Saturday, April 23, 2011

The beginning...

Late November 2010: My partner S and I went to the Japanese Consulate in Melbourne for an information session regarding the JET Programme. We both have a desire to travel, but as I'm 32 years old, I'm not eligible for a Working Holiday Visa. We figured that JET would be an excellent way for both of us to work overseas and be paid well for it, and experience living in another culture.

December 2010: We submitted our applications for the JET Programme. It was a bit of a stretch getting an (excellent) reference from my school principal on time, whilst at the same time hinting to him that I might not be coming back to my job in 2011!

January 2011: We got the letter on the same day. S was selected for an interview. I was not. Whilst there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we'd already decided that, in the case where one of us was selected and the other was not, we'd still go together. In fact, if both of us were selected, there would be a strong chance that we'd be located in different areas, which would make maintaining a relationship somewhat problematic. And besides, there was no point in getting ahead of ourselves - an interview did not necessarily mean acceptance into the programme (though, quietly, I felt that once she'd gotten to this stage, she'd be a shoe-in!).

February 17. 2011: S had her interview. From all reports, it was friendly and straightforward.

March 11, 2011: Massive earthquake in Japan, resulting in tsunami devastation, widespread death and homelessness, nuclear power plant damage, and radiation containment problems.

April: Anxious waiting, for many reasons. Notification of shortlisting is (understandably) delayed.

April 21, 2011: S is informed that she has been shortlisted for placement in the JET programme. For the uninitiated, this means that she has basically been accepted into the programme, and will be allocated to a  contracting organisation to be an Assistant Language Teacher in a Japanese school.

And so, our adventure is about to begin! We will be flying to Tokyo on the 24th of July, which gives us three months to settle our affairs here in Melbourne.

There are still many questions at this stage, like:

- Where will we be living? We've specifically expressed a preference for a city placement, but ultimately it's seemingly random where JETs are placed.
- Will I be able to find work? (The JET salary is designed to support a family, so basic needs like accommodation and food will be fine, but it'd be nice to have *some* financial independence, and I'd rather not drain *all* of my savings!)
- What will I do with all of my stuff?
- What will I do with my time if I don't find work? It's definitely an opportunity to "get back into the studio", so to speak. The cultural isolation will definitely help my creativity along.
- Who else will I be able to network with in the area, both professionally and socially?
- How do I feel about potentially being a full-time home-maker who is financially dependent on my partner for a year? I mean, I do love cooking, and don't mind doing the household chores, but what ramifications will this have for my career, my relationship, and, I guess, the way I'm using my time when I'm definitely feeling like I'm not getting any younger!

This blog will chronicle my time as a non-JET in a JET world, living in Japan for (at least) a year.

What are your predictions of the outcome?