Japan Letter #1

September 9th 2007

Dear Friends,

First and foremost I would like to tell you all that I wish I could have brought you all along and that we could share this amazing experience together. I will try my best to fill you in on my life here; as to share the experience one way or another! I will begin by telling you about my host family. My family consists of seven members (not including me) living together in a very small home. There is a Mom, Dad, Gandpa, grandma, and three children. The children are 17 years old,16 years old and 10 tens old. The youngest and the eldest of the children are boys. The middle child is a girl. The host mother is a young energetic women who cooks well, shouts at her children and dogs, and plays Pokemon on her Gameboy in her spare time. The host father is a truck driver and a prankster. I never understand his jokes (which are probably very rude) but after he speaks the family laughs and his wife slaps him on the back. The host grandpa is an energetic senior who plays baseball everyday with his youngest grandson. He has drafted me into the daily game of baseball. The games can get intense because the grandpa is a retired baseball trainer and has very high athletic expectations.

The host grandmother is the families homemaker and the diamond in the rough of this far fetched family. She is very talented at folding cloths (everything here is an art). My eldest host brother is a drummer in a band, and I have the pleasure of sharing a bedroom with him and his drum set. The host sister is rarely home. When she is home she spends her free time sleeping on the living room floor. She avoids her room because she believes that her room is haunted by a ghost! (I’m serious). The youngest brother is a peppy little creature. He runs around the house naked while screaming Japanese baseball chants. He is amazing at baseball, thanks to his grandfathers demanding coaching. Living down the road from my host family is my host cousin. He is a tall, plump boy with budding facial hair. He and I go to same school together. I feel that I am very lucky to have been placed in such a large and friendly family.

During the week, I have school from Monday to Saturday from 8:20 until 4:10. Then after school every student has to join an after school club. With my school being an all boys school the sports clubs are extremely competitive and quite difficult to join. So to side step entering a sports team, I joined the schools hip-hop dancing club. I spend my free time after school pretending I can dance. During the day I attend Japanese language class in a special room much like Anitas ESL room. In this room the other non-Japanese student(singular) and I study Japanese together. The other 50% of my school day is spent in regular classes, where I stare at the wall in blind confusion. My classmates are very nice to me, yet it is quite rare for them to talk with me. Yet slowly they have become chattier around toward me. School can have its ups and downs as any school can. I guess, its really important for people to talk to new and foreign students, At lest I’ve noticed that it is important to me to be talked to, even if rarely. This school was not my first choice institution but I will learn a lot about Japanese life from this interesting and overly manly environment.

The town where I live is considered to be rural. More then half of the land is a gigantic rice field. This rice field is so large that when the wind blows I can watch the wind approach as it crosses the expanse of the field. Its pretty neat. From my home to school takes an hour and ½ to commute. I ride a bike to the local train station and then take three transfer trains. The train is often so crowded that that I am forced to brush up against other passengers. I tend to exit the early morning train with a feeling of relief to be out of it.

My school is located in Japans fifth largest city, Nagoya. Nagoya is an enormous metropolis with a large castle and Ferris Wheel as trademark parts of the cityscape. I feel very luck to be able to go to school in a large city and to live in a rural town by night. I have encounted many amazingly embarrassing moments. I forget important words, I called my host mother cute instead of young, I sat in the wrong classrooms because the students seemed so similar. On the first day I was giving a speech on my entire school and during the speech I took a short pause to find a word in my mind. My school assumed I had finished speaking and began to clap. My last words had been “ I cant read anything at all” I just sank off the stage embarrassed. These embarrassing moments are part of the learning process?

Beyond my constant embarrassment and confusion I have been enjoying Japan. I have settled in me routine and the oddities of Japanese life no longer surprise me, but interest me. I hope that everyone is doing well with his or her first full week of school. I miss being able to express myself and I miss my FSS freedoms. Classmates, dont worry about the college application process it is far easier and less stressful then everyone says it is. Please fill me in on life in Philly, do we have new students, new teachers, new rules, did anyone not come back? Although I am away I am very much so a FSS student. Its nice for me to hear news from FFS. E-mail me when you get this, I may not be able to reply to everyone, but I will try!

P.S. I will E-mail again in Oct. I have very little computer time, this letter was the result of two days worth of computer time.

P.S.S I cant find the apostrophe key at all! warm Regards-Deren Temel 9/10/07 5:45 pm

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