Tania's Journal

Tania has arrived at Kagoshima airport safe and sound. After long flights, her journey towards cultural encounters has just begun!
12月2日 Taniaは無事、鹿児島空港へ到着しました。12月15日までの約2週間、熊本県に滞在し、日本の家庭生活や学校生活を体験します。

December 15, 2019 Today I woke up very early I think it was around 4:20. As I walked down the stairs I fell, I don't know if anyone heard because it was pretty loud, but I just kept walking as if nothing happened. For the last two weeks I've been really scared to fall and on my last day BAAM! I fell. It was kind of funny but now my right arm and leg really hurt. I'll be fine. I don't know how but when I looked at my phone it was already 5:10, I was supposed to leave by that time. I was rushing to finish packing everything. It was still dark outside so I couldn't see the view one last time. Mom took me to Ouda's train station, one of my favorite places then two gentleman took me to the bus stop. I don't know how far it was but it seemed pretty far. We got there about 20 minutes before the bus came so I had time to talk to the gentlemen that took me there. I then realized it was the president of MNCC and his son. I would've never thought that, they seemed very humble, I literally felt like I was talking my friends. Mr. Hamada knows my city very well. We talked about streets and stores. When we got off the car I wanted to take pictures of the sunrise and McDonald's and I realized I had left my batteries charging...sorry mom. I was scared to ride the bus alone even though it went straight to the airport. Mr Hamada talked to a nice lady who was helping me through the trip and stayed with me the entire time. Whoever she was I'm thankful for her. I saw so many beautiful places but I couldn't take a single picture. When I got to the airport there was no one waiting for me so I didn't know what to do. The nice lady stayed with me so I wasn't that scared. She then told me to wait there for a second and that's when I got a heart attack. About 10 minutes later I saw Koki so I was fine again. I asked him if we could go buy some batteries so we went up stairs to a convenience store. He told me to ask the cashier for them, and I had no idea how to. He told me how to say batteries in Japanese and I was able to buy them by myself. The guy understood, first try. We then moved to the other part of the airport, international flights. My best friend and soulmate, Mio was there waiting for me. I was so happy to see her! We got to hangout for a while and took a bunch of pictures together. The flight to Taipei was pretty fast. We had about 3 hours together before Lily left so we walked through place looking for a place to eat. We wanted to eat French fries but we couldn't find a place so we just had Starbucks. I had so much fun with her, I'm so glad I met her. Now I have to go to Maine. After she left Liana and I still had like 7 hours. We moved to a different place like a billion times. We walked back and forth. I walked around looking for a snack but everything was chocolate, I had no idea how the vending machines worked so I gave up. We then bought boba milk tea it was delicious! We talked a lot about our experience and how we applied for the scholarship. Then we boarded the plane. I slept for about two hours, bad move, I skipped the first meal they served and I was really hungry. When I woke up I wasn't tired anymore, there was a lot of light outside so I wanted to open the window but most people were sleeping so I just looked outside through a whole. It was so weird, it was so dark and in 4 hours there was already light. Shortest night ever. Then like in the next 6 hours it was dark again. Shortest day ever. Half of the sky looked dark and to the opposite side there was still dim light. For the rest of the way I was depressed, I already miss my host families and my city. 
