1 month down, 11 to go! This past month has included many new and exciting things including skiing for the first time, attending my first exchange meeting, meeting other exchange students and starting school clubs. My host family and school friends have been incredibly nice to me which has made the whole experience easier and made me feel a lot more comfortable on my exchange. People say that the first few months of a 12-month exchange are the hardest as that is when homesickness is at its peak. Every single day is the longest time I’ve been away from my family and friends in Australia which sometimes is very difficult. But the people I’m surrounded by here are quickly becoming my new family and friends and have all welcomed me with open arms. I wish all the best to my fellow Australians and other exchange students on their adventures all around the world! I hope everyone is well!
Firstly, this monthI skied for the first time! Since walking out of the airport one month ago was the first time I’ve seen proper snow, I had a lot to learn! Most of my classmates had been skiing for at least 10 years, most learning to ski a few years after they could walk, and were all shocked when I said I had never been to the snow before. Luckily the Vice-Principal of my school who used to be a ski instructor and spoke very good English, volunteered to help me. I think it is compulsory for every child to learn how to ski in Hokkaido so every second week (in winter) my school has ski lessons instead of regular classes. When we first got to the Ski resort I had to quickly say goodbye to my school friends as they had already started and were about to go up in the ski lift, meanwhile I was still struggling to walk around normally in my ski boots (which is very difficult!) I then put on my skis and, with the help of the Vice-Principal, practiced walking around. Next, we found a very flat hill, which was about 15 metres long, that I could ‘ski’ down. At the bottom, there was a conveyer belt that you could stick your skis and it would bring you to the top which was a huge plus for me as walking uphill with skis is not fun. I was the tallest one on this hill as everyone else was under 6 years old however, I felt I was slowly improving. After skiing down the very flat slope for another 2 hours we had lunch. After lunch is where the real fun begins! The Vice-Principal gave me a pep talk and said that he believed I could ski down the beginner mountain. I reluctantly agreed so we began to go up in the ski lift. (Just as a little side note ski lifts are SO fun! I have never experienced anything like it before and it was honestly amazing) The whole time we were going up I was so shocked and amazed by the ski lift that I keptscreaming, safe to say the Vice-Principal was laughing at me the whole way up. When we got to the top of the mountain I looked down and wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into but he assured me that I would be safe and he would help me if I fell. Which I did. Many times. In fact, as soon as I tried to ski down the mountain I fell, then he helped me up, I skied for about 5 seconds then I fell down again. This was basically me the whole way down. It also involved a lot of the Vice-Principal saying ‘where are you going?’ (when I was skiing into the massive piles of snow and trees at the edges of the track which happened about every 5 minutes) and me replying ‘I don’t know, I don’t want to go this way’. Once we got to the bottom I realised how much fun it was and then, with the Vice-Principal’s help, I skied down the beginner slope another 3 times! I skied for the first time 3 weeks ago and I have been 2 times since, each time improving a little more and the most recent time I only fell down about 3 times (which I think is a big improvement from the original 30+). I really love skiing now and my host family has promised to take me again in the next few weeks!
Another really exciting thing that happened this month is I started after school clubs! After school clubs are a very big thing in Japan and every single school here would have them. Most people do one club (as clubs are often every afternoon)however I am doing three. It is a lot of work but I really wanted to try and do lots of different clubs as all of which I’m doing are not offered at my high school in Australia. I am now an official member of the Girls Volleyball, Newspaper Station and Tea Ceremony clubs. I have club activities every afternoon and I get home at around 7pm every weekday. It is sometimes difficult but every member of every club I’ve joined has made me feel so welcome and it has helped me make a lot of friends in other years whom I may not have ever talked to otherwise. I have learntmany new things and I am really excited to see what will happen later in the year with the clubs (one of them travels around Japanin the summer holidays so hopefully I’ll be able to join).
I look forward to what the next month will bring! Let the adventures begin!
(I have put more photos on my Instagram and Facebook)