One month left . . .

When I published my last post, I was about to join the first years for the week as my class was going to Vietnam. I was a bit nervous to met all of them because I didn’t know anyone, but like every other time I’ve been in this situation, I ended up making friends quickly, so I didn’t have to worry. One of my favorite things about that week was the music class they had, as I hadn’t taken one here. We played the guitar, and even though I was terrible, I enjoyed it. That weekend I went to Kobe with some of the friends I had made that week, we went to the Port tower and Be Kobe sign, and afterward, we went out for dinner. The best part about being here is getting to hang out with people and go to new places, so I always enjoy doing that. One thing that I haven’t done yet is go to Universal Studios. Since I got here, everyone had told me that I have to visit. During my winter holiday in a couple of weeks, I plan to go with all of my friends from the first year class, So I am looking forward to that.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Nara with my host family. Nara is famous for its historical sites and of course the deer. We visited the Great Buddha Temple and Nara park; it was nice to spend time with my host family as we don’t usually get to go on family outings because everyone is busy. However next week on Wednesday my host mother doesn’t have work so she got me the day off school so we can go to the Cup Ramen Museum. I am definitely overexcited about going, but I haven’t even had ramen since I got here, so I think my excitement is justified.

On the 2nd of December, I took the JLPT test. There are five levels of the JLPT ranging from the least difficult, Q5, to the most difficult, Q1. When I applied in September, I decided to do Q4 as that was the one that the Japanese exchange company said that most kids do and after looking at some practice questions online I decided that it was the best fit. The university that the test was held at was quite far away, so my host parents went with me because I had to change stations and whenever I’ve had to take the trains alone in the past I’ve messed up in some way. The actual test for Q4 has three sections Vocab, Grammar & Listening and lasts about 4 hours with 30-minute breaks in between each section. Listening was the easiest section for me, and Grammar was the hardest because there were long passages that you had to read to answer the questions which also means lots of Kanji.

It’s only a couple of weeks until Christmas, so lots of stores have put up their decorations and released their holiday-themed products. However, Christmas isn’t celebrated that much here, or at least not the way that it is in New Zealand. In Japan, Christmas is more of a thing celebrated by couples, and lots of people don’t even have the day off from work (like my host parents) or school as it’s not a public holiday. Luckily Christmas is during my school winter holidays because I think I would cry if I had to go to school on Christmas. Usually every year I go down to Tauranga where my grandparents and cousins live, or they come up to Auckland, and we all spend the holidays together. Christmas was probably my favorite time of year growing up, and I didn’t think I would miss as much as I have been. Usually, the weeks leading up to Christmas are spent shopping for gifts, baking mince pies and decorating the tree. My family had Facetimed me one weekend right after they had finished decorating the tree which I was especially sad that I didn’t get to do. So I went to Daiso, looked through all their cheap Christmas decorations and brought a mini glass tree that you can decorate yourself for 300yen to try and cope with the sadness. (It worked) I put on a Christmas playlist from Spotify and listened to two whole songs, (because the tree is tiny) while decorating the tree. It sits on my desk, and I get a little spark of happiness whenever I see it. Luckily I won’t be sitting at home alone wallowing in my own sadness on Christmas as I made plans to go to Karaoke with my friends. Not that I can sing, but the point isn’t to be good, so it doesn’t matter.

Anyway, it has still been a good month, a bit difficult at times but I got through it. As I’m writing this I have only one more month before I finish my exchange, I can’t believe how fast it has gone and all that cliche stuff that everyone always says. I’ll do my best to make the most of it though. I still have lots I want to do before I go.

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