December 14, 2019 Today was my official last full day in Japan. I don't want to leave, I love, love this place and its people. When I woke up mom my sisters and I went to walk around again. This time it wasn't scary. There were so many flowers and trees. The bamboo forest was my favorite place. I got ready to go to Kumamoto city. My sisters and I took the the train, because I wanted to ride it. Mom drove there. The train was so cool, I loved the view and the seats too. When we got to the train station I was amazed by everything I saw. There were some other trains that looked so much cooler! At the end we payed our ride, some people had a card they checked, but others, like me went to the side and payed in cash. We then waited for another train?? I'm not sure if it is also a train. It was on the road but looked like train, that one was scary. There were no seats left so I had to stand up, I almost fell a billion times. We got down in front of Kumamoto Castle. The city was so beautiful, I want to live there some day. We waited for mom, in the mean time we went to this temple. It was red, so pretty. I took so many pictures of it! Then we got this fortune paper which we placed in the water and then some letters appeared. It was pretty cool but I have no idea what my fortune was. We then walked around the castle to go eat somewhere. The structure of the place was gorgeous. We went into a buffet. There was a limited amount of time to stay in there. I think it was 90 minutes. There was so much good food to eat. We kept walking around the castle and we found some people playing this one toy? I don't know the name of it but I got to hold it for a while. We kept walking and walking and walking. We went into this big building kind of like a mall, but it was connected to the street. There was so much people from everywhere. And then we went into another shopping mall, Kumamoto Sakura, this one was gigantic it had so many floors and it was so wide. We were already tired so we didn't look at much of it. We took some purikura pictures, it was very fun and then we played some games at the arcade. When we left we walked and walked and walked again to where mom's car was parked it was so fun my sister and I practiced Japanese almost all the way. The parking lot was similar to the one in America, it had a lot lot of floors. Then we went to mom's sister's house. She was very sweet too, she gave me some delicious bread. We didn't stay for long. On our way home we stopped at the grocery store to buy things to make dinner. We (more like them) made dumplings they were so good. While I packed I watched a soccer game, I really enjoy watching soccer, and it looks like Japan's team is very good. I gave my host family their presents and they were very happy. Lastly I wore Rina's uniform. I wished my school had uniforms they make people look better. I haven't quite finished packing yet but I will do it tomorrow morning.
December 13, 2019 Today was my last day at school. I was very sad but I didn't want to miss my last day thinking about leaving so I tried to enjoy every moment. I had my last music class, we sang a beautiful song. I wrote the lyrics down, but I was never able to figure out the name of it. I really missed singing in my choir class so it was very fun. My last class with the seventh graders was English so I brought them American chocolates. I was able to eat lunch pretty fast after two weeks, and with chopsticks! After I ate, I played a card game with the art teacher, the counselor and my friend, Urara. As it kept getting closer to the end of the day I was getting depressed. I kept taking notes, one of my teachers said my Kanji was very neat. I can't wait to actually understand what I write. During my sixth period my first host family came to my school to say goodbye, and gave me another present. Seeing mom cry again broke my heart. When they left I couldn't stop crying. It was my last cleaning day, I took pictures with my cleaning 友達、 though we couldn't communicate very well we had a lot of fun together. After cleaning I gave the ninth graders an American snack, they kept saying すごい over and over. I then had a farewell ceremony, I felt so bad because yesterday I completely forgot to write a speech. I said very few words and I regret it. They had a present for me and flowers. Then they made a path for me to walk through as I said goodbye. By the time I got to the end I was crying, again. I would've never thought that I would cry after being with them for only two weeks, and not talking a lot, but their kindnesses really got me. I don't know what I've done to deserve meeting such wonderful people. I took a lot of pictures with my classmates and teachers, and then received one more present from one of the English teachers, Ms Yamada. She was so sweet the entire time, I will miss her smile. When I got home, I was really depressed, but later my sisters and I took a night walk with our lightsticks so I felt happy again. It was sooo dark. We went to a temple which was very scary and walked through a bamboo forest which was extra scary. I wished I could actually see what was around me. I was so tired from walking up and down the mountain, I fell asleep when we got home. Now I just woke up from a nap and it is late so I will sleep again. Tomorrow, there's a really exciting adventure waiting for me.
December 12, 2019 Today I had rice for breakfast after a few days. Most of my classes were with the 7th graders, Math, English and two Home Economics, the last two were very confusing. With the 9th graders I had a history and another math class. In history I took a lot of notes. I used to not like kanji, but now I really do. I will keep studying to be able to read and write it better. During lunch I had a really fun time, one of the teachers was practicing his English introducing all the students from our lunch group to me. I was also able to eat my food fast because we had spoons today. After we finished eating, Rina, Urara (one of my classmates) and I played UNO. At the end of the day we cleaned the classrooms again and I shared my impressions of the day to the class in English. Urara gave me a present, I will keep it forever. Grandpa picked Rina and me up and we went to the convenience store and bought ice cream again. It's already too cold might as well be cold eating ice cream. I also bought cheetos to see to if they were different from American cheetos. The packaging was beautiful but the cheetos were not good. They were sweet but salty at the same time. Before dinner mom gave me some books that were easy to read, they had hiragana above the kanji chatacters. I read ponyo because I've watched the movie so I thought I would understand it better. Today's dinner was a 10/10 I really liked it. After dinner my host sisters and I took some pictures and then we played shiritori again, but this time using only words in Japanese. It was very stressful but fun at the same time. Also evey day I forget to mention things. So I'm adding something from last sunday right here: on our way home I saw a car accident. An ambulance and firefighters went to the place so I was able to hear the sirens and they were very different from America's.
