UK to Japan: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Butterfly patterned sushi maki roll

When I was 12 and I played a Pokémon game where cute, pink monsters swiped sushi off a conveyor belt with massive, limacine tongues. And from that point on I’ve wanted to live in Japan. Now I do live here and I can (and do) swipe sushi off a conveyor belt myself on a bi-weekly basis. (No more than bi-weekly because I am trying to manage an addition, and no less because I have an addition).

So… that’s good. And it should be good after the 8 month long roller-coaster ride of applying to, interviewing for, being accepted onto, almost being disqualified from, not being disqualified from, then being accepted onto again… the JET Programme. So if my Instagram makes it look like I clicked my fingers and woke up here, I should clarify that navigating one’s way through the programme’s application process is akin to trying to solve a rubik’s cube, drunk. Friends and family who had the misfortune of being around me during the early part of 2019 refer to it, gravely, as ‘that time’. Because basically I was a stressed out, awful bitch. Never have I ever used a scanner and printer or visited a post office as regularly as I did in early spring 2019*. Trying to obtain an original transcript of the modules I took, in a degree I completed 11 years ago, hand-signed and stamped by a specific university official (rendered invalid if stamped by the wrong person), to a tight deadline….. whilst not even in my home country, was a delightful test of the old nerves. And once back in my home country, with a job, trying to furtively schedule expensive health-checks with private doctors, during work hours was a nail biting affair. Then having to carefully micro-manage the doctors’ completion of medical forms issued by the JET programme (because, a boxed ticked instead of checked, in oil-based instead of water-based pen ink, could invalidate the paperwork or send you to prison or something) was some REAL character building. But hey, I managed it and now here I am. And probably a few kgs lighter from the stress, so, every cloud.

*Despite popular belief, paperwork is still literally paperwork in Japan. Forms are filled out and signed by hand and posted (or FAXED. The fax machine is still a common feature of many offices). More on this madness in my Myths Debunked post.

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