Updates

Because I didn’t know what else to call this post after its been so incredibly long.

To get you up to speed, I failed the JLPT N3. Not my brightest moment. I didn’t allow myself to study enough. By the time I got serious enough, it was crunch time and I just didn’t give it the amount of dedication that I would have liked. Probably for more than one reason, but also because of procrastination – I’m sure.

I have started a brand new school year here — officially speaking, it’s my first, since incoming JETs are placed in Japan midway into the school year. Things are way way more fluid now. I am teaching kids that know me from elementary school, so I don’t have that awkwardness that comes from both sides when everything is entirely new.

Some kids ARE new, but I would say out of a class of 35 students, I probably know 30-33. It’s really nice to get along and talk a bit more comfortably in the school halls.

Japan DOES have this seemingly weird thing though, where the staff is kinda of switched around. So some of my co-teachers at several of my schools are no longer there. There is some kind of rotation process that happens every year or so and it even affects the teachers who will lead certain after school activities as well, as in the teacher who led tea ceremony club might lead calligraphy instead. It’s very different from back home, where you can pretty much expect the same staff year after year unless someone voluntarily transfers or quits or gets fired or something.

I do have to say that my professional relationships have improved for the better, not only with my students but with my co-teachers. Most of them are still with me and so class flow goes smoothly. There is already a strong dynamic that is present and the students can feel it too.

The weather here is warming up. I would like to enjoy it. I cant believe I am staying here another year. Not because it was unexpected or last minute, but because that means I have to survive another winter here. It felt so MURI (impossible) this past winter. At least I know I need my indoor winter coat and down feather vest INDOORS.

As far as personal achievements go, I just got elected to be the Events Coordinator for my prefecture. It will be a lot of responsibility, but I’m looking forward to it. It will be fun to be active in my community this way.

As of this month, I have launched another website WANONY.COM with a couple friends from back home. I have never stayed home so many weekends in a row during my entire time in Japan until NOW. The subject matter of the site is South Korea and New York. There will be lots of beauty, music, and other culture related posts. It has been a thought of mine to do something like this for a while, and I was just really tired of thinking about it. I was also excited to begin a big personal project. There’s a lot of second-guessing that comes with it, one of the things being that none of us (me and 5 friends) are Korean. But the mission is really to spread a culture that we thoroughly enjoy – particularly with other Non-Koreans – by sharing the parts of it that excite us. And so I think it’s actually a really great thing that we are all so different and somehow came to love the same place in different ways. Please visit when you have a chance. Sorry if things look wonky at first, we are doing a lot in both the front and back-end of the site.  <3

So yeah with all these things, I am quite busy. Happily so. I mean, I would like to get more sleep than I have been getting, but it seems that no matter what, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and I’ve got goals. I’m glad to be doing something that I enjoy doing. It’s work that doesn’t feel like work.

Golden Week just passed which is a MAJOR holiday here because people actually do get to take some time off, like one time a year, heh. I went to Seoul on a group vacation with some JET Program friends and despite some hiccups, we had a good time! It was my first time to travel with other people. I have always gone to Seoul solo. While big groups can be tough, I did have enough personal time to do the things that I wanted to do. No vacation is ever long enough though.

My legs are missing the floors of the hip hop clubs in Hongdae already.

All in all. a lot has happened, and I am excited that my first full school year is here. It is also nice to not be thrown into school and right into the Sports Day madness, as happens to every JET when they first arrive in summer. Now I get to see that four-month-long preparation process from the beginning. Oh boy…..

xoxo

Tomoko

Ohisashiburrito!

My goodness. I have truly been MIA.

What’s happened since I last posted?

I went to Seoul again for Christmas/New Years….. (and saw 10cm in concert — SOO AMAZING!)

I’ve had bounenkais – end of year parties in Japan – with a few schools and my eikaiwa. (During which I mentioned my like for whiskey and was promptly handed a glass of whiskey on the rocks — ??!!)

