JET Programme 2013

JET – Coping with Placements

Since the past few months, all of my posts have been JET-centric and as such, I’ve been neglecting my travel accounts of Kanazawa. While I do want to continue my travel-talk, right now I’m completely immersed in the whole JET experience and I have a lot of things new things to talk about. Nevertheless, I will try to balance out both but today’s topic still remains JET Placements and how to deal with them.


After notification of short-listing, waiting for placements is the most nerve-racking experience. It seems to drag on forever and forces you to check compulsively your email and phone for any sign of update. But why is this wait so stressful? There are two-types of newly short-listed JETs:

No Preferences &/or Randomly chosen locations

If you are the kind of JET that is so eager to get to Japan that you have no preferences for location then this process applies differently than in the second type. Your kind of wait is a happy/excited kind of state of mind, because wherever you are sent, you know that you’ll be ecstatic about it.

Preferred placement request &/or Specifically chosen locations

This type of JET is so gung-ho on his placement request that his whole world will fall apart if doesn’t get it or worse, is sent miles away from his dream destination (e.g. You asked for Okinawa, you’re sent to Hokkaido).

I belong to the latter group of JETs. I won’t hide from the fact that I was very disappointed when I found out my placement, I even sat and cried in front of my computer, in the middle of a shopping mall, for several hours after the news. I was so depressed after hearing about my placement, I didn’t even have the heart to tell anyone where I was going. Why so tragic you ask? Well, as you know, I had been pining for Kanazawa ever since I got back last year, and I had spent every waking moment of the JET process dreaming about my return to my beautiful city. I had deep attachments to Kanazawa and had made plans to reunite with friends and my host family.  To make matters worst, the placement offer I had received was neither of my two other choices (Shiga and Ehime).

Naturally, my first reaction was to Google “Hidaka, Saitama” and see what would come up. Much to my dismay, nothing of interest popped up … nothing at all except an obscure little web page, seemingly abandoned, with very few pictures and a little bit of information about tourist spots. You can imagine that this only worsened my mood and made me actually waver as to either I would accept my placement or not.

However, thinking about all the hopefuls who didn’t make it into the programme made me realize how lucky I was to even have been offered a placement, and how silly it was of me to be crushed about losing Kanazawa.

After having calmed down, and talked with my Japanese professor as well as all the JET staff, I decided to take the plunge and go forward with my plan to move to Japan. It was a difficult moment in my JET life however, I was determined to get to Japan, no matter what happened or where I was placed. I decided that all the process leading up to my notification of placement had been arduous and full of ups and downs. Did I really want to sacrifice all my hard work, ll those sleepless nights, all those hours spent pouring over JET prep material? The answer was obviously a resounding “NO”.

When I signed and filed my papers at the Consulate, I felt a weight being lifted off of my heart. I promised myself that I would never think about losing Kanazawa again, and that I would make the utmost of my time in Hidaka instead.


Six months into the programme now, I can confidently say that I made the right decision. I absolutely adore Hidaka, my students, my coworkers and my friends, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Funny enough, I heard from the other JETs in my city (long after coming to Hidaka) that they had all found the same little obscure web site, and had all found inspiration and strength from it. I guess we owe the author of that page quite a lot!

2 thoughts on “JET – Coping with Placements

  1. Back when I first received my placement notification, I couldn’t find much on my town either – although it probably didn’t help that my prefecture itself (ironically one of the prefectures you elected to go) is considered fairly rural and out of the way. Like you, I didn’t get placed in any of the three prefectures I had elected on my application (Oita, Kagoshima, Aichi), although because I largely didn’t mind where I was placed so long as I got to Japan, it didn’t hit me anywhere near as hard as it seemed to have done you. Still, I’m really happy you’ve found your feet. I’m sure that your experience on JET will be all the richer for having overcome this challenge.

  2. I’m so happy to hear it’s better now! It’s nice to hear about your experience and how it’s all going, Chiba is only a short distance away so maybe one day I’ll check out your town for myself to see all the new places 🙂

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