Hello, my name is Natasha. よろしく！Nagoya, Spring 2012
In the past few weeks, I can’t count the number of times I have said the above words. It feels as if every day I meet someone new. Life here is a constant struggle to turn new family and friends into familiar faces. Sounds easy right? Well, not if you’re terrible at matching names to faces and everything is in a foreign language… but it sure is exciting!
The first people I met after orientation were my host parents and I couldn’t have asked for a better first encounter. When they walked through the door, I immediately recognized them from the photo they had sent me and when I grabbed my bag, my host dad graciously offered to carry it despite my insisting that it was far too heavy. We then proceeded to a nearby café for lunch where, to my surprise, I succeeded in carrying a conversation in Japanese about family, food, travel, etc. Since I’m their 12th host kid, my host parents are quite experienced in using simple Japanese and being patient while I struggle to communicate with my limited vocabulary.
They live in an apartment about 45 minutes from the university where I have my own room, although I spend most of my time in the living room with my host parents. I’ve discovered so much about them in just a week! For example, my host mom likes to eat her eggs with a spicy Indonesian sauce (just like my real mom!). She also likes to watch dramas and listen to Kpop (she even went to a concert in Korea). I’ve also discovered that my host dad has a tendency to forget his cell phone which led to quite a fun day at the supermarket when we lost him and found him later sitting in the car, waiting for us. Oops!
Contrary to most Japanese families, my host mom is definitely head of the household. Although in many ways the typical Japanese wife, cleaning and cooking (such a great cook!), she also tells off my host dad when he waits too long to take his bath or uses difficult vocabulary when talking to me. They joke around and it only helps make me feel more at home.
They also organized a welcome party for me where I met their son, their friends, and one of their previous host students who studied abroad 5 years ago but is now working in Japan!
The host family experience was definitely the right choice for me. Although communication can be rough sometimes, I always have my electronic dictionary if needed and I already feel as if my Japanese is improving. Having host parents also made getting settled in Japan fifty times easier since they helped me get my Japanese insurance, cell-phone, commuter’s pass, and more all on the first day! The real benefit though is feeling like I have a home away from home and with host parents like mine, I truly lucked out.
Now for a trip to my host family’s… in photos!
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