日本は すごかったです。Two years ago, I would not have been able to understand any of that. Today, I can read, understand and elaborate on it. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned in only two years of Japanese language study. While two years of Japanese study doesn’t allow you to master the language completely, it certainly gives you the capability to travel to Japan and immerse yourself in the culture and language. This summer I was fortunate enough to go to Japan for a month with my Japanese Language teacher and a number of my peers from Cate School. During my time in Japan, I attended Yakumo Academy, Cate’s sister school in Japan, while living with a Japanese host family and enjoying the beautiful geography, language and culture that make up this amazing country.
Leaving your home and native language can be a daunting experience to say the least. Even still, I grew out of my fears and anxieties associated with leaving my comfort zone and jumped on a twelve-hour flight to Japan with my Japanese language teacher and 6 fellow classmates. Getting off the plane was like walking for the first time, literally. Sitting on an airplane for twelve hours is not easy! In addition to the physical discomfort one endures from a 12-hour flight in close quarters, Tokyo was extremely humid! I had never been in such humidity in my life. I was amazed at how clean everything is there! This is one characteristic I will never forget! Japan is insanely clean. Despite the weather I was able to take in this sanitized country and have the time of my life.
My home stay was amazing. Initially, I was nervous to stay in the home of a family whom I didn’t know and who didn’t speak my language. All that worry disappeared the minute I met them. The Miyagawa family treated me like another member of their family; they were patient and caring to all of my needs. My favorite experience with them was probably when we went crab fishing. It was a simple family outing that really helped me get to know them as people. I was fortunate to have met them. School was most interesting. It’s definitely different from what I am used to. Classes were only in Japanese, so I had to be patient and attentive at all times. It was a bit intimidating at first. Not to mention, I had to wear a uniform and take the bus to school every morning. Subsequently, those weeks went by incredibly fast!
After two weeks, I said good-bye to my host family with tears in my eyes and set off to explore more of Japan with the rest of my classmates. We traveled to Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Takayama. We did all of our traveling through the shinkansen, or bullet train. Eating Japanese food for the first time was one of the most enjoyable experiences. I tried everything! I couldn’t eat everything but I certainly tried! During one of our Ryocan style dinners, one of the girls ate a fish head in one bite! Talk about being adventurous! I wish I could talk about everything I did while I was in Japan. Even so, my most memorable and lasting experience had to be my home-stay; it definitely made me immerse myself completely in Japanese daily life. If I could spend another two weeks with the Miyagawa family again, I would do it in a heartbeat.
My time in Japan was one of the best experiences of my life thus far and for that I must thank Cate School for giving me the opportunity to take part in something so amazing, enriching and memorable.
Los Angeles, CA