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Thread: Why Japan?

  1. #1
    Comrade therealwindycity's Avatar
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    Default Why Japan?

    I'm interested to hear how people responded to this question in their interviews. How many people had studied abroad before?

  2. #2
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    green tea and onsens
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Why Japan?

    I basically stated that there were a number of loose connections and curiosities. This ranged from martial arts I practiced in the past, to directors I enjoy the movies of, to boxers I like to watch. I didn't have a particularly interesting narrative to attach my interest in Japan to, which most SOPs that I read seemed to have, so I came right out and stated that.

    What I didn't say is that it has the right kind of climate for me (it has a legitimate winter), and it has the sort of geography that I would like to be around (mountains and forests). Lastly, I am genuinely interested in living in a foreign country, it didn't necessarily have to be Japan. I mean, I don't want to sound like I am indifferent to Japan, I think it sounds like an interesting place, I just think that the world is filled with interesting places. Hell, I was born in an interesting place.

    Also, to answer your question, I have not studied abroad. Unless you count Katharine, I studied her plenty.
    Last edited by spman2099; February 26th, 2014 at 09:08.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Nevermind.
    Last edited by HorseFeathers; February 27th, 2014 at 07:29.

  5. #5
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Ah yes, like all the medical care professionals always say "feeling depressed? why not move thousands of miles away from your support systems and isolate yourself in a foreign culture?"
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

  6. #6
    Comrade therealwindycity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Ah yes, like all the medical care professionals always say "feeling depressed? why not move thousands of miles away from your support systems and isolate yourself in a foreign culture?"
    I dunno; I don't think it's so easy to predict who will have issues in Japan. Plenty of people who were perfectly fine in their home countries get the worst of it.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Why Japan?

    I'd never studied abroad before, although I was going to do that at uni - until I was told that people doing my course weren't allowed to do it.

    As far as why Japan, it was pretty much just wanting to go somewhere in Asia when I was younger. Since I've been on holiday to America, around Europe etc. I knew what those places where like but not Asia, and Japan was the most easily accessible in terms of info for me and I just grew to like it. Especially its history, cause I'm really nerdy when it comes to certain periods of history in different parts of the world.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member LaVie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    When I was in elementary school, my mother's best friend was Japanese; her parents had immigrated to California when they were younger. She was trying to re-introduce herself to her parents' culture, as well as introduce the culture to her children, who were the same age as my brother and I. So, most of what they were learning, we were learning too (because we stayed at their house after school). Since then, I've always been really interested in Japanese culture and have wanted to learn more about it, and going to Japan seems like the most logical way to do so.
    Last edited by LaVie; February 27th, 2014 at 00:27.
    Alternate - Washington DC

  9. #9

    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by therealwindycity View Post
    I dunno; I don't think it's so easy to predict who will have issues in Japan. Plenty of people who were perfectly fine in their home countries get the worst of it.
    Thank you, Windy. I honestly doubt I would have been happy in Japan if I had gone in 09 like I originally planned because I was still very young. I was perfectly happy living at home and had no idea what job market faced me. 2014 me is very different and much more willing to let go of things here for a new adventure.
    Last edited by HorseFeathers; February 27th, 2014 at 07:30.

  10. #10
    Official JET Staff miamicoordinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    This is one of the most important questions for me personally. There are tons of "potential jet interview questions" out there (not that I agree with them), and I know this question is listed so frequently. Yet, you would be surprised how many applicants did not have an answer to this. "Why Japan" may sound like a foolish simple question, but it gives us a little bit of insight on your reasons and motivations. Your SOP is only 2 pages long, and it is impossible to write everything you want to in there. Many people do not adequately explain their reasoning for wanting to teach in Japan. So many people came unprepared for this question, unfortunately.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Kdes23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by miamicoordinator View Post
    This is one of the most important questions for me personally. There are tons of "potential jet interview questions" out there (not that I agree with them), and I know this question is listed so frequently. Yet, you would be surprised how many applicants did not have an answer to this. "Why Japan" may sound like a foolish simple question, but it gives us a little bit of insight on your reasons and motivations. Your SOP is only 2 pages long, and it is impossible to write everything you want to in there. Many people do not adequately explain their reasoning for wanting to teach in Japan. So many people came unprepared for this question, unfortunately.
    That's very shocking. Do you mean that this years aspiring JET's weren't good at answering this question, or that all aspiring ALT's, past and present, have struggled to answer this question?

    No doubt though, I think that the question should be weighed heavily. Moving to Japan is a big deal. You should have at least one good reason, or a few reasons that together act as good grounds to go.