I’ve had another — very short semester come up again. It’s actually nearly over as I type this….Spring Break is in late March…During which I’m back in Seoul…..

I attended the After JET Conference in Tokyo…Despite the name, recontracting JET’s (yes, that’s ME) are invited to attend. I am seriously looking into furthering my education as my next step after JET, and seeing as some local colleges and universities were going to be present at the job fair portion of the conference, I wanted to do my research early. After attending, and scoring a 1-on-1 Career Consultation, I am still pretty much set on applying to schools in Korea after I return home from JET.

What you have to realize is that it’s never too early to start thinking about the next step. Coming on JET, you are already aware that you are on the program for a limited time. Your run in Japan may last much longer, but you can only be a JET for five years maximum. Your plans after that, are really up to you.

So yes, I have recently re-contracted… understandably. Being here has been so fun – (besides the winter-time cold) Everyone I know has been super supportive. I get to travel often. Hell, I’ve been here for more than half a year and I haven’t been to Kansai’s ‘Koreatown’ yet….because I keep going to Seoul, haha. Isn’t that a good problem to have? I feel lucky everyday that I can be a JET. But I know that I plan on doing my two-year run, and continuing my education.

With this in mind, I realize that being a JET is very important, but it’s just as important to have an option or two when it comes to thinking about what your next step will be. It may not be what happens in the end, but nothing is worse than feeling like you’re in employment limbo. That’s totally part of why I left NY and started this journey in the first place. It is easy to get stuck in the comfort of JET. It’s one of the best programs that the Japanese government can offer English speaking foreigners. But #thosegoalsdoe ….

One Time for Your Mind,

xoxo Tomo xoxo

p.s. Happy Valentine’s Day!😉

H to the Izz-O, V to the Izz-A

Today I got out of work early.

And by early, I mean the time I’m normally supposed to, which is at 4:30. I was out before 4:45 after packing and stopping to talk to a colleague.

Things have been so busy with teaching, and events, and holidays, and online courses, and my two after school clubs and speech contests that it’s been rare that I go home while there is sunlight still outside. And on the days that I did, I often had meetings at other schools for lesson plans or skype sessions with the other co-emcee of the speech contest. It paid off though, as TWO of my kids placed in top prizes!😀

Busy bee, indeed.

After school, I had to stop at my local Aeon Shopping Mall to buy two notebooks. I have a small one that I use for personal notes and near-daily To-Do Lists (that I think will be neat to look back on after my JET days are over), and the other is meant for JLPT grammar study. And post-JLPT study, because I seriously don’t think I’m passing that thing from the way it looks right now. For some reason — (I think it is Aeon’s anniversary) — the whole supermarket was on sale. So while I am severely tight on funds, I bought a couple things that weren’t on my list. Including Pocky. [Happy Peppero Day for the Koreans and Korea-lovers reading] It was great timing, since at this upcoming conference, unless we buy our own lunch, we need to bring a bagged lunch for the day. I’m thinking of making something for at least one of the two days.

After I got home, and started preparing a quick dinner of salad and some ready-made things from the market, I heard my doorbell ring. I never expect anyone, so it always alarms me when that happens. Also when the house phone rings. I thought, “Oh no… what if it’s those TV guys…” — If you have a television in Japan, you have to pay to have television service – even if its not cable, and these guys come by to collect the money for it. Even if you don’t turn on your TV. Even if it’s not plugged in the wall. It’s a huge surprise as a foreigner, and I heard they are pretty insistent, even if you don’t know what is going on. They will get that money!

I went to the door and opened it, staying positive and thinking that maybe it was my really nice neighbor/coworker. It wasn’t. And I really wasn’t prepared, but it was Jehova’s Witnesses.

I don’t knock anyone for their beliefs, at ALL. But living in NY has taught me one thing. Pretend to not be home. Well it was too late for that. The guy who rang my bell was young, tall, and kind of cute. He was with an older/elderly guy. With the two of them there, I had to open my door a little wider than usual. He must have seen my underwear hanging to dry in the house. (I don’t leave them out to dry with my other laundry because I live on the first floor, and yes I heard  from my predecessor that someone has expressed their interest in female underwear by stealing them).

