit of time if we knew we'd needed that envelope before going.

It was my third trip to the embassy, and much like the first time when I got my visa to study abroad in Kobe. In fact, I remember having to go to the same Post Office and buy an envelope then. Our visas should be with us within the next couple of weeks. One step closer to Japan.

We stayed over in London on the Thursday night, so got to do a bit of sightseeing on Thursday and Friday. I've uploaded some photos I took over the two days to my Flickr.  I took them with a DSLR camera I've borrowed from the department at uni. Tomorrow I'm planning to go and film some morris dancing in town so I needed it for that mainly. Yeah, apart from sorting out my visa I've been mainly working on my final uni project and working at Pizza Hut. I want to get all the interviews/material for my project done over the next week, then I'll spend the week after editing it and writing the appraisal.  That will all fall on the days off I have from Pizza Hut - the priority right now is saving up some money. But I've got a bit of money off my dad (early birthday present) and my grandparents just came round and they've given me a cheque which will help me out a lot. Couldn't ask for better grandparents.

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