Back for a second round of JET Application tips! Let’s get to it, shall we?
13. Driving in Japan: This is a question of personal preference, I think. Do you want to drive in Japan or not? Some people think that answering ‘NO’ on this question when they have a driver’s license makes them seem ‘less flexible’, but I disagree.
I did not drive while I was in Japan. I had a blue, 5-speed bicycle named Shirley that my happy ass zipped around on for three years. Biking everywhere was great exercise, convenient (for centrally-located me) and something I had never done before.
However, there were times where I definitely wished that I had a car. The swelteringly hot summer days, the days of torrential rain that would fall in sheets, the frigid winter mornings where the biting wind would slice through my 7 layers of clothing and those incredibly windy days where I felt as if I were swimming through a lake of molasses.
There were times when I needed to get things home that my little front basket just couldn’t handle. It wasn’t uncommon to see me tottering carefully back and forth down the street – multiple plastic bags dangling from both my handlebars.
Laundry with a bike was also fun – shoving my collapsible hamper into my front basket and hurriedly riding through my town, hoping that neither the nosy obaachans nor my students would catch sight of my damp, brightly colored undergarments.
Looking back, I’m glad that I didn’t drive in Japan. Biking everywhere had its fair share of difficulties, but for me it was worth it.
Sorry for the bit of TL;DR. I’ll stop before I ramble on forever. In short…
Driving in Japan
PROS – Freedommmmm, protection from the elements, Able to travel further distances, Can be convenient and even necessary if you have far schools.
CONS – Expensive (Buying a car, insurance, the ‘optional’ (read: mandatory) insurance, upkeep, gasoline, shakken etc.), People hitting you up for rides/favors
*cough totally something I DIDN’T do… *cough*
So consider your options when answering this question. Depending on your placement, if accepted, you may HAVE to get a car.
And speaking of placements…
14. Placement Request
This is a big question: Where do you want to live in Japan?
There’s some debate over how you should answer this: some say don’t put anything down and show that you’re flexible and willing to go wherever while others say that by requesting areas in Japan, you present yourself as a more researched (and therefore serious) applicant.
Personally, I think that either are acceptable but I lean more toward the latter argument. Researching areas in Japan can only benefit you and you might even discover something cool that you didn’t know before!
However, if you just request ‘Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe’ or another combination of highly populated areas, you might cause some eyes to roll. Spoiler alert: very few to no JETs are placed in large metropolises like the ones listed above. You’re safer off requesting something else.
You’re able to choose whether you want an urban, suburban or rural placement. Once again, consider which kind of placement you’d do best in. I chose semi-urban and was placed in a sprawling city of 135,000.
Keep in mind, though, that placement requests are all fine and dandy but if you’re accepted, the JET Program can and will send you anywhere. I was lucky enough to get my second placement request of Kumamoto. I was asked about my placement choices in my interview and apparently gave a satisfactory answer.
Next up is the Further Explanation section. This is pretty much self-explanatory so I won’t be giving too many tips here. I recommend you just be open and honest about everything (especially question 16 pertaning to your criminal record!).
For 18. Placement Request Near a Specific Person, if you’re requesting to be by anyone, make sure you have a damn good reason. Married couples and fiancées have a good reason for wanting to be placed near to one another. You and your bff from middle school…probably don’t. At least not to the folks at JET.
Also, when expanding upon your placement request on 19. Placement Request for Specific Location, be sure to write something thoughtful. ‘I requested Chiba because I heard Tokyo Disneyland is in it and it’s real close to Tokyo, which would be cool for me to go to on the weekends.’ is a terrible response.
A better one would perhaps be, ‘I requested Miyazaki prefecture because of the popularity of surfing. I am an avid surfer in my home country and hope to connect with the local community over something that we both enjoy in our respective cultures. Additionally, the proximity to other prefectures in Kyushu would allow me to experience other aspects of Japan.’ Perhaps that’s a bit over-the-top, but you get the point, yes?
Okay! That’s all for this post! I hope I’m helping people out there 🙂 As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below!