Last year, I was very lucky to get the chance to travel and study in Japan. It has always been my dream to come to Japan since high school as I watched a lot of Japanese TV shows and wanted to experience the Japanese culture by myself. Now after almost one month of stay in Japan, I can say my Japanese improved a lot and I learnt more Japanese culture.
I came to Japan early before the start the program and went to Kyushu area for travelling. Even in winter, the mountains in Kyushu was so pretty. I still remember how nice the people I met there were. When I was trying to go to the mountain in Kirishima and was told there was no bus access, a taxi driver offered to drive me and my friend there. Not only did he charge us a little, he showed us multiple hidden spots on the mountain and tried to explain the history behind it.
As my cultural class in Amagasaki was about to start, I said goodbye to my boyfriend who was travelling with me and went to Amagasaki one day prior to the start day of the program.
This winter program consists of Japanese language study, school visits and home stay experience. I want to share with you my experience from each parts and what I learnt out of them.
Students From Brisbane and Fiji
Namba, Osaka – one of the most crowded shopping center in Japan
Japanese Language study
We are very lucky to have Fujiwara Sensei as our Japanese language teacher who is humorous and knowledgeable. Her style of teaching is very interactive and encouraging. In each of the class, we spent almost fifty percent of the time in speaking. As a result, at the end of the first week, we already known how to greet and order food in Japanese. Although the program has already ended now, I will continue learning Japanese. I hope next time when I come back to Japan, I will be able to communicate better with my Japanese friends.
Attending local students’ English class
This is another part of the program which I enjoyed a lot. We went to visited Amagasaki Junior High School for their English Festival. I was so touched by how much effort and time the students put in this festival. Both year 7 and year 8 students played skit, while year 9 students shared with us their experience in New Zealand as all of them just came back from a study trip there.
One thing I noticed from this English festival is that unlike individualism, Japanese education focuses a lot on teamwork and respect. There might be twenty students in one group and only ten characters available in a certain skit, but everyone gets the chance to go on stage and perform because one role can be played by three or four students.
Another unforgettable school visit happened in Ojiro Junior High School where we ate lunch with the students and had classes together with them. Unlike Amagasaki, Ojiro is a very small town located in the mountain with less population and colder weather.
We, as exchange students from overseas, got the chance to participate in their English and music class. The English teacher in the school told us that a lot of students there don’t have many opportunities to speak English, so they really appreciate our visiting. When the class started, each of us did a short presentation in front of the class introducing our own countries. All the students seem to be interested and took down some notes.
In the music class, the students performed a local song to us and we danced and sang What Makes You Beautiful together. It was such a wonderful time to bond together with nice music.
Visiting Amagasaki Junior High School and attending their English Festival
Home Stay in Ojiro
My first impression of Ojiro is the beautifulness and peace of this little town. I still remembered some of my friends from Australia and Fiji were so amazed by the snow on the top of the mountain because it was the first time for them to see snow.
When we arrived at the Ojiro, our host family have already been in the city hall waiting for us. All of us felt a bit nervous to be honest as most of us haven’t been living with others before. At the same time, we also wanted to know where are we going to live and know our host family better.
My host mom came to the first meeting that day as my host dad was at work. She made me completely feel at home and prepared everything for me. When host dad came home, we had a really long discussion about Japanese culture, Chinese culture and Australian culture. Both of them were really humble and asked me lots of questions. Thanks to the similarity in Kanji and Chinese character, when we didn’t understand each other by verbal communication, handwriting came into use.
At the end of the homestay, it was so hard to say goodbye to all the nice people that I have met in Ojiro. I will always remember how pretty the mountains there are, how nice the locals are and how much fun I had there!
Snow in the mountain in Ojiro
Homemade meal by my host mum
One month of stay in Japan is definitely an eye-opening experience for me and I really find going overseas can open your horizon a lot. So my dear reader, if you come across such kind of opportunities in the future, make sure to grab it and make the most out of it!