Summer Holidays

13 04 2016

This is a drafted post I found that was never published. This was a point in my exchange where I was becoming extremely stressed and frustrated. You will be able to see that from the yelling and the swearing. Enjoy!

Originally written on the 13/9/2009

My first family for the summer holidays were in another prefecture (Kochi-ken. The prefecture below Ehime-ken) I was driven there by my area rep, which took about 3 hours. I only found out that I would be moving to this families house 4 days before I had to leave, also being told that I would spend the entire holidays there.

I was there for a total of 10 days, finding out only on the 8th that I would be changing families again because the mothers boss was sick in hospital and she had to take over his role temporarily in the city counsel.

They were also worried that I was spending too much time watching TV and going on the computer. I had nothing else to do. The mother and father were out doing their own thing everyday, either working or running errands, and I was left in the house by myself.

When I found out that I was going to be changing, I send my mum a 1,201 word email, saying that I wanted to go home and explaining why. She got in contact with YFU Australia and they got in contact with YFU Japan 2 days later.

Here are some parts from the email (I will post the full email when I get back to Australia) There are a lot of spelling mistakes and bad typing, but it’s really quite difficult to focus on correct grammar and spelling with you are furious and in tears. The only things I have changed from these are names and certain words. Everything else has been left the same.

“annyway, I would have to live with *(person)* till the end of the summer holidays. I told *( holiday host mother)* i did not like *(person)* when *(holiday host mother)* asked what i thought of ‘them’. She then continued to ask why and since i did not know the japanese equivalent of ‘——– —- ——- —–‘…. i refused to tell her.
She then asked me if i wanted to change host families

And then told me the information about changing

“I am SICK to DEATH of this happening. I cant do any more changes….. this is why i chose YFU, because i knew that i couldn’t deal with changing families at all!”

“When i got home from the festival/parade thing, *(holiday host mother)* when and had a shower. I sat at the table, staring at the kitchen sink for 5 minutes before going to the loungroom, lying down and had a panic attack. I could hardly breath, i was crying (even though iwasn’t sad) and couldnt stop muttering to myself. I did that for about 15 mintues and when *(holiday host mother)* came out of the shower,…. didnt even seem to notice that anything was wrong and told me to go have a shower.”

“I spent 4 and a half hours last night sitting up thinking about all this. Coincindently The Shining was on too (same story…. I just haven’t found a crazy child, annoying woman, giant empty hotel and an axe yet)
Its the isolation that is driving me insane. People say i dont speak much when they ask me things. Iv spent so long not speaking…. i dont know what to say when people speak to me anymore! I cnat think of what i would have said back in australia…. that was half a year ago!!”

“I star(t)ed to think about this [going back to australia] last night and after 4 and a half hours of thinking about it, i got confused as to where i was. Sometimes i thought i was already bak home, to only then realise that i hadnt left yet.”

“Please dont tell anyone about this email or what has been mentioned in it. You can tell dad, but dont tell anyone else like work friends or even grandma or *(brother)*. Please dont post anything on facebook to me indicating that i may be coming home early. Dont mention anything to ANYONE. Im begging you.”

Doubt you’ll find something like that on any other exchange students blog.

Exchange students tend to not put many negative things about exchange on their blogs, I guess incase it starts to make their parents worry, but my mum already knew because I sent her this email. I wasn’t happy about the language I used (I generally make an effort to not swear around my mum, dad or brother) but I thought it was the only way to bring across how I was really feeling.

You can see how my emotions changed throughout the email. The start was pure anger, personally attacking certain people, the middle was me starting to calm down a bit along with a dark; sarcastic joke and the end was begging.

The only thing I am ashamed about in that email is my bad langauge, but I believe that people (expecially exchange students) should be as honest as possible on their blogs, because I can guaretee something like this will happen to another exchange students sometime in the future, and if they happen to come across this blog, it may make them feel better to know that there are other people who have been through the same thing.

Anyway, 2 days later, I left this family to go to a new family.

I didn’t know who they were or where they lived.

I wasn’t told anything.


7 Year follow up

13 04 2016

Hi everyone,

I know it’s been a very long time and I highly doubt many of you who read my original blog will ever see this. I’ve been wanting to do a follow up to my exchange experience for a long time but was never able to find the strength to do so.  I’ll go into more detail in sections of this post. I just hope that my reflections after 7 years will help anyone interested in going on exchange in the future and help the parents of exchange students as well.

Like in the past, I would like to emphasise that everyone’s exchange experience is different just as everyone’s daily life is different. My experiences were vastly different to those who went on exchange at the same time as me. That being said, I did not stay in contact with everyone from my exchange year so it is possible that someone else may have had a similar experience to me.