    P.S. Hi miamicoordinator. Nice to see you around here!
    Last edited by Kdes23; February 26th, 2014 at 11:34.

  12. #12
    Official JET Staff miamicoordinator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    I can only speak for the applicants i interviewed this year at my location. After each interview the other panelists and i would always discuss their purpose and if we really understood why.

    Most aspiring jets seem to think that taking a few classes of japanese and studying one semester abroad makes them the perfect candidate. Unfortunately when the majority of the applicants have the same base qualifications, there has to be something else that differentiates them from the rest.

    P.s. and hello kdes23!!

    Also im on my phone, forgive the bad spelling and grammar.

  13. #13
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Mine reasons were sorta simple.

    Growing up I watched all the old PBS war documentaries with my father. Then I started watching random samurai movies. Later, in college (this just before 9/11), I was into anime. Throughout this, my best friend was deep into Karate, and would tell me about the cultural things he had to do.

    Then in college they told me "take another language (other than French)" with my degree, I didn't particularly want to study Arabic or Russian at the time (german was on hiatus as was spanish), so I studied Japanese. When I was finished my ESL degree, JET was a logical conclusion. Might as well give it a go.

    I think in the interview that I stated a long time interest in the country, but had never been. I had heard JET was one of the better places to cut your teeth on teaching ESL (as in you can screw up and it's not the end of the world), and that I was really keen to teach.

    Not the best reasons obviously, but I guess they must've sounded strong enough. Maybe my passion for teaching swayed the panel over my mediocre answers to Why Japan?
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  14. #14
    Perpetually confused. johnny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    I told my interview panel that I was eager for an adventure, and that Japan had many cultural aspects that I wanted to learn and experience. I think I talked about festivals and taiko drumming or something like that. I talked about loving Japanese history too and wanting to learn more about that as well.

  15. #15
    Member nostos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    I did go to Japan on a high school exchange program, so my main reason was to be able to experience Japan in a different way and be able to participate in things I didn't get a chance to do before. I also would be bringing along my family. As a kid I did a LOT of travelling, so I recognize the importance of experiencing other cultures and I want my child especially to be able to have that experience too. Although I forgot to mention that...derp haha.

  16. #16
    Senior Member dstin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by miamicoordinator View Post
    Unfortunately when the majority of the applicants have the same base qualifications, there has to be something else that differentiates them from the rest.
    So in your opinion, what would separate someone from the pack?

    To answer the main question, I didn't exactly get it phrased to me this way. It was more of a "why JET instead of South Korea?" I answered by saying I would like my work in ESL to involve more intercultural exchange than I currently do with my job which consists of "Here is the curriculum, prepare them for the test that will determine their future in our hyper competitive society", and that I saw the JET program's views aligning with mine in this regard. Never studied abroad or been to Japan, but I do have a layover in Narita on my way back to SK.

  17. #17
    Official JET Staff miamicoordinator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dstin View Post
    So in your opinion, what would separate someone from the pack?

    To answer the main question, I didn't exactly get it phrased to me this way. It was more of a "why JET instead of South Korea?" I answered by saying I would like my work in ESL to involve more intercultural exchange than I currently do with my job which consists of "Here is the curriculum, prepare them for the test that will determine their future in our hyper competitive society", and that I saw the JET program's views aligning with mine in this regard. Never studied abroad or been to Japan, but I do have a layover in Narita on my way back to SK.
    Personally speaking, it really comes down to personality and our ability to see the person in front of us teaching a group of Japanese students. There are so many English teaching programs all over Asia right now (China is really big as of recently, and so is South Korea). So when applicants tell us that they want to teach in Asia, the other options come up, "Well, why not X country instead?." That is why knowing why you want to go to Japan specifically is so important. How you answer this, and your motivations for wanting to go specially on the JET Program are important.

    I know nerves get the best of people in interviews, so we do try to give people some slack. However, no matter how good you look on paper, if you are unable to sell yourself to us as a panel, it is going to be hard to recommend you.

    Personality is huge though. At least for me, this is what separates someone from the pack.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by miamicoordinator View Post
    So when applicants tell us that they want to teach in Asia, the other options come up, "Well, why not X country instead?"
    Quote Originally Posted by miamicoordinator View Post
    China... South Korea
    Well that was easy, next question?

  19. #19
    Senior Member Kdes23's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Already an ALT.

    For me, the one thing that made me think to myself "Hey, I need to go to Japan" was my Japanese culture course that I took in my 2nd year of university.

