In just over a month’s time, I’ll be embarking on my next grand adventure: moving to Japan! Through the JET Program I obtained a teaching position in Niigata, also known as Snow Country, and I’m extremely excited about the experiences and challenges ahead.
The journey up until this moment, however, has been a tough one. Last November I submitted my application to JET, afraid to put too much hope on my chances. But the truth was, my dreams were riding on this opportunity. Even before I started college I had the JET Program in my sights, and I was finally getting the chance to pursue my passion. But I really didn’t have much confidence in my ability to stand out amongst the other applicants.
So, I was surprised but exhilarated when I was informed that I passed the initial screening and would be given an interview. A month of insane anxiety and mental preparation carried me to the interview in New York City, which I was fairly certain I had bombed. Another excruciating month of waiting and the news finally came: wait list. Okay, so not rejected outright, but also not accepted. I was crushed to say the least.
A few weeks later and a new e-mail arrived: UPGRADED!! I’m not ashamed to say I ugly-cried that day. I sobbed as I saw my dream finally coming true.
Yet another month passed and I learned my placement location. Niigata.
Allow me to sidetrack for a moment. Although taking part in the JET Program has been a goal of mine since high school, there is another reason that I felt so desperate to make my way to Japan as quickly as I could. I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for nearly three years with a guy currently living in Tokyo, and an opportunity to go to Japan would mean meeting him in person for the first time. That’s right, I’ve been dating a guy for almost three years without even seeing him face-to-face. So yeah, this is a HUGE deal for me.
“But,” you’re saying, “Niigata isn’t in Tokyo.” Well that’s okay, great even. Niigata is the boyfriend’s home prefecture, so I’ll get to develop a connection to where he grew up. Not only that, his family still lives there, and I’m plotting to use my womanly wiles to weasel my way into their affections. Well, only insofar as I might be able to enjoy some home cooking from his mom once in a while…
Ultimately, since the distance is only about a two hour ride by Shinkansen from Tokyo, it is a vast improvement from the ocean that kept us apart for these three years.
But I am also purely thrilled at this opportunity to pick up my life, move to a different country, work as a teacher, meet new people, develop new skills, and experience a whole new way of living for the first time on my own.
So, if you’re interested in hearing about my life in Japan, or you’re thinking about applying for the JET Program and want to hear more, or you think you’d enjoy the gushy tales of me meeting my boyfriend for the first time, stay tuned!!