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Question Can someone please shed some light on the JET program for me and helping me to decide to go or not?

Rhino

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Hello there friends who may know something about JET. I just got accepted to the JET program, am 27 years old, and really have no idea what I want to do with my life so I thought this might be a good idea, considering I have always been interested.

Basically I am struggling to decide between working at Apple/Verizon while going back to school for robotics engineerings (both companies would pay for my school) or going to Japan for a year to learn a language/culture that I am interested in and have a challenge.

Here is some useful info that may help you guys understand my decision making process better
- I do not know if I want to teach english in a classroom, but I am extraverted and think it might be interesting, I most likely have a good time.
- I do not know if I want to build robots, but it's in my nature to create and design, and mechatronics sounds so interesting to me.
- I live in Colorado and have met so many good people who are interested in the same things that I am (music, science, hiking)
- I want to learn how to play piano and get more into playing and creating music
- I have an ENTP personality (I am interested in the truth of things and very deep conversation) I hate small talk and surface level convsersation

Questions that might help me
- Can I exchange English lessons for piano lessons/math/ and other things while in Japan or is this not possible?
- Is it possible to do coursework while teaching in Japan?

Basically I just do not want to go to Japan for the wrong reasons. Wrong reasons could be I am clinging onto my gf here so I'm not going, or might be going to escape everything here and just leave. It has nothing to do with Japanese girls or money, I couldn't care less about those things. I am in a phase of trying to find my purpose and this opportunity honestly fell on my lap. I applied because I said outloud to a brand new co worker I was thinking about teaching Enlish there and she happened to be part of the Japanese club at her school. I found out the application was due four days before I started it. Somehow it was good enough and they liked me at the interview, soooooo yeah.

Any feedback is unbelievably appreciated.

Thank you!
 
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joadbres

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Congratulations on being accepted to JET.

If you are interested in seeking truths, exposing yourself to a substantially different culture from your own will provide some useful fodder for that.

One question: is the condition of Apple/Verizon paying for your schooling deferrable for a year? That would certainly affect my decision.

Also, extraverted -> extroverted. If you're into Myers-Briggs, you should know that.
 

Glenski

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Twenty-seven is a good age to go. Not too young.

I thought this might be a good idea, considering I have always been interested
What about Japan has interested you and why?

Being extroverted will help when teaching here. But keep in mind you are the assistant, not the direct teacher. You will have to follow instructions from a JTE, who may or may not get along with you or might even not want an assistant! In JET there is a mantra that every situation is different, but what happens if you land a situation where you are told just to be the human tape recorder? Can you make the most of that? JET has some good support mechanisms which are separate from the school where you are placed.

I had to look up ENTP ("the debater personality"). What I found said
  • "ENTPs enjoy the mental exercise found in questioning the prevailing mode of thought, making them irreplaceable in reworking existing systems or shaking things up and pushing them in clever new directions". This can backfire on you in Japan depending on circumstances. Japanese are not accustomed to making changes, and if you are so extroverted that you question everything, you could find life with your JTE to be rough, especially if you question for the sake of wanting them to change.
  • "ENTP personalities love to brainstorm and think big, but they will avoid getting caught doing the "grunt work" at all costs. " Ask other JETs, but I suspect being a grunt, even in a good school situation, is pretty much the name of the game as an ALT.
  • "Likeminded types get along well enough with people with the ENTP personality type, but more sensitive types, and society in general, are often conflict-averse, preferring feelings, comfort, and even white lies over unpleasant truths and hard rationality. " This describes Japan pretty well, so you will have to rein in these sorts of actions if you really have them, and roll with the punches. Being prepared mentally before coming here is key.
 

Majestic

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I am an Ex-JET. With what you have told us about your personality, I would say avoid JET and jump into your new life at Apple. Superficiality is one of the lubricants that grease society. Argumentation, debate, controversial subjects, etc. are all problematic here in Japan, as conflict of any kind comes with a very high social liability, unless you can communicate at a very, very high level. Meanwhile, a person's skill at avoiding conflict is a measure of how educated (sophisticated) that person is.

If Apple is offering you employment, you should grab it with both hands. It is a company full of smart and interesting people, and you will surely be challenged there, while earning extremely valuable real-world experience. Apple also has offices in Japan, so once inside Apple you can test the possibilities of transferring to Apple Japan. Meanwhile, coming back to the US one year from now with one-year as a JET on your resume will impress absolutely no-one. Plus, the JET experience is not designed for you to find your purpose in life. In fact, the purpose of the JET program seems to be ambiguous, or at least, the results of 30 years of JET have seemed to fail to produce the desired results. The purpose was to expose young students of English to real-life English in the hope that their English listening and speaking skills would improve, but English education in Japan remains unable to produce students who can communicate in spoken English. Playing piano: houses are not insulated well, and are often densely constructed, so any noise-making (or, music-making) is likely to upset the neighbors. Out in the country, where there is more space, there are more houses with pianos (I think...I don't have any empirical data on this). In the cities, people tend to have electronic keyboards and pianos where they can control the volume or use headphones. You may also find the town or board of education strongly desires you to teach a class at nighttime, which can make it difficult to manage your time.

