by Brenna O’Brien, CCI Greenheart Travel High School Exchange Student in Japan
My day starts at 5:30. It’s already hot and humid when I wake up, and the little fan in my room does little to alleviate this. Breakfast is ready by 6:15 and we’re out the door by 6:30. The train leaves exactly at 7:05 and it’s a 45 minute ride to Niigata city, followed by a 15 minute walk to school.Classes begin promptly at 8:45 and end at 4:30. In the hot weather everyone is still summer uniforms- a blue, short sleeved blouse, and skirt. Come winter the skirts will become thicker, sleeves longer and a blazer and bow are worn.
I feel as if I’m living in a story book. Everything is serene and charming. The houses are simple mix of traditional Japanese and western design. They line tiny, narrow streets that adorable compact cars speed down, expertly avoiding the many pedestrians. Between the rice fields and walled gardens it is green everywhere. Looking out my bedroom window I face the Japan Sea, and behind me lay the cloudy foothills. Every night the sunset casts a spectacular view over the sea.
The food is all new and exciting. Even the things I recognize from home are different and exotic. The Japanese love extreme flavors so everything is very salty, sweet, or bitter. Tea is drunk and rice eaten with every meal. The majority of all the food eaten is extremely healthy and fresh. Lots of seafood, fruit, vegetables, and other natural ingredients. It is hearty and delicious…. After dinner its time to take a bath and watch some ridiculous Japanese TV with my host mother. I’m in bed by 10:30 ready for another whirlwind day.
Even though its only been two weeks it feels like it’s been months. I have to take it step by step, day by day, and slowly but surely I keep learning and understanding more and more. I’m always moving forward.