About Me

Dear Reader,

Thanks for stumbling on my little corner of the internet! My name’s Becca, and I was an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) on the JET Program from August 2015-August 2016. I lived on Amami Oshima, the “big” island in the archipelago between Kyushu and Okinawa. After a year of teaching at an academic high school, traveling around Japan (and Thailand!), and absolutely falling in love with Japanese island culture and Gajumaru trees, I’m back living in Boston, working as an educator, advisor, and advocate for the adult immigrant and refugee population.

Here, I muse about life on JET, life after JET, traveling, teaching, running, hiking, and more. If you have any questions about The JET Program, earning your TEFL certificate, or life in general, feel free to comment!

– Becca Mayhem
(A nickname I was given when I was seventeen after I tripped over a pet gate, dropped my gingerbread house, and my friend said, “yep, that`s Becca Mayhem.”)

17 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. hi becca……….. my name is Christian barnabas
    i stay in South africa and i am very much interested in teaching english in japan.
    please assist in how you got to do it

    1. Hi, Christian! I teach through the JET Program. Unfortunately the deadline has already passed for the 2015-16 school year, but I also recommend earning your Teaching English as a Foreign Language Certificate. I took a course through International TEFL Academy and that qualifies you to teach English as a foreign language in Japan, and many other countries where English is not the first language!

  2. Hi Becca!

    Hope you’re settling in back home well and aren’t experience too much reverse-culture shock!
    The applications have just opened for 2017 and I wanted to ask you- did you tick that you would be interested in an April arrival? Do you think ticking this box affects your chances of getting in? And just lastly, would would be the benefits/cons of an early arrival?

    Thanks heaps,


    1. HI! I am sosososo sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. Honestly I took a break from blogging when I came back because it’s been a hard transition coming back home after such an incredible year abroad. I assume you have already sent in your application–but I didn’t select April arrival only because I wouldn’t have been ready to move to Japan in April. I don’t think it affects your chances too much of getting in either way. One of my friends was an April arrival and a huge con for him was that he felt like he missed out on bonding with the new ALTs in his prefecture because he didn’t come like everyone else in August (that’s also because he lived on a far away island like me). And a huge benefit is that you get to be there to meet all of the new first year students because the school year in Japan starts in April. August arrivals hop into the school midyear. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions! I promise I won’t wait a month to respond next time!

  3. Hi Becca,

    I hope that you don’t mind me writing to you directly like this.

    I read your pieces on teaching on Amami and wanted to ask you a few things.

    I’m a long-term resident, living & working near Kobe, but I love the Amami islands, though I have only ever been there for a few days at a time.

    I have a chance to buy a house in Isen, Tokunoshima, and I am seriously considering it.

    As someone with more experience than I, how would you say it was for a long-term stay?
    Have you been there long enough to experience all four seasons? if so, how would you say the weather/climate was? Anything down there that makes “normal” living hard work, or particularly troublesome?

    Anyway, sorry to give you a writing task!

    If you’re up to sharing a few thoughts I would very much appreciate it.



    1. Hi Sean!

      Thanks for writing to me. I lived on Amami Oshima for an entire calendar year so I experienced all 4 seasons.

      I absolutely loved living on Amami. I would jump at the opportunity to do it again. We do have typhoon season from end of June to August, but when I was living there we only had one typhoon and it wasn’t that bad. Our rainy season happens a bit earlier than other parts of Kyushu-this year we had a couple weeks of rain in early May and that was it. Front January to March I was surprised at how windy and chilly it was, especially because I lived so close to the water. But I survived with only a lined sweatshirt when it was cold out. Honestly, I think my house was colder inside than it was outside. Houses on the islands are really not built to withstand cold haha.

      So aside from the occasional typhoon and a windy winter, living on an amami island is incredible if you don’t mind humidity.

      Tokunoshima is like Amami and has the juxtaposition of rolling green mountains and turquoise blue waters. Plus island culture is amazing. I visited tokunoshima twice and met some of the nincest people!

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have anymore questions!


  4. Thanks Becca – all very useful!

    May I ask, how was your internet connection on the islands?
    I don’t care about mobile phone communications, but these days a reliable (and reasonably fast) net connection is important for keeping in touch, shopping…etc

    Any run-ins with the Habu snake?
    I like to have a scramble around, but not too keen if they’re slinking about all over the place!

    Did you ever try the long-haul ferry to Kobe or Osaka?

    Thanks again, Becca!


    1. Hi again! 1) I never had any issues with my internet connection. It was high-speed and very reliable. 2) I only ever saw habu on purpose (at the different Habu learning centers on the island) 3) I only ferried to Kagoshima city and other southern islands (Tokunoshima and Okinoerabu). I loved loved loved traveling by ferry!

  5. Hi Becca,

    I am heading to Amami in the summer for a year of ethnographic fieldwork. Thanks for your blog, lots of nice info here, Amami looks so beautiful, I can’t wait to head off! I have started Japanese language classes here in the UK but I am planning to do a more intensive program when I get to Japan which I had planned to do in one of the major cities. I was wondering though if you came across anyone locally in Amami who taught Japanese to English speaking visitors? It might be more productive to learn whilst I am there rather than learning one dialect and then relearning the phonetics of Amami! Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    Best wishes and thanks again for your generous blog,


    1. Hi Charlotte!

      Wow! You’re going to Amami! Amami culture is so special and unique. I am excited for you and I’d love to follow your journey out there as well.

      Are you interested in learning Amami ben (Amami’s special dialect) for your work or just Japanese to communicate with locals? If you can let me know what you’re interested in learning, I can reach out to some of my friends out there to try and connect you with someone who may be interested in doing a language exchange if you’d like.

      I’m glad you found my blog!



  6. Hi Becca,

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I am just interested first and foremost on improving my conversational Japanese – although I am sure I will pick up some Amami ben over the year! That would be amazing if you might be able to connect me with your friends for language exchange. Perhaps you could email me – charlotte.linton[@]anthro.ox.ac.uk. I will likely set up a blog in the coming months so will keep you updated on that progress – you can reminisce! I am very excited to go Amami, it looks like a very special place.

    Best wishes,


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