December 11, 2019 Today my host mom gave me a bunch of hand warmers. I was very happy. It was also my last day with the 8th graders because they're going on a school trip so I brought them American chocolates. Rina and I were one of the first students to come in again. When my other friends came in we played UNO and another card game, I'm not sure what the name is, but Kosuke taught me how to play. I didn't really do much at school, for two of my classes students were planning their trip and for another class we watched a movie. I don't really know what it was about. I just know there was a guy who liked this one girl. I had a science class so I got to take notes, and do a tiny experiment with straws. I also had a math class with the seventh graders, it was pretty easy. And a class with the P.E. teacher but it wasn't exercise he just talked the whole period. I don't know about what but he did. At the end of the day I said goodbye to the eight graders, took pictures with them, and gave them their chocolates. One of the girls, was crying, she made me want to cry too. She was very sweet to me the entire time even though we couldn't have a full conversation. I'm surprised to see how I went from: almost no one knows me, to: people crying because I'm leaving. This goodbye made me realize how little time I have left before I go back home. I don't want to go back, yet. I'm really enjoying my stay here. This experience is really changing my life. I used the green phone again to call my host sister. She picked Rina and I up. When we got home they were studying so I fell asleep again. I was trying so hard not to sleep but it was impossible. When I woke up I had dinner, it was a Japanese soup...なべ. After dinner mom, Rina and I played a word game called shiritori. I'm not sure if we have it in America but it was my first time playing it and it was very fun. We also drew some animated characters to see who was the best artist. My host family is very cheerful they're always laughing.
December 10, 2019 Today I wasn't as cold as yesterday, I was checking the weather and apparently it is colder in my city than here. I don't remember it being that cold. I got to wake up 30 minutes later, so I was very happy. Rina and I were early to school, we were one of the first ones in the classroom. When my friends from yesterday walked in I invited them to play UNO we played a couple times today and I didn't one a single time. Tomorrow I will win for sure. Today I had three English classes but I only got to share about Christmas in two of them. And a science class, I think it's one of my favorites just because I get to write a lot. In my math class, students took a test I could understand what the questions were asking so I...didn't do it. When they finished they graded their own paper. In most of my classes we never ever grade our own papers I don't think teachers trust us that much. After lunch I got to help a student with his English assignment, I'm happy I can contribute to his learning. During one of my classes someone was taking pictures, I didn't realize he was part of MNCC stuff until I was reading my schedule so I was scared. My last class of the day was abacus, I got the hang of it pretty quickly and it was very fun. I'm also buying myself and abacus? Yes, I am. One of the teachers gave me a workbook so I want to keep practicing. Halfway through the class I went into a different classroom where students were doing problems with huge numbers. They were doing it tremendously fast. I was shocked. I want to learn how to do bigger problems. Once again we cleaned the classrooms. At the end of the day I shared my impression of the day to the class, in English and they tried to translate it. Today I got to use the green phone to call grandpa. He picked me and Rina up and then he took us to a convenience store and bought some snacks and ice cream. It was so cold but we still wanted ice cream. When we got home I sat next to the warm carpet and fell asleep for I don't know how long. When I woke up, it was dinner time. I figured out a way to sit without hurting myself. The food mom made was very good, it had shrimp and I love shrimp. After dinner I showed mom all the notes and drawings and did today. She wanted to take pictures of all of them. Later it was time to take a shower. Although I'm not tired, it's now time to sleep.
