Frankie Says Relax

Relax, don’t do it…

On my full blog, Scooter vs Japan, I’ve been writing about my past and future experiences with Japan. I lived in Japan in 2009 and 2010 while on a university exchange, and had traveled briefly in 2003. I lived on my own for almost 10 years in Canada, and am a bit older than most incoming JETs. That’s not to brag, but rather provide context that this isn’t my first rodeo, in Japan or living on my own.

So in the months leading up to our departures, more and more JETs are coming out of the woodwork to ask for advice, help, and support. And as we get closer to departure, many of these questions shifted from the usual “how do I do X” to more panic and excitement. Above all the answers and advice anyone can provide a new JET (myself included), I have what one thing to say.


The single best advice I can give people is to relax. So many questions are coming from fear and discomfort, and I’m finding more and more answers are to takes a deep breath and not worry about it right now.

When we panic (and trust me, I know a LOT about panicking), we lose sight of what’s important and become resistant to new information and change. We become clouded by what’s panicking us and we stop using that 3 pound squishy thing between our ears. We become so absorbed with the problem that everything becomes a big deal.


I once heard that if you are in a car accident, you are supposed to try and relax. This helps you go with what’s happening instead of injuring yourself in resistance. Obviously that’s pretty hard to do when you are barreling towards another vehicle at 100 km/hour or into a guard rail, but this really is the perfect analogy. If you can relax during a car accident, I’m told that you will go with the flow more and come out a little better off.

The same is true with moving out, traveling, starting a new job, and everything else that is before us as JETs. Instead of panicking, locking up, and freaking out as our departure date comes racing towards us, each of us needs to remember that it isn’t that big a deal, and remember to relax.

Before boy bands and twitters…

To provide a little more context, I used to work for a major telecom in Canada. What’s that? I sold cell phones, provided tech support and consumer advice, and was generally a voice of reason for wireless customers. I always got a kick out of people who’d come in absolutely freaking out because they broke there phone or because they were going on vacation and they absolutely needed complete and total access to voice, text, and data. With vacations, I always told people about the “do nothing” option, an incredibly valid and reasonable option I learned about when I worked in policy development (I’ve had some pretty cool and pretty less cool jobs). I always told people that, when I went on holidays as a kid, we just told our friends and family that we were going away for a week or two, and that was that. I always tried to share this with my customers because it really put their panic and concern into perspective. And for those losing their minds over not having a phone since last night, I tried to remind them that this technology, in its current form and culturally accepted use, is less than a decade old.

See, the JET Programme has been around since 1978. I’m a bit younger than that, but I can tell you one thing… No matter what your situation is, no matter where you’re moving to, someone has done it before. In 1978, we didn’t have seatbelts in some parts of cars. In 1978, high powered execs hadn’t started having coke parties yet. In 1978, computers just getting smaller than an entire room. In 1978, we didn’t have blogs or Facebook or other forms of communication and research. A lot has changed since 1978, and people then did things that seem completely foreign to us, and us to them.

In 1978, JETs were still making it happen. The first JETs–heck, JETs 10 years ago didn’t have the same knowledge and resources we have now. They didn’t have access to online shopping, blogs, and social media. They didn’t use LINE or Skype or anything else like that. They didn’t have these things yet they still made it out ok.


It’s gonna be ok. I promise.

Check out more of my witty and helpful advice as I talk about about the JET Programme, being an expat, foreign living, and whatever else I can think of at

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