travel2japan #67 multikulti
So, I was in Japan as an exchange student. And wrote diary; approximately three pages every single day. As I think it may be interesting translating the thoughts of an exchange student in Japan, I'm now going to do this.
Some background information:
I was in Japan from March to July 2015(4 1/2 month). I lived in Chiba with a host family.
I went there with the organization WYS (Word Youth Society).
Here we go.
(The text written in italics are comments, I added in retrospect)
Real date: May 16th, Saturday
Today morning, it rained a lot what I really liked. I somehow have the feeling as if I am really leaving (as at the end of my exchange), because I have all important stuff in my bag. From the Tokyo guide book, I wrote down some interesting shops and places in Harajuku. We ate breakfast at already half past 6. Wakari san asked me several times, if I have enough money with me. Then, Kouta san drove me to the station, 25 minutes to early.
From the station, I drove to Tokyo. In the train, I wrote messages to Wakari san and my counselor, that, however, did not arrive (because I did not have mobile reception in the train). When I turned my phone off and on again, the messages had arrived. everything was okay. I then took the train from Tokyo to Harajuku. On the way there, however, I received a message from my counselor saying that I will have to wait for about 30 minutes at Harajuku. So, I went out of the station in Harajuku and went to the near Takeshita street (the popular, great street there) As it was still early in the morning, few people were there and a lot of shops did not open yet. It was, nevertheless interesting and fascinating. I walked the way up and down two times. Then, waiting at the station, I received a message from my counselor saying that I will have to wait for another 10 minutes so I strolled along the street a little and then went back to the station. As it turned out, however, I was waiting at the wrong side of the station so I went into the station (checking in) but when I wanted to leave at the other side, something was wrong with my train card when I tried checking out. I went to a train person, who asked something like: '..money..okay..' and then, I could go out. After calling my counselor a second time, I found her. She bought a coffee at the station and then, we went off to the train with which we only drove one station.
There, we got of and went to the youth center where the orientation took place. We went to a classroom. In there were three staff people of WYS, three Japanese students who wanted to go abroad(to Italia (Shika), America(Aria) and Canada(Masumi)) and one exchange student from France. When I came in, the students were having a group discussion about solving certain problems that may appear while a student exchange. Here, I really could see an improve in my Japanese ability. At the first orientation, I understood almost nothing and could not speak properly as well. Now, I understood the majority of what was said and could indeed express my thoughts. Of course, problems occurred but not with every sentence I was saying. Even Brianna, a very strict counselor told me that my Japanese has improved and that she had heard from my host mother that I was only studying.
After this chatting, we went on with the lessons, talking about different countries and their differences. The French student and me were also asked some questions about our home countries.
Then, we finally ate. I picked the 'western' menu, consisting of green salad, meat, broccoli,chips, rice and an orange yohgurt (desert). It was tasty. I ate very quickly to not be the last to finish my meal, what really made the Japanese students laugh. After the meal, Daniele (the French student) and me went out to meet the other exchange students who had just arrived. Olivia(from Sweden), Beppe(from Italia) and Lara(from Germany) talked in Japanese, I guess, because it was just the easiest language for them at the time. Olivia is the only one who arrived with me (the other ones came half a year earlier) and her Japanese is amazing. Although I understood the most of what they were talking about, I did not really participate in the talking and felt excluded. After a while, Camilla(from Norway) came. She said (a little furious) 'Excuse me?!' to Olivia, who ran towards her saying: 'Misunderstanding!' They talked about some kind of fight of them and Olivia apologized and kicked at a drinks machine just when two counselors came in, giving Olivia a little furious look. I also remember one counselor eating dark, brown bread. When Olivia asked her about it, she said that it was German bread from a shop in Tokyo.
We went back to the classroom where the students had to write something. Then we went for a study trip to the near Meiji Jinju Shrine and to Harajuku. The shrine was very interesting but on the way there, I felt kind of alone because we were 9 people and every one of the others were talking in pairs. On the way to Harajuku, however, I talked with the Masumi, Japanese student who wants to go to Italia. We really talked a lot about a bunch of different things.
