Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The waiting game continues...

The leader of Nara AJET seems to believe today is the day prefectural alts will be assigned their actual placements.

"The offical date the Board of Education here in Nara (Prefectural ALTs) to find out where they will be is this Wednesday, May 26th. Now, this being said does not mean that you will get anything on that date, just the day that you are allowed to find out according to CLAIR. I think here they will be mailing out the contracts on that date. I do know you are prefectural ALT meaning you will be at a HS (I have seen the list), but sadly what HS I don`t know."

So I suppose the JET waiting game continues...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


My coordinator has just put me in contact with a Nara JET alumni! She is awesome and has graciously offered to answer any of my questions. This person, combined with the Nara PA, and some users on ITIL make up my "informant corps." I should be hearing from my actual CO and predecessor in the coming weeks, but the informant corps will have to do for now.

The Deer Park of Nara City

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

City or Inaka?

That is the question! I would honestly prefer a city placement. Better access to train lines, more shops, better night life. I suppose the inaka has its charms as well. Beautiful scenery, simple life, nice people.

The PA from Nara emailed me again and told me that a lot of the people leaving are from populated cities! I am excited! She mentioned a bunch of vacancies in cities close to Osaka and Nara City! For now, I just play the waiting game again...until the CO or my predecessor contacts me.

First Info about Nara

This is an email I received from a PA in Nara:

1. Snow is not a thing here in Nara (which makes me personally sad). There will be flurries, but no hard snow or snow that prevents anyone from doing stuff. If you are down in the inaka, you get more but no real big snow storms. Nara is in a mountain basin so that means cold dry winters and hot humid summers.

2. Speaking of the heat and humidity. There is no way to express how humid it is here. I am from a humid climate and I was hating it here big time. It is really just awful because of how sparse AC is used here (especially in apartments and in the schools). You really get used to just sweating all the time in the summer. When you arrive it will be at the peak. August is the worst month for the heat and humidity with it starting to taper off in mid-September.

3.We have two train lines, JR west and Kintestsu with Kintestsu being the one most used in Nara. Kitestsu will get you to Kyoto,Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe and other points in between. Nara has some of the best train systems in my opinion. Honestly, living here gets you to some of the best places in Japan the quickest.

4. Yes there are inaka placements here. Forests? Not so much. I live in the second biggest city Kashihara (130,000 people) and about 10 of us live here. There are 63 Nara JETs and I would say about 20 live in rural places. Although, the ones leaving are mostly in the more populated areas so only a few of the new people will be in the rural areas. There is Nara city, which is the capital and the largest ciyt of about 300,000 people.

5. Personally, none. The one that we do have is the mukade. A centipeade that can bite if provoked. I have only seen one and that was on a hike. They are mainly in the more rural areas.

6. We have one of the most active JET communities in Japan. Our AJET group won most active chapter this year. There are typically about 1 event each month with other things sprinkled. Nara is not that big of a prefecture so people getting together and doing things is very easy.

7. The website does not work but there is a FB group, check out Nara AJET.

Monday, May 17, 2010


The USA decided to release all their placements simultaneously! I'm heading to Nara-Ken!!! I am so excited! It is centrally located near Osaka and Kyoto, both major metropolitan areas in Japan!

Since I didn't hear which town or city I will be living in, I am a prefectural ALT. This generally means I will be working in a high school or specialty school. I am just happy I get to stick to secondary education.

Now I play the waiting game again. Sometime in the next couple weeks I should hear from the Board of Education and my predecessor!


This is my first post about my adventures on the Japanese Exchange and Teaching program. For anybody interested here are some of the details about the interview:

After passing through security at the consulate, I was made to sit in a lobby outside the interview room. There was a lot of JET literature around the tables and a welcome video about the JET program playing on a nice HDTV. The interview panel was running late by about 10 minutes, but it was alright because I had befriended another applicant while waiting in the lobby.

Sure enough, I was called into the interview room. There was a single chair parked 10 feet away from a couple tables where three panelists were waiting. I shook each of their hands, introduced myself and then sat down. The panel was made up of a Japanese man and woman, and the JET coordinator of my consulate.

Some of the questions I can remember:

Why did you choose JET?

Why did you choose Japan?

How would you feel if you were located in a very rural area?

What are your career goals?

What do you hope to gain through the JET Program?

If you could bring only one item to Japan, what would it be?

Why did you choose the 3 preferences for location on your application?

What's the most important trait a teacher needs to succeed?

Could please do a sample lesson on where you are from? (I did, and it was hilarious)

What would you do if you were put in the northern part of Hokkaido?
-I answered: I would buy the thickest coat I could find, and set my kitchen table on fire for warmth. (they laughed a lot at this answer)

Interview Tips:
-Know thyself (hehe)
-Appear energetic and happy (even it you are nervous as hell)
-Shake hands with the panel before and after the interview
-Know your application backwards and forwards

I think that's a pretty good first post. Comment or email me if you have questions because I am sure there is more I forgot to say.