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Published: Friday, 15 February 2019 10:50

Lily and host sister Miyu 4

From Japan with love

Hi, my name is Lily Barraclough, I’m a Year 13 student and have been studying Japanese at AGGS for roughly 4 years now. Learning Japanese has been an extremely rewarding experience and helped me to achieve my dream of travelling to Japan in the December of 2018.

As the plane descended on Narita International Airport, my heart skipped a beat in excitement and suspense at having finally arriving in the Land of the Rising Sun. Looking down at Tokyo, I was half-expecting to see a giant Godzilla rise up from the murky waters of Tokyo Bay, just like in the movies. Luckily, my worst fears were never actualised and as the sun set, casting the cloud cover in bright crimson colour, far in the distance I could spot one of the many familiar symbols of Japan: Great Mount Fuji loomed above the fluffy clouds, kindly welcoming us.

The Tokyo Experience is a 12 day Japanese educational exchange run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education and AUT, with the aim to educate foreigners about Japanese culture, language and the Japanese people's way of life. I got to share my amazing experience in Japan with 49 other students from not only schools in New Zealand, but also from countries such as Australia, Finland, Sweden, Thailand and Canada. During my time in Japan I got to experience superb Japanese hospitality, and also ate my way through Tokyo by trying iconic Japanese dishes such as Melon Pan (sweet melon shaped bread), kaiten-sushi (sushi train) and ramen (Japanese style noodles in a flavoured broth).

Whilst in Tokyo I got to live with a kind host family and attended Hakuo High School. This part of the exchange was eye-opening because although classroom learning had prepared me to some degree on what to expect when in a real Japanese classroom, the reality was vastly different to what I had anticipated and read about from my textbooks. For once I was not the majority, and I did experience some culture shock, but thankfully I was able to quickly adapt to these changes. Whilst at Hakuo I also got to visit famous Tokyo landmarks, such as, Sensoji (an ancient shrine) right in the heart of Asakusa, Tokyo Sky Tree, Ueno Zoo and Noh Theatre. Every day was filled with an exciting new adventure.

Although, at first I was a bit apprehensive about travelling to a country where they spoke a different language to my own, I’m glad that I went on this exchange, as it encouraged me to push my boundaries, helped me to improve my Japanese language skills and taught me how to survive in a foreign land. I hope this article has inspired you to chase after those lofty dreams that you may have and for anyone who is interested in travelling to an asian country, the Japanese language or any form of Japanese culture, I would recommend that they apply for this once in a lifetime trip - you will not be disappointed.

Lily Barraclough

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