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.