I Survived My First Month as a JET

Hey JETsetters!

It’s officially been a month since I arrived both in Japan and in my prefecture of Ishikawa. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a month! Time flew by!

Let’s get caught up with what’s happened in August (and a little in July).

Starting off in July, I arrived on the 28th in Tokyo and spent the next 2.5 days at Tokyo Orientation at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. It was filled with a bunch of different seminars, which varied on which position you were in (ALT/CIR) and, if you were an ALT, which grade levels you would be teaching.  CLAIR only allows you to attend the seminars assigned to you, so if you are in a combination role of both ALT/CIR or teach multiple grade levels, you will only be allowed to attend one of section/group of the seminars. Make friends with people in the seminars different from you so that you can check out any handouts or information that they received.

This really helped me with CIR related materials, since I am mainly doing ALT work but have been tasked with assisting on certain CIR events or occasions.

I left for Ishikawa at 6AM on July 30th and once I touched down at Komatsu airport, I met my supervisor from the BOE, the official CIR for Nonoichi, and another BOE member. I was a sweating mess, as were all the Ishikawa JETs, due to us having had to wear full suits on an extremely hot and humid day. Great first impression.

After the initial meet-up, we went out for lunch on the way into Nonoichi. It was a nice hybrid nihon-shoku restaurant, albeit a bit pricey. The lunch was not provided, so make sure you plan ahead just in case your supervisor doesn’t treat you. Some people got lucky and had feasts for free while others had to pay for themselves.

After lunch, we went to Nonoichi City Hall and had a meeting with the mayor. I also was interviewed for the local (Kanazawa and Nonoichi areas) newspaper. It was an experience, considering I looked like a drowning cat and hadn’t used Keigo in a while. #RIP

We got my My Number card updated to my current address, registered with city hall, and took care of all the boring legal affairs before my supervisor took me around to meet various departments that I might be working with.

After that, we stopped by my junior school where I got to meet the principal and vice principal, as well as my JTE (Japanese Teacher of English) supervisor and a few other teachers. It was a very brief meeting and I was informed that I would not be going into work at the school until late August. I was essentially given an entire month of free nenkyuu, or paid leave. I would be “on-call” as needed but could do whatever I pleased until August 26th. It was wonderful! A lot of ALT JETs have to go into school and deskwarm for school breaks or take nenkyuu from whatever they are allocated in their contracts in order to go on vacation, so it was very nice to not have to worry about that.

It would have been nice to have more time to familiarize myself with the school and staff, but it all worked out in the end.

I really wanted to use my newfound freedom to travel around and visit friends in Kansai, but after my move-in and start-up fees, I couldn’t afford to travel around until after payday. A 18,000 Yen train ticket and fun money were not in the picture at the time, considering I needed to make what little money I had leftover last for the month.

I moved into my apartment on August 1st after staying in a hostel the first night in Ishikawa. Check out my housing situation here.

I did a lot of shopping to furnish my apartment, mainly at the hundred-yen stores. Seriously, Japanese 100-yen stores are the best and have good quality items for dirt cheap. Nonoichi has 3 Daiso, spread-out all-over town, and 1 Seria. There is one smaller Daiso close to me and the school, but it doesn’t have a lot of stuff, but the Seria is just a littler further out and is big! I still haven’t had the chance to go to the bigger Daiso on the outskirts of town, but I plan on doing so soon.

I visited a few local shrines. Nonoichi has a few scattered around town hidden in between the houses and parks. My JTE took me and my predecessor to Shirayama-hime Shrine in Haku-san City and it was gorgeous! I took a ton of photos, which you can check out on my Instagram here.

We also went out to eat with the school nurse at a wonderful restaurant near the shrine.

I went to Nonoichi’s Jonkara Matsuri in early August and it was great. I didn’t stay out too late, but I tried a lot of good street food and saw a few performances. The international centre at city hall held a culture booth at the festival and I stopped by the say hello. My JTE was also attending the festival as part of her club’s performance. She oversees the baton twirling club at school, and they performed at the elementary school over the weekend.

