This summer, I was granted the opportunity to be an exchange student in Nagasaki, Japan. There, I stayed with a host family, who really became a special part of my family. The experiences and knowledge I gained from this exchange will last me a lifetime.
My first day in Nagasaki was, honestly, quite scary. I arrived at the airport and was met by the strangers that I was to live with for the next six weeks. Not that they weren’t nice or anything, but I didn’t know anything about them, and I was in a foreign country. However, soon it was too late to turn back. We were driving away from the airport, my only way back home.
I soon got over my fright and settled into a routine at my Japanese house. Then, I started to grow fond of my Japanese family.
I knew that my host family had started to grow fond of me too. Every weekend, they would take me to different cities in Nagasaki. I remember my first trip to Nagasaki City. My host family had read on my profile that I went to church. Nagasaki being the Christian part of Japan, the city had many churches. So, my host parents took me to one on my first Sunday in Japan. However, it was a Catholic church, and I’m not Catholic, and my host family isn’t even Christian, so, needless to say, we didn’t stay long. This event ended up being something we looked back upon and laughed about. One thing that I did learn from that small event was the generosity of the Japanese. My family was willing to put aside their religious beliefs to make me happy.
The event above was just one of the many random acts of kindness/generosity I experienced in Japan. The people of Japan are amazing, and they don’t care who you are, they will kill you with kindness! It was nice to be part of a culture that is so respectful and kind to one another. I wish it was that way here.
I also attended Japanese high school. It was very different! The students showed respect to their teachers by not talking when the teacher was talking and by bowing at the beginning and end of class. The students took care of their school themselves by having fifteen minutes of cleaning time each day devoted to doing things like: sweeping floors and taking out trash. The school had no janitors, so whatever the students did to the school, they would have to clean up. The biggest difference was the personality of the students. My first day of school I was immediately accepted and they were very kind and eager to hear about the U.S. Their English wasn’t perfect, but they really tried to communicate. In the U.S. nobody would care if there was a new student, and it could take days or weeks for a new student to find new friends. My first day of school I was immediately comfortable with the students in my class.
When people ask about my trip, they always want to know the differences between the cultures. But the thing is, the more you think about the differences, the more you realize how alike we are. Sure, we speak different languages, have different ways of greeting people, and we eat different foods, but when it comes down to it, we’re all people. That is the biggest lesson I learned from my trip. It’s something that only this once in a lifetime opportunity could teach me.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.