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MidknytOwl
February 11th, 2012, 08:40
I wasn't sure where to put this, so I thought maybe here would work.

I applied for JET this year; it's something that I've wanted to do for a while, but never knew far enough in advance what I would be doing so hadn't really had the opportunity to apply before.

Now I'm having second thoughts.

I've been having them for a month or so, but thought part of it was chalking it up to preparing myself in case I didn't get an interview...but I got an interview and the thoughts are still there, so they weren't completely an attempt at self-preservation. I also was originally planning on heading to Japan to teach whether I got into JET or not, and now I'm not even considering a non-JET option.

So what's changed? There's a couple of things, but to summarize: when I applied, life was looking crappy, I was unhappy with my job, and my job wasn't funded past April anyway. Now life is going pretty well, I like my job (as much as I'll probably like any job), and I have the job for potentially as long as I want it, but at the very least through the end of the year.

There's a large part of me that still wants to go though, probably for a lot of the reasons you decided to go.

So I was hoping to talk to anybody who maybe had some second thoughts before they went, how it turned out for them, if it was a good experience, a bad one, a I'm-glad-I-did-it-but-never-would-again, or anything in between. I can go into more detail (either here or pm, I don't care) about my situation - I just didn't want to make a novel of a post. :)

Thanks for your feedback and thoughts.

kamukamuume
February 11th, 2012, 11:18
I wasn't sure where to put this, so I thought maybe here would work.

I applied for JET this year; it's something that I've wanted to do for a while, but never knew far enough in advance what I would be doing so hadn't really had the opportunity to apply before.

Now I'm having second thoughts.

I've been having them for a month or so, but thought part of it was chalking it up to preparing myself in case I didn't get an interview...but I got an interview and the thoughts are still there, so they weren't completely an attempt at self-preservation. I also was originally planning on heading to Japan to teach whether I got into JET or not, and now I'm not even considering a non-JET option.

So what's changed? There's a couple of things, but to summarize: when I applied, life was looking crappy, I was unhappy with my job, and my job wasn't funded past April anyway. Now life is going pretty well, I like my job (as much as I'll probably like any job), and I have the job for potentially as long as I want it, but at the very least through the end of the year.

There's a large part of me that still wants to go though, probably for a lot of the reasons you decided to go.

So I was hoping to talk to anybody who maybe had some second thoughts before they went, how it turned out for them, if it was a good experience, a bad one, a I'm-glad-I-did-it-but-never-would-again, or anything in between. I can go into more detail (either here or pm, I don't care) about my situation - I just didn't want to make a novel of a post. :)

Thanks for your feedback and thoughts.

Well, I didn't have second thoughts before coming, per se--I knew I wanted to come to Japan, and employment-wise I didn't have much going for me.

The JET experience really varies from person to person, but I would not necessarily recommend being an ALT to everyone. I hear a fair amount of rhetoric about how ALTs aren't qualified for what we're doing since we're not licensed to teach in Japan; most ALTs I've talked to, though, have been overqualified for what they're doing. We have university degrees, (for the most part) excellent English abilities, and critical thinking skills, but we're often treated as assistants to people who aren't all that great at English. That has personally gotten to me a bit, but the teaching situation and the way you feel about it clearly has room for lots of variation.

If you're happy with your job now, though, I could see coming to Japan and being treated as a tape recorder as humiliating.

Like I said, I'm glad that I came, but I wasn't leaving much behind, career-wise. My Japanese has improved, I've become more assertive, and I've overcome my anxiety of social situations to a large extent, but the medicine was somewhat bitter at times.

What I'd recommend is making a list of pros and cons. What would you have to give up to come here? What could you get here that you could not get back at home? If there's something you want to do in Japan, but aren't sure if it's feasible, write it down.

Then attend your interview thinking about all those things you want to experience in Japan.

If you don't make it, at least you'll know you tried. If you do make it, wait to see your placement, and that may make it much easier for you. Your placement may be something you can't pass up, or it may be a situation that makes half of the "pros" on your sheet unfeasible.

Right now you're weighing your current job against Japan, which is natural since you don't have any specific information. When you're able to weigh your job against another job, things should become a lot easier.

Eudox
February 11th, 2012, 20:30
most ALTs I've talked to, though, have been overqualified for what they're doing. We have university degrees, (for the most part) excellent English abilities, and critical thinking skills, but we're often treated as assistants to people who aren't all that great at English.

This, but remember that (usually), our degrees aren't in teaching, so no, we aren't over qualified for our position. The job itself is probably not what most graduates would expect of a job, but I would argue that is probably true of any entry-level position. As long as you go in knowing that you could be anywhere from doing no work at all to planning every single lesson by yourself, you'll be fine.



If you're happy with your job now, though, I could see coming to Japan and being treated as a tape recorder as humiliating.

I'm not sure about humiliating, but it is unlikely that it would be a job that you would enjoy as much as it seems you enjoy your current job.



Like I said, I'm glad that I came, but I wasn't leaving much behind, career-wise. My Japanese has improved, I've become more assertive, and I've overcome my anxiety of social situations to a large extent, but the medicine was somewhat bitter at times.

