Today was the day I went to have an interview with the NIACIN exchange programmer organization. I would like to go to Japan as an exchange student for a year. I was very nervous but excited at the same time. I hoped they saw that I could benefit from the exchange. When I opened the door, I saw them watching me walk in. My heart was pumping and my hands were sweating. As I sat down, I let out an unnatural smile. They asked me a few questions about myself and I answered. At the end of the interview, I thanked them and walked out.

I was unsure how I did but one thing I knew was that they could tell I was nervous. Well even If I don’t get accepted, it was an interesting experience. Dear Diary, Today I got a letter from the NINJA exchange programmer. I was waiting for it this whole week. I was too scared to see the results so I asked my sister to open it for me. As I cupped my hands around my face I heard fantastic news. I was A. C. C. E. P. T. E. D- accepted! I was screaming and Jumping around like crazy. Today was the highlight of my week. Today was the day where I was heading off to start a Journey to Japan.

I was ecstatic about it but at the same time I was sad. I was sad because I wouldn’t be able to see my family for a whole year, but I knew this experience would let me become more independent. As I boarded the plane, I waved goodbye to my family. Suddenly, tears started to roll down my face. I couldn’t stop crying until I fell asleep on the plane. When I woke up, I had dark circles and puffy eyes, I looked like a panda! Shortly after I went to wash up, the plane landed. Hello Japan, or should I say ‘Connection’. Day one in Japan, I met my host family. They looked like a wonderful family of four.

There was the mom(okay-San), dad(Toto-San), big brother(onion-San) and little sister(mouth). When I first met them, I bowed and introduced myself in Japanese. They looked surprised. On the plane I was studying some Japanese etiquette and I learnt a lot. My host family provided me with indoor slippers. Japanese people do not wear outdoor shoes inside. Okay-San showed me to my room. It was neatly cleaned and I unpacked my luggage. Then it was dinner time. I went out and sat on a attain mat at the table. Everyone said ‘dismissal’. I didn’t know what to do. Onion-San told me it meant ‘l gratefully receive’.

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They waited for me to say it. “I-Dismissal”. Everyone smiled and started to eat. Okay-San handed me some food. “Shih”. L said. Okay-San looked happy as I complimented on her cooking. After eating we had to say ‘commissar’, which meaner thanks for the food’. After a while it was bed time. Tonight was my first time sleeping on a futon. Wow, the day went by so fast! Today I was awoken by an earthquake. I was terrified as I had never felt an earthquake this big in New Zealand. I remembered what I learnt from school I hid under I table. As the earthquake came to a stop, okay-San rushed through the door.

She saw me terrified and she smiled. She told me that earthquakes happen about 100 times a year and she told me not to worry. A HUNDRED TIMES?? ‘ don’t think I could handle even another one. She saw a worried look on my face. She cuddled me and told me I would get used to it. The day went by like nothing ever happened. When I went to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking that an earthquake would happen in the middle of the night and I would get crushed by all the rubble. I could hardly sleep that night. It was my last week in Japan as an exchange student. I couldn’t believe the time had eased so quickly.

There have been good times and bad times, happy times and sad times, but I do not regret going on this exchange. I have learnt so much about the culture and language of Japan that I never would have been able to experience through books. I would never forget this experience as it has made me grow as an individual and learn to adapt to changes. This was one of the best experiences I my life. It was absolutely worth the time, money and pain. Today was the day I was leaving Japan and heading home to New Zealand. It was a wonderful experience and I learnt heaps. I never thought I would be cry leaving Japan. TTS pretty ironic. I was crying because I didn’t want to leave New Zealand to Japan, but now I’m crying because I’m leaving Japan to New Zealand. I’m happy to be able to reunite with my family but I’m sad that my Journey has ended, but there’s a chance a new one might start. I really liked this experience and Vive realized that I would like others to be able to experience this as well. I have decided to apply to be a staff member of the NINJA student exchange programmer to help other students benefit from this programmer. So, Sonora Japan, and hello New Zealand!

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