こんにちは！My name is Paul, and I will be spending my next school year in Japan. I am currently a Freshman at Buckeye Valley High School. I am very excited to go, because I want to experience Japanese food and culture! I am looking forward to experiencing life in a culture that is very different than my own. This exchange will help me understand another country really well and to learn another language. When I return, I hope to complete my Japanese language training to the highest level. When I am done with high school I want to pursue a career in veterinary science. I like music and reading. I love playing my trombone in the band. This year was my first year in marching band and I really enjoyed it. I am hoping my host family will take me to Shinto shrines and teach me how to cook Japanese food. I am also hoping to experience Japan’s natural beauty. I will begin Japanese language tutoring on the tenth of February. I would love to thank Rotary District 6690 for allowing me this extraordinary opportunity. They are helping me to prepare for this journey and I hope to represent them well overseas. I would also like to thank the Delaware Rotary Club for sponsoring me with this scholarship. My parents also deserve my gratitude for letting me do this and providing support from the very beginning. ありがとう!
October 1, 2018
November 1, 2018
I’ve been here for a little over 2 months and I still absolutely love. Early in the month of October, there was a festival in my city of Yokkaichi. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the whole festival as I had to go somewhere else which I will talk about later.
The festival was especially fun for me as I got to have a part in it. I’m not sure how to describe what we had in the festival other than it was a giant cart. Basically, it was this big thing on wheels with decorations and a giant lady on it from the local shrine. We had a performance that included someone playing the flute and drums. Eventually the lady flew back to reveal a big tanuki. There were a bunch of cranks in our cart and I got to control the Tanuki’s ears which was fun.
While the festival was still going on I went on a little trip with a Rotarian (who is also one of my future host parents). We went to a city in a neighboring prefecture to watch an event. We boarded a boat and floated down the river a bit then stopped and had dinner. We played a few games but as most them involved alcohol, I couldn’t really participate too much. After this, the main event started. Boats with giant torches on them emerged. Tied to the boats were groups of ducks. The ducks bobbed in and out of the water attempting to catch fish. The ducks did not catch many fish but it was still fun.
I also visited the city of Kyoto with my school which was very fun. On October 13, I changed my host family for the first time. My current host family has no children that live with them but that’s fine. My parents are cool.
Since it is October, I got to celebrate my real birthday (October18). Some of my friends from school got me gifts and my host family bought us some cake to eat. Later, they let me buy some clothes from a store for my birthday.
December 1, 2018
Hello, everyone! November has been a pretty eventful month for me. Early on in the month I went to a meeting with my school’s interact club. I’m not in the interact club but I was able to attend as it was a Rotary event. It was pretty interesting. First they gave presentations about fish then about a particular craft. I’m unsure of the name of the craft but basically someone makes pretty designs by putting a bunch of little holes and things into a piece of fabric. After this we got to view some of the fish that they spoke about and they were adorable. We also got to do the craft. We were given a template to use. We got lunch and listened to more speeches, including a speech from me. It was a fun trip.
Later on in the month I went on another fun little day trip. This time it was with my host club plus some other people. It was a little tour of a variety of areas. Occasionally, we stopped to look at the view. Eventually we got to a dock. We boarded a boat and had a quick look around the area. From the boat we could see many cool things. One of these was a small island dedicated to a shrine. Ghost sightings are often reported there. After this we boarded the bus and went to the place that we ate dinner. It was a really nice crab dinner. I had never eaten any crabs before then so it was a fun new experience. I think crabs taste really good. That was an awesome little trip.
Further into the month, I went on one of the trips sponsored by Rotary. This time the new outbounds were there and it was really fun to meet them. This trip had two parts. First we went to a nice little house and made pottery. It was really fun. I wasn’t very good and my pottery ended up breaking but I it was still a lot of fun. Someone who had an extra pottery let me have their extra so it’s all good. After creating pottery and drinking some green tea we headed to Nagashima resort. It is pretty popular so I was excited to go there. The first day there we got to view a light show called Illumination. It was really beautiful. It was similar to the light show that the Columbus Zoo does and I really liked it. The next day we went to the resort itself. There where many large roller coasters. It was my first time riding large roller coasters and it was scary at first. However I came to really enjoy it and by the end I was riding the scary ones with many twists and loops. It was also a first for many of the outbounds. It was a great chance to talk with and get to know them. We had loads of fun riding the rides and ate hamburgers which was great for me because ‘Murica. I thought that whole trip was really really fun.
