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Eighth Week #10 - Checking out Japanese 12th grade and finally finding "friends?"

October 28th, 2018

Since I couldn't join the 11th graders' school trip to Taiwan, I was offerered to go to school and try 12th and 10th graders' classes. Which I did and enjoyed very much. Due to the change of environment, I was also able to "freshly" introduce myself again and start anew with people who hadn't known me (well).  Hence I could also have interesting conversation with many students and was pretty much in the focus of attention in many classes, which was awesome. As I have mentioned before, I need it. Furthermore I consider some people I've met ("potential"?) friends. But I gotta keep it going, right? And btw, Monday/Tuesday only 12th graders' classes, Thursday/Friday 10th graders'. So there you go, guys:

Monday (Oct., 22th 2018):

  • 1st and 2nd period: biology class. I didn't have to do a self-introduction, but in the end I ended up having a short conversation with 3 girls (noted - as I've planned to do - there names down in order to not forget them). Biology was quite hard to understand, but I tried understanding things and it was interesting, indeed.
  • Then I had an amazing English lesson. Although the content was actually a pretty high-level. That was because I had to a self-introduction, in which I mentioned that I'd like people to talk to me and make friends. And the class itself had had 2 exchange students before, so they are very experienced and seemed totally interested in me and helping me/talking to me. So I sat behind a girl who always has a big smile and next to a boy who was very nice and helped me with reading the Kanji characters, I didn't know. and in general people and the teacher were very welcoming. I don't exactly recall the reaction of the students of my original class, but I feel it was not that warming. But it has to be said, that my introduction was maybe colder back then and less personal. Additionally, my Japanese probably has improved a bit in those first 2 months (it's already been two months!!!), I felt less shy with the 12th graders for some reason (they're my age; the 11th graders are like 1 or 2 years younger) and the 12th also are more confident. So I had an awesome lesson, helping with pronunciation, having conversation and I also was invited to eat together at lunch (hadn't thought about it much, but my usual lunchmates from 11th grade were indeed not present, so maybe I would've ended up alone).
  • So during lunch time I ate with the smile-girl and her friends and I felt very comfortable. Even Japanese didn't seem that hard anymore. We made out for eating sushi together and singing karaoke (because I haven't done it yet). There were so nice! I just hope it doesn't become weird when I'm back with my own class and not really engaged with the 12th graders. 

Tuesday (23th):

  • Had Volleyball in P.E. for the first 2 lessons.
  • Apparently rumors spread, that my Japanese is very good, because a teacher (and more teachers/students(?) after that said so, too, when I entered a new class). But the thing about this is: My Japanese is not very good. I may understand basic words/grammar, but it's a whole new story to apply it to my own sentences. So I constantly make grammar mistakes, that I know are mistakes, but that my brain was too slow to notice. So whenever someone starts conversation with me (or I start it) and I finish like two sentences (correctly or with mistakes even), people be like: "Wow, your Japanese is so good!" And I'm like: "Not at all!" And then they say something difficult or quickly (or both!) and I'm like 'Nice!'. So I always say I only understand basic Japanese, but the polite Japanese take it mostly as humbleness and assume my Japanese is better than it actually is. It's not. But I've also noticed that when I think "Ah, I don't understand this, my Japanese is so bad." that my Japanese actually becomes worse. It's a vicious circle.
  • So back to Volleyball: a teacher told a student to help me out, but it's sports so it's not the casual vocabulary and so on, so the girl was a little shy and like "But I don't speak English!" and the teacher was like "It's okay! She (I, the exchange student) speaks Japanese very well!" (Which made me curious because I didn't know the teacher, so that's why I guess rumors must've spread)
  • So the girl, her friends and I had some small talk and walked to the Gym. The girls really helped me with everything since I suck at volleyball and understanding what the advice of a teacher (e.g. changing the position of my arm or the basic rules of volleyball) is difficult. But the teacher as well as the students helped me and I to my own surprise had great fun. Also in the matches we had (and I think we won most of the matches against other teams but only due to my teammates' skills). By the way, volleyball hurts a lot when you play it for the first time in years. Like even 6 days later my arms are still red. But totally worth it.
  • Joined the biology class again. Understood more this time because it was all about Mendel and genetics [Again, props to my biology teachers in Germany, I enjoyed the time].
  • Had lunch with smile-face and her friends. Yay! But this time I had to ask more about vocabulary or things I didn't know (like Japanese dishes or something)
  • Then we were allowed to talk instead of class for one lesson and after that the whole 12th grade (about 278 students) went for a walk through the neighborhood with the task to clean the streets (although, of course, Japan in general is very clean) by collecting trash. Amusing, although I couldn't help much. And I made a mistake by saying "I think Japanese use too much make-up", which was not the whole truth. Because I think, some Japanese women indeed use too much make-up since e.g. at school people are not allowed to wear it at all, so I feel like some just want to make that up (intended pun) by using more of it on weekends when they can. And I believe, they don't have that much experience with make-up due to history (it all probably started in America, right?). But that is only my opinion and I don't know if it is true. So like I don't think every women is wearing too much of it. And if make-up is too much or not is also just an individual judgement. But I feel bad for saying what I had said because it sounded offending, which was not my intention, but now it's too late to correct it. And mistakes are inevitable when you engage with another culture. Just a side story.
  • Walked home with smile-face. She's very interested in other countries and we were like "let's go visit Belgium, together!!"

