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Host family life...

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Host family life...

Postby JadeFire19 » Tue 06.12.2007 1:13 am

Well, I can't believe it took me this long to think to make a post about this, but oh well. So here's the deal: I will be leaving on Thursday of this week to go to Japan (well actually to California for an orientation and then Japan three days later but whatever) and I will be there until August 2, living with a host family in Akita. I am excited beyond belief and can't wait to go and can't stop thinking about it, but at the same time, part of me is absolutely terrified. I've only been out of the country once and that was to England with my family so I have no solo international experience at all and pretty much zero experience in an environment where I don't know the language. I have very limited knowledge of Japanese (though I do know a little bit including kana and some kanji) so this will definitely be an experience of the "sink or swim" variety.

Is there anything really I should keep in mind while living with a Japanese family or going to a Japanese school? What about gifts? I know I should bring a gift for each member of my family, but I'm stumped on what. Specifically my host brother (age 24) and my host father. Would jewelry be ok for my host sisters? What about for my host mother? Any other people I should bring gifts for? What about wrapping them? It's all so stressful.

Should I try to contact my host family before I leave? What if I can't communicate enough on the phone to let them know who I am? Can anyone help me with how to say "I will be living with you this summer" or something to that effect? Also, they only have my full name, but I never ever ever go by that so how do I ask them to call me by the shorter version?

Also, can anyone share with me any information about Akita? I just found out today that that's where I'm going to be so I'm pretty much clueless. From what I've gathered online, it's fairly rural. Is that right? There's not much information readily available and I don't really have much time to go digging around. I would like to be able to visit Tokyo as well, but I don't know how that would work with my host family and transportation and all of that. I do have a friend that lives in Tokyo that I could potentially stay with for a day or two if I had to.

So, basically what I'm asking for are tips, advice, and generally anything that will help calm me down about this and make things easier/more enjoyable while I'm there. ありがとうございます!

Oh, and I appologize for any typos or lapses in grammar. It is quite late where I am and I don't know if it's caused by anxiety, excitement, or both, but I haven't been able to sleep much the past few days.
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RE: Host family life...

Postby AJBryant » Tue 06.12.2007 2:08 pm

Akita.

Famous for dogs, and girls (which are NOT dogs). :)

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RE: Host family life...

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 06.12.2007 4:02 pm

Akita is a very nice place, you will enjoy your time. Unfortunately you are going during the rainy season and that place, even though it's located in Tohoku, it's still hot as sin. So keep that in mind.

I lived there for 3 months, unfortunately it was in 1988.. so things certainly have changed. It is famous for some Snow festivals, but it will be too early in the year for you to see them. It is the second largest city in Tohoku next to Sendai which of course is the largest.

http://www.asia-planet.net/japan/tohoku.htm

http://www.city.akita.akita.jp/en/

http://www.links.net/vita/trip/japan/akita/

http://www.jref.com/glossary/matsuri.shtml

there is a festival (matsuri) http://web-japan.org/atlas/festivals/fes03.htmlcalled the kanto matsuri I believe that occurs sometime in the summer, but I am not sure what the date is. Hopefully it won't be after August..

Tsurunoyu a city in the Akita prefecture is also famous for it's onsen (mineral baths usually hot) http://www.links.net/vita/trip/japan/akita/tsurunoyu/

aomori, a city a bit of a trip away from akita also has the Nebuta matsuri, but it occurs Aug2-Aug7..

here is a map http://int.kateigaho.com/jun04/matsuri-summer.html[url]

http://gojapan.about.com/cs/tohokuregio ... nebuta.htm[/url] you might be able to catch some of that, unless you leave that morning.

There is a matsuri on the 20-21 of July called the port festival that is on the port of Tsuchzaki , but I can't remember exactly where that city is.
http://www.city.akita.akita.jp/en/fest/fest.htm

there is also the tsuzureko drum festival July 14-15 it's based on a rainmaking ritual with huge drums and lots of percussion. http://www.pref.akita.jp/e/0501.html

as for gifts. take something specifically american that you have interest in to the 23 year old male. a gift that means something to you will mean much to them. for the father, somthing uniquely american he can display would be nice.. (a very nice expensive liquor might be appropriate unless this is a religious type homestay. maybe a set of shot glasses or something that can be used or displayed. for the mother, think of what you would get your mom, but try to make it central to your area. sometimes simple is better, but definately make it something you ahve some interest in, so explanation is easier. try not to buy things you think a japanese person might get over there. '

and relax, they will make it very easy for you. most cases, if the family cannot speak very good english, and interpretor will be provided at major functions etc. just do your best and have fun.
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RE: Host family life...

Postby ess_jay_arr » Tue 06.12.2007 5:06 pm

JadeFire19 wrote:
Also, they only have my full name, but I never ever ever go by that so how do I ask them to call me by the shorter version?


I've heard "(nickname) tte yonde ii yo!" used for this... but that's probably a bit too informal for speaking to your host parents. Maybe "(nickname) tte yonde iin desu kedo." with a smile would do the trick.

