All of us can remember those anxious weeks before we came on JET. Some of us had predecessors who never got around to telling us much about what we were getting ourselves into, and some of us had predecessors that drew detailed maps of the grocery store.
Make sure you prepare a welcome email or word file in advance, so you can send it as soon as you learn your successor’s information. The more you can tell them, the better prepared they will be. Here’s a list of a few things you should make sure to mention.
What To Bring
- Clothing How cold/hot does it get? Should they ship winter clothing in advance?
- Gifts Who should they bring omiyage for? What kinds of things do you think would be good?
- What did you bring that you didn’t need?
- Go-between Who is their go-between (tantosha)?
- Other Staff What teachers will they work with? Who’s the head of the English department? Who does ESS club? What are the names of the principal and vice-principal? Who are the people in the staff room (jimushitsu)? WHO SPEAKS ENGLISH?
- Schedule How many schools will they go to? How many classes will they have? What other responsibilities will they have?
- Class What is the general level of your students? What worked in the classroom for you? What didn’t? What other suggestions on teaching materials and teaching methods do you have?
- Commuting How do you get to school?
- Other Procedures The JET axiom is that “every situation is different.” How is your situation? What’s the procedure for taking sick leave? What other advice would have been very useful to you before you came?
- The Apartment How big is it? What does it come with? What’s the landlord like? What are the neighbors like?
- Facilities Is there a gym nearby? Supermarket? Video Hire? Train Station? Bus Stop? What do you have and how do you get there?
- Hospital Information I know this counts as a facility, but this one is especially important. If you know of a good (and maybe English speaking) hospital near your house, tell them about it.
Things To Leave Your Predecessor
- Maps Do you have a map of the city? Of the neighborhood? A hand-sketched map of important landmarks (grocery store, izakaya with the friendly owner, etc) is always appreciated.
- Bus/Train Schedules
- Instructions For Appliances Though you might know now that 電源 means “power” on your TV set, your successor might not. Write them a note, or better yet, put labels on everything.
- Seating Chart It’ll be a whole lot easier for them to figure out everyone’s name at work with a cheat sheet. If you can, write each teacher’s name in Romaji above their kanji.
- Anything Useful We’ve yet to hear from a new JET that their predecessor left too much information.
Cleaning Your Apartment
Every year there are a few JETs who do not clean their apartments or leave their affairs in a mess when they depart. This is embarrassing and has a big negative effect on the next person. As 99% of you already know, you need to clean your apartment completely before you leave. This may mean throwing away/recycling a lot of stuff (i.e. anything that is broken, any and all garbage including used batteries, personal decorations and trinkets, old magazines, etc.). Your successor will thank you when he or she walks into a clean and uncluttered apartment. Good karma!
In the case that you do not have a successor, the degree to which you must clean the apartment and get rid of large garbage depends on your landlord and what your school is going to do with the apartment.
Selling To Your Successor
In an ideal world, you would be willing to sell everything you bought to your successor for a reasonable, discounted rate, and they will be willing to buy all that you have to offer. Please at least give them the offer, and give them a fair price. If you bought it new, maybe offer to sell it to them for half price. If you bought it used, consider just giving it to them for free. Saying “Well, my predecessor ripped me off…” is no excuse for doing the same to your successor.
You might have some goods that are worthwhile that they just don’t want. If they aren’t interested in taking your $2,000 video camera for the amazing price of $800, then you might want to try to sell it to a second hand dealer. Or you can always post on the Facebook group and see if any other Hyogoites are amateur photographers.