The Journey Begins

It is exactly two weeks before I embark on my journey as an exchange student in Japan, and I’m only slightly losing my mind as the date approaches. Counting down the months and days from December 2017 until now, the smaller the number gets, the more nervous and excited I become.

It was a spontaneous decision to apply for an exchange; one made back in December of 2017 after questioning my decision to go on a school trip to Japan for two weeks during the 2018 spring holidays. I knew my motivations behind wanting to go to Japan weren’t in line with what I was going to get out of that school trip and I was at a loss to do. Until I had the impulsive thought to apply for an exchange after being inspired by people making youtube videos about there exchange trips in Japan. One Monday night I had the initial idea to go on exchange, and by Friday I was sending in the first application.

The past seven months have been hectic from filling out the 20-page full application form, having a very helpful but slightly nerve-racking interview with Mari (the exchange coordinator) and buying all the necessary items needed for an exchange to also trying to finish all of my NCEA work before I go.

A few months ago I received an email saying that I would be staying in Osaka and attending Itami high school. I beyond happy as Osaka was one of the cities I hoped I would be placed. One aspect of school life I am looking forward to is joining a club as seems like an integral and unique part of being a student in Japan and it interests me just how invested hard-working students are towards their club activities.

I have been studying Japanese since I started high school but from what I’ve heard from other exchange students I should be prepared to be completely and utterly confused when I arrive. Not just from the language change but also the drastic difference in culture. Going from a rainy NZ winter to a 30°C plus summer in Japan will probably contribute as well.

To end the first post on my blog, I would like to say that I am incredibly grateful towards NZIIU for allowing me this fantastic opportunity and to my family and teachers for supporting me and making this possible.

During the next two weeks, I will finish my last minute preparations, pack my bags and say my final goodbyes as I get ready for the trip of a lifetime.

– Katarina

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