My Year Abroad Report(S.K.)
The U.S. / Texas / I stayed Knox City.
(B) Area, climate, and environment
The area I stayed was like a country side. It is so huge but the population is so small. It is only 1,200 which is a number of Ryukoku School.
Climate is so unstable in Texas, so that is called Texas Weather. My image of Texas was always hot, but actually it is not. Basically it is hot, but suddenly cold weather comes and we can’t stay without sweater even we usually wear T-shirts or tank tops. It made me hard to choose clothes every day. Especially, during winter and spring, because the weather often changed from sunny to thunderstorm.
(C) Language school information
I had 2-week language program before I started my main high school. It was in Ohio and there were some students from other countries like Thailand, China and Vietnam.
The program was very helpful. We practiced how to greet at the first meet, how to continue conversations, the words we shouldn’t use in the public places, and so on.
The two weeks I spent in Ohio gave me a confident. In addition, meeting people from other countries was a good opportunity to practice make new friends in the U.S., because everything was new after we spread to each place, we stayed a whole year.
(D) High School Information
*I went to KNOX CITY HIGH SCHOOL. (Public school)
*I can tell the school is too small. The building is just a whole way. That’s it.
I was so surprised that, because I had never seen like that school.
You can see a lot of people in these pictures, but usually there are just around 10 students in each class. These pictures were just taken on the specific day.
- *Total number of students is only 80. Average number of students in my classes are 8 students. Maximum number of students in my class is just 13.
- *My first class starts from 8:00 and my last class finishes at 3:35. There are 8 classes per day and each class is 45 minutes.
- *My grade was Junior. My school schedule was like this.
|Learn terminology for that. Read a text book and answer the questions. Make a presentation about some judgements.|
|Eat and have a meeting at the cafeteria.|
|2, World History
|Read and answer the questions. Pair work to make a presentation for something about history to tell the details. Summary of the history.|
|3, BIM (Business Information Management)
|Learn how to manage money, plan my future with money. Practice typing. How to use Word, Power
Point, and Excel. How to make resume. Learn some vocab about business.
|4, Animal Agriculture
|Name of muscles, born, and parts of a body. How to ask and answer doctors questions whenever our pets are sick. How to treat animals as a vet.|
|5, Home Economics
|How to write a checking, raise our babies, manage monthly income. Name of some cooking stuff and how to cook correctly.|
|Lunch time & Break time
|6, Financial Math
|How to calculate about financial stuff like sales, taxes, and more about financial.|
|7, English 3
|Read long historical stories and answer the questions. Some vocab. Learn grammar and how to recognize how each word works. Watch a movie about the past.|
|This time starts from 2:50 and usually finishes at 3:35 (we do just some workouts), but if we participate in sports, we have athletics until more late time. (the finish time depends on the sports)|
*The most difficult assignment was English, because I had to read pretty long stories. Besides there were a lot of words that I didn’t know. I had to answer some questions that were also challenging, so it took so long time at first. However, gradually I could finish it earlier. I didn’t usually get homework or assignments. I just learned during the classes, but I tried to review what I learned. The contents that I studied at school was not too hard to learn even me except English.
*My favorite subject was BIM. I have some reasons. First of all, learning about money was very interesting. It really didn’t matter for me until I learned that, but after I started doing that, it caught my attention. I knew that it is really important to learn how to use, manage, and get money in my future.
My dislike subject was financial math, because honestly it was so easy and I felt like I could learn more about hard math even I don’t like it.
*I joined some club activities such as volleyball, cross-country, basketball, and track and field. The sports in my school changed with the seasons. That’s why I was able to join a lot of sports that I wanted to. I wanted to play volleyball a whole school year like I do in my Japanese school to be honest, but joining all sports was a really nice opportunity to know new friends and besides to make friends. Especially, basketball was pretty challenging for me to play with American students who can play well. However, some friends and teachers taught me how to play it, so I didn’t give up until the end of the basketball season.
What I thought I was interesting was Career Day. I went to the place that we learn about jobs and how to manage money when we grow up. I believe it is very good education to know them during teenagers.
