JET Placement Vibes

Hey JETsetters!

Results received: 5/16/2019 1:34 PM PDT Los Angeles Consulate, US JET

Previous years had seen initial placement results rolling out around May 15th onwards, typically whatever the 3rd Thursday/Friday fell on in May.  I was lucky (or unlucky) to have day off on Thursday, so I had nothing better to do than stare at my phone and refresh my email every second waiting for the possible email containing where I will be living for the next one to five years.  I don’t know if I would have preferred to have been at work or not, considering how on edge I was to receive results. I was driving my friends insane with all my placement anxiety and eagerness.

I stayed up most of the night before, not sleeping until around 6AM or so, thinking that it would allow me to not freak out about no results early in the day.  There was no guarantee that results would even be sent out that day, but the sheer possibility caused everyone to be on edge.  I woke up to a random phone call around 11AM (thanks for teasing me solicitors) and then saw our Incoming JET LINE group blowing up.  Seems that the first wave of results was being sent out to US applicants.  Given that LA was on a later time zone than some of the consulates that had already received results, I figured that we wouldn’t hear anything until later in the day or the next.  Tried to go back to sleep for a little bit longer and epically failed. 

Checked our LA specific LINE group around 1PM and saw that results were being announced slowly.  I received my result at 1:34PM and felt a wave of emotions all at once.

My placement requests were: 

  • Region/Location:
    • Kinki (Kansai) Region
    • Kanto Region
    • No Preference
  • Prefectural/municipal
    • Prefectural > Municipal
  • Human Geography
    • Did not specify rural/suburban/urban on application.

I highlighted these all in my interview and strongly emphasised that I wished to be in Kansai and Prefectural, with no real preference to type of city/town, except that I cannot drive (not that I don’t want to but cannot and have no license) and would need a decent transport system or close enough to bike/walk.

I was strongly hoping that by giving the JET Programme/CLAIR a wide berth by being open to being anywhere in Kansai/Kinki, that I would be placed somewhere in the region.

What I got:

  • Chubu Region
  • Municipal JET
  • Suburban.

I will be placed in Ishikawa Prefecture, Nonoichi City.

Image result for ishikawa japan

JET is a program that you don’t really know what you will end up with or how you will make do until you get going.  You hit the ground running and adapt along the way.  That being said, you are allowed to feel upset/displeased over your placement.  Some people have absolutely no expectations and requests when it comes to JET, others do.  You have every right to wish to be placed somewhere and be disappointed when you do not receive what you hoped for.  It is what you do with it after the initial disappointment wears off that matters.  You need to decide if your placement is a deal breaker for you or not. You do need to keep in mind that you are by no means guaranteed your placement.

For me, nothing was a deal breaker.  However, I will not lie and say that I am not disappointed by my placement.  I was strongly hoping to be in Kansai and made sure to note that I did not have a major preference where in Kansai, as it is a huge region, and just wished to be in the area.  I also emphasised that I wished to be Prefectural over Municipal, particularly if I was not placed in Kansai.

I got none of my requests at all.  While others, got everything they wanted.  There were those in my consulate who got the placement I wanted.  There were those who got the placement I wanted, and I got the placement they wanted.  I feel that this is where it hits me the most—that there are those of us who got what the other wanted and there is no way to transfer it.

Central Ishikawa is not too far from the Kansai 3 (Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe), which is where I’d be going to the most to visit people, clocking in around 3.5-5.5 hours via bus or bullet train.  Not too far but far enough to take up a bit of time round-trip.  On top of that, it is around 8,000 Yen to 19,000 Yen ($80 -$190 USD) round trip.  Again, not horrid, but not as cheap and convenient as I had hoped for.  Given the cost of just getting to and from Kansai, it adds up very quickly when you factor in food and general entrainment costs of meeting up with friends and family.  If I were unable to stay with a friend overnight, the cost of a hostel/hotel would add up, and it might not be worth staying just one day.  I was strongly hoping to be placed in Kansai in order to be closer to friends and family. Even if I could only meet up once a week or two, on average it would have cost less for me (transportation/entertainment wise) to be placed in rural Kansai, or further away at the corners of the region but closer to local train lines, than to be in a different region entirely.  If I intend to be frugal about my money, it will be practical for me to only go out to Kansai maybe once a month or every few months to visit people, which sucks.

