Blaine Kinne

Japan

Hometown:Ormond Beach, Florida
School: Seabreeze High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club:Daytona Beach West, Florida
Host District: District 2770
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Yashio

 

My Bio


Hello! my name is Blaine Kinne and i am from Ormond Beach Florida, and i'm going to Japan. I am currently a senior at Seabreeze High School, and will graduate in the class of 2014. I have wanted to be an exchange student for quite some time, although i can't believe that i am one now! My sister was an exchange student who went to Brazil, and all she could do for months, even still now, is talk about her year there. I am very involved in my high school campus. I am currently Co-Editor of my high school yearbook. For the past four year I have been the head photographer for the yearbook, and have also contributed to the newspaper. I am lead lights manager for the school auditorium where all school performances are held. I have only been out of the country once when my family went to Italy for the summer. This trip inspired me to want to travel more. I am so excited for the opportunity to travel to Japan! Thank you Rotary for offering this amazing experience to me and I hope to be able to gain knowledge from living in Japan. I can't express my gratitude to everyone at Rotary!

going through customs

going through customs

flying into narita

flying into narita

The drive home

The drive home

A Rotarian invited me to his house and his wife made me Korean food! It was very delicious!

A Rotarian invited me to his house and his wife made me Korean food! It was very delicious!

Found this ojizosama (御地蔵様)when my counoler took me to Nikko for the weekend

Found this ojizosama (御地蔵様)when my counoler took me to Nikko for the weekend

Nikko(日光)

Nikko(日光)

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Journals: Blaine - Japan

  • Blaine, outbound to Japan

    Hello again everyone!(みんなこんにちは) So I have already move host families to my third host family. I really can’t believe how fast the time has gone. I feel like the past three months went by in just a few weeks. I have experienced a lot since I’ve been here, and learned so much. In the journal I’m going to try to focus on the new things I have experienced since I’ve been here.

    One of the best I can think was the first time I saw snow! Living in Florida my whole life I never really had a chance to see it. About two months ago, two Rotarians took me to a place called Nikko, which is about two and a half hours away just so I could see snow! On our way there I fell asleep in the car and when I woke up everything was pure white. I stepped out of the car and almost immediately fell. Snow is a little slippery I found out.

    We walked around a small town, and then they took me to an outdoor Onsen. For anyone who doesn't know what an Onsen or (温泉) is, it is a public bath where everyone sits in nice hot water. I was a little shy the first time I ever went to one but I’m not anymore. The outside Onsen was really interesting I thought. I was sitting in really hot water but my head was freezing because it was snowing outside. That was a very fun day full of new experiences.

    Another thing I thought was just kind of funny. My second host family and I would commonly go to a sushi restaurant near our house. At this restaurant you order on a screen and the food is brought to you on a small train. It’s very cool. On the menu they have sections and one of them is a side menu with such things like French fries and fried octopus. I noticed last time I was there that they had chicken wings. It has been 6 long, long months without chicken wings, so I mentioned something to my host dad so of course he orders them. When they arrived without even thinking about it, I started eating these chicken wings with my chopsticks… my host dad probably thought I was crazy when I started laughing really hard when I realized what I was doing. He too was eating them with chopsticks so I had to explain that in the U.S. we eat them with our hands. My girlfriend back in the U.S. said before I left that I would come back eating everything with chopsticks and I'm now starting to believe that statement.

    The last one I will talk about in this journal was the moment I felt like Japanese for a few seconds. I was sitting at the table with my counselor talking about my upcoming move. I was telling her that the next week my school was having tests. (When my school has tests I don't have to go). She didn't know that the next week were tests and thought I was joking and I immediately responded with a very Japanese response. Everyone in the house stopped and went “oooooo” and then started laughing. They all told me I sounded very Japanese and I was so happy. It may not sound like too much but for an exchange student that means almost everything.


