From Haruka - Life as a Japanese Exchange Student
My name is Haruka. I have been staying here in Australia for the past 9 months as an exchange student from Japan. I’ve really enjoyed my stay here. I really wish I could stay longer and also I hope my English has improved even a little compared to the first day that I came.
Before I left Japan, I was so excited to come here. I couldn’t wait. I was the only student from Naga High this year to study at Christian College and I had to come here by myself. It was my first time going overseas on my own. I had some moments of panic while I was at the airport in Singapore for transition, but I arrived here on the 15th April and all was fine.
First of all, what I felt was “Australia is a huge land”. I had known that before, but I felt it more clearly when I actually stood on the land here. The roads are wide, the trees are big, the cars are so fast, the beaches are beautiful, the animals are cute and the food is delicious. I was delighted by many things.
There are a lot of differences between Naga High and Christian College, such as classes, subjects, uniforms, the way of learning, and rules for students. Putting it simply, it’s a big difference of education. I think it definitely affects the character of our nationality as well. It’s difficult to describe but it’s so interesting. I prefer Christian College to Naga High, because I can be more independent here than in Japan.
I stayed with three host families and their daughters are in Japan as exchange students at the moment as well. All of them were so nice to me and because of them I have never been homesick. They took me to many places with them. All the memories are unforgettable. I took many pictures and I’m going to make an album of them.
My friends in here are awesome too. Learning English is very hard for me and I can understand some conversations now, but it still takes a long time to make sentences in my head before I say something. I’m sure my English when I first came here was worse than now, so I think having a student who can’t speak English well must have been difficult for them. But they always taught me English and they were also nice to me. We stay together during morning tea time, recess, lunch time and some classes. It was my birthday in November. They celebrated with me, gave me presents, and they also held a party with our math class. Some teachers also helped prepare the class party for me. In Japan, we celebrate birthdays, but not a big day like I had here. I was so surprised about it and it was my best birthday ever.
More than anything, I am so thankful to everyone here including my friends, host families, their relatives, teachers and everyone else. They were very kind to me and hospitable. I think it is easy to feel lonely when you’re staying in another country on your own, even if you’re not actually alone. Someone just saying hi to me at school made me feel relieved. I wouldn’t have met them without this exchange program opportunity and I’d like to say “Thank you for letting me go” to my parents when I arrive back home in Japan.
I’m going into year 12 next year and after my graduation, I obviously will choose a path in which I can keep learning English. Also living in Japan is too restrictive for me and I will go overseas again. I’m going to come back here someday. Thank you so much.