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So Why Do You Want to Join the JET Program?

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 28, 2010

February 24, 2010

All Pictures

Asakusa Temple in Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese Embassy, Guam

The picture above is of one of my students and me at the Asakusa Temple in Tokyo. At the time this picture was taken I was living in Japan and I was really skinny. I worked for a company called GEOS and I was having a good time; not a great time, but a good time.

I had friends, but most of them work for the JET Programme. I have to say that I was quite jealous of them. They had a huge social network. They knew people in other towns that they didn’t have to serendipitously meet on a subway or anything. They also had Japanese coworkers that they hung out with.

My own coworkers at GEOS seemed tired and over worked, but only because they were. They mostly lived far away. None of them lasted very long at GEOS. By my 4th month of working at GEOS, I was the most senior member at the eikaiwa. I had to rely on casually meeting people on trains or in grocery stores or making friends through my students. (Most of my students were around my age or older.)

Lucky for me, I had one really nice student and he had many foreign friends. He would invite me to go with him anytime these friends were having a party. Many of them were in the JET Programme. I am still friends with a few of them today.

One of my fellow English teachers in Seoul, South Korea

Stay Away from the Channel

Then I moved to South Korea and worked for English Channel. When I worked there the company was okay. They always paid me on time, though I did have to check all my pay stubs to make sure they gave me all my overtime. If I did get paid the wrong amount, it was easily and quickly fixed and I would get the rest of my money in the next pay check. I really had very few complaints.

However, as my contract was nearing to an end, things started to change. There was a new manager and new people in charge at the head office. The new people in charge gave me the impression that since I wasn’t resigning, it wasn’t worth the effort for them to be polite to me.

When I didn’t get the end-of-the-contract bonus that I was supposed to get one month after my last day, I e-mail Mike, the new guy in charge of Human Resources. His response was literally to only say, “That sucks,” and not offer to help me. I did get my money after e-mailing Bob, the guy that used to be in charge of HR.

So, when I decided to go back to South Korea, I didn’t trust English Channel enough to resign with them.  I started to look for a different company. It’s a good thing too. I heard from my old co-workers that English Channel stopped paying the pensions and health insurance for many of its employees; this is illegal. There were also been many times when teachers were not paid on time. Sometimes, the Korean employees did not get paid at all.

I just want to make a note that not all English Channels are the same. It’s like a chain company and they do not all have the same management. The one I worked for, was not a chain, though. It was run by, Kenny, the president of English channel. I’m sure it won’t be long before this company goes bankrupt.

Dea Gin Girls’ High School in Seoul, South Korea


That’s when I found SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education). They place ESL teachers in public schools in Seoul and it is modeled after the JET Programme. I enjoyed my time teaching at Dae Jin Girls’ High School. I was finally able to just teach English without hearing about how the school was losing money.

One of my 2nd grade classes (That 2nd grade of High school = 11th grade in the US)

No one tried to pressure me into working on Saturdays, to sell books, or more classes. I just taught English lessons. And my co-teachers were great, Mrs. Kim and Mrs. Oh! I also enjoyed teaching the English teachers and other co-workers.

They taught me so much about Korea. Whenever they saw me planning a trip, they would give me advice on things to do there. Many times Mrs. Kim or Mrs. Oh made reservations for me since I do not speak Korean very well.

So now I would like to live in Japan one more time. This time I want to work in a public school like I did in Seoul, so I applied to the JET Programme. I was given an interview at the Japanese Embassy in Guam. I think the interview went well. Hopefully, I will hear back from them in April.

The interviews for the JET Program are notorious for being rough. There are blog entries out there from interviewers who say that their fellow interviewers delight in tormenting prospective teachers. I was expecting the worst, but my interviewers all were very nice.

I’ve noticed that Guam is filled with nice, friendly people who are quick to offer help with directions or to drive you around to take pictures of Point Udall.

If you do need to stay in Guam, especially if you have an interview for the JET Program, I recommend The Tamuning Plaza Hotel. It is not fancy, in fact it’s a bit old. But the rooms are huge and the staff is very helpful. It’s about 2 blocks away from the ITC building where the Japanese embassy is. The room rates are pretty good, and you can rent a car from them for about $50 a day. (The room rates are better when you book it through hostelworld.com.)  Since you rent the car from the hotel, you can rent it on days you need a car and just walk to the beach when you don’t need to drive.

