This month has been busy, but also there was a lot of time to relax during the first half of the month. I went to a lot of different events and got to meet new people, including some of the ALT’s (Assistant Language Teachers) at an International Understanding Seminar. ALT’s are native English speakers from around the world that come to Japan and help students to understand English better. I plan on applying to be one after college. I also finally heard back from the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test)! At the time of me writing this, my test will be tomorrow, so this post might be a little shorter than what it has been so I can study. I was worried all of October, and the first half of this month, that I wouldn’t be able to take the test because of sending the application in pretty late. When I got the letter, I started studying as soon as I could.
The International Understanding Seminar was the first event that took place this month. Like I said, I met some of the ALT’s and one of them was actually from Illinois. I also got to meet some of my friends that I made last year. It was honestly an amazing experience and it’s something that I would love to do again. I saw some of the AFS students and 2 of my friends from school came with me. AFS (American Field Service) is another exchange student program that used to be primarily an American organisation, but has branched out in to several different countries. Pretty much all of the ALT’s from Asahikawa and neighboring towns came to the event. It was set up in tables, and each table had 1 ALT and some had 1 exchange student. I think there was about 7 or 8 exchange students at the event, so there wasn’t enough to have one at every table, but they limited it to 1 per table. They had presentations from different exchange programs, ice breakers for each table to do to try and get to know each other, a cultural quiz competition, which my table got second, a presentation about Indonesia, and one of the U.S. Consulates came and did a talk about being a consulate and the importance of exchange programs and foreigners coming to different countries. It was an amazing experience and I hope one day I’ll be able to do it again.
The next event was my first Kendo tournament. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enter, but I still went to watch and see what they are like before I am able to compete. The competition had 4 events; 2 events for boys and 2 events for girls. The events were singles which was just one person competing against each other in a regular tournament format, and the other was the schools competing in a team event. Each school had 5 Players and they fight like they normally would in a singles event. It’s set up in 5 rounds so it’s whoever scores the most points in those 5 rounds. Our school has one of the best kendo clubs in Asahikawa so we did pretty well in all the events. The girls’ teams pretty much beat everyone that wasn’t from our school and won both events for the girls’ side. The boys’ events were tougher than the girls’ events. Our school got second in the school event and in singles, they were pretty scattered throughout the bracket. After the event, we went out to a BBQ place to celebrate and it was a lot of fun. I road with one of my friends and his parents to the restaurant and before we got to there, we stopped by a couple of the students’ student housing. I didn’t know it before, but some of the students were scouted in Junior high school to move to Asahikawa for high school to attend my school and be in the kendo club. Kind of like if someone gets a scholarship in high school to go to a college and play a certain sport. Everybody had to do a little speech after dinner and I was worried the whole time because I wasn’t told that I had to say anything and wasn’t prepared at all, but then everybody told me to stand up, and with the help of one of my friends, I was able to do it. All-in-all, It was a really fun day, and can’t wait to go to another one.
It also really started to snow this month. I think it snowed a couple times in October, but it really started to snow this month. Thankfully, the school bus switched to the winter schedule, so there’s a few more school buses so the school bus I ride isn’t super crowded anymore. I really missed having a lot of snow so I’m really happy with how much it’s been snowing lately.
Two weekends ago, I went to a family reunion on my host-dad’s side. We went to a neighboring town for 1 night, and the reunion was only Saturday night. We had dinner, played bingo, and some people did karaoke. It was a lot of fun getting to meet the rest of the family. The hotel also had a hot spring so at the end of the day, many people went there and relaxed. Most people stayed up really late, but I only stayed up till midnight. The weekend was really exhausting and when I got home the next day, I just relaxed the rest of the day.
Thanksgiving was pretty interesting. It was a little odd because people don’t celebrate it and don’t really know about it. But, the Japanese thanksgiving/labor is the same day, so I still got to have a holiday. My host family didn’t realize it was Thanksgiving, so we didn’t have any special dinner or anything. I started going to a church here, and the pastor and his wife are American, so every year they have a mini-Thanksgiving and they invite a couple families. This church does an English Saturday school thing every other week so they invited all of those families. It was more of a cultural exchange than anything so you didn’t have to be a Christian to enjoy it. We had turkey, stuffing, lasagna, chicken nuggets, french fries, and mashed potatoes with gravy. I think they added chicken nuggets and fries for the people that might not like the turkey or some of those things, so they can still eat and enjoy it. My host family got to come too and they enjoyed it as well. I was really excited about getting to eat some sort of Thanksgiving dinner and it was really good.
I’ve pretty much been studying since the Monday after the family reunion, and it’s been going pretty well. I’ve even been doing the practice questions and it’s mostly been things I already know, but I’ve still been preparing for anything that I might not know because I know the practice questions aren’t all of them. I’m pretty nervous about the test, but I’m pretty sure I’ll do well. I also have mid terms coming up this week, so I have to be studying. I’m doing math, book keeping, English, and the rest of the tests will be Japanese tests. I think I’ll finally be able to do more of the math test because I learned everything that will be on the test. Listening to teachers has become easier. I can almost make out completely what they’re saying in some subjects, but still can’t in others. I really feel like my Japanese skills have become better this month.
With Kendo, I got sized for all of the armor and a new uniform. It’s supposed to come next week and I’m super excited for it. I hope that I get to start fighting soon. Practicing has also gone super well I think. I feel like I’m learning a lot and my form has been getting a lot better. So many of the basic things are becoming muscle memory. Kendo is still as fun as it’s always been and I’m always looking forward to it.
Unfortunately, this month I haven’t really been able to hangout with friends outside of school. I hung out with Daniel, Asahikawa’s CIR (Coordinator for International Relations), and we played Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube. Last year when I came to Asahikawa, I messaged a Popular, Japanese Smash Bros player if there were any Smash Bros. tournaments in Asahikawa, and he referred me to a Smash Bros. player in Asahikawa. We met up at his apartment twice and we played for a few hours each time. However, this year I asked him about playing and he said that he wouldn’t be able to because he lives with his grandmother, but then Daniel asked me if I knew him. I guess they met somewhere, became friends, and started playing Smash Bros. with each other. They’ve met up a couple times after I played with them, but I haven’t really had time to play. Hopefully after all of the tests that I have coming, I’ll be able to meet with them, and my other friends.
This has been a super fun month, but also I’ve been working hard with studying Japanese and other subjects at school.