    Leading up to this course, I always had interest in Japan. That's quite obviously the reason I took the course- to better understand Japan and its culture.

    When I was young (7) my dad pushed me into trying out karate. I wasn't thrilled with the idea because my preconceived idea of karate was a place where you go to get beat up, and walk out of with bruises and cuts. Obviously I was wrong. The trust that I built in karate with my dad, the other students, and the sensei, gave me some form of appreciation for Japan. I didn't realize it when I was young, but as I got older and played other sports, I always thought to myself "Why can't this be like karate where everyone does the same exercise? Where everyone is equal? Where there are no all stars that get an extra 10 minutes of game time?". That sparked the fire.

    I'm (going to be) 24 and anyone my age who tells you that they never watched pokemon or dragonball z as a kid are liars. At the age of 9, those TV shows were so different and so foreign from anything else that we (kids) were used to. Sure, we had all the DC and Marvel heroes, we had Disney, spongebob, and whatever else. But these shows, something about them was different. Looking back, I think that it's simply that they're Japanese, and so of course the art style, the stories, and everything else will have a certain Japanese quality to them. Anyways, I'd be telling a lie if I told you that this didn't get me interested in Japanese culture. I didn't come to Japan for it's cartoons, but as a kid, those are what got me interested in Japan.

    In high school, we never had the chance to learn about Japanese culture or learn Japanese. Skip through to university, and there I was, selecting courses (having a few electives to spare), and thinking "What's something that I've always wanted to learn more about?". Of course that became the Japanese culture class that I took in my 2nd year. I wasn't sure what to expect of it, but from the first class I was hooked. Yeah, it's true that you learn about what YOU want at university. Although, that class was the first time where I felt like no matter how much work the professor gave us, it would've been my pleasure doing it. I was just so interested in the course and its content. Maybe it's because it was my first brush with learning about an Asian culture. I'm not sure, but it was definitely captivating. It was also the first time where I go an A+ without breaking a sweat, and that made me feel great.

    That course ultimately lead me into taking up an intro Japanese course in my 3rd year. Before that, I had never imagined of learning Japanese. I had the ignorant and preconceived notion that Japanese was one of the most difficult languages to learn. It's true that once you get to the Kanji it starts to get hard. Despite that, I learned that if you're truly interested in a language and its culture, it's way easier to invest time in it and learn it. That professor would mention the JET programme and teaching in Japan from time-to-time. I loved learning Japanese and I had no chances to do so with being in my 3rd year- I didn't have any more electives to spare. I was always told that living in another country is the best way to learn another language. Naturally JET would allow for that.

    One day I decided to do some research and look a bit further. I got very invested in the idea and I told my girlfriend at the time about it and she didn't like the idea, at all. "You don't have a teaching degree" I don't need one. "You don't know Japanese well enough" I don't need to. "You've never lived that far away from home", etc. All these little things to throw me off. For a few months it worked, I forgot about JET and teaching in Japan. My mind became invested in other things- school, gym, work. Then she broke up with me (it was a long-term relationship). That shattered my world for a while. I was lost for months because the breakup was so unexpected. I didn't date or anything, I started to focus on myself. Eventually I remembered that initial idea I had many months back- living in Japan. That one thing I wanted to do, but that relationship held me back from doing.

    And here I am.

    Sure that last part isn't necessary to mention. But I find it important to note that if not for that break up, I wouldn't be living and teaching in Japan. Needless to say, she did me a favor by breaking up with me. Ultimately, I don't think I'd be a happy person right now if it weren't for that. I would've also missed out on a ton of experiences and opportunities that the programme provides.
    Last edited by Kdes23; February 27th, 2014 at 08:59.

  20. #20
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Japan?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kdes23 View Post
    [random stuff]
    One day I decided to do some research and look a bit further. I got very invested in the idea and I told my girlfriend at the time about it and she didn't like the idea, at all. "You don't have a teaching degree" I don't need one. "You don't know Japanese well enough" I don't need to. "You've never lived that far away from home", etc. All these little things to throw me off. For a few months it worked, I forgot about JET and teaching in Japan. My mind became invested in other things- school, gym, work.
    [random bad things + other stuff]
    The rest of the questions are pretty pointless as you point out, but this bolded one is actually kinda important. It's probably the biggest thing people struggle with on the JET programme, the massive isolation that can occur when they're stuck in the middle of nowhere. It can be a pretty big shock, if you've never been properly separated from all your support systems before.

    Though I hope you are Canadian because looking up information on the American JET website is like time travelling back to before people thought of web 2.0. God that is an ugly site.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

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