6 Must Read Tips For New JETs & ALTs

Advice For New JETs, 6 Must-Read Tips

So you did the hard part, right? You’re on the programme. Time to let your hair down and enjoy the ride. Right? Wrong.

Now begins the serious work.

If you come here with a half-arsed attitude you won’t last long and won’t have much fun.

I’ve been where you are and seen many, many more people walk the same path. From my leaning ivory sempai tower, here come six absolutely vital tips or advice for new JETs

Advice For New JETs #1 – Learn Japanese

Seems obvious, right? I will reiterate strongly the incontrovertible maxim that higher Japanese ability correlates strongly with more fun in Japan. (If you’re already a gun, skip ahead) You can communicate better at work, develop a good social circle, and it even helps you find romance.

So what should you do about it? Get studying! Anki, Koohii (RTK) and grammar guides are great starting points. Dedicate at least an hour a day to serious study.

Actual kids were happier than the masking emoticons!

Actual kids were happier than the masking emoticons!

Put it the effort. You will be rewarded.

Advice For New JETs #2 – Be Happy At Work

Easier said than done? Not really.

My friend Tony wrote a fantastic article on how you can control your attitudes and mindsets: How The Words We Use Affect Our Reality. Take a positive attitude at work. Even if you come in at 8:15 at leave at 16:15 and do the bare minimum, do what you do with a smile and appreciation for the great experience you have.

Advice For New JETs #3 – Eat Out A Lot

Gyoza in Utsunomiya

Gotta selfie. Gyoza in Utsunomiya with the locals

While I wouldn’t suggest going out every night (bad for your wallet), eating out a lot is a fantastic thing for new JETs to do. It gives you a chance to taste new foods and experience your local delicacies. It also provides a great opportunity to converse with the locals and potentially build great connections. My friend Joshua “Great Sensei” Walters is especially good at this. Wish he’d write an article dissecting how and why (wink, wink).

Strike up a conversation at the local yakitori place; who knows where it might lead!

It will also help keep you in good spirits, eating delicious stuff all the time. It shouldn’t cripple your finances either due to there being a fairly slim margin between the costs of eating out and eating at home. Just be active and watch your health and figure.

Advice For New JETs #4 – Travel

I came to Japan as a guy who didn’t really ‘get’ travel. I’d done a lot of it when I lived in England (over 20 countries) but mostly for work or with family. Arriving here changed that. TJC co-founder Thomas Simmons is a close friend and he was a big influence. He showed me that travel was something that had numerous charm points. Self-development, cultural awareness, horizon-expanding, mentality-strengthening and … good old fashioned fun times.

What can you do about it? First, I urge you to download Thomas’ free guide on travel (form bottom of this post). It teaches you in easy steps how to plan and execute a ballin’ trip. It should be a $10 ebook but it’s free. Just go get it before he listens to my advice and charges for it.

Secondly, please follow me on your social network of choice! I upload snaps to Instagram and Facebook. Also from time-to-time I will make travel blog posts here. Perhaps, some of the destinations I visit will appeal to you, and you can head off for your own adventure.

Advice For New JETs #5 – Dress Well

I have yet to write any articles about dressing specifically for work, but don’t underestimate the effect of presentation. Your clothing reflects your identity and attitude to appearance. If you dress poorly, you are broadcasting low social acuity and carelessness. Dress sharply and practically and you communicate efficiency, professionalism and capability.


Daniel Bamford ALT Teacher Japan Classroom

Advice For New JETs #6 – Other Tidbits

Skype your family. But, don’t over-Skype. Find a solid hobby and make it worthwhile (sorry, gaming doesn’t count). Play an instrument or a sport. Read extensively, focusing on books that will make you a better person. Do some nice decor and fit out your apartment. I’m sure there are hundreds of other good tips too.

This advice probably applies to existing old JETs too, but I was compelled to write this for all those freshies out there who are sick of hearing about Stages or ESIDs. This isn’t Kansas college, folks. Flourish and revel in your new life.

Any questions or ideas, I’d love to interface! You can message me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I want to contribute and help, just hit me up. If you found the article inspirational or useful, please consider sharing it with your friends so they can benefit too.

The full version of this article appeared on Daniel Bamford’s personal blog. If you’re interested in the recommendations, check it out for more depth.
Advice For New JETs, 6 Must-Read Tips


Author Bio
Daniel Bamford

Daniel Bamford

Daniel is an Aussie JET enjoying the laid-back life in Gunma and trips around Japan. Before this, he tried playing football in England, studying Law, and running businesses. These days you can find him feasting at your local burger store or cruising Mt Myogi in his green roadster.


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  • http://tonymichaelhead.com tonymichaelhead

    Great article man. These tips are even relevant to someone who has been here for 3 years!

    • Jinx15

      Yeh good stuff neh.