So this month has mostly just been filled with Christmas and New Years parties and hanging out with friends. I had a lot of fun, and super great! I got my gear for kendo and had a lot of fun on Christmas and New Years.
On December 5 we had the Sister Cities Christmas party. I had to write a speech all in Japanese, and met a lot of people. Another exchange student from Australia came to the event and I got to meet her and some of the faculty from her school. I had to help with a drawing and we all drew numbers and people chose prizes. I had to take so many pictures and meet with so many people that I didn’t have much time to eat my dinner. All in all, I had a really good time.
The second weekend of December my school hosted a kendo tournament. We didn’t do so well but it was still Interesting. When I went, it really made me want to improve at kendo so that I could do well when I start competing in tournaments. The following week, all of my kendo gear came in, and I even got 4 more practice swords. The helmet can be painful to wear sometimes, but everyday it seems like its getting more comfortable. I am also improving a lot and I’m continuing to surprise some of my friends. Although during winter break I have only been able to go to practice about 4 times and haven’t been doing much physical so practice has been very exhausting. I’ve been preparing for a kendo test that I have coming up next month so I have to be practicing really hard. I think I have a special training session coming up next weekend so I also have to be ready for that as well.
The weekend before Christmas, my second year kendo friends and I had a Christmas party. It was a blast to hangout with them outside of kendo and I hope that we get to have something like that again. It was also my first Christmas party in Japan so I didn’t really know if it would be any different than in America. We pretty much just ate for the first hour or 2 and then kind of just relaxed. We started playing music and then someone brought up the national anthem so of course I had to play it and sing it. Now whether I did good or not is debatable, but then they all started playing and singing the Japanese national anthem. It has definitely been one of the highlights of my entire trip.
The last day of school seemed really fast, and I’m pretty sure everybody just wanted to get done with the day so that winter break could start. For a couple periods we had 2 of the guys messed with the teachers and said that because it’s about to be Christmas that they would give them presents, but the presents were just random things that they had like phones, neck ties, and mobile batteries. It was pretty funny. Every time we have a break from school, we always clean the entire school, and then after that we had a school wide assembly. I was pretty relieved when winter vacation started. I have been relaxing a lot so that I can be ready to go back and learn a lot more.
Christmas was a blast. On Christmas Eve, I went to the Christmas service at my Church and we had lunch after the service. I even got to eat more turkey! On Christmas day, only got to open one present because the presents from home hadn’t arrived yet. I was planning on spending the whole day with my host-family, but pretty much everybody was busy so I decided to hangout with some of my friends that came to Bloomington last spring. We just went downtown and hung out, although it was very windy. When I got back home, I made Christmas cakes with my host family. Then we had a buffet for dinner. I got to call a lot of my family on their Christmas morning so I had to stay up really late so I could call them. We did a group video call and called my brother who is in North Carolina, my mom’s sister’s family in Colorado, and my parents and other siblings in America. It was probably the highlight of this month, besides it being Christmas. Japanese Christmas is a little different than how we celebrate it in America. From what my friends have told me is that Christmas in Japan is mostly celebrated by hanging out with friends and going on dates. Also I only saw 1 house that had any Christmas lights so it appeared much different that what it probably was. The day after Christmas, I went to a tofu making class with Daniel, the Australian exchange student and her host-sister. It was still very windy that day. Probably even a blizzard by Illinois standards. I got to learn how tofu is made and then after that, I waited for Daniel and we went to play melee again at his house. Two days after Christmas, I finally got the box from my parents. My parents got gifts for my host family to as kind of a thank you. I even sent a box with some presents and a lot of Japanese candy. My mom said that everybody liked the candy. The week of Christmas was just a blast and refreshing.
I didn’t really do anything between Christmas and New Year’s besides relax. On New Year’s Eve we went to my host-dad’s parent’s house. We had dinner and stayed there until a little before midnight because we went to a shrine. Every year in Japan, the Japanese go to a shrine on New Year’s for good luck. They give the 5 Yen coin, and they ring a bell at the shrine. After that, people usually buy little fortunes on a little piece of paper and they are different levels, and I got the best fortune that you can get. It was a pretty fun day and I ate a lot of food. In Japan, and most of the Asian countries that I know of, New Year’s means a lot more than most other holidays, and in turn is celebrated more.
This month has been a great month. I wish It and winter vacation could be a little longer, but I also need to get back to things like studying. I’ve had a lot of fun with my host family and got to hangout with my friends a bunch. Since winter vacation started, I’ve been kind of taking a break from studying, but I really wanted to get back into it and learn a lot more.