*Positive aspects of school were that we were admired what we did during school year by a lot of teachers or parents at the end of school year, because school was so small due to the number of students, so teachers looked at each student. Every students got a bunch of awards. I also got some awards about volleyball as one of the greatest players and cross-country as a best runner. I tried not to be absent every practice in the morning and I ran without giving up, so I could get the award.
The woman next to me was my volleyball coach and BIM teacher.I got a leather jacket at that time for a gift as an exchange student.
On the other hand, negative aspects of school were that school was too small. First of all, the students were only 80 students as I told you earlier, so of course I knew every single one of them, but I felt like it was not enough. I wanted to know more people to communicate with more students.
(E) Host Family Information
*There were four people in my host family.
*I would prefer not changing host families, because I want to make a deep relationship between my host family and me by staying together for 10 months. Living with them a whole year makes more like an actual family in my opinion.
*The members were my host mother, grandmother, and two younger brothers. The youngest brother is 7 years old and he loves to eat and plays video games. It was easy to get along with him, because he is still small and so friendly.
The other brother is 15 years old and he was in sophomore which was under my grade. He didn’t talk too much, but he always helped me by giving me a ride to go somewhere and telling me about the U.S. or our town. Sometimes, I watched a movie and played with two nice brothers. Actually, staying with boys made me comfortable, because I have three elder brothers in my Japanese family. That’s why, it was easy for me to talk to them.
My host mother had been amazing. I was really lucky to have met her. She was trying to know about me, my town, my school, and Japan. She is kind, interesting, a good cooker, and she was like a perfect person. Whenever I felt bad, she always tried to help with some medicines and asking me my feeling. She also helped me by giving me a ride when I went to school, club activities, my friends’ houses even she was busy. She really treated me like her actual kid as she said so. I am so thankful that she decided to host me.
I had one more member in my host family. There was my host mom’s mom. I don’t know why but many of her family or her relatives called her Fat Mom, but actually she was so skinny, lol. I loved her so much like people do. She was 75 years old and she has such a nice heart. She loves everyone equally and she always gave me a lot of good words. The words usually came from Jesus. For example, she always shared her fruits or desserts she got from church or somewhere with me, because I love them. Then when I said, thank you for sharing your food with me, she said that Jesus said sharing some foods with someone is a good thing and brings a good luck. She believes in him as a Christian and she usually studies about Bible in her free time. I liked
*My home environment was just so amazing. My mom let me stay freely and I almost didn’t feel uncomfortable to stay at my host house. My host family was friendly and there was always a fun talk with them. My host mom didn’t like a messy house, so I helped a lot to keep our house clean by sweeping and mopping the floor and wiping tables. I like to clean up, so I helped it voluntarily. Also, my mom love to cook, therefore she made delicious food all the time. I am so thankful for her.
*I mainly spent time by earing together. We used a same table and communicated a lot. At first I really couldn’t understand English, so it was quite challenging, but gradually I could enjoy talking with them. Also I often watched some movies with my mom and a 7 year-old brother during the weekends. I love to watch them, so it was a good time.
I think the relationship between my host family and I was very good. I tried to be a real member of the family and also they tried to treat me like a real family member, so I assume we had a good relationship.
*The school I went to was very close and it took about 3 minutes from my house. In the morning, my mom usually took her kids and me there and after school, she or her relatives always gave us a ride.
(F) About the Culture
*Honestly it took time for a while, because everything was very new to me and I was kind of shy when I talked to American people even I talk a lot in Japan. I was not confident at all. However my host family and I tried to get together, so the thing meant a lot.
*I really didn’t get homesick. I think because the time went by so quickly and also I was in a lot of sports after school, so I was pretty busy. I just didn’t think about Japan. I was trying to get used to American life very hard and then the time had passed so fast.
*Language was a problem at the first two or three months, but it was almost solved by communicating and studying English.
*The food my host mom made was all good! She is good at cooking so she usually made dinner for her family. During school, lunch was provided by school cafeteria. There were like Nacho, hamburger, vegetables, and more various meal, but I didn’t like them, because they just didn’t fit me and I felt they were unhealthy, lol. The lunch was all free, so I just kept eating them during weekdays.