What I'd recommend is making a list of pros and cons. What would you have to give up to come here? What could you get here that you could not get back at home? If there's something you want to do in Japan, but aren't sure if it's feasible, write it down.

Then attend your interview thinking about all those things you want to experience in Japan.

If you don't make it, at least you'll know you tried. If you do make it, wait to see your placement, and that may make it much easier for you. Your placement may be something you can't pass up, or it may be a situation that makes half of the "pros" on your sheet unfeasible.

All of this. Unless you think you might want to reapply next year, you have nothing to lose by following through with your application to placement. At that point you can still say no and enjoy the fact that you were offered another job but didn't need to take it.

Jiggit
February 11th, 2012, 23:17
Really the problem with JET is that it's impossible to say what your job will entail and how satisfied you will be with it. I mean I would say that for what I am doing, I am fairly blatantly "underqualified" as I'm mostly planning and running lessons with really only basic language/explanation assistance from JTEs. As has been said, you may end up being a human tape recorder. You might be expected to be super-genki and play with elementary school kids all day till you drop. You may end up somewhere no-one speaks English well and there's nothing to do within an hour's drive. And a lot of it depends on what kind of person you are. I know JETs who would be/have been unhappy in my situation but I feel very lucky to be at my school. I know people in places where, if I had been in their situation, I may well have quit early and gone straight home.

Now I know it's supposed to be the end of the world not to slap people on the back and tell them to dive in head first, but tbh I think if you don't have a fair deal of enthusiasm about being in Japan irregardless of the massive variations that you face in your future working conditions, you may well need to give it second thoughts. Working in Japan as an ALT is something that grinds down even those of us in the better situations and I think coming here reluctantly or ambivalently is just going to make it more likely that you resent your situation when you end up 5 months into the job and realise you don't really want to do it any more. Also there's the whole "I have a job at home now" which is more than a lot of JET applicants can say.

Having said that you need to bear in mind that everyone will have some doubts before they come and it can be hard to analyze your own feelings effectively. I would say think about whether you're just having pre-JET jitters or whether you genuinely don't want it anymore.

uthinkimlost?
February 12th, 2012, 22:50
So what's changed? There's a couple of things, but to summarize: when I applied, life was looking crappy, I was unhappy with my job, and my job wasn't funded past April anyway. Now life is going pretty well, I like my job (as much as I'll probably like any job), and I have the job for potentially as long as I want it, but at the very least through the end of the year.


Also there's the whole "I have a job at home now" which is more than a lot of JET applicants can say.


I think Jiggit hit the nail on the head here, especially since it's the first thing you listed. However, I don't know what kind of job you work, but my experience with jobs that have a fixed amount of 'funding' is that the funding can be readily siphoned off into other areas, especially if it is cheaper to end your contract than to continue it. (You might not be as stable as you think.)

That said, if the sh## employment was the prime reason for coming, odds are good you would be fairly miserable here. As Jiggit said, there is massive variation in what ALTs do, and the amount ALTs WANT to do. If this was a bit of a lark and a way to fill a gap year then things would be rough for you and those who work with and around you.

Page
February 13th, 2012, 08:45
Do the interview just in case but stay at your current job. If you're happy with it and think it could go long term it's not worth it to leave. Japan could be fun, it could be a lot of things, but one thing it'll never be is long term.

wicket
February 13th, 2012, 08:56
Second time I did JET I definitely had second thoughts.

I had a well-paid, satisfying teaching job at a school I'd been at for 10 years. I was head of department and in line for vice principal. So I was looking at a major pay cut and far less autonomy in the classroom [if any].
I'd gotten married and my husband had never been to Japan. What if he hated it?
I'd bought a house. Would the people renting it take care of it?
I had a dog. Would the arrangements I'd made for her work out? Would she be ok?

I figured the only way to find out was to go and see what happened. The job, house, dog etc. would still be there when I got back. The husband agreed to suck it up for a year if he hated it [you can do anything for a year if you've committed to it].

We both loved it. The house was fine, the dog was fine; and I decided to go on to England to teach there rather than return straight to Australia.

You've got nothing to lose.

kamukamuume
February 13th, 2012, 09:15
This, but remember that (usually), our degrees aren't in teaching, so no, we aren't over qualified for our position. The job itself is probably not what most graduates would expect of a job, but I would argue that is probably true of any entry-level position. As long as you go in knowing that you could be anywhere from doing no work at all to planning every single lesson by yourself, you'll be fine.

I know this strays a bit from the main point, but allow me to clarify: I don't think we're overqualified as teachers, but I do think that an average high school student from America/the UK/Australia could fulfill the tasks of many ALTs without too much trouble. Given what it often means to be an ALT--reading off a sheet, checking papers with basic grammar mistakes, etc.--I think Japanese skills and a college degree are overkill much of the time.

