Summer exchange in Japan was one of the best things I’ve ever done, it was the most exciting and exhilarating time of my life!
It had always been my dream to visit Japan, and I jumped at the opportunity to take part in a month long exchange program through my university. I was able to study Japanese, learn about the culture and experience living with a lovely Japanese family! ❤
Here are my tips on how to survive a home-stay in Japan!
1. Brush up on basic Japanese!
It is crucial that you start learning basic Japanese phrases, whether you want to travel on the train (でんしゃ- densha) or indulge in some souvenir shopping (かいもの – kaimono), you will most likely need to speak in Japanese.
2. Be open to trying new things – literally!
Japanese cuisine is delicious ( おいしい – oishi)! To some of us, these dishes might be foreign and it might be daunting to try them, but part of the experience is doing things you’ve never done before.
When in Japan, eat it all! I would advise thinking twice about fermented soy beans (なっとう – natto ) though!
3. Visit all types of places!
If you love Japan, you most likely love anime and cosplay and you would love Akihabara and Harajuku! But you shouldn’t forget about what other things Japan has to offer.
Head to the mountains (さんみゃく- sanmyaku), the beach (うみ – umi) and the beautiful parks (こうえん – koen), Japan will blow you away with it’s beauty.
4. Participate in Festivals!
If you happen to visit Japan during any festivals (まつり- matsuri), I would urge you to participate! People dress up and gather in the street to watch the fireworks during the summer festival (なつまつり- natsu matsuri), the atmosphere is one you must experience!
5. Spend time with your host family!
Cook (りょうりする- ryori suru) a meal with them and share your life stories. Get to know your host family and try talking to them in Japanese as often as you can! I assure you, this is the BEST way to improve your Japanese skills!
Be a good guest and help out with the dishes, even if your host family insists that you don’t have to. Being polite ( れいぎただしい – reigi tadashii) is a must in Japan!
Most of all, don’t get overwhelmed, go with an open mind and try to experience all that you can, without worrying about making any stereotypical foreigner (がいじん – gaijin) mistakes!