*Similarities between the U.S. and Japan were that teenagers like to talk about others. It’s like世間話. In addition, boys between the U.S. and Japan was similar to each other. For example, some of Japanese boys like to bother girls, right? American also are same. It was funny, because I felt like I was looking at boys in Global course in the U.S., lol.
Otherwise, most things were different between two countries. The thing especially I felt the difference was about greetings. American people are really friendly, so they always say “Hello” or “Hi” and ask “How are you doing?” or “How’s it going?” to everyone even they don’t know others like workers in stores. It’s just a greeting.
On the other hand, Japanese people don’t greet to strangers and don’t ask “How are you doing” or something like that at all, so the problem happened between others and me. Actually, the person who cared about my greeting didn’t say anything to me face to face. The story was told by my host mom. When the person asked me “How are you doing?” I just said “Good” and I didn’t ask “and you?”, so the person thought I was feeling bad. I actually was not, so I was so surprised to hear that. I usually ask too, but sometimes I forget that, because I don’t have that kind of culture in Japan. Then I thought communication by greeting is very important.
I had another situation. At the end of May. I saw a woman I have met in November last year at the first time. When I saw her again after 6 months and I was sick at that time, so I just said “Oh hi” then she was kind of sad because I didn’t really greet to her. She told me about that when I was talking with her at the night time. That’s why I told about Japanese culture. She understood it. About the greetings, I was quite shocked to hear about my not good behavior.
I was not thinking that at all, so I always tried to ask back afterword.
*I faced a cultural challenging about people personality. Some of students say whatever they want, sometimes It made me hurt. For example, one of my friends said she had only five friends in this class. The members were except exchange students. She and I pretty much talked together so I was sad honestly, but I changed my mind and thought each people have each opinion. Besides I just had met her so it might be different with other her friends.
*There were so many things to talk about Japan such as Japanese food, schools, daily life, god, houses, and where I live.
I wish I could answer about more anime or history, because when people asked me about history, I couldn’t answer.
(G) My Personal Growth
*My perspective changed like I could say yes or no. I mean I can say anything clearly. It’s because English needs to talk like that. We can’t be ambiguous with the language. I really tried not to say “I don’t know”. If I had said that, the communication had wouldn’t promote
*Especially I felt that gratitude for my actual parents. I felt my mom was always helping me anytime in Japan. Also I couldn’t go study abroad without their works. I was really thankful for that. I realized during the study abroad how much they have done so many things for me.
*I started thinking about my future that I really didn’t think until that time carefully. I think because I was staying with my family all the time in Japan, so I was depending on them, but I had to do something by myself in the U.S. I did them without my family so I have grown now I guess. I feel like I have a responsibility to do something by myself if I can do that.
*I would like to use this experience to tell people around me by telling them how similar and different the U.S. and Japan are. Also as I said above this topic, I can do almost things by myself now, so I really do want to help my mother by helping cooking or washing, hanging, and folding clothes, or cleaning, and anything I can do. I don’t want to take her time and I want her to have a lot of free time, because she is pretty busy.
In addition, I met a bunch of new people over there and I’m not scared of communicating with strangers at all, so I want to be a friendly person more. They I can know about many things by talking them. I think I feel more confidence than before.
*I want to tell many students what I leaned in the U.S., because I had a lot of experiences that I can’t have in Kobe Ryukoku or in Japan.
(H) Pre-Exchange reflections
*Tokyo orientation that 文際交流協会 held was kind of helpful.
*I wish I could studied English more before I had gone. It was so hard to join the conversations over there, so it kind of took a bit time. Also I wish I could have TOEIC or TOEFL test to know my English level.
*To be honest I don’t remember what was helpful for me. I just took a look at the English book that were written about the words or sentences used during the classes in the U.S.
(I) Advice for my Juniors
*I have two things to tell juniors. First of all, I don’t want you to feel shy or scared of talking with someone you don’t know. It is very important to communicate people to know them, the country you go, and also you can improve your English. Studying by yourself can do anytime anywhere, but talking with natives can’t be happen easily in Japan. That’s why I want you to think about what to do at that time.
Second of all, there are so many exchange students from other countries too and I don’t really want you to stay with them all the time to improve your English. It often happens that exchange students gather and talk, but it is not actually good a way to development your English, because they are not native English speakers so please try to get along with American teenagers.