Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The JET Program Itself

I realized after writing the last blog, that while I may explain to 10 strangers a day exactly what I am going to be doing over there in Japan, that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone reading this blog understands what the program is all about. So, I thought I would take a moment to explain the JET program for those of you who don't know about it. 

The JET (Japanese Exchange Teaching) Program is a program that brings college graduated, native English speakers to Japan to teach English. After the application, then interview process, those accepted to the program are referred to as JETs. JETs work in classrooms along side full-time Japanese teachers to teach English to students of various ages. The full-time Japanese teachers are refereed to as JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English)...that's right, you read it correctly, the two acronyms are JETs and JTEs. Of all 26 letters in our lovely English alphabet, the program picked 3 of its faves and rearranged them. Thanks. A. Lot.

FAQ: As I am getting pretty good at my stock answers, I thought I would type 'em out for all to see!

The program is 1 year. The program contracts it's employees one year at a time for up to five years. Most, if not all, JETs I've talked to have stayed at least 2. A real testament to both the program and the country of Japan if you ask me.

Yes, it's paid. I get paid monthly and will have to open a bank account over there. I will have health insurance as well, for all you mom's out there who were wondering. It is a job, that just happens to be in country where I am not able to speak the language, read the language nor do I look like ANY natives. Should be an adventure!

I will have my own apartment. I will be living in my own apartment in the same complex as the other JETs in my town. Their will be 5 of us total. A girl from Wisconsin and I are the 2 newbies, the 3 returners consist of a guy from Ireland, a guy from England and a girl from New Zealand. We've been emailing, and I can't wait to finally meet them! For the most part, the apartment comes completely furnished, though I may need to pick up a few things. Needn't worry, IKEA is only 30 min away by train and apparently delivers also, SAAWEEEET!!!

My job. I will be working at 2 different elementary schools and 1 middle school, doing various English lessons a week. 

Language. "Do I speak any Japanese?!" People ask ever so hopefully, as I confidently answer, "Nope!" the look of horror of people's faces is far from subtle. No Japanese knowledge was required to apply, and I have done my best to learn some, so I'm not going in with nothing. 

After being accepted, the JET Program put on a 6 week free Japanese class for recently accepted JETs. The class was held at the Japanese Consulate in SF, my latest hangout, and made up THE most stressful 2 hours of my week. Though I have to say I learned quite a bit and never failed to call home and rattle off everything I could remember of my newly learned Japanese phrases, as I walked to the bus stop. I'm sure mom and dad were thrilled. 

Location. The absolute most frequently asked question I get asked is, "Where will you be living in Japan?" Before I even begin to explain, I generally like to respond with, "Are you familiar with Japan?" Nine times out of ten the answer is, "Not even a little." 

Let's see if I can remedy that shall we?

I will be living in Kamagaya-shi, Chiba-ken. 

Allow me to explain. The city I will be living in is Kamagaya, the 'shi' at the end means 'city'. Chiba is the prefecture (kinda like state) that Kamagaya is located in. The 'ken' after Chiba means 'prefecture'. Simple enough, right?

Kamagaya is about an hour south of Tokyo by train AND, drumroll please...the home of Tokyo Disneyland! If that doesn't lock you in for a visit I don't know what will. 

For those of you who would like more information, I have attached the town's website (it's precious and totally worth a look) to provide you with the answers to anything and everything Kamagaya related.

For those of you more visual learners, here are a few maps to give you some idea where exactly I'll be...


Map of Japan with Chiba highlighted.

     File:Kamagaya in Chiba Prefecture Ja.svg

 Map of Chiba with Kamagaya highlighted.

I hope this helps, and that I have put a few questions to rest! I do have my Japanese address, let me know if you would like it and I'll be more than happy to email it to ya!

Arigato for reading!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finishing Touches

With a meager 12 days to go before my big departure, I am here in Redondo for a few days doing my best to say good-bye (well I actually hate good-byes so I'm calling 'em 'See You Laters!') to a few of my favorite people. Those See You Later's, I've found, tend to center around food, and I mean who am I to complain! Since arriving I have had most coffee dates, ice cream dates and meals scheduled with people I want to spend some last minute quality time with reliving memories before I am off, and I've loved every second of them! 

A few of the pillars of Redondo

I've been in Redondo for about a week and in that time have done my best to put the finishing touches on myself. I've gone to the dentist, got a haircut, stocked up on contacts, prepared a box of teaching materials and toiletries for shipping, emailed my fellow JET neighbors in Japan, got an international drivers licence, got skype, got Yen, got a credit card, opened an IRA (just cause I was already at the bank), worked on finalizing my background check while I wait for the FBI to report back, that in fact, I am not a criminal. And last, but not least...packing. To begin with...I HATE PACKING. Especially when it has to be strategic.

I am out of my apartment in SF July 31, which means selling my furniture via craigslist, finding a new roommate, moving everything out of there back to LA, while packing summer clothes for Japan. Simultaneously keeping a separate suitcase of business clothes for my first 4 day JET conference in Tokyo. Many times I have prayed for a money tree to appear in my backyard so I could just buy new clothes when I get has yet to appear, most likely because in SF I have no backyard, I'm pretty much 0 for 2.

Despite all that, everything appears to becoming together and I am getting more excited by the day! This is going to be the adventure of a lifetime and I can't wait for it to begin!


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