Saturday, February 8, 2014



Today is my very last day in Japan, and I can't believe how quickly six months has flown pass. I've gotten to do so many things here over my stay; it's been wonderful. I've met friends I know I'll keep for life. I've gained a second family that I'm so sadden to depart from. I've had adventures I had only dreamed of (climbing a mountain, going to Disney Land, etc). I'm so proud of myself for making a goal and sticking to it, otherwise I would have never gotten this chance. This has really been a life-changing experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I couldn't have done it without every single person who supported my dream. So, thank you for making my dream come true. 

~Really, thank you so much~

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2 Weeks Left!

2 Weeks Left!

It has been one busy month, getting ready to come home after so long: getting in those last minute trips; writing letters to those who have helped shape my experience here; and the unavoidable packing. I didn't realize how much stuff I've accumulated until I started to gather up things to ship home- I may need to reconsider what I'm taking home. I'm definitely going to miss Japan and all of the wonderful people I've met here; six months has just flown by so quickly. I'm really glad I got this chance to go abroad; it has made such a large impact on my life. And hopefully, I'll get another chance to return to The Land of the Rising Sun.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Winter Break

Winter Break

I have been on winter break for about two weeks now, and it has been seemingly eventful. Just recently, my host mom and I went to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. I had a blast! I got to see so many animals, a lot of which aren't in American zoos. I even got a new key chain from there! Another eventful thing I've done is eat mochi! While that might not seem that exciting, it was. For those of you unaware, mochi (often referred to as "Omochi") is Japanese, pounded rice cake. It is most often made and eaten around New Year's. The making of it is what makes it exciting. To make mochi, rice is soaked over night, cooked, and then pounded vigorously until it is a dough-like substance. Then, it is shaped into various things, mainly spheres and cubes. While mochi can be eaten plain, it is most often eaten with various toppings such as nori (dried seaweed), kinoko (soybean flour), and a variety of other flavorings. I'm definitely grateful to have been able to take part in this Japanese tradition!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Q&A Time!

Q&A Time!

1) What's the weather like?

The weather is just breathless. Since it's now almost the end of Autumn, the weather's been getting colder. However, it's still as beautiful as ever. 

2) How does the weather compare to Indiana?

The weather here is a lot more rainy than it is back home, but it's still warmer here. And it has yet to snow where I'm at, so that's a plus! 

3) Is your schoolwork difficult?

My schoolwork is decently difficult, but it's getting better the longer I study. Since I'm an exchange student, I don't get official "grades." It's more of a "participation points" type of system. 

4) Do the families you've stayed with practice any religions?

Mostly all families in Japan practice a mixture of Buddhism and Shintoism. But in compared to many American families (going to church on Sunday, praying at meals, etc.), it is not so much practiced. In all but one of the families I have stayed with, at least one person prays to a small shrine (set inside the house) every morning, but that's about the extent off it. Of course, this excludes big events such as weddings, funerals, etc, where many people take part in the traditions and customs. 

5) What has been the most worthwhile place you've visited so far?

I think Mount Fuji tops everything that I've seen in Japan. It is by far the most serene sight I have ever seen (in both America and Japan), and it is the tallest mountain in Japan. So, on a clear day, it can be seen from almost anywhere on the main island. 

6) What have you seen in the culture of Japan that you think should be incorporated into America?

Without a doubt, the biggest change I think America should implement is getting rid of all paper towels and hand driers in public restrooms. You may think I'm crazy, but helps save energy and there's not as much waste from it. In Japan, everyone carries around their own hand towel because of the lack of paper towels and driers in public restrooms. Another brilliant idea is getting rid of all clothes driers, or at least using them only when necessary. In Japan, it is extremely rare to find a clothes drier in an average house. Instead, Japanese people hang their clothes up in a sunny area, either inside the house or outside, and let them dry at their own pace. It not only saves on the amount of energy used, but it also helps to keep your clothes from shrinking. I have an entire list of things America should incorporate from Japan, but they all have one thing in common: saving energy and the planet. So, the biggest thing that should be incorporated into the United States is promoting energy saving and helping the planet (recycle!). 

7) What is your favorite part of being a student in Japan?

