Former Timaru Boys' High School student Brennan Galpin is on a year-long Rotary Youth Exchange in Gero-shi, Japan. This is his first blog for Attitude.
On Tuesday morning the family and I all got up about 4am. We made our way to the airport. Quite a few tears and sad smiles later it was time for my adventure to really begin.
While I was struggling with a shaky lip, I couldn't help but smile. I was really going to Japan.
After a very long day of turbulent flights and uncomfortable plane seats, I landed in Japan. I must have looked quite silly, sitting in my seat waiting for the seatbelt light to turn off, all decked out in the Rotary blazer and with a huge cheesy grin on my face.
Outside the plane, my grin was stolen from me by the brutal breeze that was bitterly cold. It is freezing here. I was greeted by a group of Rotary officials and my first host mum. I couldn't have been welcomed better; it was like meeting old friends.
It was about 11:30pm when we arrived at home (3:30am New Zealand time). I was so tired that I just hit the bed and went to sleep. But the next day it was up at 6:30am for school.
School is interesting. When I'm awake, I use my time to study Japanese and the other times I can't help but sleep because I'm just so exhausted. I don't understand much in class but ever so slowly I'm becoming fluent. (At least I like to think I'm becoming fluent).
I've made tons of friends at school and I am blown away by how kind everyone is. I participate in after-school clubs. There are heaps of clubs you can join such as badminton or tennis, computer skills or calligraphy, then there is my favourite, the martial arts.
I'm currently doing kendo which is a bit like sword fighting but quite disciplined. It puts me way out of my comfort zone because half the time you are just screaming at your opponent. It's hard work but it's great fun. So far I'm doing this everyday but I'm looking at starting judo and some girls invited me to play badminton with them, so I'm off to that club on Friday.
I have also found a karate club here in Gero-Shi. It's not my style of kyokushin but it is pretty similar. Differences aside, I get to fight a lot and I'm often limping home with a heap of bruises and a big smile.
My host family is amazing. During the week there is me, my host brother and host mother at home and during the weekends host dad comes home (because he works out of town) and they are all so helpful and nice. The food here is amazing.
A huge thanks to everyone who has helped my dream come true. I cannot put how grateful I am into words.
If you would like to read more about my adventure, please check out my blog: Brennan-japan-exchange.blogspot.co.nz. I'm doing weekly updates.
- The Timaru Herald