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Where Are They Going 2015

It’s that time again (as you have surely figured out by now from all the other articles in this month’s issue) to say goodbye to those who have called Japan home for the past few years. Find out what’s in store for some JETs leaving and make sure to make a list of the memories and advice you find interesting or useful to make your own JET experience just as memorable.

We asked 10 leaving JETs these three questions:

1. What’s next for you?

2. Would you share a stand out memory from JET?

3. Any advice/ regrets/ yearbook style quote/ last words to new JETs?

Here are their answers!


sean mSean Mulvihill (2 years on JET)


  1. Still stuck in that terrifying, yet thrilling search for what I want to do long-term professionally, I will be moving to Austin, Texas and returning to Americorps (and its stomach-churning stipend) for my third year of service.  I’ll be leaving education, for now, and work with Keep Austin Housed and Goodwill Central Texas providing employment services to residents of the city. Besides the new employment, I’ll probably drown myself in the incredible music scene there as well, scraping any money I can find to go to Fun Fun Fun Festival, Austin City Limits, and South by Southwest.
  2. No one thing stands out, rather the overall feeling of meeting and talking to great and sincere people day in and day out will stay with me.
  3. JET has an enormous learning curve with most participants struggling with the language, culture, or classroom. I’d   put my focus on the last, though by no means ignore the others, simply because your school is where you will probably spend most of your time and you want to enjoy being there. Read up on classroom management, lesson planning, and relationship building with students and caseworkers. The language and culture will follow, but being a good teacher will make the overall experience easier.


erika hErika Horwege (2 years on JET)


  1. Visiting my parents and applying for jobs, then hopefully moving to Seattle!
  2. There are so many to choose from, but some of my favorites were watching the snow fall on the mountains while sitting in an outdoor onsen in the winter, enkai and takoyaki parties with the English teachers, visiting Myanmar, seeing students get super excited about English, and participating in Hanayu Matsuri (a town-wide tug-of-war to determine if the coming year will be good for agriculture or commerce).
  3. Try anything once; say yes to everything. Step out of your comfort zone. Take one picture every day for a year. Throw yourself into your work – you definitely get out what you put in! Travel, explore, and simply wander…and have fun!


alex b.Alex Barrett (2 years on JET)


  1. I’m going to continue pursuing a career in English language education. I just got hired as a contractor for the U.S. Department of State to teach at a university in Uzbekistan; really looking forward to it.
  2. When my kocho sensei was walking into the bathroom as I was walking out and he shouted, “Excellent!” Dude became obsessed with that word ever since he asked how I was doing one morning and I told him I was excellent. Also all the amazing students I’ve befriended. They’ve really made my JET experience something I’ll treasure for a lifetime.
  3. I saw a sign in a café in Hiroshima that said SPEAK YOUR OWN ENGLISH and I think that’s the most important thing to keep in mind as a language teacher. Your English is your English, and it will be different from everyone else’s, so keep an open mind in the language classroom.


Anastasia WindelerAnastasia Windeler (3 years on JET)


  1. I’ll be working at a tourist information center in Kinosaki Onsen. So if you ever come up, stop by and say hi.
  2. My best memory is taking a two week vacation to live in Kyoto and explore the city on my own.
  3. “If we wait until we are ready, we will be waiting for the rest of our lives.”


helen yHelen Yuan (3 years on JET)


  1. I’m not really sure yet but I’m going to move home for a bit, settle in then look for a job and hopefully move back to Sydney. Taking ikebana lessons in Japan has furthered my love of flowers, whilst teaching primary school children has made me reconsider becoming a teacher so we’ll see what happens!
  2. During a summer road trip in Shikoku some friends and I went camping in Kochi off the Shimanto coast. At night we “borrowed” some rubber rings and went stargazing while floating in the beautiful warm water. Along with the countless shooting stars we saw, the sea was full of twinkling blue lights from some kind of bioluminescent organism – I like to think of them as sea fireflies- and when the waves crashed or you moved in the water there would be this stunning blue shimmer. We completely lost track of time and stayed for hours. Even at the time it felt like a wonderful, magical dream.
  3. Make a list of things – festivals, places, experiences – you want to do and research them. Some are very time specific and require very advance bookings for e.g. accommodation in Sapporo for the Snow Festival or tickets for the sumo tournaments. On the other hand some of my best memories were completely unplanned such as the night swim mentioned above so I guess be organized, but flexible and open to new opportunities too!