December 9, 2019 The temperature up here is way colder than what it already was. Last night I was so cold I couldn't really sleep. Also there is no bed here. We sleep on the floor which is surprisingly very comfortable. If it wasn't for the cold I could sleep forever. Yesterday I forgot to mention that the table is very low, there are no chairs so we just sit on a cushion. Half way through dinner I couldn't feel my legs at all, they were numb, and then it was painful. However, I really like this table because it is the warmest place ever. There is a blanket and the carpet is...warm, yeah. This morning I didn't have my best friend, カイロ the hand warmer, so I was cold cold. The good thing, I didn't have to walk to school. My new home is pretty far from the school so my host mom drives me and my host sister, Rina, to school. I had a different home room, so I wanted to learn everyone's name. I already know them so now I'm trying to learn their Kanji. Rina is helping me practice them. I had two science classes I don't know why, but I took notes and it was fun writing them down, do I now what they mean? No, I don't. When I speak more Japanese I will go back and read them. I had a math class. At first I didn't know what students were doing but then I realized they were doing ratios. Surprisingly I still remember how to do that. I only had one English class with the seventh graders. And even a morality class, I've never had a class like that before, wish I understood more. Right before lunch I made a bunch of new friends. We talked about sports and games and I just asked random questions to help them practice their English. They were all very nice. After lunch they invited me to play soccer, at first I was going to join them, but then I saw how good they were and I just took pictures. At the end of the day we cleaned the classroom and the halls. The first time I saw them cleaning I thought they would only do it once a week, but they clean everyday! There is a green phone at school students use to call their parents I think they put 20 yen. In America almost everyone use their phone at school even some first graders have a phone. My older host sister picked me and Rina up and when we got home we watched a concert from our favorite group. Later we had dinner, it was very good. My host sister said we would have hamburger so I was expecting like a hamburger?... But all the things inside the hamburger were served in a plate. Now I want to stay under the table forever it's so warm!
December 8, 2019 Today was my last day with my first host family. They told me to be ready by 11:00 to go to their shop and wait for my new family there. I woke early to pack up all my stuff but had a lot of time left so I went outside and read for. It was a beautiful day, there was a lot of light. When dad came to pick me up we took some pictures in front of the house. On our way to the shop we stopped to take a look at the beach and took more pictures. It was very pretty but also very cold. Their shop is next to the beach. There is also this type of market where people put their own products to sell. My family sells their mochi there. There was a lot of seafood, and the crabs were alive, it made want to cry. I made a new friend, she's Kosuke's cousin her name is Miori. We walked through the place for a while. There were so many boats. We then had some food from dad's shop and I drank coffee from the vending machine, I've never had coffee in a box before. Later we played soccer (not really, more like we kicked the ball with no direction) and frisbee. Kosuke and Miori got tired pretty quickly so we just sat inside the shop. Miori and I then had a photo shoot around the place. We took sooo many pictures together. When my new family came to pick me up, my host mom was crying and she made me cry too. No one has ever cried to see me leave at least not that I've seen it. I will never forget the Sakaki family they were very kind to me and tried their best to communicate with me. There will always be a very special place for them in my heart and thoughts. Even though I was sad to leave them, I was also very happy to meet my new family. We went to a very beautiful place, also next to the beach, and then bought takoyaki. I'm so happy I get to eat takoyaki often. It has always been a dream of mine to live in a mountain. As we were driving home, I was hoping it was all the way at the top. Every we stopped I was praying it was higher up. It was a long drive so I'm not sure how high up it is. When we got home, we had a delicious dinner! My new family seems very cheerful I am looking forward to knowing them more.
December 7, 2019 Today I got to sleep longer. I woke up at 7 and cleaned my room. I then had rice for breakfast, I think I will buy myself a rice cooker for Christmas, I really like it. At 10, we went to the mall. We first went into the game center, I wonder of people actually get things from the claw machine, it was very difficult. Then we went into this room where we took pictures that made our eyes look gigantic and then we got to decorate them. It was very fun! After the game center we walked through the mall I wanted to buy everything I saw, the clothes' style is very different from style I've seen in the U.S. We were very hungry so we went to eat sushi at this one really cool sushi place. At the entrance there was a robot which helped you check in. It spoke Japanese and English and I think Chinese. There was a lot of people waiting, but we didn't have to wait for long. The plates going around and we could grab whatever we wanted as long as it wasn't someone else's order. We could also order something if we didn't see what we wanted. After we ate lunch, I went back to the mall, I was able to pay by myself and communicate with the lady at the counter, I was very happy. Before we left I went into another store but this time I couldn't understand what the lady was saying. When we got home I gave my family their presents and they seemed very happy. I also got presents from them which was very sweet. I love love my host family I literally want to adopt the whole family. Later we played our daily dosis of games. I won UNO for the first time in forever. Today I will sleep earlier than usual because... I really don't know why but yes.
