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March 28, 2013

Local voices from around the globe: Toyko captures my heart

By Sarah Cook
Cooperstown Crier

---- — So, long time, no write.

Sorry about that, last month, the time for writing came at a bad time. I was celebrating my birthday and then switched to a temporary host family for a month, the next day. I was busy as I only had less than a week notice, and trying to pack six months of packages, clothing and souvenirs in two suitcases and a bunch of bags is not the easiest thing.

I guess I’ll start off with my trip to Tokyo. Tokyo, oh, Tokyo, you captured my heart and I miss you oh so much back here in Kobe! Yes, those are my true thoughts! I miss Tokyo but there aren’t that many differences when you compare it to my city, other than it’s a lot bigger. I enjoyed Tokyo a lot, I spent the weekend with all the other exchange students and some past exchange students, we visited the sky tower, which is where you can basically get a panoramic view of the city, we went shopping (Forever 21, my favorite), and my absolute favorite, we went to Disney Sea. It was a great experience and nothing could replace that one experience. OK, so that finishes it for Tokyo.

Next, is school. In the end of February, everyone had end of the year finals. I of course didn’t do great, but on my one Japanese test, I got a 59/60! I was thrilled! Little stuff like that can make your day when you are trying to learn a new language.

After testing, we didn’t have any school, because the first years, my grade, has trips. My grade has five classes, and there were three trips we could go on, Hokkaido, Singapore or New Zealand. I went to Hokkaido and had an amazing time, we all skied three out of the five days that we were there. It reminded me how much I have missed the snow, and I learned that I love skiing!

The trip to New Zealand was two weeks which is a big part of why we didn’t have school, which left me with a lot of time! It was a blessing to be able to sit at home and relax, but after a while I realized I needed to hang out with friends. I ended up not hanging out with friends, because time went fast, and then I was in Hokkaido, spending time with my friends for five days! We stayed in nice hotels and I even got to speak some English because the ski resort where we stayed had a lot of foreigners who wanted to learn, so they had teachers who spoke English! Anyway, I had great time!

Now, I have returned to school for a half a day for the cleaning and switching of classrooms, because we have had graduation already and it is time to become a second year! So I had half a day on Monday, then closing ceremonies was on Tuesday. Wednesday happens to be a holiday, and I will then be switching to my fifth host family!

I am looking forward and nervous for the change as always. After I change on Friday my school sings for an opening ceremony of a baseball season, I guess. Not quite sure how to explain it but it should be cool. After that I am done. No more school until the second week of April. I am thrilled, not being able to wait to hang out with friends. It should be fun, but then it will be difficult to readjust to school once again when it starts up. I am hoping to go to Universal Studios Japan, and to the circus.

My Japanese has come a long way! I spent a night at my first host family’s house and they were extremely impressed at how far it has come. I often will switch Japanese words for English words, and have trouble not talking in Japanese when I Skype with my family. I still have a long way to go.

My time is going quickly here, and some may say this is a bad way to look at it but you have to face the facts. As my time slowly comes to an end I have to keep thinking about the people to come next year who will have an amazing experience just like I have had. Those at home, your journey has started and you have some more time with family, but enjoy every bit and memory of it. That is what will carry you through; I have had my tough times but have come through and am so happy I didn’t come home. I am more than half way done with my exchange and it is and has been an amazing experience.

Sarah Cook is a Rotary Exchange student from Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School.