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.  


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