claire bClaire Bronchuk (2 years on JET)


  1. Teaching English in Thailand!!!  I’ll move to Thailand after finishing up in Japan this August. Hopefully, I’ll be teaching in Chiang Mai or Bangkok.
  2. School-related: When my favorite (not that I have favorites) third year student gave me a hug after graduation ceremony! Japan-related: Sitting in an outdoor onsen surrounded by snow-covered fir trees with a view of the mountains in Sapporo as a light snowfall drifted down.
  3. Say yes to everything. Spend money. Travel. This part of your life will fly by so quickly, it’s your responsibility to enjoy it!


lorna p.Lorna Petty (2 years on JET)


  1. Currently, I’m not certain exactly what I will do next. I am planning to apply for the British civil service and potentially the FCO in September. I am also considering further study, in line with my geeky childhood dream of being an academic (hey, not everyone can be princesses…). It will probably be a case of ‘let’s see what sticks’, like most things in life! My only certain plans are taking the JLPT when I return, catching up with friends and family… and eating a lot of cheese!
  2. The memories which stand out for me are perhaps not the most obvious initially. I ended up starting rock-climbing in Japan of all things (England only has pathetic wee mole-hills) with a group of British and American JETs. JETs multi-national make-up introduced me to lots of hobbies I would have never considered in the UK. In terms of travel, hiking the mist-wreathed forests of Yakushima, hearing nothing but mossy-silence and our own footfalls felt like truly entering another, ancient world. Also, whilst on JET I became involved with Stonewall Japan; I had a lot of fun getting to know the nook-like gay bars in Osaka, furtive women’s nights in bars and of course the rainbow fabulousness of Tokyo and Osaka pride! Lastly, some of my best memories are of teaching; the triumph of reading my kids’ horror stories after the JTE assured me they couldn’t write creatively; seeing the students’ confidence after a lot of hard work in debate classes; an impromptu third-year re-enactment of Chicken Run; and of course, the inadvertent hilarity (‘sensei, what is France…?’).
  3. A lot of ALTs worry about ‘fitting in’ in Japan and change or conceal aspects of them at the office. In Stonewall, I got a lot of questions specifically from LGBT JETs but it applies to everyone. My advice is relax and be yourself; respect the ability of Japanese people to empathize with you as much as people at home and if you are comfortable with yourself, everyone else probably will be too. Finally, as a teacher remember the golden rule: keep calm and act like that was supposed to happen…!


louie bLouie Bertenshaw (2 years on JET)


  1. I’m moving to Austria! I’m joining a teaching sponsored by the US’s Fulbright program and the Austrian government. I will work at a Gymnasium — a public, college-prep high school. The teaching experience will certainly be different and I’m excited about the new challenge, but, I’m probably mostly excited to put my German degree to practical use.
  2. There are too many to count. Thankfully, the good memories outshine the bad ones. Overall, I think JET as a whole is a standout memory. I had the opportunity to travel to so many bucket-list places, begin my teaching career, and meet indelible people. It will always be a vividly memorable part of my life.
  3. My JET will:
To Hyogo: I leave you your awful weather and can say I never want to experience anything like the Summer of 2013 again! To Scott: I leave all my tchotchke and schnickschnack to you, along with my ICOCA cards (I know you’ll lose them) and the nomihoudais. To Sarah: SB diner, Kushikatsu, and all the “fond” memories of Monopoly Deal. To Sandy: Ice cream! To all the rest: Deb.