I’m sorry he had to see all that though. His eyes wandered so much. Looked at me, looked at the ceiling, at his pamphlets.. my intimates were practically hanging right behind me too! I just couldn’t stop laughing in my head. The older guy saw nothing, as he was standing behind Young Guy. He said nothing too, as his English skill level was non-existent.

Young Guy asked me a couple questions in Japanglish, like if I’m a foreigner, where I’m from, and if I am here for work. I answered slowly, pretending to not really understand his questions. I felt so bad, but I just wanted to eat my salad. I had already put the dressing on too. Priorities.

I thought the language barrier would be a deterrent. Don’t get me wrong – I’m nowhere near fluent in conversational Japanese, so it was still a struggle on top of the awkwardness. He told me had a video to show me on his iPad and that it was in English. Oh boy, I wasn’t getting off easy.

It was a four-minute video with really exaggerated footage of war victims and people crying at funerals, and a presumably African child wasting away in her mother’s arms and posed the question of why do such things exist if God controls the world… and something something. I watched it in its entirety and tried to explain when Young Guy asked me if I had read the bible, that I had in the past, but that I am now a Daoist. For some reason, even with my cellphone in hand and the use of my Japanese dictionary app ‘imiwa’  (aka ‘kotoba’ for you cool kids), he didn’t know what I meant. Kanji is confusing, even to the Japanese!

He asked in broken but cute English if I was interested and I turned down the offer with an “I’m okay.” The older man must have just heard the “okay” part and thought I was ready to sign up with an online account (these were some really high-tech JW’s!) because he repeated my “okay” to Young Guy in an excited voice – like when you’re waiting for your mom to make up her mind to let you go to the free Coheed and Cambria concert in Central Park (I’m STILL bitter about that, mom!).

I had to clarify: “No thank you, I’m sorry.” They weren’t pushy at all, as I have experienced some JW’s to be back home sometimes, and when I apologized, Young Guy reassured me that it was okay. My sorry wasn’t a “sorry I didn’t just convert to your religion pre-salad consumption on a Tuesday evening”, but I just feel bad telling most people ‘No’ especially, when they are being nice and respectful.

I wonder if they keep a log of the addresses that they have visited and how the interaction went. I wonder if I will get any more visits. I wonder if my intimates will be hung next to my head next time.

LAWLS.

Ciao,

tomoko

Dreams Come True…

It’s finally hitting me….
With just a few days left until Friday, the day I fly out to Chiba (up near Tokyo) for KNOTFEST 2014, I am getting really hyped. Who is your favorite musician? Who is someone you’re not currently addicted to like a trend, but that musician or group that you can come back to months and months and years later, and still connect to their sound? Who brings you back to you first time you listened to them, even though it’s been years? No, I’m not talking about K-pop. Are you surprised?

knotfestjapan2014

KNOTFEST is a metal rock music festival created by Slipknot (high school days flash before me as I type) and not only is ONEOKROCK playing, but one of my all time favorite bands will be there as well: Lamb of God. AND THEY PLAY THE SAME DAY, THANK BUDDHA. These guys know how to put on a good show, and they are great people. I bought tickets for this in JULY. It’s NOVEMBER. So excuse me if I got caught up in the passage of time and am suddenly overcome with joy upon really realizing that the big day is here soon. Ever since getting into LoG, like 10, 11 years ago, it has been my dream to see them in Japan. It’s really happening.

[Some mesmerising guitar instrumentals below] – ‘Barbarosa’ off of ‘Resolution’

The evening I fly out happens to be on the day of a major JET Teaching Conference. No, I didn’t know this back when I bought my tickets. (I bought them before I even left New York!) I had to arrange to dip out a bit early, but fortunately, not in the middle of a workshop! I hate to ask for favors. I don’t want to be that person, you know? But I can’t miss my flight or check in! (I already learned what that was like once on my last trip to Seoul. And severely paid the price in tears and hundreds of dollars I could have spent on FOODDDD. Never again!) So as long as I make it to the airport for check-in, all should be well. But I’ve got very little time between dipping out at 3:30 and catching the 3:40 or 3:44 train considering the conference venue is a little walk to the station. But I will run my little legs as fast as I possibly can, until they are on fire.