I had only a few CIR jobs this past month. One of them was to assist my predecessor with getting fingerprinted at police headquarters in Kanazawa. It was interesting to have to translate that entire ordeal.
Another event that I attended was a Japan Tent event, which was a welcome party for foreign students staying with host families in Nonoichi, on August 25th. It was a fun event and I had to give a speech. I did get to see my boyfriend though, so it was great! Here is a picture of me and my boyfriend.

New JETs in Ishikawa had mandatory orientation seminars August 15th and 16th at the government office in Kanazawa. They were two long and slightly boring days. It was one of those could have been an email kind of event, but it is mandatory by CLAIR and our Cos, so there is no getting around it. The Prefectural Advisors (PA) did try their best to make it as engaging and fun as possible. There will be an in-depth post on there later. It was nice to get to see all the new Ishikawa JETs in one place though, since everyone was in different arrival groups.

There were a bunch of parties after the orientation, but me and a few others opts to just go out to down town Kanazawa and shop around and eat on our own.

I met a few locals that we are planning to do language exchange activities every now and then, which is wonderful. I get to practice my Japanese and they get to practice their English.

Two of my senpai swung by my place to drop off some furniture in the middle of the month and we hung out at a café to chat. It was great to get know my seniors and find out more info on Ishikawa and the JET community here.

I got my internet set up officially on August 9th, a little over a week after moving in. It was really quick! A lot of JETs must wait a month or two before getting their internet set up at home and it really sucks. When I was in Kyoto it took around 3 months for me to get internet set up, so this was insanely fast for me! I rented a pocket wi-fi for 2 months as a precaution, but now it isn’t really needed. I’ve been using it mainly when I’m out in town to avoid using data and at school where I can’t connect to the internet because they gave me a PC that has no internet connectivity.

If you are looking for a pocket wi-fi in Japan, either for short term or long term, I highly recommend iVideo! They have huge and reliable packages for amazing prices. I plan on writing a full review for them in the future but I have used them once before this and they have yet to disappoint!
If you sign up with them, you can use my referral code at no additional cost to you! Promo code: capturetheworld@outlook.com

I went into school for the first real time on August 22nd for a quick 30-minute meeting and for a formal introduction to the staff. I didn’t start going into work regularly until the 26th, which was still just a half day. I had half days until August 28th, had the 29th off because of construction going on at the school, and then my first full day on the 30th. August 30th was my big introduction to the entire school at the welcome back/new semester ceremony. I had to give a short speech and then spent the rest of the day deskwarming.

Deskwarming is hell. I finished my self-intro lessons at home during my downtown earlier in the month and just finalized them at school on day 1. After that, I have had nothing to do. My JTEs had asked me to check one or two things for them but in general they have not been asking me for assistance on anything. I also haven’t been told of any upcoming lesson plans after my self-into week is done, outside of a speech exam that I am judging for the 2nd years, so I am just trying to kill time at this point.

I look forward to my classes, which change day to day and every week, because it gives me something to do. A lot of JETs use deskwarming time to work on other things or goof off, but I feel hesitant to do outside work in the office for now, even though I have been told it is ok to an extent. I can’t watch movies or play around on social media, but I can do other tasks, such as blogging, editing photos, and general web browsing. Basically, if it looks like I am working on something rather than playing around, they are ok with me doing it, if I do not have any official tasks. I’ve been writing a few blog posts, since they are JET/international relations related and count as CIR work, but hesitate to do much else. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll say screw it and just do what everyone else does and do whatever I want. Who knows?

There’s really not much else to say for my first month as a JET. It was a lot of downtown which I spent getting to know my city and the prefectural capital. I wanted to travel around Japan and visit friends in Kansai but didn’t have the money to do so at the time. Had some CIR events sporadically but didn’t really start ALT work until the last week of August. That one week of work has been busy but also not. The month had mainly been a chance for me to get my bearings and look forward to what is to come.

Stay tuned for more adventures JETsetters!


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