How do I even put this into words? I never knew how connected I could get to someone in such a short amount of time...until I met Junna. She's so bubbly, loving and adventurous. When she arrived in New Zealand I wanted to give her the best experiences I could offer. We did a lot together; we sang Tongan songs together, watched scary movies together, sat through my boring classes together, jumped off the sky tower together, went jet boating together...the list goes on. I hope these memories we made together were as enjoyable for her as it was for me.
I've gained so much throughout this experience. I haven't just found a new place to call home, but I've also gained a lot as a person. I believe this experience had allowed me to grow as it has taken me out of my comfort zone. As the youngest child and 'the baby' of my family I've always been quite dependent on them. This experience has allowed me to grow more independence and confidence. This is because it has taken me away from my comfort zone who is my family. The person I was before the exchange compared to there person I am today are two drastically different people. As I leave Aorere College for university soon, I now feel prepared and will treasure these experiences that has allowed me to develop into the person I am now.
I'm already planning my next trip to Japan and I'm excited about the future of me and Junnas relationship. I will never forget how we met and out first memories we made together. We will differently see each other soon and make even more memories together.
This whole experience wouldn't have been possible without Aorere College and the help from Novetel. Thank you to Paul Columbus, Mr Ali and all the other teachers at Aorere College that granted me this life-changing opportunity.
At some point, you have to realise that some people stay in your heart, not in your life. Junna will always have a place in my heart, and a home in New Zealand.
I hoped you've enjoyed reading my blogs.
Time is moving faster than expected. It felt serial packing my bags and walking out of my empty room. It still feels like I just got here. Dragging my heavy bag down the stairs and saying goodbye to Junnas brother was difficult. Saying I cried a little would be an understatement. I didn't have to say goodbye to my host mother just yet as I'd be seeing her later on at my farewell ceremony.
Throughout the school day, we made thank you letters to gift to our buddies at the farewell ceremony. I nearly cried while writing mine. Also throughout the day, we were suddenly surprised by Mr Ali who came back ready to take us home.
Then the time came for the farewell ceremony and honestly, I'd been dreading this all day. Not just because of the goodbyes but also because the Aorere students have to sing he honore in front of everyone and I'm doing a goodbye speech in Japanese. However, when the time came I think we all did ok...right? Not long after that, I'm hugging Junna for the last time while my bag is being placed on the bus.
Soon later we were in Tokyo. Even though my tears were still drying, I started to feel really excited. I knew that soon I'd be sleeping in a capsule hotel, which is something I've always wanted to try. Booking into the hotel was...interesting. I don't know if it was our heavy bags, but we got stuck in an elevator while being around the top floor. I thought I was going to die. Although, after being saved by a very friendly man, who couldn't speak much English, we made it to the capsules. I loved staying here as it was so cosy and clean.
Later on, we were all starving so we had showers and headed out. We went to a popular halal restaurant were we had to wait outside for 1 hour before going in. This was my first time eating halal meat and honestly, I couldn't taste the difference. But overall, I really enjoyed my last dinner in Japan.
In Japan, karaoke is very popular. To see why it's so popular we decided to try it out for ourselves. I'm not much of a singer but I enjoyed watching the other Aorere students and Ali sensei sing... or just scream.
The next day we went to see the biggest lantern in the world. Here I bought more souvenirs for my family. I'm happy with the things I bought. It wasn't until I was on the plane coming back to New Zealand when I realised that I didn't get anything for myself. But its ok, as the memories I made are better than any gift.
Seeing New Zealand from the plane was bittersweet but I was excited to talk to my family about the experience. Everyone parents were waiting at arrivals and when I saw my dad I was so relieved and happy. Going home and seeing my room was when it hit me that I was actually home.
Even though I will miss my Japanese family very much, I'm happy to be home...kind of.
Today I saw the biggest spider I've ever seen in my life. Jess and I even took a picture with it.
We saw this while outside of the gym waiting to go in for the grade 5 assembly. When we finally went inside all the Aorere students introduced ourselves, and then we were separated and put into groups. In these groups, we played games and did a quiz. The quiz was a true or false quiz about New Zealand, however, the questions were in Japanese. Because of this, the Japanese students in the groups had to translate the question so the Aorere students could answer it... hopefully. On this day I was just super lucky as I had Mai in my group. Mai is Shawn's buddy and has perfect English. Thankfully because of Mai and my amazing guessing skills, we won.
