I’m leaving for Japan in less than a week’s time. After a couple of days of orientation, I will be living with a new family each week for the month that I’m there. The closest I’ve come to doing a homestay is staying in a shared Airbnb. We have been told they will be proving us with breakfast and dinner everyday, some will even pack lunches for us.
To preface my concerns and excitement, I will explain what has brought me to this point. I got into a program which takes American college students to Japanese high schools in order to encourage them to practice their English-speaking and build their confidence. I’m not entirely sure how this is going to work because I haven’t done it yet, but it seems as if I will be a group leader and will facilitate activities and discussions for my small group of high school students.
This whole situation, honestly, seems too good to be true. All I had to do was apply and interview into this program, and they are providing me with all travel and living expenses. This is where I scream, “I love college!” from a rooftop and then jump into a pool. In barely a year, I’ve managed to travel to countries that people don’t normally visit because of the school I attend. So many students choose a random country in Europe and stay with other American students for a semester, but I’ve gone to real places. These locations have forced me out of my comfort zone relentlessly, even when I called out in opposition. These out-of-the-ordinary destinations are costly and have pretty severe language barriers, but are possible because of the programs offered or supported by Smith.
So, in a little over a week I will be staying in someone else’s home. I have no idea what the sleeping or bathing situation is. I don’t know if I’ll be able to wash my clothing. I don’t know if I will be able to communicate with the whole family or only the young students I will be working with. I don’t really know the other American group leaders very well, and I don’t know how often I’ll be interacting with them. I will want to go for a run every morning, but I don’t know what city running is like in Tokyo. How much freedom will I have to come and go? Do families keep their homes locked? How much of a concern is pick-pocketing? How will I obtain a wifi connection?
I could go on forever.
I’ve recently discovered how easy it is for me to come up with questions on the spot. This skill would have been useful in past classes when professors would cold-call us and expect a well-formulated thought or question.
Although I have many thoughts to consider, I am extremely excited for this adventure. I have been corresponding with the daughter of my first host family, and she is probably just as excited as I am to explore Tokyo together. I can’t wait to eat all of the food and see all of the colorful and bright sights and characters around the city. I’m planning on fitting as much as is humanly possible into my four weeks away.
Each time I leave the country, it seems like it’s the trip of a lifetime. Each trip is the trip of a lifetime. We need to make everything we do this exciting, even if it’s a Whole Foods run. I hope this feeling of anticipation never goes away.