My homestay family might actually be the best homestay family ever. Since coming to Japan in March, I’ve had my share of high and low points. Having my homestay family to see me through it has been amazing. Whether it was a late night runs with my host mother to just get some stress out of both of our systems, which were a great bonding experience at the beginning, or my three year old host brother’s emotional clairvoyance which caused him to saunder into my room and chide “Isshoni Asobou?” (You wanna play together?) I was continuously impressed by my homestay family’s ability to make a stranger feel welcome in their home. I can’t express how much I my 9 year old homestay sister walking me through conversational Japanese by correcting my mistakes or my homestay father not killing me for single-handedly doubling the water heating bill more than once.
I haven’t been totally selfish though. I pick up my host brother from Kindergarden sometimes, showing up late in the afternoon to meet with faces of total amazement and loud exclamations of “Gaikokujin-san da! Eego hanashitekure!” (It’s Mr. Foreigner! Speak English for us!) And I endeared myself to my host father by being the only one up when he gets home from his busy salaryman day and looking after the kids for a bit on his days off so he can rest up. It’s give and take, but by nature of study abroad and our relationship, I feel like I have taken much more than I have given.
They’re not perfect. My host dad vaccuums the whole downstairs at 6:30 am sharp every morning, right outside my door. And my homestay sister sometimes starts practicing piano at around the same time. But those are so little. To even complain about them in the scheme of things, when I’ve been able to do awesome things with them like travel around Japan and create a second family, I couldn’t do it. Nearing the end of my stay in Japan, I know I’m sad to leave them and they’re sad to have me leave. To have them not want me to leave after nine months together, I don’t even know how I pulled that off, but I definitely owe it more to them than to myself.
Deciding to do a homestay when I came abroad was so worth it. The amount of Japanese I’ve picked up, and the ability I’ve gained to speak the language were amplified by the fact that I did this homestay. For anyone who decides to go abroad, understand that if you put in the right amount of patience and energy, you can get something amazing out of doing a homestay. And it really is the best aid for learning the language. Both parties may give and take, but you’ll take a lot more away from it than you put in, guaranteed.
Below are some pictures of me and my homestay family in various places. (Pics or it’s not real, right?) The kids are cute as hell, so enjoy.