This time I’m staying at a hotel for the night, I didn’t do a hostel as I usually do when traveling solo. The capsule hotel I was trying to book over the summer only had accommodations for males at the time. And considering what happened at the capsule hotel I stayed in in Osaka over Halloween weekend (sticky fingers managed to get a hold of my money – and ditch my bag in the dirty towel hamper….) I’m totally fine with not checking out this place in Chiba again to see if there’s female rooms available. I get my own big bed! Total win! I wish I could stay longer to visit some buddies in Tokyo, but I’ve gotta be back in for work on Monday. You only live once, right?

I’m pretty sure I packed my many-years-old Lamb of God Congregation (their fanclub name) shirt. I think I’m gonna wear that with my OOR beanie I bought at their first show in NYC. It will probably be cold, but I’m ready to have some fun! Even if I’m broke. I just sent money to the US, and the exchange right now… it’s totally a noose around the neck. Remitting money sucks when the rates aren’t in your favor….. T___T

Ciao,
tomoko

P.S. I was totally about to title this piece ‘Hey Now, Hey Now, This is What Dreams are Made of’ but that is not a good look for an entry about metal, LMAO.
You know you watched Lizzie McGuire, shaddup.

Progress, I hope??

Wow guys!

It’s been a little longer than I expected. My apologies.
I’d also like to blame my forgetfulness. I deleted all my cookies after some major computer issues, and forgot my login details. When this happens, I really HATE to create new login information because I feel like it makes it easier for me to get confused the next time. The more potential Username/PW combos I create, the more I have to store somewhere in my dusty brain…. It just gets messy. Also not being home, starting online classes, and planning my county’s speech contest — for which I will be an emcee, is a bit of work.

However, I hope you have been paying close attention to the JET Program Website, as the application has been open for some time now, and will close on: NOVEMBER 14th at 5 PM. 

This is a little less than 10 days away. (For those not strong in the math department – I’m not either, haha)

I hope you have read through my advice pieces long before the application opened — but please feel free to refresh your memory on anything you have questions about over the next week or so. Please write me if you have to. I would love to help if I can.

Are you anxious? I definitely was. I kept asking myself if I had the right numbers of copies of everything, if things were signed off, etc. Chances are, with all my worrying, I was probably more likely to make a mistake! Please take your time and use checklists. 

And most important, be confident and proud of yourself that you are taking this step. It’s a big deal, even if it seems it only matters to you. You may have heard some words of discouragement already: “Oh but you don’t know Japanese!” “But you are vegetarian, it’s impossible!” “Won’t you get homesick?” – but you have to remember why you want this. When you believe in your goals, and in yourself to accomplish those goals, you can do anything.

As the application period is still underway, I am wishing all 2015 JET applicants the world over, a ton of good luck! I hope you have already learned so much!

Stay tuned to NNN for more on my adventures – perhaps it’s something like the life you could be living in a few months’ time!

As for my last piece of advice, keep a copy of your entire application for yourself. In case there are issues, so that you can learn from it, so that you can say you took a leap and applied yourself. I still have mine and I brought it to Japan too. That’s how important it is to me.

Ciao,

tomoko

JET Programme 2015: Pre-Application Advice: Part V: JETs with Families and Placement Preference

This is Part V of a multi-part series for those of you who are interested in applying for the JET Programme for 2015. If you have not yet already done so, or need a refresher, please read the previous parts, linked at the end of this post. PLEASE note that this advice is for American applicants ONLY. I am unsure of the differences that may exist on the application in your home countries.