  • Blane - outbound to Japan

    Hello everyone! Sorry for the big gap (Mrs. Cameron). But a lot has happened these last few months. Since I last wrote I have changed host families. Most of my fellow exchange students have also changed host families, and let me tell you… It kind of sucked. Now I have been with my second family for two months now and everything is great! Its just me my mom and my dad and I’m really bonding with them, however those first couple weeks all I wanted to do was go back to my first family. The weird thing was I was kind of excited to move and experience a different view of Japan with a different family, but when I first changed its like I felt a whole new kind of homesick. That was something I didn't really expect to feel, and I’m sure I will feel it again when I leave this family.
    The holidays were not as hard for me as I thought they would be. Christmas Eve I had school which I was not a fan of. On Christmas I woke up and had breakfast just like every other day. I went to my first host families house and spent the majority of they day there. Christmas was actually very nice. I made them my favorite meal that my mom makes in the U.S. and they made some side dishes and it was a real mixture of cultures. Right before I left their house the strap on my backpack broke so for Christmas they gave a new backpack. I was so shocked and so happy. After we all exchanged presents we ate my absolute favorite cake in the world now.
    After winter break everything kind of settled down. I really feel like I’m getting used to life here. School is really not too fun but in my club activity after since my Japanese has gotten better we’ve started to talk a pretty decent amount. The same thing at home I feel like I’m now having substantial conversations or at least being able to get enough across that they know what I’m trying to say. Every night I watch Tv with my host dad and we chat about whatever we are watching. His Japanese I find to be the hardest to understand because he doesn't really enunciate much. Although with him I’m forced to listen very closely, but there are a lot of times where I just kind of smile and agree with whatever he might be saying.
    I am moving again pretty soon and being an exchange student has taught me a lot so far and I only just past half way. The language is still really hard but that's coming with time. I look forward to seeing where the next half of this year takes me, as I finally feel confortable being here.



  • Blaine, outbound to Japan

    So writing this I am about to hit my three month mark in being in Japan. Time is truly moving too fast. Just three days a go I received an email from Mr. Jack Murray telling us that we were already 1/3 of the way through our exchange, and seeing that interviews for the next group is only a couple days away. That was weird to think about. However as I look past on these almost three month I can see where I feel I have grown as a person, and where I have learned so much.

    I guess I will start with language. When I was first told I was going to Japan, one of my first thoughts was “oh my gosh… I’m going to have to learn Japanese.” It’s cool to see my progression each month because I know I’m learning more and more. Although of course it is very hard, all languages are. In Three month I think now I can somewhat get by but there is still a lot I don't understand. I have these moments where I feel like I’m getting it and others where I get sad because I’ll sit there just staring at the person because I have no idea what they just said to me. There are up and down moments here but that's bound to happen on exchange.

    When I asked the best Rotex I know, my sister. She said that I am stressed too much and if I just take a step back it would actually come faster. There are days that I’ll feel really guilty because I spoke a lot of English with other exchange students or in school. She also said that it is ok to use English but “just not 5 hours everyday.” Though she went to Brazil and had completely different experiences her advice always makes me feel better when I start to freak out about the language, school, or anything. If it wasn’t for my sister I don't think I would have it half as together as I do now.

    Another thing that has made the most impact is rather than just studying in a book, when I talk with my host family I notice that I feel I learn more that way. When you actually use the language you learn where your weak points are and then you can fix it. There have been countless times I though what I would say in my head would be correct and then find out its pretty much the opposite word order. Languages take time and I still have 2/3 of my exchange left!

    School its still really hard. I now have some teachers who try to include me in lessons and I love it, but… they will ask me questions that are probably really basic that I will still not really understand so I just sit there. This of course makes the other students laugh. Exchange has taught me a few things very fast. When you are put on the spot and everyone is looking at you just have a big smile on your face and nod. Works ever time.

    I have pretty much gotten over my fear of public speaking. Having to give a speech almost every week you get pretty used to it. The last thing is when people start laughing just laugh with them. My classmates still seem very reserved in talking with me. Really the most I talk is with my host family. P.E. class is probably the best class of the day even though now it is just running 3 miles every day. But after that they will start to play soccer so I'll walk over and they’ll ask if I want to play.

    My classmates I think are 10 times harder to understand, and it doesn't help that a lot of them also talk so quietly I can't really hear them. In school my biology teacher is my favorite teacher. He was in the Japanese Maritime Defense Force, and after about the 6th week of school he pulled me out of class and talked for almost 30 minutes in Japanese with some English words scattered around. Teachers will still try to talk to me in English so it was really nice to have a teacher speak Japanese with me.

