Jade Crosby

Japan

Hometown: Coconut Creek, Florida
School: Pompano Beach High School
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Coconut Creek, Florida
Host District: 2690
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Okayama East

 

My Bio


こんにちは!私はクロスビー・ジェイドです。 Hello! My name is Jade Crosby. I live in Coconut Creek with my mom, dad, younger brother (Jacob), and cat (Tigerlily); and I go to the magnet school, Pompano Beach High School. I am currently in my senior year, and I am almost always working on something for school. At my school, very few classes can be taken in their "regular" format, so all of my classes, save for Chinese class, are either at the honors or AP level. Even my drama class is honors level! If that doesn't keep me busy, I'm also in my school's Interact club, International Thespians club, and drama club. In addition, I am Lead Critic on my School's Cappies team (theatre Critics and Awards Program), Head of Costuming for drama, and I also write and draw for the school paper. It's okay though, I love staying busy!

In my limited free-time, I like to knit, sew, read comics, watch cartoons, and learn languages. I have taken three years of Spanish classes, and I am currently taking Chinese. Fortunately, I have also been studying Japanese on the side (although, not too seriously until recently), so I can already read some of the written language. I am so excited to be going to Japan! Japan was my first choice, but I was certain that I wasn't going to get it. In fact, I had completely given up on the idea. You can't imagine just how shocked I was when I found out that I had been assigned to Japan! Thank you to everyone who is helping me to go on such an amazing journey!

Being Welcomed to Okayama

Being Welcomed to Okayama

A cute Pokemon plane at Haneda Airport

A cute Pokemon plane at Haneda Airport

Picture with my classmates!

Picture with my classmates!

At Osaka Castle

At Osaka Castle

Halloween Purikura (photo sticker)

Halloween Purikura (photo sticker)

At a famous temple

At a famous temple

I make mochi!

I make mochi!

Holiday lights at Okayama Station

Holiday lights at Okayama Station

Autumn!

Autumn!

  • Jade, outbound to Japan

    It's been a while since I last posted. I tried making a post back in October after my school trip to Hokkaido, but I had some issues posting it and, unable to save as a draft, I totally lost the post when my computer rebooted. After that... I just forgot about it. I know that I, as well as other current outbounds, harassed the Rotex about how little they posted in their journal. They took it like champs, and always responded with "you'll see." Well, I certainly do see what they mean now! I used to follow all of the posts on Facebook of the 2014-2015 outbounds, and after a while, I started to wonder if it got tiring. If they got bored of living somewhere abroad, just living out a normal life... but now I realize that that's exactly the point. The only way to get "bored" of living abroad is to become bored of living in general. Sure, going to school, coming home, studying, eating dinner, going to bed, waking up and repeating isn't exactly riveting stuff, but that's not what people live for. We live for the moments that make us feel: The moments where we smile, where we cry, where we feel like we have a purpose. It is no different being abroad. I won't deny that it is hard, and I also won't deny that this is the loneliest I've ever been, but I also know that if I can make it through this, then I can do anything. Except fly, I still can't do that. Unless...

    I could go on in great detail about what all I've done in the first third of my exchange - yes, I am actually that far along! - but I have a blog for that (if you haven't seen it yet, it is easy enough to find.) I feel like that would be just skimming the surface. I will, however, give a quick recap so you can get a feel for what I've been through.

    I have gone to all four major islands of Japan: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. I have been on airplanes, bullet trains, in taxis and cars, and on more trains, buses, and streetcars than I have any desire to record the number of. (Now, the different types of streetcars I've been on, I've kept track of. There are three different companies fighting for the same track. Let's just say that, in order to stay competitive, they have some interesting designs.) I was in Hokkaido during a typhoon, and I went to Kyushu on the day of the earthquake that I'm sure you all have heard about. Everyone is fine, in case you were wondering. I didn't even know that there had been an earthquake because I was too far away, but other exchange students who were able to feel the quake have said that it really wasn't all that bad. In fact, it wasn’t even on the news here. I asked my counselor about it, and he pretty much said "this is Japan. We get earthquakes." I guess it's kind of like how Floridians feel about hurricanes.

    In Hokkaido, I climbed a snow-covered volcano, stayed at two onsen (hot springs/ public baths), learned about the nature and wildlife of Hokkaido, and visited Japan's most famous zoo, Asahiyama Zoo. The promotional video for said zoo being so outlandish that I am sure that, had it been a shorter video, it would have gone viral, followed up with comments to the effect of "oh, Japan!"

    In Kyushu, I watched sumo wrestling, went to a very old Japanese restaurant where women in kimono serve you, visited caves out in the middle of the ocean, ate raw squid (not bad, by the way! I was a bit nervous about it though), and visited a temple at night.