The final trip I took this month was with my friend and her family. We went to Osaka to watch a Judo tournament. I know nothing about Judo so it was fun to learn. Although I did get sick on this trip it was a good trip all in all. Obviously, November was a pretty eventful month.
January 1, 2019
Hey! December was another fun month for me. It started with me moving host homes. I returned to the city I’m started in which I was happy about since I love this city.
My new host family is awesome and I really like them. I live with my host mother, host father and 2 siblings. I actually have 3 host siblings but since they are all adults one of them lives a bit away and has a small child. They do visit often though and her son is really cute. His name is Haru. My host brother works in the family business that we live next to with my host mother and father. I’m not really sure exactly what it is they do though. I’m also unsure as to what my other host sister does. We also have a dog and a cat. I am the dog’s favorite, so that’s good.
I also finally joined a club at school. I joined the archery club, or Kyudo to be more exact. It’s basically Japanese archery and it’s really cool! The bows they use in Kyudo are taller than I am. It’s very difficult and requires a lot of work but it’s worth it and it’s really fun. We have practice every day except for Sunday. In comparison, the other clubs usually have only practice 4 weekdays. I have become friends with the other club members and they are all really awesome and look really cool when they shoot a bow. They even had a pizza welcome party for me!
Moving on, I went to 2 different Christmas parties. The first was hosted by Rotary. It seems to be an annual thing they do as they showed pictures from last year. It started like any standard Rotary event with people, myself included, giving speeches. It did not stay that way. They served food, and while we ate, some Rotarians came out dressed as Santa, Rudolph, and a Christmas tree. They called every kid, from teenagers to small children, on to the stage. They gave all of us a boot full of candy which was nice. They took a picture of us with a Polaroid camera. We also played bingo for Christmas gifts. I won some face masks but I traded it to one of my future host moms for a Baskin Robin’s gift card. What I really was wanting though was one of the rubber chickens that make noise – that’s all I needed in life at the time.
The second Christmas party was from my school’s interact club. I’m not in the interact club but they still invite me places, which is cool. We played some games including Bingo. Bingo seems to be a thing in Japan. I won some chocolate so I was happy.
Near the end of the month we had a rotary meeting with all the inbounds and outbounds which is way less common in Japan than in America. It was fun to talk to everyone. We also all had to give speeches. Mine was the 5 minute one I prepared before I left for Japan. The outbounds gave a short speech in English and that was nice.
February 1, 2019
Hello again! January has been another great month. I didn’t switch host homes this month but I will soon. I do really like this family and my host brother.
Obviously the month started off with New Years. The celebration is pretty different from America but I liked it. On the first day of January my family made a traditional New Years dish which is basically a bunch of different foods in small portions that have some sort of meaning. Then they gave me this guy called a kagamimochi. It is two cake things of mochi with an orange on the top and leaves around it. It protects you in the coming year. I named mine Oliver. I also got a bunch of money from my family which was really nice.
After that we went to two different shrines which is traditionally done on New Years in Japan. The next day we had a family dinner. Not just my host family but some of their extended host family members as well. It was fun to talk to everyone.
Japanese New Years usually extends out 3 days. I don’t know what they did on the third day because I went to a neighboring large city to hang out with other exchange students. Because of Australia’s schedule, exchange students from Australia arrive and leave in January. It was basically me, the them, and the outbounds that could make it all hanging out in Nagoya. For whatever reason the first thing we did was find a basketball court and play basketball/soccer with each other. After the final outbound student arrived we went to a karaoke place.
I love karaoke in Japan. It’s so fun and since Japanese people don’t usually do English songs we got 1st place on several songs. When we were done we took one of those pictures that Japanese teens always take before going our separate ways.