To all the new baby JETs: Welcome! Congratulations, you’ve survived the application from hell and are on your way to this wonderful(ly humid) island. A few words of wisdom: get out of your comfort zone and embarrass yourself; those moments make for the best stories, bring some levity to your life, and are always the best learning experiences. Do eat and drink (or play and love, I don’t give a $***), and own every bit of your JET experience. This is a once in a lifetime chance and you really are part of the 1% who has the privilege, means, and bravery to package up your life and begin anew in a totally new place. Above all, you’ll be fine. Cheers.


ryan hRyan Hertel (3 years on JET)


  1. I will be returning to the US and trying to find employment at a company with a product and passion that I can relate to. In both my time pre-JET and in Japan, I have developed a diverse skill-set that qualifies me for many office positions, and I hope to bring my hard work and passion somewhere I can believe in. I believe strongly in developing myself as well as the community around me in order to foster a truly progressive environment. It is with the income generated by those pursuits that I can, once and for all, track down and capture or destroy the seven-foot, humanoid beast known colloquially as “Bigfoot.” With every spare minute and every unallocated breath, I will track the monster through the wilds, through the mountains, and through the deserts if I must. There will be no rest until he sleeps in a big, hairy grave.
  2. In JET, I’ve truly enjoyed all of the opportunities I’ve had to enjoy live music throughout Japan. It is hard to pick one show, as they all had their memorable moments. The indie rock show featuring Caino, Sorami biyori, and Valve Fiction at Output in Naha, Okinawa brought me back to college. The Mix Box show at Queblick in Fukuoka introduced me to the “mentai-core” style of Zarigani and the Kyushu metal of Black-Stats. Superdeluxe in Tokyo brought out my tolerance for noise with one of Merzbow’s rare trap-set shows. What they all had in common was the raucous roar from the stage that brought back the memories of being charged by a not incapacitated-by-my-tranq-darts, larger than imagined Bigfoot going straight for my throat. With each show, my ingrained need to locate the beast grew. They solidified my mission to show the world what they already know but choose to ignore as “delusional.” Bigfoot must die.
  3. Do what you care about. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be happier for it. They say the new generation will have, on average, 4 careers in their lifetime, compared to the previous generations’ 1 or 2. Keep working and taking risks until you find what you love. The old cliché of “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” holds true. It holds true like the firm grip of furry, baseball glove sized hands constricting your throat accompanied by the jet black stare of your would be assassin, a stare that you can feel in your bones. No matter what we must all pursue our dream of destroying Bigfoot before he kills everyone we love and care about. Don’t let your life be an “I told you so” moment as your entrails are pulled from your writhing body. Find Bigfoot. Destroy Bigfoot.


sydney sSydney Shiroyama (2 years on JET)


  1. I’m heading back to California to begin an occupational therapy program at San Jose State University.
  2. When I first moved to Japan, I started lightly jogging around my tiny town in the morning. Shortly after, I received this message from a neighbor: “Hi Sydney! By the way, are you running? My friend says to me that ‘I sometimes see a nice foreigner running around my place, please introduce her to me. He is a nice ojisan, he is a jogger, too. If you are OK would you have a supper together?”I told myself I would say “yes” as much as possible when living in Japan, so I agreed to meet with him. It turns out the guy is a 68 year old marathon runner. He showed me a hidden track near my apartment where his inspiring old man marathoner friends like to run. He takes me out to eat every so often, and I just ran my first half marathon with him. People in Japan are so kind. I’ll definitely remember these “only in Japan” moments.
  3. It’s going to be really awkward and really awesome. I’ve always figured that I’m not going to make great memories by sitting in apartment, so I try to explore my neighborhood as much as possible.


You’re going to get so much advice, but don’t let it overwhelm you because only you know what you “should” do. Have fun!


Compiled by Sean Mulvihill

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