    I move host families in 2 weeks and I am a little nervous but excited. I feel I have become so confortable here but I know that moving will give me another view of Japan. My next family does not speak any English at all so I am very excited and nervous for that. I think my Japanese will improve a lot there but I also think It will be hard to ask questions. Either way I think it will be a good change.

    So far I am truly loving Japan. The people are beyond nice and ask me so many questions. I have almost mastered the first time meeting conversation. I think most exchange students will know what I am talking about. Rotary has made me feel so welcome here and have included me in so much. I have attended my district conference and that was the first time I got to meet all the future out-bounds. They were so curious and were asking so many questions about exchange! I thought that was so funny because that was me just 3 months ago. Heck that's still me now. Although I have had a slightly slower start then some exchange students with really breaking out I feel like I am starting to get it. I would say I understand a really big portion of what people are saying to me (when I can hear them). The first few months here has already had some up and downs, but now I am starting to feel at home here in the country not just the home.


  • Blaine, outbound to Japan

    みなさんこんにちは!As I am writing this it marks the one-month point of Being in Japan. How crazy is that… It’s something that everyone tells you but time really does fly by.

    I have been in school now for four weeks and it is going pretty well, however I was having doubts at first about whether I was really having fun. Let me explain what that means. It is true that everyone here is fascinated with the exchange student but that doesn't mean they actually really talk to you. Even though they may want to, At least in my experience, is that they will most likely stare at you and maybe say hello. So far in school I have had to get very used to being stared at and watching people kind of laugh as I walk by. The girls are all really funny because they will say hello and then run away laughing.

    School was my first real wake up call on exchange. I realized that not everyone would come up to you and want to be your friend right off the bat. It takes a lot of effort to try and communicate with them and show that you want to be their friend too. Of course knowing the language would help A LOT but thats coming along as well. I am about to start my fifth week and my classmates have just started to greet me in Japanese and not English. My club activity is where I feel most confortable in school because those are the people who are not afraid to talk to me in Japanese. Even though I don't understand much of what they are saying now, we still laugh a lot together but that’s probably because I just nod and smile a lot. My club activity is also where I feel confortable trying to speak some Japanese with people outside my host family. When I came here I thought that overall making friends would be a little easier but it just takes time.

    In school itself I have all the classes that my classmates do and a couple self-study periods. They do not really expect me to do much of the work because of course I don't speak enough Japanese yet. In class I just study my verb lists and other material and listen to the lectures and try to pick out the words I know. For being here one month I feel I have already learned more Japanese than I ever did in a year of French in my school.

    A TIP TO FUTURE EXCHANGE STUDENTS: If you are reading this and have already been accepted, and possibly know your country then I have a couple tips. I think most of these will probably apply to anyone but of course to anyone going to Japan. The first and biggest is do not study material that is obviously to advanced for where you are in the learning process. This comes from me trying to do compound sentence structures when I had been here only a week. I didn't even know enough words to make one sentence really, much less an advanced compound sentence. Even now at one month I’m still in pretty basic sentences. My next tip would be to just study verbs, Lots and lots of verbs. I noticed even though I wouldn't get the full sentence, knowing the verbs and being able to pick those up has helped a lot for understanding them.

    Japanese is a hard language without a doubt and so is any other language. I never though I would ever be able to understand anything in Japanese and not already I am able to understand the gist of the conversation when we are all eating dinner. I think that is just crazy.

    Another thing I noticed when I first got here, or the first couple weeks is that I would get very frustrated when I would study. I felt like I had to learn the whole language in just a couple days. Again going back to not trying to study ahead of where you are. Even now there are sometimes where something just won't make sense and the more my host mom tries to explain to me its like my brain just overloads. After a few minutes I will go back at it but sometimes you just have to take a few breaths and realize you have time to learn.

