My host family - Risk gone right
Hello again all! Now that you know a bit about me, I can tell al about my challenges and great experiences I have had here in Tokyo.
When I first came to Tokyo, I was very nervous because very few people chose to do homestays. My line of thought when applying was that I would be able to get the full effect of Japanese life by living in a Japanese home. After hearing of horror stories from past CIEE students of curfews, miscommunications, and just bad matches, I began to get worried.
We didn’t find out information about our families till we got here. Even though I read over our package explaining our host family members’ names, likes, and hobbies about a million times, I couldn't help to be nervous. Meeting with my host mother for the first time in the CIEE office felt as if I were an orphan, getting adopted by a new family. The night before, I had bought a whole new outfit just for the occasion so I could make a good first impression.
When walking in the room and seeing my host mother, all I could think is “wow, she looks so nice!” And she was! I then went on to gain a host uncle, aunt, father, and 2 year-old little sister named Haruka. They made my beef stew, out of a can because they wanted me to feel comfortable with American food, which I thought was the sweetest thing!
After that, all the American ways of living were out of the window lol
I have a room that is way bigger than the one I have in the US and sleep on a futon on top of a shag rug, which is pretty comfortable. Every morning, we get up at 6:30 for breakfast and to see my Otoosan (father) off to work. Literally, we stand by the door and wave as he walks out like a cute little family. If I am around, naptime is from 2-4 and then there’s snack time (which I love! Lol). Dinner is at 7:30 and is always something new and delicious. If I am not going to make it for dinner, I can just call ahead and let my mother know and its okay so no worries.
The bond grows strong:
The first outing we had together as a family came very quickly. We went to Tsunahachi Tempura, which is a famous restaurant known for the best Tempura around (Tempura (天ぷら or 天麩羅 tenpura) is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried.) They even paid for me to try the dessert, which was Tempura ice cream with a strawberry sauce. The BEST thing I have ever tasted! Here is where I realized that my parents are awesome! They are so funny and I can talk to them about anything. We went around Shinjuku and shopped for a while before coming home, and from then on I knew
Since my host parents now brag about me to the entire family about how hard working and nice I am, the whole family wants to meet me. I had the great honor to go with my host family to Odawara and to meet my host father’s parents. I felt very lucky to have gotten such a good deal, having been really accepted into this family. My grandmother owns her own shop where she sells jewelry, bags, antiques, and random trinkets she collects from around the world. This shop is connected to her home, which is just as beautifully decorated with exotic pieces.
After lunch, we took a trip to the same Shinto shrine that my host parents got married in. Since it was the day of the dog (the dog symbolized productivity and is plays a major role in delivery preparation), I got to whiteness first-hand a ritual prayer for easy-birth for my unborn host little brother. It was great to be part of such a meaningful ceremony.
Then, we went to the most amazing Narukawa Art Museum which from its café, you can view Mt. Fuji and a lake full of ships and swan boats. It was amazing and the art was astonishing. I recommend this place to anyone brave enough to venture that far out.
We made a few more stops and finally went back to the pretty house. Here we had a sushi dinner. This would be my first time eating real Sushi and I was excited! My host family didn’t think I would be able to eat it all and like everything but when I did, I was offered a permanent place in the family lol. They all stared and simultaneously said, “You know you don’t have to go back to America right?” It was great. As a bonus, my host mother let me choose any Italian bag or bow she had in her shop, which brought me to tears.
Couldnt have dreamed it better
Since I have been here, my host family has taken me to see the best fireworks I have every seen, shopping around, and have provided more than what they have to for me. I never imagined I would see these “strangers” as a real family. I love them dearly and know I will come back soon to stay with them again. Deciding to take this great leap of faith to live with them has been one of the best choices I have made and I cannot thank CIEE enough for finding such a perfect match!