When the time comes to say goodbye to sunny Miyazaki, it can feel like you’re in over your head. The fact of the matter is there will be a lot of things that normally, in our home countries, we’d be able to control. But because we have to rely on our BOEs or supervisors, that control just seems out of reach. But you’re not the only one to feel this way. Thousands of JET Senpais have gone through it and come out the other side before. Here at MAJET, we want to make the departure process as smooth as possible for you, so we’ve asked our JET Senpais to tell us their top leaving tips. These are the top 10 things you can and should control when the sun sets on your time in Hinata.
1. Start early. Map out a departure timeline that starts up to six months or more before your flight home. On the timeline, list what needs to be done and who you will have to ask for help to complete each task. This will give you a clear idea of how busy you will be and how much work needs to be done in your final months in Japan.
2. Know what needs to be done.
- Applying for your pension
- Taking care of your taxes
- Shipping items home
- Selling/Disposing of your car
- De-cluttering your apartment
- Applying to change your visa status
- Arranging your flight home
- Cancelling your phone/internet contract
- Cancelling utilities
- Preparing a welcome pack for your successor
- Paying the remainder of your bills
- Closing your bank account
3. Save money. Moving houses, let alone countries, is not cheap. Start saving money early because you never know when you’ll need to dig into the savings a bit to get home in one piece.
4. It’s okay to take time off work. Annual leave (nenkyu) in Japan is extremely difficult to take (especially in Inaka Miyazaki). But your BOE shouldn’t be putting undue pressure on you to get everything done outside of work time. The post office, BOE, town office and other administrative places don’t align with our work hours. So as long as you explain in no uncertain terms to your BOE that you cannot effectively prepare any other time, you’ll likely be allowed to take nenkyu. This is your time to be a little more firm in what you need.
5. Research. Brush up on all the different processes you’ll need to go through to wrap everything up (see number 2). Then add notes to your timeline.
6. Organise Shipping a few months in advance. There are hundreds of different shipping companies available all over the world. If you’re thinking of shipping items back home, ask your fellow JETs and your predecessor what services they used. Then make arrangements and start packing everything away long before June. Some JETs reported that their shipped boxes were lost which is why they recommend paying that little bit extra for tracking to avoid such an inconvenience. The most popular shipping service used is Japan Post, surface shipping (funabin); it’s the cheapest method but takes over two months to reach its destination. Another commonly suggested service is Yamato but there is only one Yamato office in the prefecture.
7. De-clutter. De-clutter. De-clutter. Start this process extremely early. There’s nothing worse for your successor than if they move into an apartment filled with flimsy Daiso items and broken appliances. If you are in contact with your successor, ask whether they want things and if they don’t, throw them out or give/sell them to other JETs. Alternatively, if you don’t use the item on a regular basis to begin with, just go ahead and throw it out. Your successor probably won’t use them either. De-cluttering will also help you understand what you do and don’t want to pack.
8. Don’t dwell on having to say goodbye. Saying goodbye to friends is hard at the best of times. Like a first date, if you over inflate it in your mind, it may not live up to your expectations. But there’s a way around this. Simply don’t officially say goodbye. Trade emails, take lots of photos and catch up with as many people as you can. When your time in Japan comes to a close, that doesn’t mean all the relationships made in Japan come to a close too.
9. It’s scary, but thinking about ‘after JET’ will help in the long run. Many JETs started making their departure plans and preparing to leave late because they didn’t know what the next step was after leaving Japan. Start thinking about it. Even if it’s just to realise you won’t be doing much at all other then searching for another job and coming to terms with a lack of conbinis and hyuganatsu. Ask your JET Alumnis what they did. If you know what’s in store for you the first few months after Japan, this will help you prepare to leave and alleviate reverse culture-shock.
10. Enjoy the time you have left. One of the biggest regrets JET Alumnis reported having was letting all the stress of leaving ruin the time they had left. Whether you start preparing early or not, make time for the things you enjoyed the most. Go to Aoshima one last time, order one last bowl of Tomato Ramen, take another trip to Udo Jingu, climb Kirishima, eat as much chicken nanban as possible. These are the little things you’ll miss the most, whether your time on JET was positive or not. It was still an experience. Cram as much positivity into it as possible.