My Host Family, and Getting Used to my New Life in Nagoya

Anh Nguyen
January 21, 2014

My host mother met me at Nanzan’s CJS Office and drove me home in her car. She asked me a lot about myself, and was especially detailed in asking me about what I could and could not eat. I was a vegetarian in the US, and coming to Japan I have decided to be more flexible with my diet, but also to stick to vegetarian food as much as I can. The host family arrangement was perfect for me, because my host family owns a tofu store in the first floor of their house, and over the next few days I was fed extremely delicious tofu prepared in so many different and interesting ways!

To do my part for my host family, I always try my best to help with preparing meals – it’s a really good way to learn food-related words and to learn how the Japanese cook and eat. I have a lot of fun comparing Vietnamese cuisine to Japanese – unlike American cuisine where often completely different ingredients are used, Vietnamese cooking uses very similar ingredients to Japanese, but sometimes in drastically different ways. For example, both countries have persimmons, but in addition to eating them dried or as they are, my host mother also fries persimmon pieces to make tempura!

Nagoya is still quite cold, but at least the weather is usually sunny. My host family, like a lot of typical Japanese families, has no heating in the bathroom, and since you only turn on heaters when you enter a room, you would spend the first 10 minutes or so shivering. It took a bit of getting used to at first, especially since I arrived from the ryokan where our rooms were always warm. I have grown to like this kind of weather however, and now I feel like I prefer it to the warm and humid weather.

I am also quite lucky in that the commute from my host family to the university only takes 30 minutes, using just one subway line. I like to think that I usually use that time to study for quizzes or revise with my flashcards, but more often than not I would just sit there, listen to the quiet humming of the train (as well as the more-than-occasional announcements), and look at the people around me. I would often look at the posters in the trains, too, and try to figure out what they mean. That’s the good thing about being in Japan – you get to immerse yourself in the language and learn wherever you are!

During the orientation with Nanzan’s Center for Japanese Studies, we were told that we would first be in the “honeymoon stage” of culture shock, when everything is new and exciting – I feel like I am in that stage at the moment. What comes next after we are used to everything will apparently be less pleasant, so I am curious as to what will happen during my next few weeks here. I have studied abroad before, so I also wonder if the next stage will affect me as much. We will see!

Anh Nguyen

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Anh hailed from Hanoi, Vietnam and is currently a sophomore at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. She plans to major in Computer Science, but decided to take a non-CompSci semester abroad before coming back to it in her junior year (after all, when else will she get the chance?). In her free time she enjoys reading, exploring new places and new types of food, people-watching, as well as reading food blogs, planning to make every single dish that catches her eye, and then completely forgetting about them. She is as excited to blog about her journey as she is about her Spring semester in Nagoya!</span></div>

2014 Spring
Home University:
Haverford College
Computer Science
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