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Journals from Kanto Gakuin University, Japan

2013-10-09 Moving in with our host families

Success! We have all moved in with our host families! After yet another week of readjusting, I'm glad to report that the opportunity to do a homestay in Japan is rapidly making this experience even more fabulous than it already was.

Our families range from a variety of dynamics, each of which are very insightful to Japanese culture, and we're loving it!

Nick is staying with a family of five: mother, father, two boys, and a girl. One boy is in his first year of high school, the girl is in middle school, and the younger boy is just finishing elementary. The high school is an English speaking international school, so they get the opportunity to really focus on building each other's bilingual skills. Nick lives a few train stations away from school, but it's not a bad commute. Having so many people in his family really gives him as much opportunity as he wants to speak Japanese, and the houses on either side are filled by more relatives! We talk about our host families a lot in Japanese class. Bryan Takano lived with this family last year, and Nick says he really left a good impression on them. I'm sure Nick will do an excellent job of filling his shoes!

Kelsi is living with a middle aged couple whose children have already moved out. Her family sounds pretty low key, and she's raved about the food. Her host parents have already offered to have visitors over, so Caitlyn and Rachel (from Minnesota) have already met them. My house is a little farther away, but I hope to meet them soon. She lives just a 10 minute walk from school.

Caitlyn's family is also a couple about the same age as Kelsi's. They weren't expecting her to be able to speak Japanese, so on her first night there they invited their English-speaking friend over, as well as a few other guests, which played out to be a very warm, friendly atmosphere. They make a bento lunch for Caitlyn every day, and she spends a lot of time talking with her host parents and indulging in a little bit of sake in the evening. She also is encouraged to have visitors. Kelsi and some of our KGU buddies have already been over, and they said that their house is absolutely beautiful.

Sydney lives just a five minute walk from me with a family of three. Her host parents are about thirty, and their daughter, Yuzuki, is turning two next week. When we moved in Sydney and her two buddies, Akio and Yurika, and I went over to her family's house for lunch and to rendezvous with my family. We had a delicious barbecue, played a lot with the kids, and it was the perfect event for settling in. Sydney's room looks like an Ikea catalog, and her shelves are filled with manga. Our families are friends, so we hang out together nearly every day, and we take the bus to and from school together every day, a commute that takes about an hour, and we're very glad we don't have to do it alone. Karin, Sydney's host mother, has bought 6 bags of rice flour because of Sydney's allergies, which has resulted in pancakes and other delicious foods that usually contain wheat and dairy.

My family has the same structure as Sydney's: mother, father, and Kousuke, soon to be two years old. I completely love living with them. I wish we didn't have to move back to the dorms! Kou-chan is the cutest kid I've ever met. His mother, Miho-san is on leave from the middle school where she teaches English. Ryota-san, her husband, works for the government. They're all incredibly accommodating and gracious and they already almost feel like real family. Last night we drove five minutes to Miho's father's house for dinner, a weekly tradition. Her sister lives with him, and we all had handmade sushi for dinner. Her father has three adorable dogs, and an impressive collection of music and raccoon figurines. They taught me how to pray at the Buddhist shrine to the ancestors upstairs--Miho's mother died just last year, so this was truly and honor, and one of the most moving experiences of my life. I seriously nearly started crying on the drive back home because they made me feel so welcome and included. We'd already had Sydney's family, Kelsi, Akio, and my two buddies, Ryou and Maya, over for lunch and to play with the kids that day, so it was filled with social awesomeness and fun! Not to mention, Syndey and Akio came over the night before to watch a movie on the huge screen and projector my family has; they're huge movie buffs. I am so grateful for everything they've already done for me, and I can't believe how fast the next few weeks are going to go. I wish it could last so much longer!

School is moving along. Between Japanese language tests, field trips, and homework, we're staying really busy. We're about to switch classes from Japanese economics to politics, which I'm looking forward to, but that means we have some papers and presentations soon in economics. This week for culture class we get to try our hand at Japanese calligraphy, and the week after we are going on an overnight trip to Nikko. Our Halloween party is this Saturday, and Fall break starts on the 26th, so we have a lot to look forward to in October!

Hope all is well at Linfield! Until next time,
Dawn Wyruchowski

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