Your First Few Months in JET

So, you have been accepted and you are preparing yourself to leave soon. Here are some suggestions for things to bring with you as well as ideas for surviving the first few months.

The number one thing I recommend bringing with you before you leave is deodorant. Japanese people do not use deodorant as far as I know, and it can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look. I would also suggest bringing personal entertainment whether that is a book, video game, or something else entirely. The chances that you have Internet within the first two weeks are almost non-existent.

Orientation will occur either at the end of July or early August depending on which group you are in prior to leaving. Orientation is at hotel in Tokyo. When you arrive at the airport, there will be designated people that will point you in the right direction. You will drop off luggage that will be taken to your prefecture and you will take the remaining pieces with you to the hotel. There will be buses that will transport you from the airport to the hotel. You will have some time after arriving at the hotel to do as you wish until the Orientation formally begins the following day. The Orientation is fairly standard. Each day you sit down and listen to lectures. This repeats for a few days before you are taken to your prefecture.

When I traveled to my prefecture, we took the bullet train followed by the bus. We were greeted by our co-teachers at a meeting spot and then they drove us back to either our school or apartments. I remember almost crying after I was left alone in my apartment. I felt so alone with no one near me or to listen to my concerns. It was one of the loneliest points I have ever reached. However, someone from my school picked me up from my apartment the following day and took me to the city office to take care of paperwork. That simple trip made me feel better because someone was going out of their way to help me.

Your first month at your school will be August. I can’t speak for elementary or middle school, but high school teachers do not teach for the entirety of August. August is an adjustment month and you will be able to lesson plan and see what textbooks you will be using once September rolls around. Your co-teacher or one of the teachers at your school should be able to help you with various errands such as setting up a bank account. More likely than not, you will not have to tackle these situations by yourself.

I was without Internet for about a month, but once that was set up, a lot of the anxiety I was feeling faded away. I felt immensely more connected with Internet access, and I was finally able to contact friends and family which helped me overcome the culture shock. You will have another orientation at your prefecture during August as well as many different events you can go to meet other foreigners in your area. In September you will begin teaching. You may have some problems at first, but after some time you will develop a routine and it will become second nature. It might be daunting at first trying to become acquainted with your surroundings in a foreign country, but it is doable. If you are struggling when you arrive, just remember that any situation is only temporary and eventually it will subside. Others have been in the same situation you find yourself currently in and they found a way. So can you.

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