    I've done many other notable things as well. I've visited many temples, I played a role in my class's play for the cultural festival, I am currently practicing to play a role in Beauty and the Beast, I've been to the zoo in Kobe and Osaka Castle, and I recently was able to view a beautiful light display in a Japanese garden.

    That should pretty much tell you what I've done up until now. In my free time, I usually knit, sew, translate manga (Japanese comics), or practice my new hobby, crochet. I had tried, and failed, at crochet in the past, but I finally understand how to do it. I've successfully made a blanket, a snowflake, a teddy bear, a stocking, a scarf, and dragon slippers. Am I going to far? Absolutely not! Do you know how satisfying it is to be able to actually wear the things I create? In Florida, being able to knit was a lovely way to fill my closet with things that I would never get to wear, but here, I am expanding my wardrobe. It's a good thing that I'm able to to too, as I only brought one suitcase of clothes (I wanted to ensure that I could bring back a lot of stuff and I knew that I would have to wear a uniform most of the time) and I'm not exactly "Japanese-sized," if you know what I mean. I never felt so big before I moved to Japan. Now I spill over my seat, and fill up the isles at grocery stores. It's rather inconvenient, but I'm just glad that I'm not any taller, as I already hit my head on things all the time!

    I am beginning to understand why people have such a hard time reconnecting when they go home. Even at one month in, I felt that few people back home would understand what I'd been through. And how do you sum up exchange in a word or short phrase? You can't just answer "good," like when you come back from camp. It just doesn't work that way. There is no phrase that so perfectly sums up what you go through on exchange. If anyone finds one, let me know.

    I got lost for the first time, which, thanks to my training, felt more like a milestone than a catastrophe. I was taking the bus home from my Japanese lessons for the first time. My host family told me to take the bus from platform 9. They neglected to tell me that multiple buses come to platform 9, and that they go in different directions.(Something similar happened when they told me to take the train from platform 2 to get to school, but it is actually platform 1! It's a good thing that we wear uniforms, otherwise, I would have got on the wrong train!)

    As I'm sure that you have figured out by now, I got on the wrong bus. Of course, I kept holding out for my stop, telling myself that it would have to come up eventually, until we reached the very last stop - Saidaiji. I knew that there was a place in town called "Saidaiji-cho, but we had been driving too long to be there. I was beginning to feel a bit panicked, as it was late at night, and most buses had alread y returned to the station. I sat on a bench and decided to take some time to think. I, rather optimistically, wondered if I was perhaps within walking distance of my house. I quickly took my phone out and asked Google "where am I?" It turned out that I was about 45 minutes away from the stop that I was supposed to get off at. At this point, I resigned to telling my host family what had happened. After some investigation, I realized that there was one more bus heading back to the same place that I had just come from. I at least knew how to get close to home from there. I told my host mother where to meet me at, and it was quickly settled. Other than a loss of time and money, I got out of it rather well.

    I feel like I am a much more capable person these days, even though I have spent most of my time feeling like a child. I don't know that I'll ever get to the point where I'll have a desire to stay that is strong enough that will make me unwilling to go home, but I do know that going home will be a whole new kind of culture shock. I wonder if anyone has gone home feeling as though they didn't really fit into their host country, but because of how much they've changed, they no longer quite fit in at home. It reminds me of the song "Giants in the Sky" from Into the Woods: "And you think of all of the things you've seen/ and you wish that you could live in between/ and you're back again, only different than before..." Just some food for thought, I guess. Recently, I've been rather certain that in the highly unlikely event that I get to choose a superpower to gain, I would choose, above even the ability to instantly learn a language, the ability to teleport anywhere at will. I've heard a lot of other people that are living abroad say this as well.

    I've gotten a lot of good advice from expats on how to navigate through Japanese culture. Talking to them has made me realize something about culture, and that is that, while a native can live a culture, only an outsider can explain it. This may seem backwards and a bit presumptuous, but think about it. How many of your daily actions are done consciously, and how many of them could you defend? I don't know why I'm irked by the slurping of noodles, but I do know that by slurping noodles in Japan, you are less likely to burn your mouth. Yet, if I ask a Japanese person why they slurp noodles, they will almost always answer "because that's how you eat noodles." When you do something for so long in one way and have never seen another person do it in a different way, you come to believe that the way you and "everyone else" does it is the only way to do it. By believing that there is no other option, you forget the reasons why you do things the way you do them. That is basically culture in a nutshell.

    Hopefully, I will post again sooner next time. I'm not exactly sure though, since I've been told that my next host family's wifi may be a bit spotty (not sure if it's true of not). Either way, I'll find a way in time!

    To see my homepage and see some photos click HERE



  • Jade, outbound to Japan

    I finally found out my departure date a week before I had to leave for Japan. This, and the fact that I left in the middle of night, made it feel like my going was little more than a dream. However, as the sun began to rise outside of my plane's window, it became clear. I was really going to do this, I was going to leave my city, my family, and the home that I had lived in since birth. I'd being lying if I said that that first flight wasn't a little bittersweet.