Soooooo… How are those essays coming along? Well, I hope! Well I’m here to deliver another round of advice from my personal notes…the first may not apply to many of you, but definitely to some, and may be something others may have not considered! If you have kids, are newly engaged or married and you can’t bear to part with your family for so long… there’s an option for you!

The second is something that concerns mostly everyone, if not all of you. Those of you that have even an ounce of knowledge on Japan could name a city or two in this wonderful country. Is there someplace in Japan you love? A place you always wanted to see, and would love to call home, or your “backyard”? I’m talking about the nerve-wrecking placement preference! I mean, how could you even choose from all the options?

Read on…

1. Dependents/Accompanied by Family?

Many JET applicants are not alone in wanting to bring their spouse or children along with them! It’s not frowned upon at all! In fact, this year, there are quite a few married JETs in my area alone. I’m sure there are many new JET families all across Japan! Do not fear that because you express your wish to bring your loved ones with you, that this disqualifies you in any way! I think it is beautiful that you can share such a unique experience with the people you love in this way, and it is amazing that JET provides you and your family with so much help! JET will help you tons, but until it gets to that point, you have to let JET know on your application. I hope to post more on this in detail, but really, the biggest hurdle in the beginning is finishing the application. Plus, you probably have a lot of things to figure out at home if you’re even considering moving your family across the world! The biggest thing I wanted to stress in this section is that it will NOT hurt your chances. Take the leap, the more the merrier!

  1. Placement Preference: You don’t always get what you wish for!

The unofficial motto of JET is ESID: Every Situation is Different. This couldn’t be truer as it pertains to the placement of newly admitted JETs. In my case, I asked to be placed in Tokyo, then in Kanagawa (because of its proximity to Tokyo) and then Kobe (which I had the pleasure of visiting three years ago – I need to make a trip there soon!). Ultimately, I got placed in a small city/town in Nara. The JET application allows you to list three preferences, and if you want to argue your case as to why you should be placed somewhere specific or near someone specific, then there is space for that on the application too.

Please note that just because you’ve been to Japan a million times, or because your favorite anime locale is based off this one place, or because you’ve always wanted to see so-and-so shrine in so-and-so city that you will get placed there. It doesn’t hurt to make your case, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything either. To be honest, I didn’t even know there WAS a town called Kawai in Japan. (Neither did some of my friends from the same region of Japan!)

And yet, I couldn’t be happier that I get to live here. Placement notification time is one of the first challenges that really test how flexible you are, and how quickly you can adapt to change. Even when you find out where you are going, and you can’t find anything about your small little town that isn’t in Japanese Kanji, and Wikipedia doesn’t really help you, just know that this moment alone, is just a test on how well you can deal with being thrown into the unknown. Some people are lucky, some people get their first choice. But honestly, I can happily say that if I got my first choice, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now. You don’t always get what you wish for, and sometimes what you wish for may not be the best choice for you.

Hope this was helpful – these were short and sweet, so that you have more time to work on writing. But definitely keep these tidbits in your head as you see them pop up on the application, because in a very short time, you will!🙂

till then, ganbare on and on!

tomoko

Previous sections in JET Programme 2015 Application: Pre-Application Advice:

Part I: What to Expect 
Part II: Required Documents
Part III: Name and Location
Part IV: Statement of Purpose

Recovery

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days. I was busy recovering from oh, just a ONE-HUNDRED-AND-FOUR-DEGREE-FEVER….

I haven’t been this sick in a while, and apparently it’s something with my tonsils….

And of course it had to happen on the second to last three-day-weekend of the year, on which a typhoon also decided to come on by. OH, WELCOME, Vongfong, you rude weather system, you! What a bummer.

No I haven’t told my mom. Yes, I feel terrible I had to leave work in the middle of my second class, trying not to shake from the chills as I apologized to my kids, and almost in tears because I would have rather stayed there than have to leave in this kind of sad manner…

I also couldn’t teach my eikaiwa (Adult English conversation classes) group. And that really sucks because they pay money to rent the space we have our classes in, weeks in advance. I want to apologize in all the languages I know the next time I see you all.

