It’s that time of year to say our goodbyes. Below, you can read about five of our departees and their reflections on their time on JET.
Luis Alvarez, Ono, 5th year
Advice: Change is exciting and new, which can also be frightening. My biggest piece of advice is not to stress about it, but start early, taking your time to go through the obstacles of leaving. And smile, because a frown only brings people down.
Favorite Hyogo Restaurant: My favorite restaurant in Hyogo, while not really a restaurant but more of a shack, is Awaji Burger in Nishinomiya. Fucking amazing.
A Memorable Moment: My most memorable event would be the birth of my daughter. Although I wasn’t allowed to cut the umbilical cord or be in the same room as my wife during the birth, seeing my newborn daughter and how she stopped crying when she recognized my voice is something I will never forget. That girl is my life now.
Final Words: I feel that everyone needs to find what makes them happy and live through it. Money comes and goes, but our time on this world is limited, so you have to make the most of it. My plans for the future are to help children. Whether that be still teaching in Japan or going back to the States to work for CPS, I feel helping children can really make a difference in what type of person they grow up to be.
Advice: Go and see and do as much as you can with the little time you have left. Don’t stress about sending things home, just sell it or give it away! Go hike a mountain trail, enjoy a tea ceremony, take in the sights and smells around you… There is nothing quite like Japan and you will miss it all when you go.
Favorite Hyogo Restaurant: I have many. That is why I got a fat butt!! But I tend to be biased to the town I have called home for the past 5 years.
Sakuragumi – http://www.vera-pizza-sakuragumi.co.jp
M’s Dining – http://www.ms-dining.jp
and almost any and all Tabehodai, Yaki-niku places and beer gardens… COCONUTS FOREVER!!!
A Memorable Moment: Competed in the Okayama Saidaiji naked man festival 4 times… I am a glutton for punishment.
Final Words: Live, love, laugh and cry. Once that is done, do it all again. Go out and become part of the community around you. Not just with other JETs but with your local Japanese community groups too. Try to participate when and where you can.
Talia Henderson, Kobe, 5th year (For four years, I was placed in Toyooka (northern Hyogo– go Tajima!) before my base school was closed down. So while I’m finishing up my first year as a Kobe JET, I’m finishing my 5th year on JET. Does this mean I’m a unicorn with wings or something now?)
Advice: Despite the time I’ve been here, I can’t imagine that I have any more advice that you haven’t heard before. But I definitely would suggest not leaving full trash bags that you plan on throwing out later on your balcony for any amount of time. Crows will come and rip open your garbage and embarrass you when you come home from work. Don’t let crows make a dinner table out of your balcony.
Favorite Hyogo Restaurant: Speaking of dinner, in a good way, everyone in Hyogo should find their closest Sushiro. Sure, it’s a chain restaurant but it’s also cheap, fun, and delicious. Some of my best memories are from Wednesday night Sushiro outings followed by arcade shenanigans and eating at Baskin Robbins right before it closed.
A Memorable Moment: I’ve had a lot of challenges and triumphs during my time on JET and it’s hard to pick a favorite memory. The moment I want to name one, I think of at least one hundred more. The friends I have made through traveling, the kids who made me laugh and cry, the teachers who supported me, they have all made my life here so amazing.
Final Words: Starting in August, I will be a teacher at an international school. My target audience will be one and two years old so it will be a big change of pace. But I’m ready and looking for it! Thanks to my experience on JET, I’m excited to use everything I’ve learned elsewhere. Good luck to everyone finishing up their time on JET!
Advice: Be prepared and pack up little by little. It helps you to feel ok about the big transition and it’s also strangely therapeutic.
Favorite Hyogo Restaurant: Brasiliano at Mosaic, Kobe. For an Aussie, there is a serious lack of beef in Japan. This was my way of coping with that.
A Memorable Moment: Joining National and Prefectural AJET. It was challenging a lot of the time but I grew as a person and as a professional. However, by far the most memorable thing about it was the fact that I got to meet so many amazing people because of it. I honestly think that without having the amazing people I have around me, this experience would have been much duller and certainly not the time of my life.
Final Words: Take every chance that you have here because you never know where trying something new will take you and before you know it, it’s over and your JET tenure is over and you are headed home.
Meet people and create memories with them and don’t restrict yourself to just a small group of friends. You never know what type of fascinating people are in the same room as you unless you talk and make the most of your JET network to travel, work and achieve great things in the future. I guarantee you there is an ex-JET out there that wants to help you and all you have to do is find them.
Advice: Spend as much time exploring Japan and Asia as you can. I can’t speak for others, but my time here has gone by in the blink of an eye. I almost wish I’d decided to stay another year!
Favorite Hyogo Restaurant: For when you really just need some American food, 淡路島バーガー in Nishinomiya is incredible. Their patties taste like they haven’t spliced pork with beef (which is fine, but not as delicious for me), you can add delicious toppings, and I love their shoestring fries. Apparently the onion rings are incredible, if you’re into that.
A Memorable Moment: Staying in the heart of Shibuya when my aunt and one of her friends visited Japan recently. It was the site of many an event, such as reacting to a fire alarm in an incredibly blase manner (“Do you think we should leave? That’s been going off for a while now…”), a failed delivery of a bag which went missing (then, to add insult to injury, also had a wheel broken off), and what’s being referred to as the Tokyo Turd Tragedy. Details available upon request.
Final Words: I am so, so thankful to have lived in Hyogo and met everyone that I did. I’m hoping to visit sometime next year before the next JET year is up, so keep an eye out!
Compiled by Brittany Teodorski