December 6, 2019 Today was my last day to walk to school from home. I wanted to appreciate everything on the way to school one last time so I didn't take any pictures this morning. Two students did a presentation about sushi I understood almost nothing but their drawings were pretty cool. I had a P.E. class again and I just watched...again. Everyone here runs a lot and I can't follow their pace. I appreciate my life, I don't want to end it running. Students practiced new moves in judo so it was very fun to watch. Then I had three English classes. Today I shared about my school, and our building. Right before lunch, I received a present. Apparently it was supposed to be trash but to me it is a sushi poster signed by a student. Lunch today was actually pretty good today. I also had a science class, I enjoyed it very much. They were talking about energy and static. While the teacher talked I learned a lot of new names and their Kanji. The teacher was doing some demonstration and everyone wanted me to try it. I was very scared because students were yelling and saying it was painful but I ended up agreeing to do it. It never worked on me so I was very happy. Today students cleaned their classrooms again. I helped to move the desks back and forth. I don't know why I get tired if I don't really do much, but when I got home I was very tired. I got to rest for a little and then we had dinner. Mom makes the most delicious food. Before coming to my room mom and I were talking about Japanese and Korean dramas. Now I have a lot more to watch on my free time.
December 5, 2019 Today I woke up at five to see how my host parents made their rice cakes. Dad's grandmother helps them too, she's 94! I got to try a different type of cake. I almost fell asleep at school. Every morning students say...this pledge type of thing, it sounds very cool but I have no idea what they're saying. My schedule today had a wider variety. I only had two English clases instead of three. Also two music classes, a science class, and a P.E. class. This time I only watched...they were doing judo, kind of scary. Students also wear different shoes inside the gym. In my English classes I shared things about my city, hometown and my favorite things from both places. In my second music class I got to play an instrument I've never seen before, koto...I think that's the name, it was very fun, I want to have one at home. The whole class played 'sakura sakura' and 'amazing grace' at the same time. I loved the sound of it. That classroom was very similar to my choir classroom. In my science class I had no idea what was going on, I understood very very few words. I think they were doing an experiment to observe energy and power but I don't know for sure. I finished my lunch early so I got to see what students did after they ate. They brushed their teeth, I've never seen that in the the U.S. At the end of the day, everyone wore their P.E. uniforms and cleaned their classrooms, they moved all the desks around to sweep the floor. Everyone had a task, I helped to clean the black board, and then put the desks back. I have never seen that at my school, students don't really take care of our building. As I was leaving a teacher told me to be careful because there was a suspicious man walking around...uhm SCARYY. I walked home with Mizuki, Tsuri and a new friend, his name is Hiroto he's a seventh grader with too much energy. When we got home I got to rest for a little and then we had a Takoyaki party (my favorite Japanese food!!) Mom made tortillas again so I think she really liked tacos:). Kosuke and dad played a game with black and white circles, I can't remember the name, but it was entraning to watch. By the end of the day my head wasn't properly working. I took a shower and by 9 I was already sleeping. 
December 4, 2019 Today I am very tired. This morning I was going to wake up early to help mom and dad make rice cakes but I was not able to. When I woke up, I got to try them. On my way to school I saw some old men talking and they asked me where I was from. I had three English classes again and a chance to present my family. I also had a P.E. class which was very tiring. I haven't taken a P.E. class in the last two years, I think I forgot how to breath while running. I was surprised to see their "water fountain" it is not like the ones in America. At lunch we had to eat with chopsticks and I couldn't grab a lot of food with them, I was the last one to finish and my hand was hurting. Yesterday I was too surprised by how students served lunch so I didn't realise there is classical music while we eat. After lunch, students had a meeting so mom and dad picked me up before school was officially over. They tooked me to the mall, it's my new favorite place. There were all kinds of stores even a grocery store! I went into Daiso and it had way more stuff than the ones I've seen in America. It was my first time spending Japanese yen, now I have a lot of coins. We also went to buy the ingredients to make a Mexican recipe. It was very difficult to find them all so I had to improvise and change the recipe a little. A lot of the ingredients are not sold here such as jalepeños. Once we got home I cooked for my family and they helped me. Mom was very excited to eat tacos and it made me very happy. It took me way longer than usually because of the changes I made to the recipe but we eventually had tacos. Everyone said it was delicious, even grandma. They were very surprised to hear that even kids like eating spicy food. After eating we showered and then played card games. I learned how to play another game today.