But, my supervisor is my superhero. Thank you for helping me. Really, having to go to the doctor in English is tough…. I’m glad it was this and not something more serious.

But I am better now, and thus, let the writing continue.😀

tomoko

Jet Program 2015: Pre-Application Advice: Part IV: Statement of Purpose

This is Part IV of a multi-part series for those of you who are interested in applying for the JET Programme for 2015. If you have not yet already done so, or need a refresher, please read the previous parts, linked at the end of this post. PLEASE note that this advice is for American applicants ONLY. I am unsure of the differences that may exist on the application in your home countries. 

I thought I would be interrupting the advice with maybe, a photo of last nights’ awesome eclipse, but I wanted to remind you all that while the application isn’t up, you should be working on your essay.

Now is the time to start, if you haven’t already. Personally, I write better with a deadline in place and a bit of pressure. Especially because I really dislike writing about myself – which of course, the JET application will ask you to do. I posted the essay prompt in Part II of my Jet Application Advice, but here it is again, so you don’t have to leave this page to read it.

The statement of purpose is an essay describing your interest in Japan and reasons for applying to the JET Program. Applicants should take this opportunity to reflect on:

  • Why you wish to go to Japan and participate in the JET Program and why you are interested in the position for which you are applying (ALT or CIR).
  • What effect you hope to have on the Japanese community and internationally as a result of your participation in the JET Program.
  • What applicable experiences, professional skills, relevant interests and personal qualities you have, and how you feel these will be useful to you as an ALT or CIR.
  • What you hope to gain, both personally and professionally, from your JET experience if you are selected and how participation will assist you in your future goals.

Your essay MUST meet the following guidelines:

  • Maximum two (2) pages on standard letter-size or A4 size paper
  • Typewritten in 12-point font (Ariel or Times New Roman)
  • Double-spaced
  • One inch (1″) margins
  • Your last name and page number as a header in the upper right (e.g. Smith 1 of 2, Smith 2 of 2)

This is not a cover letter. It is an essay describing your interest in the JET Program. Please carefully follow the guidelines for content and presentation of the essay.

The essay, is the most essential place on the application where you can really prove yourself. Where you can bulk up the weaker parts of your application. (Maybe your grades were so-so? Maybe you don’t have any work experience yet, and you are worried it will make you seem unprepared for this full-time opportunity? Maybe you never thought to study Japanese or even apply to JET until someone told you about my blog, heh.) Use the essay to make it so that you are a stronger competitor. The JET Program is amazing, and has been around for many years, establishing a strong reputation for itself. Being a JET is something to be proud of. Thus it is very competitive as a teaching abroad program. With the potential benefits of becoming a JET, comes the struggle all of the prospective applicants will face. The essay is where you can make that push to stand out.

I will talk about each aspect your essay should cover, – that is a very strong should – and why it is important.

  1. Relevant Experience: Like I said in previous posts, no ones’ experience is discounted. Everyone’s experiences matter and can be applied to JET in some way, even if it is not immediately apparent. Think about your professional and personal experiences. You don’t have to be limited to talk about things that happened in school. Being a JET doesn’t end when you leave the classroom. Any experiences, even personal ones that hold weight, can also be of importance, and there are ways to introduce them in your essay.

Think about your personal qualities. How will any of the skills you have help you be successful on JET? Are you patient? Are you a quick thinker? Do you perform well in groups? Do you have leadership qualities? Have you overcome any major obstacles? Did you ever achieve something you thought you could never do? When was one time you surprised yourself? Do you have any experience traveling? Domestic or overseas? When was the last time you overcame a misunderstanding? Do you volunteer for anything? Do you donate to any causes? Do you think education is a right of all people? What was one thing you learned that you want to relay to your students if you get into the program? What inspires you? Are you the first person to go to college in your family? Have you ever learned another language (even coding, for you computer scientists)? When was the last time you were humbled? What are you good at? What do you want to get better at? What’s one thing you can brag about? Have you ever trained anyone at work, or ran a meeting? Do you blog? Are you dedicated to anything in particular?

