I have always been interested in living and working abroad, and Japan was a country that I knew I wanted to see and experience firsthand. However, Japan is a far way away from my American home, and Japanese was not my focus in university. However, I loved English. When I was a student, I volunteered to do some conversational English tutoring with exchange students and ended up being matched with some Japanese students. One of my students introduced me to this program. I liked the fact that it is a government-backed program with a long history of success. Most important to me, though, was the fact that the program has a built-in community and support system. Through the application process, I was able to be in contact with JET alumni, current JETs, and other aspiring applicants. Moving halfway around the world is much less intimidating when you know that there is a tight-knit community waiting for you.
On a more practical level, the pay is pretty generous and living situations are (often) subsidized. The position is unique, and the program’s longevity has resulted in a nice set-up for newcomers – a contract that many schools and boards of education have used for multiple years, medical coverage, and a healthy amount of paid vacation days.
All in all, my personal interest made me choose Japan, and the JET Program’s positive history made me confident I would be entering a job with a flexible contract and a built-in network of support.