From Having No Job to Moving to Japan in 2 months

“How did you move to Japan so quickly after graduating university?”

When I told people, “oh, I’m moving to Japan in like 2 months,” they mostly replied with, “huh?”

Moving to Japan wasn’t a completely spontaneous decision. The idea actually came to mind in November of 2014 while I was completing my senior year in university. I was taking a Japanese language class for fun because I had the extra time and credits and thought it would be a good idea to brush up on my Japanese. It was by far one of my most favorite classes in university because the teacher was amazing and I was able to relearn all the Japanese I had lost growing up.

Because I was enrolled in the Japanese class, there were a bunch of Japanese related university emails. Usually I would just click “archive” in my gmail inbox and move on. But I was bored on my way to school on the train one day and read through the email. I’m so glad I did. That was when I found out they had informed every Japanese language student that there was an opportunity to move to Japan and teach English. The time I had to make my decision and apply was very short. I had to make my mind up quickly. Should I apply and just hope I get this position? I don’t know, I don’t have any other jobs I’ve applied to yet. Should I be looking for better jobs in America?

Hmm.. I thought so much about this opportunity. I knew I would absolutely love to live in Japan. I knew I could teach English with my eduction background. I knew this would literally be the perfect opportunity for me to live in Japan and have a job straight out of college. I knew it was perfect for me.

I applied after thinking about it for a week. I scrambled to get recommendation letters, transcripts, and permission from my parents. I knew my parents would support me no matter what, but I wasn’t too sure if they would allow me to move to another country around the world to work in a country where I only kind of barely speak the language.

The wait killed me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have a job when I graduate. I wasn’t sure if I should start applying for jobs before I graduate. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach in the American school system. I left my future completely in the hands of those in charge of accepting and rejecting applicants to the JET Programme. Luckily, they liked me!

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This is an old photo of a journal entry I had made in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook.

Mar 30, 2015: I was accepted into the JET Programme.

May 26, 2015: I found out I was placed in the dream place of many, Tokyo, Japan.

I moved to Japan under the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET). They are a very well known and respected “program” in Japan that hires college graduates to come teach in Japan’s public schools: elementary, middle, and even high school. There are thousands of JETs (people working under the JET Programme) placed everywhere in Japan, including all major cities and all of the tiny islands.

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Why Japan?

“Why Japan?”

Ask me again. I dare you.

I hate when people ask me, “So, why Japan?”

My usual reply is, “why the heck not?” I should just ask them back the same question.

“Why America? Why Korea? Why whatever-country-you’re-living-in?”


Hi, my name is Alice and I live in Tokyo, Japan.

In August of 2015, I moved from America to Japan with 2 big Rimowa suitcases, 1 carry on Tumi suitcase, and a Jansport backpack. I entered the Land of the Rising Sun under an “Instructor” visa. I had just turned 22 and had just graduated from university less than 2 months ago.

Wow. So young right? Meh.

K, let’s get back to the original question. “Why Japan?”

When I was younger, I used to always be most excited for spring vacation. It was the shortest vacation out of the 3 main ones, winter, spring, and summer, but it was still my most favorite.

Why?

Basically because it was when I would go to Japan with my family. It was when I could eat all the amazing Japanese foods that Japan has to offer. It was when I could go see my grandma and aunts and uncles living in Japan. It was when I could shop for all the Hello Kitty and Sanrio items I couldn’t find in America. It was when I could wander through stationery stores to buy the newest pens and pencils to bring back and share with my friends. It was when I could find drink vending machines on every corner to get my hot Royal Milk Tea fix. It was when I could not worry about anything and feel safe in the country of Japan.

I chose Japan because it is most comfortable for me. It is nostalgic. I wanted to live in a country where I will be immersed in the culture that I grew up in while learning new things about my Japanese heritage. I wanted to live in a country where I would be on my own, but also have support from family if I really needed it. I wanted to be able to eat sushi that wouldn’t give me food poisoning and ramen at 5 in the morning.

Now do you get why I love Japan? If you don’t, I think you just need to visit Japan and see for yourself. I’ll take you around if you need a tour guide. Maybe you won’t like it here. Maybe you’ll fall in love with it like I did.

And these are the reasons why I always answer with “why the heck not?”