久しぶりですね！Long time, no see! I honestly can’t believe I’ve been on exchange in Japan for about 6 months now. I’ve been so busy that past few months that I completely ignored this blog. However, I’ll try my best to write as frequently as I can from now on.
When I was about to leave everyone was telling me the time would go really fast so make the most out of every moment and that has finally come true for me these last few weeks. I’ve had so many AMAZING experiences that I’ll never forget and I’ve made incredible friends during my time here. Here is just a little update of what I’ve been doing April, May, June, July.
Family – I changed host families at the beginning of May during the spring holidays. It was quite scary at the beginning because I had grown really close to my first host family and it felt like I had to say goodbye to my real family all over again. However, my new family made me feel really comfortable and we even took a 3 day trip to the South of Hokkaido during my first week with them. I also now had 3 older host brothers. In Australia, it’s just my little sister and I so it was nice to experience being the younger sibling for the first time. One of them lived in Tokyo so we only spoke on the phone, one was closer to my age and a university student who took me to different events and introduced me to his friends from UNI and the other recently got back from exchange in Australia. I haven’t blogged in so long that I’m actually about to move families again. So far my host families have all be really different people (firstly an elderly couple with no children, then a family of five with 3 older brothers) and my next house is no different. My next host family owns a temple and my host dad is the monk. The temple is connected to the house and he lives there with his wife, mother and 3-year-old daughter. I am really excited to see what surprise and fun experiences my next host family with bring!
Friends – At the beginning of May we had about a week and a half of spring holidays. I spent most days hanging out with different friends, going shopping, eating and going to karaoke. I also met the Japanese people who will be going on exchange this coming August and we all really connected. We’ve been out a few times together and went to see one of Sapporo’s biggest festival ‘Yosakoi Soran’. I have also made really good friends with people from school. My clubs also help me make friends with people in other years which is really nice. There is a big shopping mall quite close to my school so sometimes after club activities we go and eat dinner together.
School – I LOVE MY SCHOOL! I actually think I like it more than my school in Australia! My days are long (I leave the house at 6:30am and get home around 8:00pm) but I honestly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. My school has events and special occasions all the time to keep things interesting which I really like. The previous school year ended in March so I became a year 11 student from the start of April. My new class is full of bubbly, kind and funny people and I’ve made great friends with everyone in my class.
This year’s big events started with another 3-day ball game tournament. Every homeroom creates girls and boys teams for each sport (Volleyball, tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball, table tennis and dodgeball) then verse other homerooms from different years. I participated in basketball and volleyball. My class (2-B) girls’ team lost every game we played within the first few rounds but the 2-B boys were really good. They came in the top 3 in every sport and ended up winning the entire schools basketball! It was a great achievement to end the three days worth of effort. We were there only year 11 team left in the final rounds with every other team being made of yr 12’s. By the final game almost the whole of year 11 was cheering on our class.
The next major event was the school festival. It apparently was the biggest event of the year and I can definitely see that. In involved a dance parade, making costumes to fit a class theme, making a small float, opening a class store/activity and ended with a big raffle, outdoor games, bonfire, talent contest, outdoor movie, fireworks it went on for 3 days! We prepared for weeks leading up to it in small groups. I was in the costume making group and we made costumes for everyone in the class along to our class theme which was ‘Studio Ghibli’. During the week leading up to the festival, we finished school at 12:00 so that we could prepare all afternoon/evening. Even though it was tiring I really enjoyed talking with my fellow classmates while sewing and my homeroom teacher would often buy everyone ice creams to keep us motivated. The festival started on a Friday with an opening ceremony and movie made by the year 12’s then every class got on stage and performed their dance in front of the school. Around lunchtime, we started the parade where we walked down the main street of our town with our floats and performing our dance along the way. On Saturday and Sunday, the school was officially open to the public! My class decided to do a ramen store and we made $1800 over the two days (80% has to go back to the school but we get to split the remains among our class). Other classes opened haunted houses, small rollercoasters, mini theme parks, and various food stalls as well as some clubs showing off their skills. I’m in the tea ceremony club so I got to perform my first tea ceremony in front of people! I was put in a traditional Yukata (like a Kimono but the simpler version) and performed a few tea ceremonies over the two days. On Sunday the indoor stuff finally ended with the talent contest. Then everyone went outside where we did the raffle, lit the bonfire and played outdoor games. It was an amazing experience that I’m glad I was apart of. Then there was a closing movie which ended with fireworks going off above our school. It was the perfect way to conclude a months worth of effort. My friends and I then went out for dinner before heading home. I know it sounds a bit cheesy but I just felt really happy to be surrounded by my friends and so thankful that I get to spend a year in this amazing place.
Trips – My rotary club was generous to take me on a trip to Kyoto and Osaka in May. I have been there before but it was fun to experience everything from a Japanese persons point of view. We also ate at many local restaurants and tried local versions of the food I love from Hokkaido. I got to experience a traditional dinner (sitting on the floor) and be entertained by Geisha who danced, played instruments, sang, and did drinking games with us. It was a REALLY fun experience and one I’ll never forget. After dinner, we then went to a karaoke bar and sang songs with the Geisha and Geisha-in-training. There was a girl training to be a Geisha who was my age and through talking, we discovered that we liked the same bands and songs. We talked and sang the rest of the night. Then as an afterparty snack I went to a small ramen shop with my host club. We then all headed to an onsen then straight to bed. We only stayed a few days in Kyoto and Osaka (we went mainly because of a Rotary conference) but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent there. Upcoming Trips: I will be going to Nagoya and Osaka at the start of August to see my Japanese ‘sisters’ who did a homestay at my house 2 years ago. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again! Then around October, I will be going on a school trip with my year group. We will go to Kyoto and Osaka for a few days visiting the famous sights and learning about the history there. I’m really excited to go on a trip with my class because everyone is so funny and I think the atmosphere is going to be one I won’t be able to forget!
Rotary exchange – The other exchange student in my district left last week so its just me here now. I only saw him a few times and we weren’t that close though so don’t worry, I’m enjoying my time alone! I think there’s going to be another person coming to my district within the next month which I’m looking forward too!
These last few months have been so much fun and I’m sad to say that I’m almost on the countdown of days. I miss all my family and friends and I can’t wait to see everyone in 6 months but I am really enjoying my life here!
Thank you – ありがとうございます