Japanese exchange an eye opener for Cameron and Jack
“It’s an amazing experience. I think being in that situation rounds you out as a person.” Both boys found school life very different from College, with for the most part, classes of students remaining in a room throughout the day, while the teachers moved to them to take lessons. “And there was a lot less discipline than what we’re used to. If you wanted to listen and learn then you could, but if you couldn’t be bothered the teachers didn’t seem to mind,” says Cameron. Homework class was held before and after school, in the equivalent of a “House”. Both boys looked forward to the family dinners at their host homes at night. “Our family had a really communal style of dining, with a hotpot in the centre of the table, and you could pile everything into it – noodles, dumplings, rice balls – it was great,” says Cameron. For Jack, who is a vegetarian, the food was a little more problematic in a society where fish is a staple. “I got by on miso and rice and there were lots of other foods which I found quite good.” Bathing in a traditional Japanese onsen bath house was a unique challenge for the boys, modesty having to take a back seat as they participated in the custom of communal bathing. Cameron went on a skiing trip to Nagano when he first arrived in Japan, an experience he found fascinating – “at times you might be the only skier on a run” – and Jack spent a memorable four days exploring Tokyo before coming home. Year 13 Japanese with teacher Steve Everingham has a different feel since the two arrived back with a real appreciation of the language and culture. “It was definitely a great experience,” says Cameron, while Jack believes Japan would be a very nice place to live as a foreigner. “At times I found it extremely noisy.”
Communal bathing, self-motivated learning, a very respectful culture, and delicious food are among the outstanding memories of two Year 13 students, Cameron Knight and Jack O’Donoghue, who spent their 2017 summer holidays in Japan. The two Japanese language students went on a student exchange to Christ’s College’s brother school, Konan Boys’ High School in Kobe, near Osaka – Cameron for five and half weeks, and Jack for eight. “After studying Japanese since Year 9 at College, it felt surreal to be using it on an everyday basis,” says Jack, whose host family all spoke quite good English, unlike Cameron’s who did not speak any at all. “It was quite something to have to remember words and make the effort to converse. I felt I definitely did improve over the time I spent with them.” Jack’s host brother, Ryuhei, was at College until the end of Term 1. He experienced the very same sense of culture shock as Jack and Cameron did. “We were fairly hesitantly spoken when we arrived in Kobe, but it’s fair to say we found it all a bit more difficult to make ourselves understood, than it was scary,” said Jack. “The thing we both found was that the culture is just so respectful; people don’t want to give offence, and even if we did things wrong, they probably wouldn’t have told us.” Cameron says the full immersion in Japanese language and culture was remarkable.
College Issue 34 2018
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