First impressions mean everything. You can learn a lot about a person from the first encounter, and maybe even determine whether or not he or she is a potential friend/acquaintance or not. After hearing the details of this family, I immediately wanted to have them! I am so grateful for the International Exchange Office for their efforts in assigning me to the best matching host family for me.
Fall of 2016, I stayed with the Kamezawa Family from Fujimino City. The family consists of: Kousuke(dad), Marika(mom), Riko(sister), and Raku(2-year-old brother). They are no strangers to the program, for they have hosted a former student from Tokyo International University within the past year or two.
When I first received an email from the family, I was extremely surprised to see the host mother’s English grammar…it was really good! Once we got to know each other better, she mentioned studying in California for 1-2 years. The 7-year-old daughter, Riko, is also learning English at her elementary school. Therefore, I used a mix of Japanese and English in order to help Riko practice for more conversational purposes. My host mother, Marika, also wishes to learn more English and utilize it for daily use. She mentioned that my vocabulary sheets from Japanese Language Class could be very helpful for her, Riko, and even the host father Kousuke. Because of that, I made copies for them!
My host mom, Marika is a housewife with a part-time job at a salon. I always call Marika “Superwoman” because it is amazing to see her take care of housework, practice with and facilitate Niko when she has homework, and work at a salon while taking care of little Raku. Her daily life painted a positive picture of a Japanese housewife for me. She is very patient, kind, and down-to-Earth.
My host dad, Kousuke is a classic salary man. He comes home around 10:30pm or later, and yet he wakes up early in the morning to start work all over again. As tiring as it sounds, he still has a calm and collected demeanor. He also finds time to have fun with the kids, whether it may be taking them out or simply playing with them at the house. Kousuke has been supportive of me since Day 1, whether I needed help with planning activities for the month or simply driving me to the station when I need to go there. He’s a very nice guy, and it’s always a joy to make him laugh!
My living situation was very comfortable. I had a room to myself upstairs, and automatic lights were in various places in the house. Whenever I came home late from a night of tutoring English, the lights leading upstairs and the shower room immediately come on so I could see my way. Very convenient! The kitchen stove was pretty easy to use, so I decided to buy ingredients from Yokosuka Naval Base and make American-Style tacos for my family. It was the first time for them to ever eat tacos! From hand-made burgers to chocolate chip pancakes, I felt so honored to cook that for them.
The parents are less than 20 years older than me, so it feels wonderful to speak to adults who are modern and understand the aspects of Japanese culture I fell in love with. The kids were fun to be around, and I quickly became attached to them. I can’t wait to see them again! Out of the most memorable things I’ve done in Japan, every single moment I had with this family is on the top of the list. #TEAMKAMEZAWA ALL THE WAY!