Dillon Burns


Hometown: Spring Hill, Florida
School: Nature Coast Technical High School
Sponsor District: District 6950
Sponsor Club: Spring Hill Central, Florida
Host District: District 2690
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Kurayoshi


My Bio

Hello, my name is Dillon Burns. You can call me Dillon if you prefer. In 2014-2015 I will be abroad, in school, in a part of Japan! I live in the medium sized town of Spring Hill, Florida in the United States. I am 5’10’’ (or 155 cm); I have dark brown hair and brown eyes. My family includes my Mother, Step-Father, little sister, and I. After school I like to enjoy time with friends, work on homework, and on Fridays, do gymnastics. I used to be on my schools swim team and i hope join another when i go to Japan. I feel that my strong characteristics could be that I am a good leader, I defend my friends, I am very compassionate, and I strive to make everyone my friend. My hopes for this foreign exchange is to visit places of the world other people haven’t even thought about going to. I want to indulge myself in another culture and experience something completely different than what I know. We all look for a some what of an adventure in our lives, some more than others, and that adventure for me personally is to connect with people who may have never even met an American before and change their view, as well as mine, on the world forever. Life is a book and this is the next chapter, so lets get reading!

Steps to the beach

Steps to the beach

The Beach

The Beach

Kurayoshi at night

Kurayoshi at night

Cooking Gyozas

Cooking Gyozas

Gyozas are delicious (Oishii)

Gyozas are delicious (Oishii)

Journals: Dillon - Japan

  • Dillon, outbound to Japan

    First week of Japanese high school!

    Today I officially completed my first week of high school in Japan. I will explain how it went in chronological order:

    Monday: I was very excited when I awoke at 7am on Monday morning. I had prepared my seifuku (school uniform) the night before so it was layed out and ready for me. I did my normal morning routine which includes going downstairs, taking a shower, putting my contacts in, brushing my teeth,combing my hair, and eating breakfast. I left with my host brother, Daichi, at about 8am. From our house it is about a 10 minute bike ride, which I will soon take a video of, to the school. The reason I will take a video is so that you know I’m not exaggerating when I say I go down the mountain we live on at about 30 mph… ON A BIKE! The first time I went down, I thought for sure that I was going to fall and get injured, but luckily I was ok. Now arriving at the school, I had to run in, give a quick introduction to my class, head upstairs, give another introduction to all of the teachers, and meet the ALT (assistant language teacher) from Minnesota. The ALT’s name is Emma-Sen sei and she also is just starting to learn Japanese so we have made a schedule of when we will practice together. So, because it was testing day, I was in the library for most of Monday. At the end of the day I gave a short speech in Japanese and English to literally the entire school and all of the teachers, so I’m not joking when I say everyone in the school knows my name!

    Tuesday: On Tuesday I began taking classes with everyone, or at least, the people of room 1-2. Down below you can see my school schedule and how confusing it is. The first class I had on Tuesday was Math 1, which turned out to be Geometry, The worst math in all of existence. I had no idea what was going on because it was all in Japanese but I did answer the questions that had to do with finding angles and lengths. P.E was actually pretty fun because we played basketball and I did amazingly because they are all short, so I could out run them, and hold the ball out of their reach. Chemistry was one of the classes I understood the most in because its all elements, balancing equations, and other things that I think are universal to chemistry in every country. I was able to answer some questions, unlike every other class where I just sat, stared, got bored, and started doodling some tree with a city under it. About 10 minutes into my next class, traditional Japanese, I realized t here was no way I was getting any work what so ever done. I can’t read regular Japanese let alone traditional Japanese. That’s like asking someone just starting to learn English to read Shakespeare.

    Wednesday - I didn’t go into detail on the English class on Tuesday because there is not much to say, the same goes for Wednesday. We start the class, the class reads some English, the class translates the English to Japanese, the students ask me for help, the teacher asks me if the grammar is right, the class ends. For Japanese and Long Home Room, I decided to just study Japanese with Emma-Sensei. I skip Long Home Room because the entire class, the students are writing essays in Japanese, and I can’t do that yet. The excitement of Wednesday happened after school when we went to a Rotary meeting. I was told that I was going to give a short power point presentation and play two songs on a piano. My host brother told me the meeting was at a hotel and that I was playing a beaten down, old piano. So I wasn’t expecting more than 15 people in a small room in a small hotel. The actual scenario was that we showed to a massive hotel where we traveled to the top to a n all white room, bar and bartenders included, where I was greeted by about 40 Rotarians and a solid white grand piano. Boy was I shocked! During the meeting, I handed out my business cards, which I guess literally everyone in Japan has one, and I got to meet my other host families. Fun fact: My next host dad is Buddhist and lives in a temple with his 6 year old daughter and 16 year old son.

