“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain
My unofficial grades have posted and I have officially/unofficially graduated from Portland State with a 3.47 GPA. I’m slightly disappointed because I wanted to maintain a GPA above a 3.5, but the simple fact that I only received three C’s out of my entire pursuit of an undergraduate’s degree within three and a half years, is enough to make me feel accomplished. Did you know that an ‘A’ is considered a 4.0 (GPA), however an ‘A-‘ drops you down to a 3.67? I sure didn’t. Oh well. Regardless of the matter, I’m just glad that it’s official and that this chapter of my life has finally drawn to a close. With that being said, I am ecstatic about the new chapter of my life that will begin in less than 7 short weeks.
My predecessor, David, has recently emailed me pictures and details regarding my placement in Japan and I am extremely thrilled about the great opportunity I will have to live and work in such a rural and beautiful part of Japan. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was worried, but a lot of my anxiety was eased after David explained to me that the village I’m being placed in is probably one of the most ideal locations and placements the JET program has to offer.
I’ll be teaching English at four primary schools, two of which are elementary schools and the other two being junior high schools. The village I’ll be residing in will also have an estimated population size of 2,000 people, so I can only assume that I’ll be able to get to know and familiarize myself with my kids outside of school. Although my title will be “assistant” language teacher, I will have the freedom to teach the elementary school-level children without much hindrance, while I team-teach with the primary teacher at the junior high school levels.
My village will be located in the historical prefecture, Nara, in a small rural village called Kawakami. I will live minutes away from one of the schools I’ll be teaching at and a variety of different hiking trails. Not to mention, Nara, Osaka, and Kyoto are approximately 1.5 hours away by train, so I’m not too far away from some major cities. Also, as you can see from the pictures that David sent me, this area is very mountainous with a lot of natural beauty. Much like most of Japan, this region will be hot and humid during the summer with blankets of snow during the winter. I’m not a fan of the cold, but I look forward to capturing some of this region’s natural beauty through my photography in due time.
So I told everyone that I had some great information to share with everyone on my Facebook page, and that pertains to the incredible perks my placement seems to come with. Unlike most JET program participants, the board of education (BOE) of my region will be providing me a house to live in. “Not an apartment, but a house,” as David so eloquently put it. It’s a 2 bedroom, 2 story home, with a living room, kitchen, and bathroom (with a western-style toilet). He even mentioned an area in the back for a garden if I was inclined to garden (which I am and will).
Aside from that, I was waiting to hear about the amount of damage this house would cause to my wallet, but he told me that it’s completely free, and that there wouldn’t even be a need for any key money (礼金 or “gratitude money; often given to the landlord as a ‘thank you’). My jaw literally dropped after I was told all of this information, and I can admit that I feel extremely grateful (and even giddy) about this entire situation.
Of course, David didn’t stop there, as he also mentioned my need to acquire an international driver’s license because I will be given a company car to get myself to the various schools and around town. Not only that, but apparently the BOE will also be providing me approximately 60 liters of gas, per month, to ensure that I have enough gas for local traversing. Although there are restrictions and limitations regarding the vehicle, David pointed out the great benefit of having the car and how I can use it to aide my fellow JETs in the area whenever needed. Words can’t describe how extremely fortunate I feel at this moment in time, but I am certain that this new chapter of my life will be incredibly memorable and outstanding. I think that above all of these perks, I am looking forward to the various bonds I will be able to form with my fellow Goons (Yoshino-gun JET participants), as well as my co-workers and students at the local elementary schools, junior high schools and board of education. Here’s to life, adventure, and the pursuit of your dreams!