2019 SIP Nagoya

My Japan Experience

 

It still feels like a dream.

I can clearly remember the day when I know for sure that I am heading to Japan.

Feelings of excitement, joyfulness mixed with a hint of anxiousness.

Boom! A few months later, the departure day has come.

The Nagoya SIP will only last 19 days, I want to make the best out of it!

The day of arrival, the first impression was the heatwave. Even though I spent my past 19 years growing up in Guangdong, China, I still couldn’t get used to the sweat and stickiness. Whatever, I said to myself, I will get used to it. The heat turned out to be the reason why I made up my mind not to come again in summer.

First day of the trip, I finally met my school group, along with a few other participants from other parts of Canada. There were 14 of us, and we were ready to write each other into our life stories.

First week of the trip, all of us got assigned to spend two nights with a local family. I was not unfamiliar with host families. I still kept in touch with my host family with whom I spent almost one year with when I was exchanged to Europe during high school. This would be such a good chance to experience Japan in a real way, not the tourist way. My host family was so entertaining and caring. They didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Japanese. However, we could understand each other beyond where the language barrier stopped us. That was a very memorable weekend without culture shocks, except that they bought me tons of food to bring back to school. They were very nice and welcoming. We even went out again after the program to see firework during Obon celebration. This had become a lifelong relationship that I wanted to maintain.

Second week of the trip, everyone was busy learning more Japanese as well as Japanese culture. During the weekend, we went to Tokyo. Tokyo was a totally different city than Nagoya in my opinion. I had seen the huge “missing” Japanese population in Tokyo, but not in Nagoya. If I compared Oshawa to Nagoya, then Toronto was like Tokyo. In Tokyo, even though more people knew English, they were somewhat less eager to help while in Nagoya, people would come up to you even if they didn’t know much English. I still enjoyed Tokyo a lot, especially the Disneyland part. In Disneyland, the service was flawless. One of the staff even wanted to hold my garbage bag for me.

Last week of the trip, all of us were busy working on assignment, presentation and Kyoto trip. This trip was a bit different than the Tokyo one since everyone would be paired up with a Japanese student and decided the itinerary. My group decided to commence a slower itinerary which turned out to be a wise decision. I still remembered that on the first day of arrival, the Japanese teachers all said that Nagoya was considered the hottest place in Japan. However, before departure, they all said that Kyoto was hotter than Nagoya, which was very true. Usually, the temperature in Nagoya felt like 43, but in Kyoto, it felt like 46. I really had to come back sometime during autumn to experience the beauty of Kyoto, the summer was just miserable for me.

In all, during my 19 days of stay in Japan, I feel that most Japanese were very nice, to a point that it feels like unreal. However, thanks to the pre-study that is required before the program, I understand that this behavior underlies a very important Japanese culture. Because most Japanese are considered to think or act the same, meaning that they have “telepathy ability” among people, therefore they niceness one experiences are very similar across Japan.

Everyone wanted something different from this trip. As for me, I wanted to learn some Japanese, as well as experiencing the renowned formality of how the Japanese function. It is so lucky for me that my wishes have all been fulfilled. I don’t experience anything other than my expectation since I am from a similar culture. However, this can still be quite a cultural shock to some of you especially on the diet and the weather part. Also, people may find establishing a real relationship with the Japanese challenging. Well, there is no such thing as a perfect precautions. We just need to step out of our comfort zones and get the experience rolling.

Jingyao Zhang

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