December 3, 2019 Today was my first day of school, dad said he would wake us up at 6:00 but I woke up at 5:00 and couldn't go back to sleep. I had rice and meatballs for breakfast, usually I either eat cereal or go to school without eating. On my way to school I experienced a lot of things. First of all it was really cold, mom gave me a hand warmer, it was my first time using it and I loved it. Whenever we crossed the street and cars had to wait we bowed and said thank you. Yesterday I went to school in a car so I didn't realize how steep it was. We had to take off our shoes and wear slippers inside.The students and teachers were very nice, I introduced myself over a hundred times! I had a tour through the school, and it is very small, there are only 46 students and...I think 17 teachers I can't remember. I went to three English classes and also got to be in the social studies class, I understood only very few words. The teacher gave me a worksheet but I couldn't do it so I just copied the answers from the girl next to me, it was good practice for my kanji. We then had lunch, I was surprised to see how organized students were. They all wore aprons, gloves, face masks, and covered their hair. They served our food, and afterwards cleaned up, no one threw away any food although they said they didn't really like it. As I was walking around the room I found a picture of myself!! I was looking through the booklet and found things about my high school and even a picture of my best friend. At the end of the day my sister and I came home walking with a lot of other girls from our class. Dad drove us to okishiki beach but it was too late to see the sunset, we might go back tomorrow it is very close. We then went to pick up Kosuke, my little brother, he was so happy to see me...he's my favorite person, this morning he was drawing manga with me as a character. On our way home we went to a temple and we threw a coin in a box and then...I didn't understand if we were praying or asking for something we wished. As we were leaving I had a mini heart attack...i dropped my camera, but it's okay:) Later we picked up my older sister, I liked the train station, I hope I'll be able to ride the train. When we came home dad showed me his work place, where they make the rice cakes, to apologize for the loud sounds I will hear tomorrow, I'm looking forward to helping them! We then had dinner and took a shower. Kosuke loves playing cards, today he thought me how to play a game, I can't wait to play it with my family and friends back in America. When I thought the day was over (everyone went to sleep) I was going to use dad's computer to transfer my pictures and I had the biggest struggle of my life. I had to translate everything because I was scared to lose the pictures. It took me like an hour but now I know the kanji for 'delete'. I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring. 
December 2, 2019 I wanted to make a friend at the airport so that I wouldn't be alone but the place was full of old people, and they all looked very tired. The plane was enormous, it had three rows the middle one had four seats and the ones on the sides had three. It was supposed to depart at midnight but for some reason it didn't until almost 1:00. I was never tired though it felt like the longest night of my life. I would look outside evey few minutes to see if the sun was out but it wasn't until the end of the flight that it rise. Most people in the plane were going to Indonesia, no one to Kagoshima so I didn't know where to go. I tried to ask for help but the guys didn't speak English and I couldn't connect to the Wifi. After walking around I found found Lily and Liana and about 20 minutes later we boarded the plane. It was way shorter than I expected. Koki, Makoto, and Lily's host family were waiting for us (I already knew their daughter!) and then we each went our own way. The driver's seat is on the opposite side as America so it felt strange to be the passenger, it also seemed as if no one was driving the cars. Makoto drove me to my host school to meet the principal, I was really scared and shaking. I realized how much Japanese I don't know, people speak way faster than the listening section from my textbook. I also met my host family there and they drove me home. My host sisters were not home yet so they gave me a tour and told me I could rest. I couldn't sleep because I was so happy. I have a beautiful scenery in front of my window so I just looked outside for a while. Once one of my sisters came home, Mizuki, we went out for a walk, it was really cold but I loved the place. There's a bunch of orange trees everywhere! We then came back to eat dinner my host mom's food was delicious. I tried using chopsticks and it was very difficult, I hope I can improve. After that, I took a shower and we played UNO, it was really fun. My host family is really sweet, they try to communicate in every possible way and they really made me feel like one of them. I am still not tired and I'm looking forward to tomorrow, my official first day of school. 
Tania's Photo album