My time in Japan was some of the most fun, exciting, interesting, stressful and lonely days of my life. I loved my host family, especially my host siblings, my host brother who loved playing with
toy cars and making stuffed animals fight, and my host sister who loved making funny faces and playing games.
Navigating Japan was a challenge, but a welcome one, Osaka and Kyoto were wonderful cities, full of interesting architecture and beautiful areas of greenery that broke the
monotony of concrete. Using public transit for the first time in my life was a challenge, but the Japanese public transit system was clean, affordable, and (relatively) straightforward. The food
in Japan was incredible. My host Mom Yuki san made me the best spaghetti I’ve ever had with octopus and zucchini sauce. She also made me a fried porkchop that was so tender at first I
thought it was fish! The combini food was so good and affordable, me and all the rest of my GenkiJACS classmates ate at the 7- 11 across the street almost every day.
Many of the things I experienced in Japan were awesome, but some of them were less then, and at times, extremely stressful. On my first day, my flight from San Francisco to Tokyo was delayed, so I had to take a new flight from Tokyo to Osaka. Because of this I was quite late to my pickup point. I remembered in the email about the pickup that my ride wouldn’t leave without me, but because of just how late I was, he had left. This left me stumbling around the airport trying to figure out what to do for over 3 hours, lugging around 50 lbs of luggage on my back (I carried my luggage in an army surplus backpack instead of a suitcase) until I was able to call my school in Japan, and they called me another taxi to come and get me. I had the cool experience of my taxi driver being a JDF F-15 Eagle fighter pilot, and when I got to the Yoshida’s house there was a meal and a bed waiting for me. My first time traveling on my own was quite the learning experience. After thanking them profusely, I went to bed.
That morning there was no rest for the weary and I was off to school. Yuki san showed me how to ride the bus from their house to Takatsuki-shi station and from the station which stop to get off on. I was able to make it to school all right, and with some difficulty I made it back from school onto the correct train. After just barely getting off at Takatsuki-shi (I was distracted by the mountains) I realized I had no idea of which bus to take home. So after some pondering, I pulled out my screenshot of my host family’s information, and typed their neighborhood into my maps app. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enter their address, just the neighborhood. At the time I didn’t know that this would cause some major difficulties down the line. I began to walk to their house, down winding back roads, along deep green canals, and across busy intersections. The trek took me the better part of two hours. However, because I couldn’t actually find the Yoshida’s house I stumbled around looking for a pay phone (at the time I did not have a Japanese sim card) until Yuki san called me, then came and picked me up. It was, to say the least, an interesting start to my time in Japan!
These experiences, while stressful, definitely gave me a hands on experience for traveling independently for the first time and while it was hard at times, I’m happy to have gone through it and to come out with amazing memories overall. So glad I traveled!
To learn more about Greenheart’s Summer Language Camp Japan Program, check out the page here!