My name is Ola, and I’ll be working as a counsellor for World Campus International, Inc. this summer. I come from Norway, but I’m currently living in Denmark studying psychology.
I travelled with WCI during the summer two years ago. I had been to Japan once before to visit my brother, so I thought I knew what I could expect from the programme. I decided to participate with 3 of my classmates from the Japanese class I was taking at the time. We had all agreed that it sounded interesting, with being a part of the local communities and such, and we were all very excited. When we finally arrived in Arao that summer, I had no idea about what I was about to experience. You could say that I was blown away, though that might be an understatement. Everything surpassed my expectations. Everything from the other participants to the staff and host families was far beyond what I had imagined.
Let me just say that I’m quite introverted; I usually don’t talk much with someone I’ve never met before, since I don’t see myself as being incredibly interesting or I don’t really know what to talk about. I like to be alone at times as well, so I can relax a little by myself. As a result I was quiet in the beginning, I didn’t say much to anyone beyond my classmates. Then things started to change. Already on the second or third day, our group had started to grow closer to each other. I came to know the entire group better and better, until I saw them all as my friends. Truth be told, I met my current girlfriend Nina, that summer. I got to know my host family better and better, and I was a bit disheartened when we left for the next city, since I felt that I hadn’t been there long enough. And I don’t usually bond with people that quickly. It might be hard to leave one host family, but you’ll be able to stay in touch if you want to. And you will meet other host families you’ll become fond of. You’ll experience a lot, but you’ll experience it with friends. And believe me when I say that you’ll laugh a lot.
What I’m trying to say is that even if you have difficulties getting close to others, even if you prefer to be alone, you will most likely grow to enjoy the company of your host families and your fellow participants. You will become a part of a tight-knitted group of people, a part of several Japanese families and local communities, and a part of the ever growing World Campus Japan community. You will gain friends from all over the world. You will learn, and you will grow. You will learn about Japanese culture, about other people, about yourself and, as a result, grow as a person.
My fellow counsellors and I will be there to guide you, and help you if there is a need for it. We’ll help you get the most out of your stay, we’ll be there when you’re having a great time, and we’ll be there if you’re down.
And as Marjike says further down on the page: try everything. You won’t regret it. Trust me.
Looking forward to seeing you in Japan!
Ola Johannessen (Norway)