You have to brainstorm. Even if these questions don’t seem applicable to the essay and may not be in your final version at all, it is better to think about various questions than try to dwell on one question you just can’t seem to answer. There is no right question you should be asking yourself. Don’t drive yourself nuts. Writer’s block is a pain, but if you can get the gears in your head to turn for a few minutes, it could help. Pick a question above, and try to answer it on its own. Then think about how you could shape your answer to fit the essay prompt.

  1. Motivation for Participation: Why do you want to go to Japan and participate in the JET Program? Why are you interested in the position of ALT/CIR, etc? What do you want to gain from the program, personally and professionally?

Why do you want to do JET? Is it because you’ve always loved Japan for as long as you can remember? (I did!) Is it because you have been to Japan before? Is it because you have NEVER been to Japan before? (The last two questions are the perfect example that the question itself doesn’t matter…the answer to the first question can be just as compelling an argument for why you should be picked as the second one. You just have to work it to your advantage!) Is there Japanese ancestry in your family? How will being an ALT/CIR propel your career goals? How does helping others make you feel? What is your dream career, and would being on JET help you get there? Is JET your dream? Who is your favorite teacher, why do you remember them so well? Did you ever take a Japanese culture class? What about Japanese culture compels you to learn more? When you leave JET, what will you do? If you can focus on the aim to spread Japanese culture, it could work in your advantage. Do you love Japanese food?

Think about the other parts of your application – be sure to tie them into your essay if they can work. It will make your application well-rounded. What was your major and/or minor – can you relate your studies or any classes with high performance back to the JET Program? If you took language courses, what was it that you learned? How will it help you adjust to learning Japanese? How well do you adjust to change? Have you held any leadership positions? Did you tutor or babysit? Tell your reader something they WON’T know by reading the rest of your application. 

A good JET Statement of Purpose gets to the point. Please avoid talking too much about your favorite Japanese pop star. The essay is about you, not Hatsune Miku. Try to avoid sentence constructions that are long and confusing. Talk about actions: what you have done, and what you want to do that would make you qualified for JET. It will be useful to talk not only about what you want to accomplish on JET but what you want to do after JET as well. Like any good business deal, if they think you are worth the investment, then you are a strong candidate.

Notice that I didn’t say you will be chosen for an interview. There is no ‘perfect essay’, or ‘perfect application’. I don’t know the exact criteria, but I assume it’s not only up to the judges to choose who advances, but the other party that is signing that contract when you accept your status as an incoming JET as well. I know plenty of people who I thought were practically shoe-ins and in the end didn’t get interviewed or were not accepted. I thought because they passed JLPT N1, and worked at Japanese organizations and other similar experiences that they would get in for sure. They seemed like the model applicants. The truth is, just because you didn’t get called in for an interview, doesn’t mean your application was lacking. But of course you want to put your best foot forward. Believe it or not, I was not directly accepted into the JET Program myself. After my interview – that I was sure was maybe the best interview I ever had, I was assigned to alternate status. You are ranked. So the ranking of your application also depends on how stiff your competition is, among other top secret factors.

As far as brainstorming, look again at the questions I posed above. Try writing out a few answers and see what you come up with. It is a convincing argument? Can you build on it? That you are even considering JET means that at some point while applying for anything, a job, college, leadership positions in your school club, or community, you may have heard any one of the questions I posed above. In essay prompts like this or in interviews, the questions tend to be familiar to us, but the answers always vary greatly from person to person. Make yourself stand out. Try your best, be the best YOU, be sincere, and hopefully you will get that second chance to prove yourself at the interview!

tomoko

Part I: What to Expect 
Part II: Required Documents
Part III: Name and Location

Jet Application 2015: Pre-Application Advice: Part III: Name and Location

This is Part III of a multi-part series for those of you who are interested in applying for the JET Programme for 2015. If you have not yet already done so, or need a refresher, please read Part I and II: here and here. PLEASE note that this advice is for American applicants ONLY. I am unsure of the differences that may exist on the application in your home countries. 