    Thursday - Yesterday I had health and physical education which is the exact same in Japan as it is in the United States, by that I mean you watch really weird videos on how bad drugs and alcohol are for you the whole class. Next was music class which is by far my favorite class so far. Now be for I tell you about music, I have to inform you how classes work. Unlike in the United States, instead of switching class rooms, the teacher come to your class. So for the majority of the day, you are in the same class with the same people all through out high school. The reason I tell you that in because Music class is one of the only classes that is optional, and obviously I picked it. But because it is optional, we only have about 20 of the 40 students in our class come to music. I don’t yet know where the rest go. The way we started the class was by listening to a classical disk called the “Carnival of Animals”. As we listened to each piece of music, we would write down which animal it sounded like. Later on we sang in Japanese and, because I didn’t know the words, the teacher said I could just say “La La La” to the melody. The next class was information processing and I’m still not sure what that class is about. We went to a computer room, turned on computers but never actually used them, and watched videos on a projector.

    Friday - Today I was happy that the weekend is coming because I am exhausted. We had Math A to start off with this time and I’m not convinced its even math; I didn’t see any numbers the entire class, just a bunch of Japanese. We then headed to Home Economics where we leaned something about calories and white Japanese radishes. When we went back to Math A I never in my life thought that I’d be happy to see Geometry. The rest of the day I was just practicing Japanese with Emma-Sensei. After school I was interviewed by the newspaper club. Now I am at home writing this for all of you and coming to the end of another day in Japan, but first I have to go eat Japanese BBQ with my family! 日本語 は 難しい です が, 面白い です. さようなら と おやすみなさい!

    Week A =

    Monday - Math A, Information processing, Math 1, World History, English communication.

    Tuesday - Math 1, English expressions, P.E, Chemistry, Japanese

    Wednesday - English communications, English expressions, Japanese, Long Home Room.

    Thursday - Health and physical education, Music, Information processing, P.E.

    Friday - Math A, Home economics, Math 1, English communications, Japanese

    Week B =

    Monday - English expressions, Information processing, World History, English communications, Japanese,

    Tuesday - Home economics, Biology, P.E, Math 1, Japanese

    Wednesday - Math 1, English communications, Chemistry, Long Home Room

    Thursday - Health and physical education, Music, Home economics, Biology, P.E

    Friday - World History, Japanese, Math 1, Math A, English communications

  • Dillon, outbound to Japan

    Onsens. Hot springs. Japanese bath houses.

    So, I went to a Japanese bathhouse yesterday and it was… interesting.

    For an American, the thought of stripping down and bathing with other people is not a pleasing one. But once you actually get into the Onsen, the thought kind of just slips your mind as you start to relax. I went to the outside Onsen, which was more like a hot spring, because it was secluded and peaceful. It was about 3 feet deep and was in the shape of a circle with the circumference of about 15 feet. Half of it was covered by a beautiful bamboo roof but the other half was not, and that's where I sat.

    It was raining, just like it has been for the past 4 days, but instead of it being a pesky annoyance, it was tranquil, being about to sit in a hot spring but still being able to feel the cool drops of rain trickle down my face. After leaving the hot spring, we headed to an upstairs room where people could sleep and listen to classical music, which was also VERY peaceful. As I lay there, my host brother was listening to music of his own through headphones and my host father brought us banana flavored milk that I enjoyed very much.

    After sleeping for about an hour and feeling completely refreshed, we went to a sweets shop where we each bought a slice of cake and I had the privilege of trying Matcha Mochi, a green tea flavored Japanese sweet. It was one of the best sweets I had ever tasted.

    Transport about 4 hours and I am now in the kitchen helping my host parents make Gyozas (pictures included). My host father said that he hid an almond in one and who ever found it would receive 500 yen ($5) but no one ever found it which makes me suspicious. As we were eating, my host parents turned on the radio to a USA rock station and they had all good music and I was singing along to every song; we had a blast! Well that’s what happened yesterday, August 16th, and I am enjoying everyday. I can’t wait to see what the future hold for me!

  • Dillon - Outbound to Japan

    … soooo, I went to a beach in Hawaii yesterday! (August 13th) It's not what you think though, it wasn’t the island Hawaii, rather, the town next to Kurayoshi. It was a nice beach but it was on the smaller side and there were only a few dozen people at the time. We went to an area with a lot of rocks and hunted for oysters, which we later cooked into miso soup.