For the rest of the night, I played video games with Junna's brother.
Things started to look up when I got to school. Today the other exchange students and I did home economics. We made a Japanese dish, it was delicious! Fili and I were in the same group and we ate a lot. Our group was so considerate and they even personalised the food by writing our names on it.
Overall today was very emotional.
The saddest part was saying goodbye and the fact that I don't know when I'll see him again; however, I will always appreciate meeting him and the moments I spent with him.
Arigato gozamisuta Otosaan💕
When I woke up, I had no idea what I'll be doing today. Every time I asked I always got the reply of 'It's a surprise'. As I headed downstairs for breakfast I could hear the Dad preparing something, but I didn't know what it was. My host dad works for a company called Namiki. This company makes fountain pens utilising the Japanese traditional art of 'Maki-e'. He's showed me pictures of his work and its so cool. Like wow!!!
After eating the dad prepared something on the table and when I was finally allowed to see, I was so surprised. On the table were 3 ink caps, paint brushes and red ink. We were going to decorate the ink caps!! Thankfully that dad has already drawn butterflies on the caps so we had an outline. Junna, Takao (Junna's brother) and I all sat around the table and decorated our bottle cap. After painting we were all able to dust gold powder over our creations. This whole experience was really fun and I enjoyed learning more about the dad's job.
Putting our caps out to dry, we all got ready to leave. Takao is very good at soccer and gets not many days off. I looked at his schedule and this whole month he only has 2 days off. Luckily today was one of these days. Firstly the whole family took me to a nearby mall. This mall was huge, I bought a lot of stuff and we played many games at the arcade. After about an hour we left. I had no idea where we were going.
During the 30-minute drive, the family showed me Takao's school and where he trains for soccer. His school is opposite a beach and every day for soccer, his team runs along the beach. He says its hard. Finally, the family told me where I was going. I'm going to an island!!
We crossed a bridge to get to Enoshima Island. It was so beautiful. We spent the rest of the day here until it got dark. We went into a cave, ate dinner, took many photos and visited a shine. During this trip, I've been to many shrines. Because of this, I know what to do but it was so cute getting taught by the dad and Junna how to do everything.
After the sunset and we were exhausted, we went home. It was about a 40-minute drive and we all fell asleep (except the dad of course).
Later on that night, after watching tv and resting the dad came downstairs to present me a gift. I was so shocked and impressed. when I opened the gift I saw a Namiki pen and a bottle of ink with my cap I painted that morning on it. I can only imagine how much this would cost and I'm so grateful to receive this awesome gift!! I will definitely use it!
Arigatougouzaimasu Chidia Family, today was more than amazing!!
It's Sunday! Today I was so happy because there was no school. We left the house at 7:30 am and drove 2 hours to the destination.
Throughout the day we went to many places.
Firstly we went to two different caves. In these caves, the temperature was really cold at 0 degrees Celsius. Being inside these caves was so refreshing as it was so hot outside. During this time I learnt a lot about Japanese history and how these caves were used in 1955. Getting a tour throughout the caves was fun and I enjoyed being here with my family. After the caves, we ate some ice cream.
After the meal, we were ready to explore some more. We went to a Disney place where there were castles and it was so beautiful. Here we listened to an orchestra and watched an opera performance. This was really fun and even though we have operas and orchestras in New Zealand, I've never experienced this before. I really enjoyed it!
After this, we were all so tired and the temperature was getting way too hot, so we went home.
For the rest of the day we played video games, napped, ate and talked a lot!
Much love to my new Japanese family!!
Every night I go to sleep at the same time as my host family. This means I usually sleep at 11:00 or 12:00 at night, however, I wake up at like 5:00 am every morning. Everyday me along with the other Aorere students have a long schedule, that's very tiring.
Getting 5 hours of sleep every night and then having the sun drain all the energy in your body is exhausting. Thankfully Ono Sensei has recognised this and has given us a room that we can go to for a break when we are tired in class. We all gladly took this offer and spent most of today's classes in that room sleeping.
It was 35 degrees Celsius today and we were really hot. Because of this, we decided to get some ice cream. While eating the shop owner recognised us from an article in the newspaper. It was shocking that firstly she recognised us and secondly that we are in the newspaper! Thanks😊
Konnichiwa my name is Tina. I am a year 13 at Aorere College and have been selected to travel to Kanagawa, Japan as an exchange student. Throughout this trip I will blog my experiences everyday. I hope you join me as I travel Japan :)