You might wanna let someone else confirm that, 'cos I'm no expert... but then, I'm sure they're not expecting you to speak expertly anyway. :P

Other than that, it might be a good idea to just let them call you whatever they want. :) When I was there, everyone mispronounced my name, but I just let it slide. If you correct them or tell them what to call you, I think you risk embarrassing them.
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RE: Host family life...

Postby richvh » Tue 06.12.2007 5:43 pm

I think "(nickname) to yonde kudasai" is probably better than ess_jay_arr's suggestion. "-te ii" form even with the "ndesukedo" to soften it seems a bit demanding to me.
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RE: Host family life...

Postby flammable hippo » Tue 06.12.2007 7:30 pm

maybe "nicknameと呼んでもらえませんか or nickname と呼んでくれませんか is better than 呼んでください. Idk, it's just my opinion and Rich's suggestion is probably better. But to me, saying "please call me..." seems a bit stiffer and not as friendly as "won't you call me...".
Two muffins were baking in an oven. One turns to the other and says "sure is hot in here." The other replies "AH TALKING MUFFIN!"

二つのマフィンがオーブンで焼かれていた。片方のマフィンがもう一方のマフィンに向かって、"暑いね”と言った。すると、話しかけられたほうのマフィンは"アッ!喋るマフィンだ!”と驚いた。 :)
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RE: Host family life...

Postby richvh » Tue 06.12.2007 8:59 pm

Somewhere there's a thread where a native speaker listed the various gradations of expressions using もらう, いただく, くれる and くださる. I think that ください, being keigo, is more polite than either くれませんか or もらえませんか. I'm sure that もらえませんか is more polite than くれませんか. More polite than any of those would be いただけませんか (there may be more polite ways, but my mind is blanking on them.)
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RE: Host family life...

Postby shiohigari » Tue 06.12.2007 10:31 pm

two_heads_talking gave some great advice about gifts. I'd take a few spare gitfs though just in case you get taken to a cousin's or grandparent's place for a visit, which inevitably happens. Take small gifts and make sure they're lightweight too. They don't have to be too grand, just something from your hometown or American T-shirts or something like that! It can be embarrassing if you get given presents and have nothing to give in return.

As for contacting your host family before you leave, I don't think it's necessary, but if you want to just a short email would suffice. That is, if you know their email address. Just introduce yourself and say that yoo're looking forward to seeing them.

A word of advice...... Be patient (with your Japanese and their English)
Be relaxed
Be polite
But most of all, enjoy the experience!
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RE: Host family life...

Postby Infidel » Tue 06.12.2007 10:38 pm

I can't remember the thread, but it was shin1ro. I actually pasted it into my personal notes in the wiki, random save worthy stuff.
Last edited by Infidel on Tue 06.12.2007 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Host family life...

Postby Gundaetiapo » Tue 06.12.2007 11:25 pm

I started a WagaWiki article [wiki]Going to Japan[/wiki] but my knowledge is inadequate to fill it in adequately. Hopefully someone wants to take it up as a project. If not I'll just add stuff as I come across it and it'll grow really slowly.
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RE: Host family life...

Postby JadeFire19 » Wed 06.13.2007 12:53 am

Thank you all for your advice, especially two_heads_talking for all those links. Also thanks to everyone for the advice on the name thing (though just to double check, 呼 is read as 「よ」, right?). I think I'll just introduce myself as what I go by, and then if they ask about it, point out that I would prefer to be called that.

For the gifts, I think I have some ideas, but I want to know what you all think:
-I make jewelry. To the point where it's not just a hobby, it's really important in my life. So I was thinking of designing and making necklaces for my sisters and mother. I will also be bringing beads/wire/etc with me so if I need to make some more gifts for other people I can. For my host brother, you said something American and something important to me. Obviously, I can't make him jewelry, but another part of my life is music, specifically drums. So I was thinking of giving him a pair of drumsticks that were used in a Blue Man Group concert that I got when I saw them perform. The only thing I'm worried about with this is the fact that they were used in a show, so they are quite beat up to the point where the neon paint is only partly there. Oh, and there is the fact that they are neon orange ^_^. For my father, I just got a really nice pen. It has a chain wrapped around it and it's kinda hard to explain, but I think it's really cool. I know someone mentioned that I should get something they can display, but I'm a bit lost as to what. Any suggestions? Oh, and I also got a box of candy for the whole family. What do you think of all that?
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RE: Host family life...

Postby two_heads_talking » Wed 06.13.2007 10:02 am

SINCE you make jewelry, that's a great thing to do..

also, bring pictures of your local area. You can spend hours talking about where you come from, so bring tons and tons of pictures of it. all the seasons, and all your hobbies. maybe bring pictures of jewelry that you ahve made in the past..

the drumsticks might not be the best idea. but how about a concert t-shirt or soemthing like that. most 24 year olds like music. and blue man group is pretty popular and easily recognized.

as for display items.. collectables.. like shot glasses or collectable liquor bottles (hopefully still full) etc.

I used to do leatherworking and Native American Indian leatherworking. I once took an Indian headdress that I had made. It was probably a bit too big, but the family was fascinated and the young boy (he was 12 and the gift was for him) he thought it was the best thing ever..
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