Many cool things with my archery club happened this month. I’m still not great and don’t actually have my bow yet but practice is really fun. They even had a pizza party as welcome for me and the other relatively new guy. I received about half of my supplies which included a Hakama – the traditional uniform of Japanese archery. We practice almost every day, and it’s nice to have something to do Saturday.
I haven’t met them in person yet but the new inbounds also arrived. They are four Australian kids. I am excited to meet them this Sunday.
Since I’m leaving my current host family soon they did something nice for me as a goodbye. First they bought a cake that said “Thank you Paul” in Japanese which was awesome. Then they gave me this little photo album with all the good pictures they’ve taken with me in this house.
March 1, 2019
April 1, 2019
Hey y’all! March was another amazing month for me in Japan. I did many fun things this month as well.
This month I did many fun things with my host family. We did things such as go bowling and eat at restaurants. I even got to go to one of my his brother’s baseball games which was fun. Once we went to a restaurant with some of my extended host family and I (allegedly) met Miss Yokkaichi (my city) of 1999 which is cool. I also had fun hanging out with the other exchange students. We ever went to a maid cafe which was an interesting experience because none of us had ever been to one before and I don’t think any other country has them so none of knew what to expect. It was really expensive but fun the food was good and the maids were all really chill for some reason I think it was different from what we were all expecting.
Later in the month my archery club threw a party for the third year students who are leaving and going to college. It was very fun we ate yakiniku (I believe it’s called Korean barbecue in America but I’ve never been to one before Japan so I wouldn’t really know) and gave them some gifts. They are all really great people and it was very fun to hang out with all of them including the third years one last time.
Next was the rotary ski trip which was big. I actually snowboarded which not many people did but I thought it was fun. The bus there was 7 hours long but it was cool because exchange students can turn anything into a party. We met with other districts in Japan and had a dance performance from each district. I actually met two other people I met at Otterbein including the dude I roomed with which was pretty cool. We had two days of skiing and went home. I fell a lot but it was still fun because I felt really cool when I wasn’t falling. Soon after that I changed host families. But right before I changed I went to a really cool ninja thingy in a city called Ueno. We all dressed up as ninjas and I even got to shoot a blow dart as well as throw ninja stars.
May 1, 2019
Heyo! I had fun again this month, as always. Since spring started, that means cherry blossom trees in Japan. There are way more of them just around the place than I’d expected but they are really pretty so it’s nice. I got to go out a couple times just to look at them. The next important thing to happen this month was a 3-day long archery training thing with my club. We went to a popular city in my prefecture (Ise) where there was a large Japanese archery area. It was very long and my muscles hurt nearing the end but it was really fun and I got a lot better while I was there. I also got two shots in a row for the first time (while I was being written down even) which was a nice achievement. The hotel room was wonderfully weird since there are only 6 dudes including me in our club and they gave us rich people food so I’d say it was a really great weekend. Soon after that I learned that my host club was doing this sorta exchange thing with a Taiwanese rotary club. What I mean by that is, earlier when I was at some other host home my current brother and other children of rotarians went to Taiwan as a few days long trip. Now, the children of the Taiwanese rotarians came to Japan and stayed at our homes. We had a dude whose English name was Rex. We went to some famous places in our generally vicinity and showed off some of Japan’s sights to them. They couldn’t speak Japanese but they were pretty decent at English so it was fun for me to do my best and help out. This month some of the new first year kids actually joined our club so that means we got to teach them completely, critiquing everything which is fun for me atleast. I like the first years and teaching them so really fun I just hope they don’t become better than me before I leave. Later on, my rotary had a “family trip” no clue why they call it that but I guess it was this time since my host dads a rotarian. We got one 2 big buses and went to several places. We saw this play called Ocean’s 11 I’d never heard of it so I don’t know if it means anything to anyone else. After this we mostly just stopped at nice little areas to buy stuff then left. We ended up eating dinner at this nice resort place where I ate more rich people food so yay me. After this, I went to a soccer game with my host fam. I didn’t even know who was competing before I got there and I ended up cheering for the losing team but it was all fun. Soccer is way different here they all bring these long towels and wave them like flags, it was fun. In the end, Nagoya beat Hiroshima 1-0.
June 1, 2019