Our official swearing-in ceremony (not to be confused with the swearing-in which occurred our first day of orientation) took place on the 12th. My parents were able to attend, which meant more to me than I had realized it would. There was something very satisfying about escorting them down to the gift shop afterwards and buying them State Department t-shirts. I felt very... employed. A very adult feeling.
In the ceremony, they call out each person's name in turn and where she or he is being sent. As your name is called, you stand, and remain standing until the end. There is a strange sort of pride associated with seeing your classmates-cum-colleagues standing at attention in front of their families. It's a bit like high school graduation; you feel you've been given instruction to head out and make a mark on the world. There's a true sense of promise and mission involved.
But of course, before any mark-making takes place, there is more training to be considered. A few of us are leaving for post as early as late September; some will be in language training for almost a year. My departure is set for mid-winter, which is a bit earlier than most. I don't at all mind the extra training (the language and job-specific training I'm particularly looking forward to), but by far the best part of the whole affair is the new dress code: casual. After my suits return from the dry-cleaners, I plan to hang them in my closet and never look at them again until I reach Japan. Bliss!