    Arriving in Tokyo was as exciting as it was terrifying. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was herded into immigration, where I somehow managed to get through only using Japanese. With my shiny, new residency card in hand, I wandered through the airport, giggling from exhaustion at the seemingly absurd fact that I was actually in Tokyo. While standing in line for currency exchange, I was suddenly pulled into an interview for some Japanese show. They asked me questions about why I came to Japan, what I wanted to see, and what I enjoyed about Japanese culture. I felt a bit overwhelmed standing in that crowded airport, being asked a bunch of questions while I had hardly slept in a day, and knowing that I had a bus to catch.

    Finally, they let me go and I quickly exchanged my currency and bought a bus ticket. The bus took me from Narita Airport to Haneda Airport, from whence I would take my last flight. While waiting for my flight, I nearly fell asleep in the airport. I was sure that I would sleep the entire flight to Okayama, but I was wrong. Just as I was settling into my seat, a stewardess brought over two crying girls and told them "don't worry, big sister will take care of you!" She explained to me that the girls were travelling alone for the first time to go visit their grandmother in Okayama. I then told her that I could understand how they felt because I had been traveling without my family as well. She asked me my story and then translated it to the girls. After she left, the girls kept asking me if I was really all alone and wouldn't see my family for a year. I told them that it was true, and they offered me some of their candy. It was really adorable. I spent the rest of the flight speaking to them in broken Japanese and helping them with a Disney puzzle that they had brought.

    I was a bit nervous landing in Okayama. What if no one was there, or what if they were mad at me because I only gave them a week to prepare for my arrival? My fears were unfounded as I was instantly greeted by my host mother, host brother, about half a dozen Rotarians, my counselor, and even my homeroom teacher. Everyone was very welcoming. I went out to dinner with my host family and tried melon soda for the first time. I was totally surprised to hear my host brother (who is only 11 years old) speak fluent English without any sort of accent. Living with him, I have come to learn that he actually prefers speaking English: When he talks in his sleep, it's in English, and even though his mother speaks to him in Japanese, he responds in English. The majority of his friends are foreigners, with his best friend being a girl from Australia. At first, he begged me not to learn Japanese, but after reading my RYE handbook, he learned that I would need to learn Japanese in order t o stay in Japan. He has been a great support. Once, he told me that one of my host clubs rules is that I not get too homesick. Since then he's been saying "Don't get homesick!" and anytime that I'm feeling a bit down, he distracts me by taking me for walks around the neighborhood. We treat each other like real siblings. He ropes me into all kinds of games, and challenges me to pick him up almost every night. I once asked him if he thought I had a big nose (because there seems to be a stereotype in Japan about foreigners having big noses) and he said "you look like Luigi."

    My host family has been very kind to me. They are always telling me that I don't eat enough, and have been giving me lots of sweets. I feel like I am going to get fat.

    My host club has also treated me well. So far, I have been to a welcoming party (which consisted of a seven course meal. Far too fancy for me...) and a regular meeting. The Rotary meetings here are far more formal and grand than the ones in America, so it was a bit intimidating at first, but everyone is very encouraging and no one criticizes me if I make a mistake. They have also given me a rather generous gift: They are paying for my school trip to Hokkaido next month! Hokkaido is considered to be the most beautiful prefecture in all of Japan, so I feel very lucky to be going there. Expect a post from me about it afterwards!

    School can be a bit boring at times, but I have not fallen asleep in class even once. I have, however, nearly fallen asleep on the train to school. Every morning and afternoon, I have to take a car ride, train ride, and bus ride to get to and from school. It's not an unpleasant trip though. Only when I'm coming home in rush hour is it uncomfortable. In Japan, you don't see rush hour traffic on the roads, but instead on trains.

    My favorite class in school is musical class, which actually sounds like a class that I would make up. In musical class, you learn all the songs and dances from different musicals. Right now, we are doing "Beauty and the Beast." No one else in the class has done a musical before, but I have, so I at least have a leg up in one class that isn't English.

    Another class that I enjoy is fine arts class. We are currently working with oil paints, which is something I've always wanted to learn how to use.

    I change my shoes at least 4 times a day: I have my outdoor shoes, my indoor shoes, my carpet slippers, and my gym shoes. I often have to change shoes even more than that. It's supposed to keep the school cleaner, which is good because students have to stay after school three times a week to clean the school.

    This weekend is my school's cultural festival (called "bunkasai") and my class is doing a Doraemon (a famous Japanese cartoon)-themed play. I even have a role in it! My whole class was surprised that I could read Japanese. There will be a bunch of other stuff at bunkasai too, but I'd rather make another post about that later, after it's already happened.

    To see my homepage click HERE

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