That being said, I did get placed in the region next to Kansai/Kinki, but in the northern part of it. Ishikawa is a gorgeous prefecture surrounded by rich history.  It is considered to be one of the few places in Japan not touched by WWII.  There is a mix of rural and urban.  Nonoichi, where I will be placed, is right next to the prefectural capital city of Kanazawa.  Many consider it to be the suburb of Kanazawa and there is a Costco.  That last point pretty much sold me on it ha-ha. 

The city itself is on the smaller side for a city, but it was only made a city in 2011.  It is not too small that you would know everyone, and everyone will know you—but then again, this is usually how it happens when you are a foreigner in Japan regardles of how big it is, unless you’re in central Tokyo.  It is also close enough to a major hub that if there is something that I cannot find directly in my city, I should be able to find it in Kanazawa.

The online Ishikawa JET community is also extremely friendly and helpful so far (even if my predecessor is hiding from me).  There seems to be a plethora of events going on in the prefecture and plenty to do to keep busy. 

The biggest downside for me (outside of out of prefecture travel costs) will probably be not being able to drive to the other areas of the prefecture if there is a lack of public transportation.  Some of the more rural areas of the prefecture where some of the other JETs are placed have a lot of history and things to do, but there isn’t always convenient or suitable public transportation to the countryside.  I cannot drive and will not be doing so while in Ishikawa—at least not for a while. 

I plan on looking into potential driving schools while there but the cost of driving school are steep.  Unfortunately (but also fortunately), you aren’t able to simply learn to drive from just anyone in Japan, you need to go to an official driving school/liscensed teacher. When I was in Kansai, costs were around 200,000-300,000 Yen ($2-3,000 USD) roughly.  Not sure if things will be cheaper away from huge cities/prefectures or more expensive.  I’ll be actively looking into this while there, but it won’t be a priority for me until I have a steady flow of income and savings from my first few months as a JET.

We were informed that CLAIR gave the OK for BOEs/COs/Predecessors to start contacting incoming JETs on May 23rd JST.  Some JETs might hear back sooner than others from their direct employers or predecessors and the wait is just as agonising as initial placement results, if not more so.  At the time of writing, I am still waiting for someone to reach out to me and hope that it will be sooner rather than later.  This waiting is torture.  I feel that the sooner I hear about my place(s) of employment and my exact placement I will be all the more sold on Ishikawa. I’ve been casually stalking all current Ishikawa JETs on Facebook attempting to figure out who my predecessor is but no luck so far.  One day…

So, overall, I am initially disappointed in my placement.  Not in my placement itself, but in that it is not what I was hoping for, and that is okay.  You are allowed to feel various emotions about your placement other than just excitement.  You can be anxious, nervous, or even disappointed in your placement.  However, you need to remember that the JET Programme, much less living abroad in general, is all about making the most of what life throws at you.  You need to be able to adapt and succeed in various situations, including some that you might not be comfortable in.  I fully recognise that Ishikawa is a great prefecture and my city itself is located in such a place that makes it overall an amazing placement.  Every day that goes by, and every person that I speak with in the area (or incoming JETs to the area), make it easier for me to accept the placement.  I am growing more and more open and fond of the idea of living in Ishikawa.  While there is still lingering sadness at not being placed in Kansai, also at the thought that maybe I wasn’t good enough for a BOE/CO in the region (thanks JET for being so secretive on the selection process that causes us to question everything), I am eager to begin the next chapter of my life in the Chubu region and so happy to be going back to Japan. 

Dear Nonoichi Predecessor,

SOS I am dying here.  Please send help ASAP.




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