The hotel is near Agana Beach. It’s a great beach for kids because the water is shallow even far out. But, it’s not that great for tall swimmers.

Because I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood, here is a picture of the little Japanese town I used to live in. It’s called Tōgane (pronounced Toe-ga-nay) in Chiba Prefecture. There isn’t much going on there; just onion and rice fields. It was a great place to live.

The old neighborhood in Japan

All Pictures.


The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.


  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)






  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.


How to Get There:

From Bangkok –

  • The best airline that I found to get to Guam from Bangkok was Philippines Airline.
  • There’s a long stop over in Manila’s airport. (I will blog about the Ninoy Aquino’s shenanigans later.)

Guam has one commercial airport, the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. It’s near Hagatna.

You pretty much have to fly into Guam. There are not boats, and trains are just ridiculous.



  • Guam is a territory of the United States. This means that if you are American, you do not need a passport to travel to Guam.
  • If you are not an American, then you will need the same visa to enter Guam that you would need to get into the continental United States.
  • The people of Guam are United States citizens, just at a better climate.
  • You can only us US dollars here.
  • I recommend renting a car unless you are with a tour group.
  • Although Guam is a small island, it is not anywhere small enough to just walk around.
  • The beaches here are great.
    • When you go to any beach in Guam, DO NOT go out to the breakers. They look pretty, but do not leave the calm water. The current out there is very strong and many tourists have died. There are also many coral reefs. Corral can be very sharp and you don’t want to be pushed into corral by strong waves.
  • There are 2 military bases on the island.
  • Forget about seeing Point Udall. Just forget it!

Umatac Bay

How to get there:

  • 13°17’54.8″N 144°39’48.3″E
  • This is on Route 2 in Umatac.
  • It’s just about the only part of Route 2 in Umatac that’s near the ocean.


2, Umatac, Guam 96915, Mariana Islands



  • Free


  • The monument is out in the open and can be accessed at any time.


  • This is the spot where Magellan landed and started off the burning and pillaging of the Chamorro villages. Soon after the conquistadors would show up by way of Miguel López de Legazpi.
  • The land would be taken away and claimed in the name of Spain’s King and Queen no Chamorro had ever seen. Later the Guamese would be converted to Christianity, because they needed to learn how to be civilized.
  • Miguel López de Legazpi would then move onto The Philippines. Mark and I would run into him again in Manila.

Fort Soledad
(Fort Nuestra Señora de la Soledad)

How to get there:

  • 13°17’42.4″N 144°39’36.1″E
  • Once you’ve found the Umatac Bay, you can see the fort.
  • Just follow Route 2 past the Spanish Bridge if you’re heading south.
  • If you’re heading North, it’s before the Spanish bridge.


  • Free


Two Lovers Point

How to get there:

  • 13°32’09.5″N 144°48’05.2″E
  • Take Route 1 in Tamuning to Route 34.


Two Lover’s Point, Tumon Bay, Guam, USA


  • 671-647-4107



  • 3USD per person


  • 8:00 – 20:00


The Story of Two Lovers

There once was a Chamorro chief, who had a lovely, charming, and intelligent daughter. She was so lovely and charming that a Spanish captain fell in love with her and asked her father for her hand in marriage. The chief, seeing this as an opportunity to make peace between the two peoples thought it a great idea and said, “Sure. Why not?”

The daughter, being young and beautiful, wasn’t interested in the old crusty Spaniard. She preferred a hot, young Chamorro guy who liked to watch sunsets while saying profound things. Unfortunately, his family was not in the same tax bracket as the chief’s family.

The chief told his daughter to forget about the handsome guy who was actually the right age for her and to think about the positive aspects of marrying the old Spanish captain. The dad and the Spaniard went ahead with the wedding plans and they both got all excited when the big day came.

Right before the wedding the bride-to-be went for a walk. She walked all the way up to what is now known as Lovers Point to be with the guy her dad didn’t feel was good enough for her. Eventually, her father, the Spaniard, and many wedding guests found the lovers. Her father tried to order her to get back to the wedding, but she wasn’t listening.

The young lovers tied their long shiny hair together in a tight knot. They held each other and kissed one last time. Then they jumped.

It was a long way down. There’s a lot of pointy coral down there.


Posted in Chiba 県, Guam, Honshū, Japan, Tamuning, Tokyo 都, Tōgane 市, Umatac, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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