So my last post left off with some important reminders about the other Required Documents. But what about the actual application? I’m sure many of you have questions about it. And while I cannot provide you with copies of the application as the application portal is not live yet, (nor do I want to get in trouble – I really want to keep being able to help you all), the best I can do is provide you with some tips on what to expect. These tips will be presented chunks at a time, until the application opens, which should be very very soon. Sit tight, and read on!

Here we go….

1. Interview Location:

The application will ask you to name one city where your interview will be held, if you proceed to step 2 of the application process. Please note that the city you indicate in this section, is where you must interview, attend pre-departure orientation, and also serves as your departure city, if you are accepted to the program. On JET, everyone submits applications at the same time, but those who are chosen for the program may typically leave in one of two groups, Group A – which departs early in the summer, in July, or Group B – which departs in August.

Once you select a city, and submit your application online, please note that it cannot be changed.

In the past, different cities have been in each group, so while in some extenuating circumstance, you may have to change departure cities, you may only be allowed the option to switch to another departure city WITHIN your group. If you need to depart from a city in the opposite group, it will not be possible.

  • Things to keep in mind: If you are in college out of state – once you graduate, will you still be living/working in the same city you went to school in, or will you return back home (wherever home is). If there is a nearby consulate/interview city in either, you will have to consider what will work best for you. You will have to front all travel and accommodation costs if you are asked to attend the interview, so be mindful of location, and any associated costs.

If you are an American living overseas, you must still interview AT ONE OF THE DESIGNATED CITIES. And yes, you must pay to get yourself there, and for any lodging costs, etc. This is also true even if you are an American who is living IN JAPAN at the time of application. Skype or telephone interviews are not conducted and there are no exceptions. (If you live in Japan and are chosen, please note that you do not need to make a second trip out of Japan for the Pre-Departure Orientation.) I have been told that former JETs who were in Japan at the time of their interview were able to interview in Guam, which is closer than the contiguous 48 states (and DC). I am not sure if this is still possible, but at least you may be able to get a nice vacation out of it!

2. Names:

This may seem really silly. And obvious. And silly…. BUT:

Please enter your name in ALL places on the application AS IT APPEARS ON YOUR PASSPORT. Many people go by a nickname, even in official business. For instance, my nickname is Tomoko, but as it is not on my passport, it doesn’t matter how much snail mail I receive, how many personal checks I’ve written with Tomoko on it, how many people call me Tomoko at work or at home. Even if your name is William or Jennifer, and you go by Will or Jen, please keep your name formal, even though these may be very acceptable and common nicknames at home, even on credit cards and other very official documents.

Please make all paperwork easier for yourself. You will continue to receive important paperwork after you arrive in Japan on JET, and if there is suddenly an issue overseas with the discrepancy in name, then you are going to have a really tough time correcting it. I understand many foreign names have alternate spellings, but again, please use the name you are referred to on your official passport. If you are still unsure, my best advice is to contact your nearest Japanese consulate/embassy immediately. (And make a note of everyone you speak with!)

That’s it for now! There will be a Part IV shortly! (I may interrupt with a personal post and some photos of Japan!) I really hope this is helpful, and please, if you have any questions, leave me a comment! I’ll be sure to see it and respond as quickly as I can!

In the meantime, before the application opens, if you haven’t already, you will realize there is plenty of preparation you can do…I will stress here again: keep a notebook and a file keeper (you may not want to bend and misshape doctors forms and such that you will be getting later on).

Til next time,

tomoko

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My last post wasn’t the right place to say thanks, and I wanted to do it the right way.

I feel like I haven’t written much, or helped much, but I am definitely happy to say that I’ve got my first thousand views in the bag. It may seem small, but it means so much!

Thank you everyone, who has visited and read NNN.

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tomoko