    After coming home from the beach, my host brother and I went to a Karaoke bar for about 2 hours. Obviously, I only sang English songs and he only sang Japanese songs but we still had a great time and I strive to be able to sing in Japanese before I leave! Anyways, school starts August 23rd and I was excited about it until I realized I speak next to no Japanese AND I just found out that they are putting me in the top class, the hardest classes in Japanese high school.

    But on a lighter note, the dark picture of the city is where I am staying: Kurayoshi. Today we are going to Tottori to celebrate Obon, a festival were you give remembrance to your deceased ancestors. I guess part of the festival, about 1000 Japanese women walk down the streets dressed in kimonos and dance with colorful umbrellas. I’ll be sure to take many pictures and upload them in a later post! Until next time, Sayonara!

  • Journals: Dillon - Japan

    Dillon, outbound to Japan

    I did it, I'm here! Japan better be ready for me!

    So this is my first entry documenting my travels. For those of you who don’t know, I am currently doing a year long exchange through the Rotary club to Japan. I left Florida at 8 am on Saturday, August 9th. From Florida, I flew to Chicago, which I left at around 12:45 pm. During the 13 hour flight to Japan, I watched 4 movies, ate 3 meals, and wondered how I was to survive a full year in Japan.

    On a side note, the flight was not as bad as people make it out to be. Sure its long, but they offer many services to pass the time and the ride was so smooth, I sometimes forgot that I was on a plane. That is, up until the landing. There was a large amount of turbulence when we landed and the only thing to compare it to would be someone turning on a blender and forgetting to put a lid on it. But it was actually kind of fun.

    At about 3:00 pm, after landing in Narita, Tokyo, I went to immigration where I found out that the birthday on my VISA was wrong (it said the birth month was June instead of July) so I have go to some immigration office in the next two weeks or so to get it all sorted out. In the mean time, I was given a residence card to say that my VISA information is incorrect in case anyone asks.

    After going down to baggage, I found myself a little worried because I had to switch airports, lucky most of the employees in the airport spoke English. I was directed to an area where I could buy bus tickets, and after buying one for 3,000 Yen ($30) I found out there was a bus that arrived five minutes later that was only 1,400 Yen ($14). After and hour long bus ride from Narita to Handea, I wandered around Terminal 1 for about 30 minutes only to find out that my plane leaves from Terminal 2 (ADVICE TO FUTURE EXCHANGE STUDENT: CHECK YOUR TERMINAL XD). Luckily, there was a free bus that took me to Terminal 2, which was actually only a five minute drive.

    When wandering around aimlessly in the baggage check in for about 10 minutes, a baggage woman asked me if I needed help so I told her that I was looking for the check-in area for the flight to Tottori. After seeing the intensely long lines, I started to worry that I would miss the flight, but then the lady told me that this is a special flight and there was no one in line at the time. I was so overly filled with happiness that something had finally gone my way, that I almost cried tears of joy (that’s not even an exaggeration). When I got the to waiting area to board the plane, it took every fiber in my body to fight the temptation to sleep. I didn't want to sleep in fear that I might miss the flight. Once on the plane, however, it took no skill whatsoever to fall asleep. I closed my eyes as the plane took off and opened them as the plane landed.

    I arrived in Tottori at about 7:30 pm. The Tottori airport was SO MUCH easier to navigate than the Tokyo airports. I just had to walk downstairs, pick up my luggage, and meet my new family, who had showed up with several other families and a few Rotarians. It was so nice to meet all of these wonderful people even though I was only running on about an hour of sleep.

    The first thing we did after leaving the airport was go to a convenient store, which is far more sophisticated and cooler than the convenient stores in the United States. I got an energy drink so that I could stay up and talk to my host parents. My host father, Takashi, and host mother, Junko, seemed like very nice people. My instinct was proven correct when we got home and had dinner. It was a lovely dinner and there was no tension at all at the table, everybody was smiling and even sometimes laughing because my host parents don’t speak much English so we kind of played Charades to communicate. My host brother, who had been an exchange student last year, helped translate though, which was very helpful.

    After dinner, I played piano for them and we took tons of Polaroid pictures and had a great time. My host mother even said she had a camera that she doesn't really use and she knew that I liked photography, so she gave it to me, which I was very thankful for. It is now 8:30 am, August 11th, and I awoke to an awesome view of the entire city of Kurayoshi and some of the surrounding mountains. I’m so glad I decided to become an exchange student!

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