First Month Checklist

You won’t have any classes until early September so chances are you will spend a lot of time at your desk at the BOE, town office, or your base school.

Your first month will be filled with orientations, parties, and other events designed to help you meet other JETs and the people in your community. There will also be a one week Japanese language camp in Saga City and a Prefectural Orientation mandatory for all new ALTs.

The following is a list of recommendations for what you should do during your first month. It’s overwhelming and you’ll be tired, but invest in your new life early!

 You should aim to:

  • Connect with the JETs and Japanese people in your community, accept invitations, go to enkais, and other social events, don’t hide in your apartment.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors. You might be rewarded later with surprise gifts of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Establish relationships with people at your BOE, town office and schools, start conversations, and give out your omiyage.
  • Register with your embassy – their contact details are here.
  • Once you get a phone, add all important phone numbers to your contacts such as your: BOE, supervisor, schools, local taxi company.
  • Workout how your local rubbish and recycling system works.  Your supervisor and predecessor can tell you when rubbish is collected and what colour bags to use for the different types.
  • Have a good idea of where your nearest bus stop, train station, hospital, bank, medical clinic, post office and  supermarket are.
  • Work on and finish your self introduction – find out how much time you have for each school/class, if your JTEs want you to do anything specific (like a worksheet or game), what technology is available.
  • Make a spare key and put it in a safe location other than your home.
  • Compile a list of questions, be they work-related or living-related, to ask your supervisor, JTEs, District Representatives, or Prefectural Advisors.
  • Join the various SagaJET Facebook groups and check out resources like Fukuoka NOW, so you don’t miss out on anything.
  • Memorize your schools timetable and how you will get to them. Your supervisor might take you around your schools during the summer to introduce you to the teachers. Have your short self-introduction on hand just incase!
  • Set some goals:
    • Financial (draw up a budget, create a savings and debt management plan; there is no reason why you should leave JET broke!)
    • Personal – language, fitness, hobbies, or other interests
    • Professional – teaching skills, knowledge of English grammar, future career direction
    • Travel – destinations and festivals you want to go to
  • It is also a good idea to carry the following items with you at all times, as any, or all, are required for various paperwork and needed to obtain things like a cellphone (the first four items will be arranged and given to you by your supervisor at some point after you arrive):
    • Your inkan (personal seal)
    • Residence Card
    • Health Insurance Card
    • Bankbook
    • Passport
    • Your apartment and BOE addresses, in English and Japanese
  • If they haven’t yet already, your supervisor can help you get a phone line or the internet connected, buy a mobile phone, sort out the paperwork for your car, and teach you how to understand and pay your bills (however bear in mind that these things could take a few weeks to sort out).

Most of all have fun and remember to take some time for yourself. Your first month will be a whirlwind of activity, heat, emotions, and discovery!