I will stress to the OP, though, that you may be in a position that's extremely daunting at first; some ALTs have to plan nearly every lesson, as the others have said.

uthinkimlost?
February 13th, 2012, 12:13
I know this strays a bit from the main point, but allow me to clarify: I don't think we're overqualified as teachers, but I do think that an average high school student from America/the UK/Australia could fulfill the tasks of many ALTs without too much trouble. Given what it often means to be an ALT--reading off a sheet, checking papers with basic grammar mistakes, etc.--I think Japanese skills and a college degree are overkill much of the time.

I will stress to the OP, though, that you may be in a position that's extremely daunting at first; some ALTs have to plan nearly every lesson, as the others have said.

This whole statement is full of lol.

Have you met the average high school student? I've met degree-holding ALTs from all over the world that could not grammar/spellcheck their way out of a moist paper bag.

kamukamuume
February 13th, 2012, 12:24
This whole statement is full of lol.

Have you met the average high school student? I've met degree-holding ALTs from all over the world that could not grammar/spellcheck their way out of a moist paper bag.

haha, fair point. but at the level of material ALTs tend to check, the inability to write eloquently doesn't pose a whole lot of a problem.

word
February 13th, 2012, 14:23
I've met degree-holding ALTs from all over the world that could not grammar/spellcheck their way out of a moist paper bag.WORD.

Seriously, it's one thing to misspell a word once and a while, but when dealing with ALTs who don't know when to use "its" versus "it's," or who still get confused by "their," "there," and "they're," or who do things like use the phrase "would of..." I do sometimes feel that JET might do well to add an on-the-spot English test to the interview.

Ini
February 13th, 2012, 14:30
the degree is a requirement from immigration to get an instructor visa, not really anything to do with the job. Lots of towns use part time filipino housewives as AFTs....

dialogue
February 13th, 2012, 15:33
I disagree with whoever said `If you are ambivalent at all...` because I came here feeling pretty damn uneasy, but I expected that as a part of adaptation. My reasons for coming to Japan seem different from most (I am an anthropologist) but they are pretty solid, and I take working here very seriously. I really like where I am, and being in Japan has been one of the best experiences in my life so far, blah blah, other happy thoughts etc.

I think that if you have no reason to come here, or if your reasons are weak or whimsical, then don`t bother. Don`t do it on a lark. I think it is reasonable to be unsure of jumping into JET because you have no idea what exactly will happen. However, if underneath that, you have no purpose in spending time here, then skip it. But it seems foolish to me to skip something like JET because you have a job. You can always get one of those.

wicket
February 13th, 2012, 20:23
WORD.

Seriously, it's one thing to misspell a word once and a while, but when dealing with ALTs who don't know when to use "its" versus "it's," or who still get confused by "their," "there," and "they're," or who do things like use the phrase "would of..." I do sometimes feel that JET might do well to add an on-the-spot English test to the interview.

someone take a photo. i agree with word.

uthinkimlost?
February 13th, 2012, 21:01
someone take a photo. i agree with word.

And he was agreeing with me.

I just threw up a little.

lexa1010
February 13th, 2012, 22:30
I agree, alts are seriously underqualified for teaching. However a family friend said to me, if you have the inkling to go abroad... Do it! Why did you apply in the first place?

But yeah I've been struggling to find a real job so this year was definitely the right time for me to apply.

wicket
February 14th, 2012, 08:37
It doesn't matter if ALTs are under or over qualified for teaching. That's only half the job; and you're only assistants anyway [in most cases]. ALTs do less teaching duties than a casual supply teacher or a student teacher. Remember the other half of the aims of the programme, which is cultural exchange.

lexa1010
February 15th, 2012, 10:12
True.

I do wonder if he went for his interview though.

MidknytOwl
February 16th, 2012, 15:25
Thank you for all your replies.

I've decided that I'm going to go ahead and do the interview next week - I'm not ready to make the decision yet, and it'll be good practice regardless - but I'm definitely leaning towards not going at this point.

There were a lot of reasons I applied for JET, and it is something I've wanted to do for a long while and just haven't had the opportunity to apply before. I've been interested in Japan and the culture for a long time, and while I knew applying that I would most likely not enjoy the job, living in and experiencing Japan was going to be enough to make up for that.

And, like I said, when I applied I didn't overly like my job here, and I was going to need a new one at that point anyway; I figured if I was going to be doing something I didn't like that much anyway, I might as well do it in a fun and exciting place, you know?

It's more than just enjoying my job now though - I've been involved in something for several months now, and the friends I've made through it have become a second family. It's the first time I've been somewhere longer than six months since graduating college, and I feel like I have a place/niche here. JET and Japan was going to be an exciting new adventure where all I could think about was the amazing things ahead of me; now I mostly think about the things I'd be leaving behind/giving up.

And I think the comment on the job feeling humiliating was probably pretty spot on. I can see how it wouldn't be for a lot of people, but right now I'm working as an environmental interpreter and educator for four federal agencies. I don't just come up with my own programs, I create programs and lesson plans for other teachers to implement. Granted ESID and I could be making my own lessons as an ALT, but going from what I do now to human tape recorder? Probably a bit of an unhappy shock.

I can always apply next year too, as long as I tell them no before they give me a location, right? So that would give me until April to change my mind a few more thousand times. ;)

Thanks for the honesty though. It helped a lot.