When I first signed up for the JET Programme, I came across many warnings from former applicants about the patience that one would need to take part in this madness. I chuckled internally as, up until that point, I considered myself the master of patience. All in good time is my motto in life. But soon enough, the programme proved me wrong. “Good time” is not something that exists on the JET programme, rather it’s “Tortured time”.
So by the time news of our placements finally broke, you can only imagine how I’d already made peace with the different situations I might end up being placed in. If I got placed in snowy Hokkaido in the north, well it wouldn’t be ideal but at least I could take up extreme mountain biking during the few months that the ice caps melt. If I got placed in expensive Tokyo, well that wouldn’t be too bad either, at least I would be near the largest collection of English speakers in the country. And finally, if I got placed in a random prefecture (province) in the deep inaka (rurals of Japan), at least I’d have a few friendships with friendly old people to look forward to.
Keeping true to form, the embassy in Pretoria decided to continue the torture by holding the Q and A session the Saturday before they would let us know about our results. This was much to the great frustration of the group. It was painful having to watch others online as the American embassies began to announce their results, state by state.
For my application, I had put down that I wanted to be in the beautiful prefecture of Tochigi, known for places like Nikkò, a breathtaking area that I named my dog after. What a romantic story it would have been to be placed here. In my head, I imagined it would really bring us full circle, me and my dog, even though we are apart, for now, we would in a way still be together.
The prospect of living somewhere rural also really appealed to my love for nature but having lived in the far-flung west of Pretoria for over 4 years now, I can safely say I miss being close to the conveniences that a city centre can bring. Mind you, where I live now in the West isn’t really far from things but I’m a solid 30 minutes from the nicer malls and about an hour or more from most of my friends. So yes, I would love the inaka, but also I am really tired of having to drive everywhere.
Finally, and as expected when I received my placement, none of these plans and thoughts even mattered. JET is infamous for placing people randomly, only asking participants about where they would like to be placed mainly to sus out if they have any medical issues that need to be considered when placing people. So I opened the pdf attachment that held my fate and saw Nagasaki-ken, Omura-shi, and honestly, I didn’t know what to think.
There is almost no satisfying touristy information about my town online so it’s been tricky to try and figure out what kind of living situation I’ll be stepping into. I did manage to track down the towns Instagram account, which has shown off a bit of the beauty I’m about to experience. I’ve also had a few chat’s with JETs from my area and even my predecessor and their description of the place sounds angelic. I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, we are now on to the next round of waiting – waiting for our Contracting Organisation to formally send us the full nitty gritty details – but that’s all in due torture of course 😉 Chat soon.