I enjoyed my time as a JET. I spent two years as a JET. But it is not for everybody. Many people became burnt out due to the many obligations, and the many opportunities for miscommunication. The constant bumping of cultures is also exhausting. And in retrospect I now realize that working, shopping, cooking, cleaning, arranging life to use public transport, being at home to air out the futon, and doing the other bits of daily life as a single person were a constant drain on time and energy.

One of the things that kept me at JET was that it helped me in my Japanese language studies. Wen I left JET I had a fairly good grasp of the basics, which I could use to my advantage. But this was a long time ago. What I once considered "basic Japanese" would hardly qualify as basic anymore, what with the huge increase in Japanese-speaking foreigners.
 

Deibiddo

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Take the Apple job, in comparison you won't really get anything out of the JET programother than being able to say "I lived in Japan for a few years!"
 

Buntaro

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Rhino,

I am a fully qualified career counselor, so I thought I’d give you some feedback from a counselor’s point of view. There are two things from your story that really jump out at me.

First is your long-term career goals. Let’s say you are planning to retire on your 65th birthday. Where do you plan to be, and what do you plan to possess on that day? A lot of career planning is taking a look at your plans for that day and then start working backwards. This is something you really need to start working on.

You are 27 years old. What is your life plan? Are you thinking of teaching in Japan for two years? Then what? Can you get your old job back at Apple in two years? Become a professional musician? Is your plan to stay in Japan long-term? Or are you planning something completely different? Or is it, as I fear, no plan at all?

By the way, I made a career change when I was 32 years old. (I am presently “much” older than 32.) As I look back on that decision, I see that it was a mistake. I can now see that would have been a much better decision for me to stick to my previous career (as an English teacher in Japan) than to leave Japan. Also, at that time, I had no long-term career and retirement plans, perhaps just like you, and that has proven to be a big mistake. I was not able to turn my new career into a big success. Most importantly, I did not see any of this coming.

The other thing that really jumps out at me is the idea that you may be clinging to your girlfriend. Being clingy is called having “issues”. You need to take a close look at whether your desire to stay with your girlfriend is normal emotional attachment (a good thing) or if it is a case of you having “issues” (a bad thing). This may not be a big problem in your life right now, but it very well may become one later. (Trust me, I know this to be true from personal experience.) If you have “issues”, you really need to start working on them right now.

You have asked if you can do an exchange, with you teaching English and your Japanese partner giving you piano lessons. Yes, you should be able to arrange something like this. But first let me give you a warning. Before I moved to Japan, I was something of a musician myself. But all my music went out the window after I moved to Japan. For me, living in Japan was a big change and a big challenge. I became completely involved with living in Japan, learning about the culture, spending time with Japanese people, and most importantly, learning the Japanese language (especially learning Chinese characters). I also ended up spending a lot of time working on better ways to teach English. One result of all of this was that I had to drop all of my music after I moved to Japan (which I was more than happy to do, because for me Japan was such an exciting place to live and work. I can play the guitar anywhere, but I would only want to walk around wearing “geta” in Japan. Going up and down train station stairs while wearing “geta” is something I will never forget.) Your situation might be different, but this is something to consider. (Just to let you know, I ended up living in an eight-foot by eight-foot “apartment” in Japan for years! Can you imagine?? Having some kind of keyboard area in my room would have been too much of a challenge.) Also, for the first several years I was in Japan, I would only go to my apartment to sleep at night, the rest of the time I was out having experiences in Japan. (Well, not completely, but you get the idea.) Your experiences in Japan may be similar. Be ready to be completely absorbed in the adventure of living in Japan. For the first couple of months I was in Japan, just walking around Tokyo and observing the culture was a fascinating experience. I wasn’t about to spend time sitting at home alone practicing the guitar when I could be out doing fascinating things like walking around Tokyu Hands Department Store for an hour, then going to an English language coffee shop and learning how to play Shogi and Go, then learning how to do Japanese calligraphy.

You have also asked if you can do coursework while living in Japan. I would advise against it, at least during the first year or two. You may find living in Japan and having Japanese experiences too time consuming. But only time will tell.

Have you started learning Hiragana and Katakana? Have you mastered them?

There is also the question of whether JET would be a good fit for you, as Majestic is saying.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
 

tomoni

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You are looking at a choice between school being paid for and working at pretty solid companies, or basically a GAP year (since you are not a language professional, and would not be employed as one even if you were).



If you have a choice of "hanging around or JET, JET all the way,

needed a gap year, or JET, JET all the way

if you were a lang teacher looking for international experience, JET all the way

BUT a choice between paid tuition and a job OR JET, Apple/Verizon ALL THE WAY
 
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