Last week I touched on a few possible reasons why you should definitely apply to the JET Programme if you are considering it. This week I thought I’d flip that coin on its head and address some points that might mean you’re not quite the right fit for the programme.
1) The glass is always half empty with you
Moving to another country always looks and sounds magical when you experience it vicariously through other people. The reality is that it’s a harrowing experience. Add the fact that Japan is a none English speaking/reading/living country, and you get a process where I personally don’t know how all the foreigners here haven’t lost their minds yet.
Moving to Japan means losing a lot more than just proximity to loved ones. You lose everything. Your favourite take-aways, your favourite snacks, your favourite spices, your favourite drinks, your favourite streets, your favourite shops, your favourite malls, your favourite banks, your favourite taxi-hailing service (here’s looking at you Uber), and the list goes on. Now, losing everything doesn’t have to be a big deal, but some personality types just don’t know how to deal with such a big change. It takes a special type of resilience to find new things that can take the place of the old. Now if you don’t have that resilience, you might find yourself falling into one of my least favourite group of expats: The Complainers.
If you are predisposed to having the complainer trait, I reckon emigration is not for you. Whatever is making you leave your home country is possibly only a side effect of your complainer-lifestyle and you are very likely to reach your new country and find something new to complain about. When you do find the new thing to complain about, you’ll find yourself blowing it way out of proportion (much like you did back home), and you’ll just be unhappy all over again. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if this is something that people could keep to themselves but unfortunately complainers like to spread their discontent much like a virus. So if you fall into this group the best advice I can give is that you should stay home. Get happy with yourself and your surroundings first otherwise nothing will ever truly make you happy, and you’ll just carry that unhappiness with you to your next place.
2) You are not a people person
If you hate people in general, you probably shouldn’t apply either. The JET programme brings together not only you and the people of Japan but also those of various other nations across the world. On paper, that sounds great, but the reality is quite different. When first coming onto the JET programme, one usually does heaps and mounds of research on Japan, Japanese people and the Japanese workplace. There is a level of comfort that comes from feeling prepared to take on this new Japanese landscape with all its new nuances and things. That said, no one prepares you for the other foreigners. There are so many cultural differences that get slammed together during the JET programme that it can sometimes feel jarring.
If you come with some unresolved prejudices into this space, you might find yourself not having a good time at all. Tolerance is possibly one of my least favourite words (as it makes room for people to keep their ill feelings towards others as long as they don’t act outside the law), but I think it’s actually important for the situations you will find yourself in on the programme. There are many irritating humans that you will meet and there are many times where you will need to tolerate them to avoid conflict. There are also many normal humans that you will meet that might not fit your personal definition of normal, that you will need to work with.
Tolerance might be a good start to making sure you don’t step on or get your toes stepped on by anyone but honestly, I think the best way to deal with these situations is to like people. The more you like people, the easier it will be to accept them the way they are, with their real and imaginary warts alike. I personally enjoy humans and studying their patterns and I strongly believe that’s how I’m managing to enjoy my time here.
3) You are chasing Internet Japan
You’ve probably seen and heard this from multiple sources at this stage but Japan is NOT like the anime/manga/memes/technology/internet Japan that you have come to love. If you are coming to fulfil some fantasy about Japan, I would suggest you save up for a plane ticket so you can come and enjoy those parts of Japan on holiday.
Living full time in a foreign country is very different from visiting for a short burst of time. Researching Japan extensively before coming here, can never truly prepare you for the realities of living here full time. There is a layer of reality that always gets stripped away when you get information from a second-hand source like the internet (this blog included, lol). So much like me, you might come here with some idealistic expectations of Japan that get shattered within a few weeks of your arrival. As silly as it sounds, it takes some hectic mental work to get over the disappointment caused by those unmet expectations. At the end of the day, where ever you go, people are just people, if you can’t adjust your expectations to make room for that reality, living abroad might not be for you.
That’s basically all I have to say on that. Hope you’ve managed to get something from this post. Enjoy the rest of your week.