Sunday, June 30, 2013

The JET Program: Placement (Okinawa)

The semester finally came to an end, my thesis was approved, I graduated from FIU with my Master's in Asian Studies, and I attended commencement. 

Might as well play the part if we are made to look like wizards

It had been two months since I received the "You have been short-listed" email from the consulate and my patience was wearing thin. Everyday, I received countless questions about my placements:

Do you know where you're going?
What's your placement?
Do you know what grade you're teaching?
Do you know where you'll live?
Are you going to live close to Tokyo?
So, what part of Japan are you going to?
Do you know if they'll put your in an apartment or a house?

Do you know anything?
I know everyone was curious, but I couldn't help but feel a little annoyed when my response was constantly, "I don't know." In reality, I was anxious to know about my placement. I requested Kagoshima and Wakayama in my JET application, but I was worried that they might place me in Hokkaido or Aomori. It's not that I have anything against those places (I really don't) and I am sure they are beautiful but as a Miami girl, I have never experienced cold weather. I doubt I could survive it. Seriously, the coldest it gets is 60 degrees and that's for four days out of the year. Four days people!

It was another random day in June when I received a text from my friend telling me to check my email. I really need to start checking my email more often. She received an email concerning her placement. She was placed in Hyogo Prefecture, her number one choice. She was not given a city with that email, which meant that she would be a prefectural JET and would teacing high school. I refreshed my email, but I didn't see anything new. I figured the Miami JET coordinator was going down the list of names, and it might take a little while to reach me. I probably looked like a complete loca refreshing my email over and over, but whatever. 

My email finally refreshed, and there was the email. I was placed in Ginoza-son, Okinawa Prefecture (middle school and/or elementary)!

I can see the map filled with nuclear launch travel markings 

My initial thoughts were, "They send people there?" With the huge military presence in Okinawa, I couldn't imagine why they would send JETs to Okinawa. I was also a little upset because I wasn't placed in mainland Japan, which I have extensively traveled in my previous trips to Japan. It wasn't until later, and at the convincing of my boyfriend, that I realized that this was an amazing placement. 

As I previously mentioned, I hate the cold. Second, I would be placed in a part of Japan that most people do not visit. Third, Okinawa grows a lot of their own fruits and vegetables. So this is great if you are a vegetarian (4 years straight, woot!). Fourth, Okinawa is close to Southeast Asia and China, a great starting point for traveling and it's relatively cheap too. I have been all over Japan and it was time for me to expand internationally. Lastly, great beaches and water sports! I love the beach, and I had planned to get scuba certified in Miami last year but a hurricane ruined those plans. Therefore, what better place to get scuba certified and work on my Miami tan than in Japan! Oh, and Mr. frickin' Miyagi was from Okinawa. Ok, Mr. Miyagi isn't real. The character from the Karate Kid movies was Okinawan, hence his mastery of karate since it originated from Okinawa, but there is actually a Miyagi Jima (Miyagi Island) in Okinawa! Get ready for me Okinawa!


  1. Did you ever make it to Okinawa? I was there for 2 years a long time ago and loved it.

    1. Of course! I'm still here too and I love it!

  2. Hi, is ginoza a rural area?

    1. Yea, it:s pretty rural. five thousand residents and the fact that my supermarket is in the next town over - yep, pretty rural