Wednesday (24th): - Now only 10th graders' classes

  • When walking to school I bumped into a 12th grader from the smile-face's group of friends. We had a nice chat and I was happy that she had started talking to me although we hadn't had much 1v1 conversation before.
  • Had 10th grade maths. Just Equations. No big deal. But fun. Because I understood it. The other students didn't seem so enthusiastic. Everyone I've talked with about (actually only girls) this topic said they didn't like maths.
  • Regular 10th graders English class, trying my best to have some conversation.
  • Ate lunch with the girl I talked with on my way to school. She seems very interesting and nice and I'm hyped to hang out with her and the other girls to eat some sushi and do karaoke.
  • Had English class with my so far favorite 10th graders' class. Don't even know what we did, but people were as always friendly.
  • One of the first graders asked me to hang out together!! We actually hung out at a mall at Ebina station! We had some Japanese food and a Starbuck's Halloween Special Drink which was very sweet but delicious. We wanna watch Fantastic Beast 2 together once it's out. I was so happy on that day :D

Thursday (25th):

  • Had "P.E. theory" (more like health/body/sports education) and once again the teacher had me introduce myself and also was like "Don't worry about your English, she speaks Japanese very well!". A group of 4 very amusing and cheerful people were to be my group and we had some fun. Furthermore since the lesson was about alcohol and it's consequences I was asked about Germany and it's alcohol policies. People were surprised by the fact, that students (at age 16) are allowed to drink beer (in Japan you gotta be 20).
  • Maths again and some English classes. Then I ate alone because I was too shy to search for potential friends to eat with me or ask them out (didn't find smile face and her gang). Was too shy to ask any 12th or 10th graders if I could eat with them. So I went to my good old 11th graders classroom and ate alone. So it's been the second time in total, that I've eaten lunch alone. And the funny thing is, I could've left already because there were no other classes I could join on that day. But I wanted to study a little and write something for a presentation I will be giving with other students. And went home alone, because the girl I asked out to go together was busy and I didn't want to ask person after person until I find one. I should really try harder and just swallow the pill of being a little annoying, pushy and desperate. Because I indeed am desperate for friends. Although I do not mind going to the station alone that much. But I guess it would help making friends because I could have conversation outside the classroom.
  • People from Taiwan were coming back, so I wanted to settle the plans for the badminton thing we wanted to have on Friday (it was a day off for the 11th graders who had been to the Taiwan trip). But unfortunately, the girl I always walk to school with and wanted to play badminton with, became sick, so we had to cancel :( Maybe another time.

