Alissa Berdahl, originally from Minnetonka, Minnesota, first learned about JET when she was studying abroad in Nagoya during her junior year in high school! She met a few JETs from the surrounding area and decided then and there that this was something she wanted to do. Now a JET in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, she has had two months to put the advice she received during her interview — that “flexibility and a bright smile” make for a good JET — to the test.
I like to think that I’ve accomplished quite a bit in my first two months. I’ve rescued children from giant spider webs, and an assortment of bugs and critters from curious children. I’ve got my self introduction down to a Pixar perfect mix of humor that gets laughs from both the teachers and children. I’ve played every version of tag imaginable and when my lack of running skills has become apparent, I’ve distracted otherwise disenchanted children with silly songs. I’ve camped out on beaches, sat side-by-side with wild monkeys, and narrowly escaped the path of a wayward fireball at a particularly exciting matsuri. I’ve also been caught outside in not one but two typhoons, survived eating natto for kyushoku, and broken up fights on the playground.
I’ve reached that point where seeing the mountains every day doesn’t give me quite the same rush as it did in the beginning, and I’m finding myself increasingly unaware of my surroundings as I slowly fall into routine. While I can’t help but feel a bit wistful for those “oh, my God I can’t believe I actually live here” moments, I know that this is a natural part of living abroad, and I intend to embrace this stage of my adventure just as fully as the first. Besides, someone’s got to save the children from Kyushu’s vast population of giant bugs (or, more likely than not, vice versa) (except for the mukade, they’re on their own).