Apr 19

National AJET’s “Life After JET”: Sabrina Venture

National AJET shares former JET participants’ experiences – and a little advice – with current JETs in their new monthly interview, Life After JET.  Contact lifeafterjet [at] ajet.net to be featured in future posts.


This month, we caught up with a recent JET-Alum, Sabrina Venture. Before JET, Sabrina was a painting major looking to pay off her student loans. As such, she took a job with a Police Department as a dispatcher. She “sought out that job since it had governmental security and lots of perks (never a parking ticket!), good pay, and offered an education pay program.” However, after two years, she was burnt-out — “too many people dying and too much drama and sad stories” — and looking for a break.

That’s where JET came in. Sabrina moved to Kyoto for a year in 2009. She “would have stayed on the JET program but [she] had a fiancé waiting for [her] so [she] returned to the states. [She] took a month off for [her] wedding and applied to other agencies to go back to dispatch.” By then, she was feeling less burnt-out and found a position in a quieter area. “It’s a smaller agency, quieter than New England, and [she’s] living in an adorable apartment right in downtown.”

Sabrina tells us a little bit about her transition back to her previous career in the States (and how she’s infused it with a little of her Japan-experience) and how she keeps her creative juices flowing…

NAJET: Have you experienced any reverse culture shock since coming back? (You’ve probably been keeping busy with the wedding and finding a job and everything, so maybe you haven’t had a chance to worry about that!) If you have, how did you deal with it?

Sabrina: Culture everything-is-cooler-in-Japan shock. I dunno. I really, REALLY miss the beauty of the natural surroundings. I don’t miss the crowds in downtown. I can also go back — maybe not with JET, but there are other ways to get into Japan. I don’t consider JET my one and only shot at time in Japan and knowing I can always go back helps keep any culture shock in check.

NAJET: You’ve returned to a career that you had before JET, does it feel different? I know you said your time on JET helped you get over some of your burnout — but is there anything else? A new perspective?

Sabrina: I returned to the same career — but not at the same place — and I had to take a pay cut due to financial restraints in the county. That sucked. It still sucks. But I DO have a job, and a nice place to live, and while I’m not swimming in cash, I have enough to cover my needs and still save. My time in JET helped my remember to appreciate the things I do have and relax about things I don’t.

I think that before I left I was really focused on the bottom line and early retirement — I was so focused on earning as much as possible that I worked in neighborhoods that were dangerous and dirty. After JET, I’m more focused on the non-monetary aspects to quality of life — I consider things like population, crime rate, natural beauty now instead of just money.

Click here for the rest of the interview.

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