My absolute favorite part of being an exchange student in Japan is getting to experience a normal Japanese lifestyle. As a student, I go to school; I participate in clubs. I get to see what the typical Japanese lifestyle is by living it. Also as an exchange student, I've gotten to stay with four very different families, thus far, and see a wider view of Japanese home life. All of the families have been vastly different from one another (children ranging in ages from older to younger to my age, how family time is spent, etc.), but it has allowed me to widen my view of how Japanese people live. 

 8) What has been your biggest change thus far?

I would have to say that my biggest change thus far has been broadening my views of things, mainly food. Before I came to Japan, I told myself that I wouldn't judge anything by what it looks like (whether it be food, activities, etc.), simply because it would take away from my experience. I've learned that just because something is different, it doesn't make it automatically bad; it only makes it different. 

9) Has the language barrier proven to be as difficult as the hearsay or are you coping better than you expected?

Truth be told, the language barrier has been my hardest struggle to overcome, but it was easier than I expected. I think that having studied Japanese for three years before I came abroad helped a great deal with this obstacle. I feel that if I had come with no prior language knowledge, the struggle would have been even harder than it was. 

10) Do you find yourself missing certain aspects of home that you didn't think you would miss?

I honestly didn't think I would miss American food as much as I do. It's kind of surprising to me to find myself craving the stereotypical American food (hamburger, corn dog, hot dog, etc.). Mind you, in America, I loved eating Japanese and Chinese (really, anything Asian) food. However, eating it on a daily bases, you really start to miss what you took for granted.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Apple Picking and Questions!

Apple Picking

So, on Sunday, I went to a nearby orchard with my host family to pick apples! It was very fun, and the apples were extraordinarily delicious. It was a bit a different from picking apples back in Indiana. First off, we were given two baskets (to put the apples in), a couple pairing knives, a cutting board, and a bowl for our garbage. Then, we were taken to a specific row of apple trees with a picnic table in the middle of it. We were allowed to pick and eat as many apples as we wanted, and we didn't have to pay. However, if we wanted to bring any home (which we did, and many I might add), we had to pay for them. Overall, it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning. And it was even a great day too


As I've come to realize, a good portion of my readers (you guys) probably have questions about either my trip or Japan itself. So, I thought I would do a little Q&A for my next update! Please leave a comment or a message with any questions you have, and I will try to answer them to my best ability! And as always, I wouldn't be where I am today without the support from each and every one of you guys. So, as they say in Japanese, どもありがとうございます(domo arigatou gozaimasu; thank you very much)! :) 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Karaoke and Sushi!

Karaoke and Sushi!

So yesterday, I finally got to experience a karaoke box. For those of you unaware, a karaoke box is a place where many people go to sing karaoke with their friends and family. One of my host sisters and I went to one after our day of shopping in Utsunomiya. We sung our hearts out for a good two hours before our stomachs growled for food, and we headed off to dinner. Dinner was another amazing experience all on its own! My host sister and I went to a sushi bar, and it was absolutely delicious. We sat at a counter facing a large conveyor belt that carried sushi! You picked the sushi that you want to eat off of the conveyor belt, and after you've eaten all that you want, you press a button and a server comes to count your plates and hand you your bill. It was cheap and the sushi was absolutely delicious! Needless to say, my day was filled with fun adventures. And I'm very excited to see what next week holds! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Last Week!

So, it's been a little while since I last posted, and I have lots to tell you! First off, the Kanagawa-prefecture was pretty exciting. The other two exchange students and I went to a new school for a week, and it was definitely a blast. We all made a lot of new friends and gained a ton of new memories. While in the new prefecture, my host family took me to see The Great Buddah. It was huge, and we even got to go inside of it (it's hollow)! They also took me to see the majestic Mount Fuji! I was so aghast by its immense size, even from afar. I'm very happy I got to switch schools, even if it was just for a week.

This Week!

Yesterday, my host sister and I went to Tokyo! We went to the Pokemon Center, Shibuya, and Harujuku! I was so happy to go because the last time I went to Tokyo, I didn't get to explore much of it at all. This time, I got to go to many different places. I even ended up buying a new backpack in Harujuku (it has a monster face on it). It's been an eventful two weeks, and I'm sure the upcoming week(s) will be even more eventful! I can't wait!