So let me tell you about waiting… it sucks.
The application process goes like this (and more details on that later): paperwork and all that fun stuff is due in November-December. After that, you must wait at least one month to hear back from the results of the first phase. During that time, I tried to keep myself busy with the holidays and school and things like that. I tried to keep the mentality that I didn’t get an interview so that I would not be so disappointed if I didn’t get accepted. I got my email sometime in January before school started. The email had an attachment that was full of numbers (your ID number) and if your number made it on there, then congratulations! You have passed the first part of the application process and will be called in for an interview! My number was on that list and I couldn’t have been more happier. First part: done!
So you schedule your interview (mine happened in February) and you go through that whole process as well (more on that a little later too). I spent a great deal of time preparing for that interview, going shopping for new clothes and studying as much as I could about Japan. The thing was, I was a master’s student writing a thesis at the same time and I was teaching. So time was limited to study. Then after your interview, you must wait about two months until the final results are sent out as to if you get short-listed or on the alternate list. Those two months were the longest two months of my life. I did not feel my interview went as well as I would have liked, so I kept replaying it in my head and coming up with different answers I could have provided that would have been better. I tried to stay busy by continuously working and not thinking about Japan, but at the same time, I tried to prepare for the worst. My backup plan was to apply for other teaching positions in community colleges and finish my thesis either during the Summer or Fall semester. Either way, I planned ahead for the chance that I would not get accepted.
April 1 rolls around and I am at work. From the research I have done and the Facebook group I joined, they said that results should be coming out soon. So all day, I am staring at my phone, waiting for that email. In the early afternoon while I was in an Office Depot buying supplies, standing in front of the binder clips aisle, I get an email from my consulate and it said that I was selected as an alternate for the JET Program. To be honest, my heart sank. Being an alternate meant that I have a chance at going to Japan but it is not 100% sure. I would have to get upgraded to short-list first. At first I thought it was an April Fool’s joke because it happened on the first…but that’s silly. At the time, I would have much preferred to have been flat out rejected so I wouldn’t have to wait anymore and I could start on plan B. However, going to Japan to teach English is a life dream and I was not one to go down without a fight. There was still paperwork needed to be filled out as an alternate so I did all that and sent them in.
Again, from researching times and dates of things happening in JET, I learned that the first wave of alternates being upgraded happens after the paperwork due date. At this point, some short-listers would have either dropped out or did not turn in their paperwork on time. (and if you are thinking of applying for JET, keep that in mind. Turn in your stuff on time or earlier if possible). April 30 was the deadline to submit all of the paperwork (at least in my consulate). So that was one long month to wait and look at my phone every so often to see if I got upgraded. April 30th also happens to be my birthday. I get an email from my consulate asking if I was still interested in being upgraded and I, of course, replied that I was. At this point, I had no hope in getting upgraded. But in my mind, since JET emailed me asking, I had hope that maybe I was next in line to be upgraded. Albeit a small spark of hope, but still hope. There was still a chance for me to go to Japan. Happy birthday to me.
May 8th, the day my life changed. I was sitting at work again and while my boss was on the phone, I got an email from JET. My heart was beating so fast as I opened it and saw that I had been upgraded to a short-lister! I couldn’t have been more happy! I wanted to cry right then and there but my boss was in the room and I couldn’t let her see me like that, so I just had a huge smile on my face. When she was done on the phone, I turned around and said “wanna hear some good news?” She said, “you got accepted?!” And I said, “yeah!” She was so happy for me too! She was one of the people who wrote me a recommendation letter for the application, so of course I would tell her. The rest of the day consisted of me having a smile on my face and texting a few close friends and family about the news. Some took it well, others did not (more on that later). But nevertheless, my patience and waiting paid off and I was upgraded to a short-lister, giving me a very high chance that I am going to Japan!
Now the wait isn’t over yet. Amongst the paperwork to be filled out and submitted, now what I have to wait for is my placement. I indicated on my application that I wanted to be placed either in Kyoto City, Kyoto prefecture, or Tokyo prefecture but I said in the interview that I was fine to be placed wherever really. I just put those places because I was familiar with them from studying abroad.
So now I wait for the placements and then I can finally announce to the world that I am going to Japan!
Stay tuned for that news!