    I had to get used to feeling like an infant and being like I was being treated like a 10 year old. But when you step foot into a whole new country with a completely different set of ideals and you cant speak the language and you have no idea how to get anywhere except to your school you basically are an infant. Just a few days ago my host mom let me and another exchange friend to go Takao-san by ourselves. That was an amazing experience. I was able to transfer trains 3 times and meet him at another train station to then go and climb a mountain. That day was the first time I had been anywhere by myself. That day was the first time I ever tried to speak to someone in Japanese. That day was also the first time I ever ordered food in Japanese. Granted it helps a lot where there are pictures of the food on the menu but still. It was absolutely gorgeous going up the tree-covered paths with them all starting to turn to a yellow and red tint, and then stopping to overlook Tokyo and Saitama. Had it been a little clearer that day we would have also been able to see Fuji-san. I still find it so hard to believe that every day I wake up and say おはようございます instead of good morning, And that when I look out my school window I can see the Tokyo Sky Tree.

    It's only been one month here and I am already so in love with this beautiful country. I’m in love with the people with how nice and willing to help they are. My host mom is starting to feel like she truly is my mom. When I came home from Takao-san she was waiting outside for me and gave me a hug when I reached the door! I had the biggest smile on my face and I felt so at home and loved! She also showed me her family shrine and showed me pictures of her mom and dad and we had a short payer together and it was so amazing to share that experience.

    Most people lose weight when they come to Japan but she showers me with so much candy and ice cream and other delicious food I can just never say no. She has already given me so much and taught me so much. Even though she can't speak English I love listening to her ramble on and on in Japanese, and I love the fact that one day I will be able to come back and have a full conversation with her. My other host mom who is her daughter living at home is the one who really helps me with the language. She speaks really good English, which sometimes I think is a bad thing because it is just easier to communicate in English, but I always tell her to speak to me in Japanese and she does. She is amazing and very patient because I ask her about 200,000 questions a day.

    Rotary tells you before you leave that you should never have any expectations, but of course that is impossible. As so as you start thinking about exchange you start thinking what it will be like. When you get your country forget about it. As soon as I found out I got Japan I started to formulate ideas of what it would be like. It’s simply impossible not to.

    The best thing about exchange though, reality is so much better than anything you can imagine. Everyday when I am riding my bike to school and see a bus pass by with an advertisement in Japanese that I can partially read, I can’t help but smile a little. It really is hard to believe. I never in my wildest dreams though I would be able to understand any amount of another language but here I am having small conversations in Japanese.

    Rotary has already had such an impact on my life and it has just been one month. To anyone who may be on the fence about exchange they only thing I can say is that you would absolutely regret not taking that opportunity. Of course I would recommend doing it through Rotary. Rotary offers such a large support system, and they prepare you so well. The volunteers for our orientations were so helpful and nice.

    Exchange has opened my eyes to so much about how the world is so different and how that is such a good thing. The diversity on our small planet is so fascinating. I’m looking forward to learning all that I can about Japan and applying it to my future. I still do not really know what I want to do with my life; all I do know is that I want to see the world and live in as many different countries as possible and become fluent in their languages and cultures too. Exchange shows how strong you can really be and it shows you how hard life can be. The mix of emotions is something I think only other exchange students can really understand.

    Japan so far has been amazing and hard, but all the hard work pays off. I plan to write a journal every month or so to keep anyone who reads mine up to date. So until next time さよなら。


  • Blaine, outbound to Japan

    After we get everything situated that's when it really hit me. I was going to be spending the next year in Japan… WHAT WAS I THINKING?

    こんにちは。So my first days in Japan… what an experience. It all started when I got onto my first flight from Daytona Beach into Atlanta International Airport in Georgia. Saying goodbye to all my close friends and family was so hard. Even knowing going into this whole year that it would be hard, I was still surprised at how difficult that first flight was.But lets move on from the sad parts.

    I arrived in Atlanta and asked a Delta flight crewmember where my next gate would be and she told me it was in the next terminal so I would have to take the underground train that connects them. As I was walking to the train I couldn't help but notice all the weird looks I was getting because of my blazer, which I already have a large amount of pins on. People seemed amazed  that I would walk through the airport in something like that. That blazer also gets very hot when running around an airport I quickly found out.

