Tag Archives: host family

Personal day in Mito: Being a member of the family

I’ve actually managed to make myself to believe that I’ve adjusted to the heat here in Japan. As the day went on, I realized how wrong I was! The feeling you get isn’t that you’re sweating. It’s more that you start to get a gooey feeling all over your body from the heat. It’s like your skin is slowly leaking out the water in your body.

But enough about me trying to deal with a heat and humidity uncommon to Sweden. The personal day for has felt like some kind of sanctuary for me, since everything during this program has been outside the box for me. I’ve been panicking like crazy and felt like just disappearing into thin air. During Wednesday evening, that feeling luckily left me. Thursday was fine and today I’ve just been enjoying myself, the time with my host family and the time I spent on my own today.

After Oba-san served lunch for me and Taiki, the younger of the two brothers I’m staying with, we ended up folding origami together. I can’t communicate that well with Oba-san, since my Japanese isn’t good enough. I find this quite sad, since I would love to hear about the Japan she used to live in when she was young. After Masaki returned home from school, they gave me a ride to the climbing gym. That was a good thing, since it was a bit tricky to find the gym. They were so worried about me that they even called beforehand. After a brief explanation about how the facility worked I got to enjoy some great climbing. That was, of course, after convincing my host family that I would be ok with going to Mito station by myself. As I’ve been living by myself and traveling a lot by myself, I’m incredibly independent in a way. This is to the extreme that I sometimes feel suffocated by my host family and their care. So being able to at least spend some time on my own is a great vent for me during these occasions.

During my walk to the station I boosted my ego in Japanese language. This was because I got lost on the way several times. Did I mention that I have no internet on my phone except for Wi-Fi? Somehow my phone just hates Japanese sim-cards. Some people might find it crippling to walk around without any internet access on their phone. I, on the other hand, find it extremely handy. This is because I have to interact with people and actually try to find a way around some obstacles. I feel that this is definitely something to try out a bit more in Sweden. I also walked past some kids on the way to Mito station. They stared at me and were so happy to meet a foreigner. They greeted me in both Japanese and English. Sometimes it’s the little things that create memories for some.

Since I’m without internet, I got a bit worried at the station. Have the others gone on without me? Did we miss each other? Well, worst case scenario, I’ll just eat alone and bend the truth a little to ensure my host family that we were having fun as a group. As things turned out, we met up without any drama though and quickly went for an Izakaya. We ran into some minor problems though. Curse those minors, always getting in our way of consuming the nectar of the gods, known as alcohol! But we found a place where everyone was allowed and got to ordering. I feel a bit sad for the waiter though, since we couldn’t get our order straight in the beginning. You could hear that he got a bit frustrated at us too. I ended up taking care of the children, like a good uncle. This was fine for me since I’m restrictive with consuming alcohol while representing a company or an organisation.

When I returned home to my kind host family, I surprised the boys with a small gift. After eating an evening snack my host family surprised me with presents for me and my family. The world certainly needs more of this. Not the gift giving but the part where you’re mindful of others. As we sit down I start thinking about one thing. It must be a big step for my host family, letting someone in like this. It makes me think about my foster family and what a big step it must have been for them to accept someone into their family. That’s what my host family has done for me. They’ve accepted me into their family. This is such a humbling feeling for me. I can’t possibly find any words to describe this feeling, except that I feel a lot of gratitude towards them. I also feel a lot of joy for them being so relaxed around me, it’s like I’m a family member now. It gives proof to that family isn’t blood, it’s the relations you build with the people around you.

Oscar Tindvall (Sweden)

New arrivals, welcome to Session 3 – 2017

Day 1 was spent travelling and meeting our new host families. Me and most of the continuing participants from Session 2 met up in the lobby of our hotel after breakfast and checked out, and after gathering up we walked to the train station (I should not have packed in a backpack). Luckily the train ride to Tokyo station was quite short.

In Tokyo station, we met two of the new participants, both nice and from the Netherlands. We were also dragged to the stores to get some food, but were instead absorbed into the character stores, where my wallet mysteriously got a lot lighter.

After taking a train from Tokyo station and travelling for a while, we met the new participants at the station they had come to from the airport. We changed to a very small Japanese school bus, and drove for a while until we arrived at Keimei high school. A huge U-shaped building with a field in the middle, including tennis courts.

Here we stashed our baggage and quite quickly started the welcome ceremony. We introduced ourselves in country order and sat down with our new, and for many participants, their first host families.

After a few speeches and something small to eat, the ceremony was over and we all went to our new homes. The rest of the evening was spent talking and eating with my host family, which was made a little difficult by our communication limitations. But with body language, google translate, drawing, some English and some Japanese, it worked out and was a very cool experience. I went to sleep sharing a room with the oldest brother a bit too late, and suddenly the first day of a very fun week to come was over.

Isak Hjeltnes (Norway)

Host family day with Pokémon

“Enjoy your day off with your Host Family”, they tell us the day before, and so I did. Both me and my host mom agreed on that sleeping in on this day was a good idea, so the day started slow. After we all had eaten breakfast and gotten ready for the day, we left the house to pick up a friend and her family. It had become quite clear to my host family before that I really liked Pokémon, so our destination was the Yokohama Pokémon Center.

