So aside from that little introduction (and an inspiration from the Memoirs of a Gaijin blog), this will be the journey of where I started to where I am now in regards to the JET Program.
Flashback to Summer 2011 where I took my first trip to Japan. I had always been interested in the Japanese culture ever since my first taste of anime in middle school (of which I still have the advertisement I saw in a magazine hanging on my wall as a memento of the beginning). After that, I got super into anime and manga in middle and high school. Then once I hit college (and after breaking up with my boyfriend at the time), I drifted off into academics and all that stuff. I focused more on grades than anime and I fell out of it for years. Now I needed to fulfill some G.E. requirement and so I chose a Japanese 101 course at my university. From there on, I fell back in love with the culture and made it a life goal to be fluent in Japanese. I took up Japanese as my minor in my undergrad and continued down the path of knowledge.
Here comes Summer 2011. An opportunity arose where I could study abroad in Japan. Holy crap! I am so doing it! I knew how competitive it was to study abroad in Japan for a year and I was already too far into my academic career to take a year off to study, so I opted for his month long stay in Japan with a host family. So off I went in June 2011 with some people from my university and another one. Boy did I have the time of my life! We stayed in Uji, which is in the Kyoto prefecture. It was a lovely place, famous for its green tea. I stayed with a host family (just a mother and father) and had a blast! We visited and experienced so many things in Kyoto including the Kiyomizu temple, Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji temple, Fushimi Inari shrine, Gion, and so much more. Aside from Kyoto, we also went to Nara, Hiroshima, and Tokyo and visiting several places in there. We participated in a tea ceremony and went to a bunraku show. Needless to say, we did a lot of stuff that is too much to list here (but pictures to come later). This re-resparked the love for Japan back in me and I made it my goal to one day, go back and experience it all again.
Fast forward to 2013. I graduated with my bachelors in Communication Studies and am now pursuing a masters in the same major. For two years, I went back to focusing on my other classes and so Japanese, again, fell by the wayside and I lost much of what I knew. But this time was different; this time I was preparing for graduation again. Although still an academic year away, I had to prepare for graduating with my masters by writing a thesis. But I thought to myself…what am I going to do after I graduate? I plan on getting a Ph.D eventually, but I wanted to take a year off since I had been going to school consistently since oh…I don’t know…1996. It was time for me to take a break and I needed something to do in the time off before I apply for a Ph.D.
In those years of graduate school, I built up a love for teaching. Teaching my own classes for a while, I loved the relationship I had with my students and the ability to spread my knowledge to them in the hopes that they better their lives with it. I teach communication after all, and communication is essential to everyday life. With this discovered passion for teaching, I made it my life’s career to one day be a college professor. But that required a doctorate degree and I wanted to take a break from all that so gah! What do!
Well it hit me later on to apply for the JET Program because of my friends I made during my study abroad trip in 2011. I made some friends during that trip that I grew very close to. We would visit each other every year and hang out and reminisce about our times in Japan together. We experienced that culture together and by keeping up with meeting each other, even years after the program was over, we formed a strong bond that will not be broken, no matter how far we are from each other. Anyway, one of those friends (let’s call him H) told me that he signed up for JET but was rejected due to a missing reference letter (this was in Summer 2013 and he applied the year before). So on the bus ride to San Jose (to visit the rest of our Japan trip friends like we do), he told me about the process. He told me what he did and that I should apply for it too. That peaked my interest but what really tipped me over the edge to apply that year was our other friend from Japan (his name will be W) who just returned from there for vacation. He brought back so many goodies and we talked about his trip and again, reminisced about old times. Combining the tips from H and the trip W took, plus seeing the other people from our group J, A, M, and E, and reminiscing about old times, I made the choice to apply for the JET Program for 2014-2015.
Phew, that was a lot to say haha It has been a long process of reflecting on what I wanted in life and what I wanted to accomplish. But there is still much more to say. Stay tuned for more posts on the actual application process and the waiting I had to endure (and still endure).