phone call from mindy
Hello from Japan! I have the day off of school tomorrow so can sleep in. The kids are taking tests these past two weeks so I have not had soccer or activities. Last week school got cancelled on Friday because we had so much rain that a mudslide came onto a train track and the train was stuck. It was too dangerous for kids to go out in the storm, so we got the day off. Unfortunately, my papa had already taken me and my sister to the train station, an hour away from home. As soon as I got out of the car the wind broke my umbrella and we were soaked. There is a lot of rain here.
So today was my last trip on my normal train ride to school. I have a friend, a man with Down’s Syndrome, who I talk to every day. He can’t speak much, but he does say “Thank you very much” to me in English. I give him American candy, starbursts are his favorite. I will miss not seeing him everyday.
On Sunday I will move to a new home. I don’t know much about it, but it will be in a small, fishing village an hour in the other direction of my school. I’ve been warned that I’ll eat a lot of fish. My mom is a Rotarian, but not from the same club that I attend. My sister is in my school so I know who she is. I am packing up my stuff which has grown to 2 suitcases and 7 bags. I may need to send some stuff home soon; I keep tripping over all the gifts people have given me. Everyone here has been so kind and I will miss my family dearly. My family gave me the choice of doing whatever I wanted for my last day with them, so we will go to Seaworld.
The transition is easier because I will still attend the same school and I am there from 7 am to 6 pm all week and on some weekends. The largest mall in the city is so close to my home now and I will miss shopping and hanging out with friends when I move.
School is going well. I am learning much Japanese but wish I had learned more before I came. My goal now is to be good enough in Japanese to take the JSL test and be certified that I know Japanese as a second language. I am also working hard on the math that I brought and hope to be done with Algebra 1 by Christmas.
I will be going on a soccer trip for 4 days soon. There will be a couple of other soccer trips coming up that I am looking forward to.
One thing that I don’t understand is all the foreigners in Starbucks. When I go there to get tea I see all the foreigners and tourists hanging out and I want to say “Get out!! You can go to Starbucks in America. Experience the culture of Japan and get tea somewhere else!!” I have to have my tea on the way to school every day or I get crabby. My grandpa and grandma will have someone to drink tea with when I come home.
I have discovered an internet café where I can access email for1/2 hour for free. They have international keyboard so I can write back to people. Please send me email again and I will try to respond in my short ½ hour.
My school gave me permission to dye my hair so I am going to do that this weekend. I want to have darker hair so I fit in a little more. The dye is only for Japanese hair, which is black, so am not sure what color I will end up with. I’m hoping just a medium brown.
One of the things I love to do is cooking for my family. I have not made much, but they have liked my cookies and they want me to make broccoli before I go. I told them about broccoli cheese soup, but I’m not sure how to make it. Mom will have to send me more mixes in my next package.
I am already thinking about Christmas. My teacher is getting married on Dec. 16th and all JSL students are invited. JSL may spend Christmas together for party or to have a tree, but I will have to see if my host family wants me to be with them. Sometimes host family want to make you feel at home so they plan special Christmas, even though Japanese don’t celebrate it much. New Year’s is the big celebration here. We have a lot of JSL birthdays in December, including mine, so we will have a party for that too. I’m not sure what to do for Christmas presents, to give present to one friend and not another is rude, but I have so many friends, my host sister’s friends, host families, teachers, etc. I’m not sure where to stop or if I should even start. It’s hard for me because I see presents as so personal and I want each one to be special for that person, but here you give all the same thing so there is no favoritism. I will think about it.
When you write to me please tell me how you are and what you are doing. So many people write and ask me questions about Japan and I am glad to answer them, but they don’t tell me anything about them. I want to know what is going on in school, in my family and in Minnesota.
I am doing very well. It’s funny that I am growing up in a foreign country, but that is what it feels like. At home I was very smart in school things, but needed to grow up in other ways. In Japan, I am growing up with things like making lots of friends, expressing myself more, being more responsible for myself, etc. I am becoming very outgoing. I sometimes wonder where I will fit in when I come home. Do I still want to go to Becker High School or will I want to take college classes? Will my mom and dad treat me like the different person I am, or will they treat me like I was when I left? Will my friends still remember me and want to be my friend? I feel like my room isn’t my own or my house isn’t really my own anymore. I mean, they always will be mine, but they seem so far away and part of a world I don’t live in anymore, so they feel part of other’s lives more than mine.
Lastly, something very important. I don’t know how to say it. But, these past few years have been hard for me. I am only beginning to see now how those hard times prepared me for this experience. Some of the hardest things were just what I needed to give me the courage to be where I am now. I know that God had planned this for my life before I had even thought about Japan or even being an exchange student. He knew something good was coming for me and I know being here is where I’m suppose to be. I am grateful.