The ride was quite long and with 4 young children in a car, this could have been very tiresome, but luckily there were DVDs to watch, and so we watched a Doraemon movie on the way to Yokohama. I might not have understood everything they said, but I did understand that the evil guy that came from a century later than Doraemon did not win the fight in the prehistoric times. There was also a unicorn.

Having arrived at Yokohama, it was quite clear I wasn’t the only Pokémon lover among us, whose family had noticed, because in the Pokémon Center we encountered Irina and Sam and their host families. After thoroughly browsing the Pokémon Shop and other shops and trying my best at (and winning) a small game they offered, we went to get some lunch, to check out some more small games and a Pokémon pop-up store. After we were all satisfied with having played the games, doing Gacha-Gacha’s and having bought the things we wanted (a Pikachu shirt in my case), we went home tired but satisfied.

But the day didn’t end there, because that evening a local shopping street organized a festival and we were all invited to come, in yukata’s (the summer, festival edition of a kimono) if possible. And so, a lot of us showed up, some in normal clothes, some in yukata, and even someone wearing a Jinbei. When we arrived there, we got a surprise. We were apparently volunteers to work at the festival booths, but nobody had told us in advance, so this caused some stress for some of us. But after all the shifts ended, and when the bon dancing started we were too busy dancing and saying goodbye to worry about it anymore. This Saturday was the last day of session 2, the Sunday was departure day and since some people left early, this was the last goodbye for now.

Thank you everyone for this fun festival and amazing session!

Sabine Boom (The Netherlands)

Maids in Akihabara! Isehara personal day

Today (20th of July) was a personal day! And if you live in Isehara for a week, it most probably means a trip to Tokyo. And that is what I did. And my plan was, of course, Akihabara!

So, after being awaken by my lovely host sister and having a delicious breakfast, I was delivered to the Isehara station. The train was not that difficult to understand as I thought it would be. If you know the line, station and you know how to read (romaji) then there’s no problem. You just need to figure out how to get to a different line at Shinjuku.

Anyway, after arriving at Akihabara the atmosphere hit me hard. That district is like another world. You never pass by a silent or calm place. There’s always music playing. Suddenly I was surprised to see so many foreigners. After two weeks in Japan, seeing a foreigner who is not part of the World Campus is kind of odd.

The first stop was a Maid Cafe. What amazed me the most was that one of the maids could actually speak a tiny bit of my language. But, of course, the kawaii food and drinks and moe moe kyun mantras (the food and drinks taste better if you say it, apparently) were amusing too. I even saw a pretty interesting live show of five maids dancing and singing. One of the World Campus Japan participants I was there together with seemed to be really into it. That might have been the most amusing part of the day. After that I was just exploring the strange streets, buying some manga and surprisingly even some clothes. It was fun but also kind of tiring.

After safely getting back to Isehara station, my host family picked me up and we drove to a baseball practice place. One of my host sisters is a baseball player and it was really exciting to see the kids in their game uniforms.

Next was the supermarket. That is always a fun thing to do in Japan, because you can see how much products you DON’T have in your own country. And thanks to that Mama wasn’t at home in the evening, we got to have ramen! It was actually my first time trying it. When we got home I helped prepare the ramen. And that bowl of soup and noodles is juuust delicious! I can’t even believe how responsible my 15-year old host sister is. I feel like a princess.

The day was fun. Every day at World Campus Japan is fun for me. But I am tired and I miss the rest of the people in the program! I wanna go to sleep so that I can see them soon.

Helena Raichartová (Czech Republic)

Visiting a sake factory, Akame watefalls including a ninja training

Today we visited a sake factory and learned about the process of making sake. It was very informative and intimate, as the factory itself was quite small. After watching a video clip on the process of sake making, we went to see the storage rooms where sake was fermented. Unfortunately, it is the wrong season for sake making so we didn’t get to see it actually been made. We did, however get the opportunity to buy some sake from the gift shop.

Later on we went to the Akame waterfalls where we were given a tasty lunch by the park owner. We got to learn about the Japanese giant salamander and some people actually got to touch a salamander. We learnt that the salamander is protected here in Japan.

I then went on the ninja training course where I learnt how to blow darts, throw shuriken and do a ninja assault course – which I proudly completed. The thing I enjoyed the most was dressing up as a ninja, it made the whole experience so much more special. Finally, we all took turns to cross a river, ninja style… Many of us fell in and it was really nice to laugh and have fun with everyone. I fell in on my first try but mastered the course on the second time.

After the training, I went with a small group to see the waterfalls. They were really beautiful and serene and I could see why the ninjas chose such a place to train back in the day. I wish we had time to see more of the waterfalls, as there were dozens of them in total! But, I managed to get some good photos before it started to rain.

In the evening, we had a pot luck party and the food was, as usual, amazing! We drank sake and interacted with the families which was really fun. I was sad that it ended so quickly.

Ceara Best (UK)