Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Living with a Host Family

I mentioned in my last post some common stereotypes and what my previous (ignorant) perception of Japan was a few years ago.  I also mentioned that living abroad has been one of the most enriching and educational experiences of my life thus far. 

The first year of living here in Japan was-by far-one of the most intimidating things I have ever undertaken.  Moving to a country I knew next to nothing about, and of which I could not speak, read, or write the language. 

Moving to Japan was one of the best things I have done.  My world-the way I perceive much of life-has changed a significant amount.  It has been extremely difficult.  Most of my time in Japan I have been outside of my comfort zone.  I feel this is the single biggest reason for my growth as a person.  I have had no choice. 

One of the greatest growing experiences in Japan has been Karl’s and my decision to live with a host family during our time studying Japanese.  This was true immersion.  The family with whom we stayed knew almost no English, but that, of course, was the point.  We were there to learn Japanese. 

And learn we did. 

We were forced to express ourselves using the best Japanese we could.  Dictionaries were our constant companions.  But we learned more than just the language.  We experienced a typical Japanese lifestyle.  The thing I loved most about this was mealtimes. 

Everyday our host family provided breakfast and lunch for us.  We always helped and consequently learned about cooking some Japanese food.  I also had the opportunity to teach my host mother how to make bagels.  It was a good challenge and a new way in which to use Japanese.

Okonomiyaki made by our host mother.  I usually don't care for it, but this was delicious!
Also, because we had a host family, we were able to experience more of Japan:  We climbed Mount Fuji with them.  

Our host father was a great fisherman.  Fresh, delicious sushi!

Because we kept commenting on how lovely their pottery was, they took us to Tokoname-a nearby place famous throughout Japan for pottery.

Our host sister was taking lessons on the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.  We accompanied her to her lesson one Saturday.

If you are ever presented with the option of staying with a host family, I recommend you do.
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