JET Alum Natalie Oram in Russia
Hiroshima-ken JET alum Natalie Oram answers some questions about what she’s been up to post-JET and how the JET experience has helped her. If you’re a JET alum and would like to answer this questionnaire, please email the editor at wideislandview (atto) gmail (dotto) com!
Name: Natalie Oram
Location in Japan while on JET: Tadanoumi, Takehara-shi, Hiroshima-ken
Years on JET: 2006-2010
Currently living in: Moscow, Russia
Current occupation and jobs held since leaving JET: EFL teacher for BKC International House, Moscow. http://www.bkcih-moscow.com/
Highlight/funniest part of your JET experience: Far too many wonderful moments. I think one of the funniest moments was last year at the Miyatoko Festival in Tadanoumi. On the last day, at the Miyatoko Shrine on the beach, the priests stand on two tall towers and throw cardboard squares to the crowd. On the squares is written a prize. Most of the prizes were normal, everyday items like soap and beer. However, there were also three giant rice cakes to be won. If you win one of those you have good luck for the year. Tadanoumi is normally a very peaceful fishing village, but not when those cards go flying. At one point my friend, Rachel Gilmour, had her hand trod on when she went for a card. It was worth it though because she won the giant rice cake! Afterwards, Rachel was treated much like a celebrity walking down Tadanoumi’s main street carrying her rice cake like a baby.
How the JET Programme has benefited you career-wise: I learned to be very, very patient, especially when I was a prefectural advisor and dealing with all the red tape. After four years in Japan, very little gets my goat. This is very helpful, especially when dealing with Russian tweens. Through The JET Programme I was given the opportunity to live in a tiny town where very few people spoke English. This helped me to grow as a person and survive on my own in a foreign country. While I may be living in a big city now, few Russians speak English, and so I have learned to help myself. Basically, the same golden rule: speak to the old ladies/oba-san/ babushkas; they know everything about everything and are always keen to help.
What transferable skills JET gives you: Would the Typhoon Game count? This is probably the best skill I learned from JET. I have taught it to teachers here and they, too, have found it very successful.
What advice you would give to current JETs for getting the most out of the JET experience in order to further their career afterwards: With every new contract promise yourself you’ll learn a new skill or improve your CV, whether it be improving your Japanese, teaching at camp, or giving workshops.
Any tips for job hunting after JET? Don’t wait till after JET. Look into your options months ahead and try to gain the necessary skills BEFORE you apply for your new job. A lot of EFL contracts start in August or September, so you don’t have much time after your JET contract is over. Moreoever, you will feel less stressed and happier come July when you know, more or less, what you are going to do post-JET.