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There's No Place Like Home

So I confess: I've just about hit the month mark, and this morning I had a moody bout of homesickness. I was just sitting at my desk before class started and suddenly this thought popped into my head: "Why did I do this? I'm going to be killing myself when I get back." So I was sitting there indulging in a pity party, when one of the English teachers, Abe-sensei, walked in and mentioned that I looked a little sad. One short explanation later she essentially told me to quit whining and deal with it. All with classic Japanese politeness, of course. So I figured I'd post this reminder of home instead:

We made chocolate chip cookies! They didn't taste quite the same, probably because I had to convert from our measurements to grams and stuff, but they still tasted like home.

And per request (yup, I do read the comments, even if I haven't figured out how to actually reply to them!) Here's a breakdown of my school day by class for today:

8:25am- Buddhist prayers
That's my prayer book and beads. We have to wind them around our hands and chant something that I don't understand. Since I'm (obviously) not Buddhist, I just stand there in silence.

1st Class: Self-Study. I have two of these a week. For now I'm working on a poster about America for the school, but after that I'll either read or drill on my kanji or something. (Unless they give me more to do.) It's a pretty nice break to work on something that you understand.

2nd Class: Japanese. I have three of these a week; two of them by myself and the third with the other exchange student. I have a textbook that AFS sent with me, so I flip through it and identify things that I don't understand and then the teacher goes over them with me. She doesn't speak much English, which makes for an interesting class, but we get along. Today we reviewed the 自己紹介 (jikoshoukai-self introductioin) that I wrote in Japanese for the school newsletter and then worked on different versions of 'this'. これ,それ,and あれ (which mean this, that, and that over there) and all variations therof.

3rd Class: Domestic Science. I have two versions of this class; in one it seems like it's health (at least the textbook I have is about food) and in the second version I'm sewing a yukata (Japanese summer kimono). I am learning how to use a sewing machine, which I've never used before, in Japanese. I have no idea how this is going to work out. Thank goodness my classmates are super helpful!! They are all so awesome!

4th Class: Computer Studies. The current assignment is to write a 3,000 word newspaper article, Japanese style. The teacher said I could write in English, but I'm working on writing it in Japanese as much as possible. The topic was open-ended, so I picked the history of AFS (something I knew about!). So with the aid of my trusty dictionary I am very slowly writing something. There will be English at the end, it's inevitable. Mayuko, one of my classmates, said the teacher was impressed that I was actually trying. Aparently other exchange students just sat there or something.

12:30 LUNCH. And an obento (boxed lunch) made by my host mom! We all eat in the classroom and just sit around and talk. Usually I just listen since everyone talking at once gets pretty overwhelming. We get a full period for lunch, which I'm pretty sure is something around 40 minutes.

5th/6th Class: Biology. The science classes are the ones that I have NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON. Because the textbooks are naturally all in Japanese and since it's mostly lecture style I can't really follow. Slightly worrisome for when I get back. But I guess I've decided to try to identify the topic of the day and then do some poking around on my own on the internet. Today's topic was (I'm pretty sure) about blood types, HIV, DNA/RNA and something to do with volcanoes. I take as many notes as I can (whatever the teacher puts up on the board) and try to translate at least the topic name. Which leaves some free-thinking time, where I usually just zone out.

And that's my normal Wednesday! I'm trying to join the tennis club, so possibly I'd have tennis practices at some point but for now I just head to the train with a group of friends. Tomorrow is a school-wide 大樹際 (taikusai-sports festival) rehersal, so no classes YAY!

Sorry for the large block of text folks, it looks like I got pretty detailed there.


  1. Hi Claire this is Minam. It was good to hear that you are doing good in school:) I sometimes feel homesick too so you don't have to worry. taiiku-sai will be 体育祭、体育 means making body and 祭means festival! I hope you'll have fun in Japan! See you:)
    PS:If you like vocaloid there are VOCALOID songs in karaoke so remember the name and look it up:)ボーカロイド(Japanese)

  2. Claire, you are amazing! That sounds like so much fun, and I would love to try something like that! Thanks for explaining your day, it was really great to read! I like the sound of your biology class :-D This post really made me laugh! Nice cookies ;-D almost like the ones at school that they don't have right now...

  3. Bio in Japanese Hmmmm not too fun there but hey if you fail a test, which you probably won't, you have an excuse :P . I'm sorry you home sick but it'll all be worth it in the end i mean all the memories! plus i got contact with my exchange student aka Belu short for Bethlehem and she's awesome and amazing and write fluently in english! miss you bunches! and bunches! and bunches!

  4. Do they transfer credits somehow to Payton? SO challenging! I can only imagine what it would be like to learn science or math in another language. Yikes!!!

    Love you so! Clare


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