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Alexandra Vaillancourt - Chiba (2001-2002)

Where were you in Japan as a JET and when?

I was in Chiba prefecture from August 2001-June 2002. I lived in the small town of Hikata Machi.

What sparked your interest in applying for the JET program?

I was a preschool teacher in Boston, and we had many Japanese students whose parents came to work or study in Boston. They would go back to Japan after a year or two, and always invited me to Japan. After a few years, I finally did it! In the year 2000 I visited Japan for 2 weeks, and I stayed in 8 different homes of my former students. I liked it so much, I decided I wanted to live in Japan. I applied to the JET program and was accepted.

What are some of the things your prefecture is known for? e.g. food, hotspots, etc.

Chiba is known for the beautiful seaside, Narita airport, and Disney parks! My small town was a pig farming community.

Did you pick up any of the regional dialects? What are some of your favorite words or phrases?

One of the first words I learned was "kusai" meaning, "stinky" because of the smell of the pigs. I thought that was very funny. I also learned how to say, "My stomach is very small" so that I wouldn't have to eat any fish. I don't like seafood, but I didn't want to be rude! I loved words that had the same sound, like "neba neba" "hara hara" and "pitta pitta".

If you were to return to live in Japan, would you choose to live in that same prefecture?

If I were to return to Japan, I would love to live in Tokyo, because that's where I would go to relax. I know that sounds strange, but my hometown is New York City. I loved hanging out in Shibuya.

How has your connection in relation to Japan changed since living in Japan?

I understand the culture and people much more than I did before living there, and I learned a lot more of the language. I haven't been back since 2002, but it's my dream to return in the next 5 years.

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Oct 15, 2023


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