Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Excitement and Nerves begin to kick in.

While I've had many opportunities to travel abroad, this is the first time I will be traveling without my parents. This trip to Japan is an opportunity I've waited for since I was 13. My interest in Japan started with anime. Typical right? Japanese entertainment such as anime and manga is so widespread, that it is hard to find someone who hasn't heard of it. Eventually that interest in anime  lead me to Japanese music and pop culture. I began to take notice of the language. Compared to other languages I've heard, Japanese just has a pleasant sound to it. I didn't officially learn Japanese until I entered college and it was my favorite class. Even though the class was Mon, Wed, Fri at 8:30am, I never wanted to miss a class. Since I don't have many opportunities here in the U.S to speak in Japanese, I'm hoping I can improve my language skills there.

As I am typing this, I'm just staring at the pile of clothes I have yet to fold and pack. I will be leaving tomorrow, Friday at 1:55pm, but I need to get to JFK airport by 10:55am. My host family, Nishigami-san consists of the father (Nobuhiko-san), mother (Ayumi-san), 13 year old daughter (Shuri) and 9 year old son (Rin). I've exchanged emails with Shuri and Nobu-san. I was pleasantly surprised how good their English is. Apparently Shuri and Rin both attend a school with a bilingual program. Just recently I chatted with my host mother on Facebook. Since Ayumi-san doesn't know English as well as the rest of her family, I did my best to communicate in Japanese. That is when I learned, typing in Japanese is difficult when you can't read some of the kanji characters. Regardless, I had a fun time chatting with my host mother, she's extremely nice. I can't wait to meet them on Sunday. I'm hoping they will like the souvenirs I got them.

What I hope to do on this trip is to completely submerge myself in Japanese culture while at the same time being able to examine the differences between Japanese culture and the American culture I grew up with. The Japanese ideas of social norms are so intriguing to me, it seems like it's the only culture with unique ideas like honnae and tatemae (Honest feelings and Facade). While I'm still brainstorming a topic to write for my ANT 311 (Immersion in Another Culture) essay, the Japanese social phenomena is certainly a worthy topic.

 I'd like to recommend a book which many of you studying abroad will find useful "Common Japanese Collocations: A Learner's Guide to Frequent Word Pairings." I find that the phrases they teach you in this book, you'll find yourself using quite frequently with your host family. I already find myself practicing certain phrases to say to my host family.

The nerves are expected since I will be living apart from my parents for the first time.  However, my excitement will no longer be suppressed when I step off that plane in Narita Airport. I have a feeling I will be so overcome with joy that I'm finally in Japan (the country I've dreamed of going to since I was in Junior High) that I might just jump for joy causing passing pedestrians to give me strange looks. Hopefully I can control myself. :)

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