My first few days in Japan have been a bit overwhelming. My hosts are a very welcoming and nice family, though we have had some troubles communicating due to mutual language difficulties. I have been mostly taking the train and walking to the language school, which has resulted in me getting lost and basically almost not getting home.
I took the rapid transit train, which skipped my stop and went into the outskirts of Fukuoka Prefecture. I had to wait 40 minutes before another train came, and it took another 30 to get back to my host family’s home. On the bright side, the station I was stuck at was surrounded by fog covered mountains. On the not-so-bright side, it was barely bright enough to see at that point.
Later, I went out for sushi with my hosts. It was one of those places where they have those conveyor belts that deliver the food, which was pretty cool. The sushi was also good.
As for school, I like that it starts later, at 10:00 a.m., rather than 8:00 a.m. normally. The station where I get off, that is near the school, is a major station. It seems to me to be like a combination of a mall, and a train station. There are ten floors of shops and restaurants, most of which I have not seen yet. I found that many parts of the station have gift shops with clay kitchenware, fans, chopsticks, etcetera, (I did not know that it was a touristy part of town).
When I get to school, I find a recreation room with several groups of young people, some playing Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U, some talking, and some doing homework from the previous night. I usually play video games until class starts, which usually begins around 90 minutes after I arrive (I make sure to leave early, just in case I get lost again).
Some of the morning classes we have done include a Japanese gift wrapping class, an udon making class, and a Taiko drumming class. I ended up frustrated after the wrapping class due to my apparent incompetence, and I did enjoy the Taiko class. After which we go get lunch.
There are many food places within the area of the school, and I have eaten things like Kara age, Ramen, and just Eki-Bento.
The afternoon class is Japanese language class, which goes on until 6pm. It’s boring to sit in a class for four hours, but necessary. Almost all of the people in my class are adults, and most of them do not have the same amount of language immersion that I would have, being young and living with a host family, so they have a little more trouble than I do.
I have gotten better at understanding Japanese, though my speaking skill leaves a lot to be desired. I have met people from many different countries, such as Germany, Sweden, Turkey, or Spain, which was nice, even though I am a little introverted. I still get nervous when boarding the train for fear of losing my way once again.
It has been an experience I will not forget, and this is only the first week! I felt a bit like a baby on my first day with my host family, stuck in a new world with barely a wisp of an idea of what was occurring. I was and still am very nervous because I am afraid of being impolite or making some kind of mistake that I myself am not aware of.
Until next week!
Aden Jibril is 15 years old and lives in Oakland, California. His goal during his language program in Fukuoka, Japan is to “learn to cook at least one Japanese dish, increase my language skill, and to interact well with my host family.” Follow Aden’s adventures in Japan on his weekly blog post updates.