When we arrived in Harajuku, the Anne and Daniele were still with us. The student from Germany told me that I should speak English with Masumi because in Italia, nobody will speak Japanese, as she explained to Masumi. We, however, continued speaking Japanese. (Looking back, I can see how egoistic that was. Anne told me that I will have enough opportunities to practice Japanese and should now speak English this one time. But I thought that I should better speak Japanese now as well, also because it is easier for the Japanese girl)The others were very slow so we had left them behind. Then, in Harajuku, we ate crepes, finally. I had a crepe with strawberries that wa really tasty but somehow, I ate very quickly and stuffed myself. We went a little through Harajuku and then wanted to return. We did not have so much time left so I tried to walk a bit faster. We arrived at the Shrine and went to an exit that is 'maybe' the right. It was not. We walked around, asking a lot of people for the way and getting sometimes contrasting direction. I was getting really anxious and panicked because we would come late. At (I think it was) a fire station, we were told that it takes 30 minutes to walk to the youth hostel and that we should rather take a taxi. Masumi seriously asked me, if we should take a taxi. (I do not really remember why I was so upset about this) But I said 'no' and we went on. On the way, she called WYS to say that we will come late. WE somehow managed to find the youth hostel and hurried extremely to go in. In the dining room, I stuffed myself with one portion of damn hot food in like two minutes (I think, I have never eaten so quickly) and Masumi just ate a little of her salad. We were hot and sweating and breathing heavily. We went in the classroom where everyone was preparing group presentations. Only the students were there what made me feel really relieved. The students had worried for us and asked whether we had eaten something. Then, we went into the groups. I was in a group with Olivia and another Japanese student. We picked the topic 'christmas' for our presentation, comparing how it is celebrated in our three countries. It was fun. Although we held the presentations in English, everyone spoke Japanese.
Brianna and other WYS staff people came and Masumi and me said: 'We are sorry' but it was okay. We held the group presentations and the best one (not ours) received a small gift. Nice. (I remember one presentation about 'children's education' where the Japanese girl said that she gets hit often at home whereupon everyone laughed. I did not understand why).
Then it was bedtime. Anne and Beppe returned home. I took an amazing bath. But (it was a group bath) the Japanese students were annoying; they always laughed and everything was 'cute' or 'amusing'. We then went in our rooms. I made myself ready to bed. A counselor came in and wished us all a good night. Also, Camilla went in our room, saying that we were having a party in her room. So, all of us remaining students went in her room where we played two games. Even the Japanese students were speaking English, I think, it was for me. Sometimes, the other exchange students explained something to them. I felt anxious about my Japanese, but it was indeed fun. The first game we played was 'Never have I ever'. Taking turns, everyone says: 'Never have I ever done XY' and everyone who has done this XY has to put up one finger. The things were mostly about parties andrelationships. Camilla and me were the 'boring' ones and scored very low, because we had never drunken too much alcohol, had a boyfriend etc. Daniele and especially Olivia had a lot of points, having done almost everything. I was astonished that all the Japanese girls had a lot of experience in relationships. I had experienced this very differently in my school where only very few girls in my grade have even a boyfriend.
The seccond game we played was 'Ojasama' ('King'). We had snippets with numbers from 1 to 6 and everyone blindly took one. Number 1 was the king who could tell other numbers what to do. (e.g. 'number 3 and 5 play a movie love scene'). It was fun but I was nervous again and fortunately never was the king. Somehow, I maybe laughed too much, my voice became really rough and low and I could not really speak properly. I just hope that this will diminish till tomorrow. Masumi and I returned to our room. I did not like her at all but spoke Japanese with her because it is a good practice. I had prepared everything for sleep but her bed was literally (and I am serious) half full with her stuff. She had just dumped her bags on her matress and did not put anything away. On her smartphone, she watched a rapdance video and a video of a women stripteasing (because she had not understand what it is when we played 'King') I showed her pictures from my smartphone and was getting really tired. Daniele still not returned. I wanted to wait for her to return but as I was so incredibly tired, I went to bed. Later, Daniele told me that I had waked up a little when she came into the room but felt asleep quickly again. Masumi, however, did not want to sleep and (as Daniele told me) tried to wake me to do something together. Daniele hindered her and so, they also eventually went to bed. I was really astonished hearing that. How can someone be so impolite?
(But it was a very interesting and great day)
I hope, you liked that part!
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