Japan so far has been an experience that compares to no other,

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Japan so far has been an experience that compares to no other, and though I apologize for my lateness in update I am glad that I write to you all now, for now is a better time and before was marred by much difficulty. Of course, difficulties can be triumphed—as they have been—but now I can be much more positive about all of it and speak with clear conscience.


Each day I live surrounded by unspeakable beauty; my city is framed by mountains to one side and sea on the other and I see the mountains each day on my trek to school. Everything is lush and the weather (and different climate!) have definitely been an adjustment. Kanazawa has the strangest weather of any place I’ve ever encountered and even though it is the England of Japan (with more rainy days than not) I love it.


I remember when I was in transit between Canada and Japan and as soon as I boarded with my Japanese airline and the stewardess started speaking to me in Japanese I had a big, What am I doing? Moment. I felt indescribably unprepared and there were so many things I’d meant to do but hadn’t and let me tell you, it was a long flight. I stepped off the plane and my lungs breathed in so much humidity that it felt as though the air in my lungs was more fluid than gas, and it was sort of in that moment that I realized things had changed.


It definitely took a while, but I have found the Japan I sought all those months ago when I sat lying in wait, hoping that Japan was the country I’d be sent to. It’s such an amazing place to be. I’ve found my own place here, within my school and within my host family. Though I move host families often, it’s not so bad; it’s just more people to meet, really. And speaking of people to meet, I couldn’t have been sent to a better school. The teachers are very supportive and try to help me, even though most of them don’t know English and the students are the same. There are many students who are kind to me and I have many friends in my class. Now that people are beginning to realize that I can speak some Japanese, students are very impressed and many are trying to seek me out now, now that they are able to communicate with me a little bit. My school is also the only school ever to give an exchange student private Japanese lessons and it’s helped me so much. I’ve made a lot of progress and though Japanese is a very difficult language, I love it.


We don’t have many exchange students in my district; there aren’t many students in Japan, period. It can be a little tricky sometimes because with such a small number of kids (seven, including me) people can start to get on each other’s nerves, but it’s not so bad. We get along well and they’re good to talk to when things get tough, because they’re the only other ones who really understand what’s going on.


It’s sort of crazy how quickly things have become normal. Tiny square cars with crazy colours are normal, and so are their crazy drivers. I was always told that European drivers were bad, but whoever said that had never been to modern Japan, where the roads were built around the buildings and not the other way around. Despite all the modern technology (or stranger technology—most toilet seats are heated, and the showers talk) there is still a lot of old Japan left and it’s such a sight. This past weekend I travelled into the mountains to visit one of the oldest running villages in Japan alongside two fellow exchange students and it was a blast. You’re not allowed to smoke anywhere in the village because all of the buildings are made of wood and grass. We were given the afternoon to explore and went inside of a couple of the houses—which people still live in, by the way—and got to experience a wholly different way of life. It was awesome.


As for my everyday life? Japanese, Japanese, and a little more Japanese. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard at anything before and I’m always practicing and trying to speak with my friends, my host family. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my host family because they’re very busy, but hey, I can’t complain. They’re really nice and my host parents are pretty good cooks. Soon I’ll be moving onto a new host family, so wish me luck!