The JET Programme: Self Introductions and Settling In

Hello. My name is Jessica. I am from the UK. I studied English at Lancaster University. I look forward to working with you. Bow.

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The importance of this little paragraph has recurred since pre-flight orientation and since I’m starting teaching at 9 different schools, it’s going to be said a lot!

After saying goodbye (for now) to loved ones and flying to Japan, so much has happened! Good things and bad; exciting, awkward, hilarious and terrifying have all sort of merged together to make the weirdest experience cocktail ever.

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At post-flight orientation, I stayed in a crazily fancy hotel. It was its own village, with like over a dozen restaurants and bars inside, convenience shops and fancy silverware. When I managed to stop staring at all the chandeliers, I found myself surrounded by awesome people from all over the world. I also found myself facing jet lag and had to fight the intense desire to fall asleep on someone’s shoulder during one of the many, many (oh so many) speeches held over that weekend.

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Some of the friends I made in Tokyo were from the good ol’ UK and we got pretty close exploring the city together. We viewed the Tokyo skyline together, danced in a Sega arcade and took some hilariously awful Purikura (for those who don’t know about purikura, it’s basically a photobooth that lets you add ‘kawaii’ snapchat filters- you’ll love it).

Oh. And I also found out that the rumours are true- being vegetarian in Japan is DIFFICULT.

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After orientation I flew with some other JETs to Kumamoto, where supervisors greeted us with handmade signs and drove us back to our towns. We got back, signed a lot of paperwork and then I met the host family that I’d be staying with for a few nights. Beforehand, I was pretty nervous, as I’m not really one for staying with people I don’t know so well, but after meeting the Menda family, my views are completely changed. I had the best time! They were understanding and accommodating about my diet, welcoming and the whole time I was there the atmosphere was just warm and friendly. I even got to ride in a sidecar!

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After three hilarious nights, including sushi making and celebrating the cutest 8 year old girl’s birthday, I moved into my own house.

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My house has a tatami room with air con, which has been my hub ever since I moved in. Tip #1: You leave that hub, you melt and become jelly.

With everything else that was going on, I didn’t actually stop to think about how I would deal with living alone. It turns out that so far it’s pretty alright; I mean there are times when I run to close my curtains at night because, obviously, the murderer stood outside will vanish behind my cotton shield. I’m sure after a while he’ll take the hint and leave for good.

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Since getting off that 11 hour flight and being slapped in the face with 36 degree humid heat, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of differences between home and Japan. Even the ones that people tell you about still surprise you. The briefest way I can describe it is like someone has taken a picture and increased the saturation by like 100%. Everything is more explicit and intense than it is back home, in both good and bad ways.

I’m waiting to see if the intensity is just a result of my hyper-vigilance from moving to a new place, but either way I’m taking everything in with an open mind and at the minute, keeping up pretty well with all the changes I’m facing.

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