2012-13 Outbound to
Winter Park, FL
Winter Park High School
District 6980, FL
District TBA, Japan
ďTwo roads diverged in a wood and I Ė I took the one less traveled by.Ē Ė Robert Frost Three months ago I was standing at Scottís door at 11:30pm with hopes of becoming an exchange student yet I was stressed out because I needed to get my application in by midnight or because my life would still be hanging in the balance as I wait to get accepted. Then it happened. Yes, I got accepted and the whole reason why Iím writing this bio is because I will be spending the 2012-2013 school in none other than JAPAN (0_0)! Ohayo Gozaimasu, Konnichiwa, Konban wa! Did you know there was three ways to saying hello in Japanese? Anyways Iím Jasmine. Iím a care free, hardworking, humble, curious girl that wants to leave behind what the textbooks have taught me and see the world from my own eyes. I been involved in competitive cheerleading for 10 years and I have a special passion for music and art (mainly ceramics). I currently attend Winter Park High School and itís a bitter-sweet moment when I say Iím a senior. I know Iíll miss my friends but Iíll really miss the comfort of having my mom and 7 year old brother down the hall. So why Japan? Since I thought that I was too old for other countries, I changed my country choice to Japan right before my interview but Iím happy I did. Although it was not my first choice it has become just that. There are not many countries that have the beach, mountains, experience all four seasons (SNOW), is economically stable, and is a fashion/technology capital. Yes Iím somewhat scared for what Japan has in store for me, but Iíll approach any situation with an open and optimistic mind.
As always, Iím thankful to everyone at who has helped me and got me to this point thus far. RYE Florida, you have an amazing program and I hope that my host country/district treats me as well as you have. And last but not least, Mommy and Zach. I know you guys are going to miss me and Iíll miss you too. This year will go by faster than we know and Iíll be back with a lot of stories, pictures, and presents. Thanks for letting your baby go! ďTraveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things Ė air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky Ė all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.Ē Ė Cesare Pavese
Jasmine- Outbound to Japan
So I can't believe that I've been in Japan for
one month but it has been so packed that it flew by. I experienced culture
shock the first day I was here and it was kind of scary when I realized how
far I was from home but I got over that once I started having fun. The first
week I just did the tourist things like shopping in Harajuku and Shibuya,
visiting shrines, karaoke, and saw a summer night festival. All of those
things were fun and exciting but the second week I started to settle into my
life and do normal things like wash dishes, ride bikes and trains, and go to
school, we started school the third week.
When I first got here I came with barley any expectations. I wanted to keep
an open mind and try new things even if I didn't like it.. hahaha the food.
When I got off the plane I went straight to the bathroom but of course it
was high tech and I didn't know how to flush the toilet. 45 minutes after
getting off the plane and struggling through baggage claim, I made to 5
rotarians wondering if I was the right Jasmine because they meet two before
me. The ride home took 3 hours because of traffic in Tokyo but it was worth
it because I got to see the skyline of Tokyo and finally got some sleep.
When I got to my host family's house they quickly told me the rules and told
me I had to make a speech for the Rotary meeting I'll be attending in 12
hours. Let just say I knew I would have to work hard from there on out.
The food was the only thing that I was worried about coming to Japan. I
didn't like fish, most vegetables, RAW FISH, coffee, tomatos, and many other
things I had the first week but to be honest, I think I'm use to it and kind
of like eating those things. I'll admit not everything is my favorite and I
eat it because I don't want to be rude but I really like soba, a type of
noddles, octopus, some sushi, and I always drink tea. I still prefer Korean
and Chinese food over Japanese but most of the food is still great.
So I started school 4 days ago and it's Sunday right now and I'm actually at
school writing this because we're having a school festival that last all
day. There's nothing in America like this. It's like homecoming week on
steroids shoved into two days where the public is invited. Yes I do have
school on Saturdays but every other saturday and it's only for half of the
day. School has been fun at times and lonely at others. I've made a lot of
friends from my class (which has 42 students) but not close enough where
they want me to hang out with me and do stuff out of school. I know those
relationships take time but I've been here for a month and I still haven't
seen any exchange students ( a blessing and a curse within itself). There
are those moments when your on top of the world because everyone knows you
and says hi and I love your eyes and eyelashes but than I have those moments
when I think why isn't anyone talking to me why can't they explain to me
what's going on. Some things that are different from American school are the
boys and teachers. The boys are so shy. So many boys say my name and take
pictures when they think I'm not looking but they never approach me. If the
come near me and barely touch me, they say sorry and if I move out of the
way they say thank you; weird right? No, just Japanese style. The teachers
are really nice to me and the principal is so happy that I came to this
school. Teachers change classrooms not the students, so this is technically
our classroom which we must clean. I've only been here for less than a week
so I'll see how many interesting stories I'll have next month.
Japanese makes me want to cry. Everyone here wants to speak engrish ,yes
that's how they say it, to me but it only makes it harder for me to learn
Japanese and it makes me feel like a burden. My friend e-mailed me and say
that she will study English harder so she can talk to me more but I'm the
one in her country, I'm the one that needs to learn the language. I think
the hardest part about not knowing the language is having so much to say but
you can't get your point across and you have to sum it up in one word that
you can barely pronounce. So, why not learn the language? Trust me I am but
not fast enough. I study at least 3 hours a day but I usually remember 5
words. It's hard and I can't give up but the end result will hopefully be
worth it in the end.
I have met my fourth host family who seems awesome and loving. I know my
second family who has a daughter in Florida, D6950 and I'm in love with my
current host family. I'm living with the Tonuma in Kawaguchi, Saitama
basically because they speak english. I'll admit that sometimes I do take
advantage when it comes to speaking english but I'm extremely grateful
because they translate for me and it's a lot easier to learn Japanese from
them. I live about 10 minutes outside of Tokyo so I've gone there often but
the problem is everything I need to attend is far away meaning school and
Rotary. To get to school I ride my bike 20 minutes to a parking place. Than
I walk to the train station and take a 20 minute train from Nishi Kawaguchi
to Yono. After that I walk 25 minutes to school making my commute around 1
hour and 5 minutes. My Rotary club is one station away from school so you
might see my dilemma with transportation. Other than that, I've h ad an
amazing time with my host family. They've taken me to Harajuku, Shinokubo,
Karaoke, a summer night festival, and Nagano! I'm made many memories already
and they now consider me family. I already know it will be hard to leave
Rotary in Japan is so different from RYE Florida. In a good way or bad way
is yet to be determined. I've been here for a month and still haven't seen
any exchange students. I understand why Scott might be happy thinking, "less
english.. good," but it does get lonely sometimes. I have friends at school
but they just don't understand some of the hardships that I go through.
Being away from your comfortable bed, not seeing your friends or family, not
being able to drive yourself places, just being a foreigner. What I'm trying
to say is that our Rotary clubs are more involved with the exchange students
than our district is. Actually, it seems like my district is run by Rotex
but I could be wrong seeing how I haven't been to any events. With that said
my Rotary club is awesome. They have had a dinner for me and are paying for
my expensive class trip to Okinawa! Everyone in my district also has their
own personal counselor with definitely has its benefits.
I can't believe I've been in Japan for a month already. That's so much to
do, places to see, and people to talk to. Of course this wouldn't have been
possible without Scott, Mrs. Lutz, my mom, Sarah, family and friends.
Arigatou gozaimasu. Now it's time to go enjoy Japan more. じゃね！
The gate of Asakusa.
Shopping in Shibuya.
Real sushi and green tea.
My host sister and I.
Pirikuda with Martin, exchange student