Friday (26th):

  • Went to the Kindergarten of my hostbrother to watch a English lesson with my hostmum and other mums. Very cool and interesting. And the kids are really good and seem to enjoy the singing and movements (e.g. the "Head and Shoulders" song thing (ah~ elementary school memories [SHOUTOUT TO (one of my) BEST FRIEND(s): Remember the good old days, nee-san? Pepperridge Farm remembers. But maybe we sang that song in class when you and I were not best friends yet, because you didn't even know I existed :( XD; also small SHOUTOUT to my elementary school: See, what I've become. Thanks for the good memories and education.]).
  • We had choir practice at Yamato Hall (SIRIUS), where we will be singing. A famous lady will read a poem and at specific stops choirs (not only ours) will sing different songs. I'm already excited! And fascinated by the venue, but you are not allowed to take pictures in the hall, sorry. Had some real good conversation with one of the girls. The 11th graders who came back from Taiwan also attended the practice so we had a good conversation starter topic. We made out for the new Disney "Winnie, the Poo" movie, that I actually wanted to see anyway (big Disney fan #TeamAnna) and pondered about whom to watch it with. So relieved and happy I found someone ;P But I kind of regret not talking so much with the person, I first got to know from the choir. It seemed rather difficult to switch from one to another conversation partner :( I'll try harder next time!

Saturday (27th):

  • Hostfam and I went to a softball match, my hostfather would participate in as player. The location was an American (military?) base or camp called Camp Tama (no, it's not Camp Zama from last week or the week before that). The weather had turned from not so nice and rain to sunny but not too hot, which was perfect (at least for the spectators).
  • Ate my first hotdog there.
  • Still love hearing Americans talk in real life because due to Television, Amazon Prime, Netflix and Youtube everything they say sounds dramatic and right out of a movie/show, which is pretty entertaining. There were some cute kids, my hostbro played with and I was introduced to some of my hostfather's friends, but the conversations were quite short. Went to a horse stable and tried to pet some horses and a very fluffy, cute dog. Played catch with my hostfather using a Softball (it's yelllow, pretty solid and bigger than a baseball and looks as if it hurt real bad should one be hit by one) and wearing the very heavy softball glove. I wanna improve my throwing skills now! Ate barbecue and took some leftovers home. To come to a conclusion, I had fun and were able to experiencing something that I couldn't have in Germany (watching Japanese and Americans play softball in an American base in Japan with people speaking the two languages). So lucky to have these opportunities.
  • In the evening I chatted with the girls from ESS club, who want to take me and the Italian girl to a place near Tokio to have some fun, but unfortunately that also had to be rescheduled for another day. Still so happy, that they wanna hang out. Because I want to have good friends. And not only friends in 10th and 12th grade since these are not the people I'll have to stick around with for most of the school days. And there are so many nice people that I could be friends with once we cross the shyness and hesitation line. I just gotta be consistent and try to keep a smile on my face. I think I'm really lucky, because Yamato Nishi High School seems to be the perfect school for exchange students. Not only because of the classes and organization but because of the people, both teachers and students. Their motto is to "Touch the World"; they've already touched my heart <3. Now it's up to me to make the best out of my exchange. To be confident and try, try, try, fail and stand up again and speak as much as I can without hesitation or embarrassment. That is what learning a language in the country is all about. Like to say thank you to all the people who've supported me so far. From Germany, Japan or even from the U.S.. Family, friends, students, teachers, my hostfamily, Ayusa, the governments of these states. And fate, coincidence, God or whatever you wanna call it for making this exchange happen in the first place. It's an unbelievably great gift, that I received. That not many people in the large world receive. I hope I can give something back. One big day or everyday by small good deeds. We'll see. I appreciate it. But probably still not enough. Stay tight, guys! Don't forget that the stars will shine for us every night, no matter where, who and how we are.

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