April 11, 2009

JET Program Part 3: The Results

If a JET applicant ever tells you they weren't nervous in the days/weeks leading up to receiving their results, they are a liar. A true bald faced liar. Feel free to give people like this a solid kick to the shin because everyone who applies to the program gets nervous once results come out.

Two months of waiting, and it all comes down to one letter/email.

If you thought the over-analyzing post-interview was bad, it's nothing compared to this. Many people I've talked to, all strong applicants mind you, were convinced they'd been rejected outright or maybe (maaaaybe, with a sliver of hope) chosen as an alternate. I'm definitely part of this group.

I spent many a sleepless night going over and over my interview in my head, convinced I had screwed myself. After all, why would JET want someone who taught in their mock lesson that the sun is yellow when EVERYONE knows that in Japan they say the sun is red? (-1000 points for cultural awareness.)

Oh, and let's not forget that when they asked you 'what's interesting about you and what talents can you bring to your community in Japan' you answered, "Well... I'm a history nerd but I guess that's not really a special talent. Uh... I can play guitar?" (Fail.)

There was a lot of this going on, especially once the results were released and I watched on the ITIL forum as member after member posted their shortlist designations. One by one, the people I'd come to know from the Applying forum announced their shortlist status and as I congratulated each one of them the anxiety over my own results intensified. What if I didn't get in? It was a very real possibility.

I could picture it perfectly - everyone departing come July/August for a year of fun times and cultural experiences in Japan while I was left behind to decide whether I'd even bother applying next year.

Thanks to the Canadian consulate's decision to send out results via snail mail, we had to wait an extra few days. Someone called the consulate - the letters were mailed Tuesday. The waiting game was on. I didn't expect to see anything until Thursday but then Wednesday hit and I still held my breath as I opened my mail box slot.

Inside was a conspicuous white envelope from the Japanese consulate. I was expecting a package if I got in and a letter if I didn't. Right away, I said "Well, damn." and thought the worst. But as I was walking back to the house I noticed that it was a rather thick envelope. I'd heard of the Japanese penchant for long-windedness, but I was still left thinking, "If this is a rejection letter, it's the longest rejection letter I've ever seen!"

Was it possible that me, lil' ol' Canadian with the crappy interview, had possibly gotten in?

I didn't even make it into the house.

Standing on my front porch with an open can of Red Bull in hand, I tore open the envelope and got as far as "We are pleased...*skim* shortlisted" before I jumped, screamed with excitement and wound up dumping half a can of Red Bull on myself and my letter (oops...)

So after all that waiting - I'm going to Japan. Shortlisted, no less.

I'm absolutely thrilled, but my family - not so much. Mom and Dad are happy for me, of course, since they know how much I wanted to do this, but they're not thrilled with the idea of me being out of the country for a year or more. They've both been moping around the house for the past few days, giving me long looks with sad faces. Sara's been a bit more supportive and a lot less angsty about it but I know she'll miss me too (and I'll miss her).

Leaving my family and friends behind will be one of the hardest parts of this whole process. I'm going to chronicle a bit of the journey on here - emotional and otherwise - that takes place between now and August 1st so you guys can have an idea about what happens after The Letter.

Right now though, my biggest concern is the medical check that's required to be submitted with your acceptance letter. They only give you until April 24th to have a health check done - including a chest X-ray to screen for TB. Now, anyone from Ontario knows how hard it is to get in and see a doctor on short notice.

I went Thursday to a walk in clinic to see if they would help me. They refused. I went to my family doctor who was all booked up for next week but managed to see the other doctor who works with her as a walk-in patient. He did some of the tests and gave me the requisition for the chest x-ray. I now get to take time off work so I can go back
next Monday, the only time my doctor was available, to get her to finish off my paperwork so I can mail it in to the consulate on time. Because it's not just that you mail it in by April 24th, your letter has to be at the CONSULATE by the 24th upon pain of disqualification (of course).

I have a feeling the next three months are going to be a lot of running around like a chicken with my head cut off but that this point I'm too happy/excited to care.

Japan, here I come!

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