    I made it onto the train and was only one stop away from the international terminal so that made it very easy. I got off the train and went up two different escalators to get to where the gates where. The terminal was so nice and clean, way different than the rest of the airport. When I arrived at my gate I still had about five hours until my flight was scheduled to depart. So naturally I gravitated to a seat with a plug near by and started watching some movies I got for this exact reason. I was also waiting for a fellow exchange student, Parker Hamilton, who was headed to Japan. We are both from the same district D6970, the best district I might add, and are being hosted in the same district in Japan D2770.

    When he arrived we chatted about how we were both a little anxious about getting there and how it felt so weird that the day to leave was already upon us. We both laughed at the fact that when the Japanese translator would make announcements over that loud speakers we could only pick out a bout three words. Finally they tell us that its time to get in line to board the plane. I was starting to feel some nerves at this point. After we get everything situated on the plane and take our seats that's when it really hit me. I was going to be spending the next year in Japan… WHAT WAS I THINKING?

    They pushed the plane back from the gate and we sat there for a little… then a little longer… and then a little longer. Finally the captain made an announcement that something was wrong when they were doing their pre-flight checks and that we had to go back to the gate. All I could think was I hope it was nothing too serious and that we would be on our way in no time. I fell asleep after sitting there for about another 30 minutes or so. After about another hour Parker shook me wake as the captain made another announcement. He said the flight had been cancelled for that day and that we could have to deplane. There was an audible moan from all the pas sengers as we all started to gather our things.

    We found out that one of the engines on the plane was malfunctioning, so it was a good thing that the flight was cancelled. Luckily Delta provided us with a hotel for the night and put us on the next earliest flight, which was at 8:30 in the morning. That whole day pretty much consisted of just standing in lines. The next morning we got up at five and headed to the airport around six. When we walked down stairs we had just missed the shuttle. When the next one came it was already practically full and the driver said he could only take two or three people. Parker and I hurried to be those two people. When we finally got there we had a little trouble with our tickets but got it all sorted out. Security went by like a breeze, thanks to the fact that we didn't have to take anything out of our bags. We made it to our gate and when we finally made it on the plane they only thing I could think about was whether it would actually take off this time. Luckily there were no problems this time and Parker and I were now on our way!!!

    The flight itself was not too bad, however there was one bit where the turbulence was kind of rough. The meals were all pretty good although Parker slept through the biggest one we had. When we got close we both took out our cameras and phones to take pictures. When we finally landed we collected our things and started to walk off the plane. We were in the very back of the plane so it took a few minutes to get off. We got off the plane and were instantly confused as to where to go. We got situated and started walking to customs. The first stop we made was a desk where we handed them some forms and they took our pictures for a card that we have to keep. Then we headed down to get our bags. Then we walked only fifty feet to another line where we handed another person a different piece of paper, which said where we were living.

    Once we got through that we walked through the doo rs and saw our host families with signs that said “Welcome to Japan”. I walked up to my host family and shook all their hands. Then my host dad pushed me towards Parker because and English speaking news channel was there to interview us. I think we were both very caught off guard. We were both just smiling from ear to ear not really knowing what to say. They asked a lot about my blazer and what all the pins meant. They also asked what we planned to study when we got back. Both of us didn't really have an answer for that.

    Then my family took me to eat at a restaurant at the airport and I talked with a Japanese girl who spoke perfect English, and did an exchange in Denmark. After that we headed out to their car and started to drive home. On the way back I saw where Tokyo Disney is and the Tokyo Sky Tree. My home is only about thirty 30 minutes from Tokyo Station, and is pretty big for a home in Japan.

    Also, for anyone who doesn't know my first host dad is past Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka. He is really nice and also pretty funny. I’m sure he thinks it's funny when I can't understand anyone because he will always chuckle a little. My host mom doesn't speak a word of English but I think that will be a benefit. I’ve already learned some new Japanese words from them, and I really hope that it will come quickly to me, but I know there will be a lot of studying for that.

    My host dad heard that I played golf in high school and he also plays golf so today he took me to a driving range. It has been a little while since I last played but I didn't do terrible. When we got home lunch was there waiting. After lunch my host dad told me to take a shower because we had been in the heat for a couple of hours. I have only been here two days now and I already have so much to talk about! Because I wrote this one kind of early I will write another one soon.


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