Don’t worry, I’m still around.

Hello and thanks for visiting my site!

This blog is devoted solely to my experience with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and living in Japan. I have been back in the States for a while and, although I love Japan and hope to visit many more times, returning to work and live there is not something I see myself doing any time soon (but never say never!). So, the information on this blog will start to get dated (if it isn’t already) and there probably won’t be many more new posts.

Despite that, I do welcome any questions and comments you might have and I generally respond quickly, so please don’t hesitate to ask anything. I am still involved in the JET community and I gladly take advantage of any chance I get to talk to new people about Japan and JET (as friends and family are generally tired of it). Thanks and I hope you find something interesting/useful on this blog!

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2 thoughts on “Don’t worry, I’m still around.

  1. Hello!
    I’m one of the ‘bright eyed new graduates’ you mentioned in your last blog! However I am uncertain to whether or not I would enjoy becoming a JET so I have a few pesky questions!
    Firstly I am British and am wondering if you know of many British applicants being accepted? I also have some concerns towards whether or not I am strong enough as a person to handle being alone for a year, however I feel that if I get along with the Japanese teachers and students this may make it a less lonely experience for me. So I was wondering if you ever heard of any cases where the Japanese found JETs a hindrance or made them feel unwelcomed?
    I also have literally zero Japanese language skills, however of course I would be happy to learn…. but I must ask if you know of anybody who really struggled with the language or found themselves in situations where they could not convey themselves well and accidentally offending people? (big worry for me!) I struggle with my own confidence too and tend to worry a lot! I also am wondering….did you make any Japanese friends? 🙂
    Sorry for the essay of questions! I could go on but I shall resist this time!!
    Oh wait one more…..not that this matters to me greatly, but out of interest, did you make any money when you came back to America?
    Ta!
    x

    • Hello and thanks for your comment!

      JET started off as a UK–Japan exchange program so I think they’re committed to keep the UK actively involved. There are over 400 UK participants on JET, though I don’t have an idea of what the acceptance rate is or anything. But I knew and became friends with many UK JETs in my prefecture.

      For the most, JETs are treated very well and are welcomed by their community, the smaller the town the more exalted the JET seems to be. The experience is very much shaped by the teachers you work with, and unfortunately there are teachers who do treat JETs as a hindrance rather than an asset. I personally never had this problem, I did have a teacher who always forgot to ask me to class and very rarely made use of me or my activities when I did go, but I think that was more because he lacked confidence in his own English ability than anything. And as I mentioned before, the Japanese education system puts a lot of emphasis on rote learning and test taking so students are often only taught the grammar and vocab they can expect on the text rather than how to truly communicate.

      I have heard of JETs being treated poorly by teachers such as being criticized constantly, or teachers going to department heads or school leadership to saying the JET did this or that. More often than not, the teacher has something else going on (maybe having a rough time in their personal lives, or having a feud with a fellow Japanese teacher) and it gets taken out on the JET because we’re pretty much at the bottom of the school hierarchy (but we’re also guests and therefore must be treated well, it’s a conundrum). The JET Program does offer support, each prefecture have advisors (PAs) that you can talk to, and there’s also the Jetline, which you can call anonymously and talk to a program coordinator.

      I wouldn’t worry *too* much about accidentally offending someone with your Japanese skills, they know their language and culture can be difficult for Westerners to learn and navigate (though if you are ethnically East Asian, there’s a bit of added pressure to just “know” certain things. One girl in my group of friends was Chinese American, when we went out, waiters would always direct questions to her, and then my tall, caucasian Australian friend would typically be the one to reply!). If you get on JET you’ll get plenty of “culture” training, there are countless books and websites to teach you some dos and don’ts, and any decent Japanese language text book will have notes on the context you should use or not use certain words and grammar forms in. And really, if all else fails, ask! Like if you are going to a Japanese wedding or funeral or any other ceremony, don’t be afraid to ask what the customs are and what is good to bring or wear, etc.

      I did make a few Japanese friends, though admittedly most of them speak English pretty well so I didn’t speak Japanese to them so much.

      As for money, do you mean did I save any? I did save some (I was fortunate to not have any car maintenance costs and I had relatively low rent) plus I got a few thousand back with my pension refund. I benefited from a strong yen/weak dollar conversion, the rate from yen to dollar is not nearly as good anymore.

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