There are a few areas I would like to expand on in this post (which may very well be my last post ever). I’m sorry to those who have messaged me over the years who I haven’t replied to. I tried for a very long time to bury this part of my life. I have to admit that I was not 100% honest in my blogging. Primarily because I did not want to make my family worry. I left things out; I omitted at will. I would say that I am more honest than most exchange students are with their blogging who will talk up the whole experience to make it almost seem easy.

If you did not follow my YouTube blog, I did a 2 part video not long after my return in October, 2009. I never did read out that letter from my host mum or follow up with any Q & A videos. I hope through this post that you will understand why that is.

Part 1:

Part 2:

During My Exchange

To put it in a summary, my exchange was not ideal. I was mocked by my host sister constantly for my inability to speak fluent Japanese, I was isolated by people at school (although I did eat lunch with a select group of girls, I still felt lonely), I was too scared to talk in fear of being further mocked by those around me so I simply hid away. I felt that the only person who cared about me was my host mum and even that wasn’t enough to make me feel like I could handle anymore of the exchange. Although I have just said many negatives, there were many moments of kindness that I look back upon with fond memories. I feel nostalgic for Iyo but not at my overall experience.

I cannot claim that I was not also responsible for my experiences. I could have moved past the mockery and done my best to stay strong. I could have been more active in school activities. In the end, I felt that I was just drifting through a daily routine of wake up, go to school, come home and cry myself to sleep.

Stress Eating and Depression
On exchange, I got FAT. It was the most I had ever weighed in my entire life. Although I would joke about my inability to handle the quantities of rice that I was suddenly eating, it actually came down to stress eating. I was hording cakes, sweet breads, chips, chocolates and lollies in my room. I would hide them in my desk and cover them with a blanket or jumper. I would come home and just eat. After dinner, I would go upstairs and eat. It was my way of dealing with the stress and depression I was feeling. If I wasn’t riding my bike for 5 hours a week to and from school, I would have put on a lot more than I did.

I was massively depressed when I was on my exchange. For months, I would wonder why I had done this, what I was supposed to be getting out of it, how ashamed I would make my family feel if I pulled the plug and came back early. I’m just going to leave it at that.

My Area Representative
This woman was a nasty horrible piece of work. She was there to support me and to help me. She did the opposite. Actively sabotaging my calls for help. Even other area representatives did not like her. Personally, an understanding of a common language (This tends to be English among exchange students) is absolutely crucial when you are meant to be the support network for children living on their own in a foreign country. I cannot emphasis this enough. My support network was non-existent in the area that I lived.

Returning to Australia
I can’t ignore the fact that the exchange did have a profoundly negative impact on my life and the way I was able to function upon returning. This was where things started to get particularly bad. I was ashamed. Ashamed to have come back so early while my peers were still experiencing another culture. Ashamed that I was weak.
I struggled to express myself in many ways. I would get angry over the smallest thing, put massive pressure on myself academically to the point where I was seeing the school psychologist multiple times a week. I would pursue absolute perfection in all aspects of my life. If things weren’t perfect, I would work to the bone in order for them to become perfect or I would cut things from my life (including friends). I see now that this stemmed from my sense of failure from my exchange.

Years after my return (3 – 5) I once again saw a professional psychologist and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders. I pushed my self through an unhealthy relationship filled with fighting and stress because I believed that I wasn’t good enough for anything better. It took a very long time for things in my life to start running a bit smoother.

So, how are things now?
Things are much better than they have been in the last few years. I returned to school recently to study science and am enjoying it. I’m hoping that if I work hard enough, I can get into university and work on earning a degree. I’m much happier in my everyday life. I have a better connection with friends and family, and I’m in a great relationship and have been for almost 2 years. I haven’t returned to Japan but one day I would like to so I can experience everything I wanted to when I first left for Japan 7 years ago.

Final Words of Advice
Please, PLEASE think about if you can handle the stresses of an exchange. If you’re not sure, opt for a shorter exchange. I know young me wouldn’t have listened to this, but some of you may reconsider your stance on these things. Exchange can effect you in ways that you don’t even realise. It could be great, or it could be terrible.  Either way if this is what you decide to do, I hope you can stay strong through the whole things. I hope you get a fantastic host family who take you lots of places and you live in a city or town and have great experiences. I desperately hope you don’t have the same experience as me.

Kit Kats & School Sports Day

13 09 2009

3 new videos!!


(damn music copyrights!!)

Back in Business!

30 08 2009

Hello All!

I am back and going to start working on writting up some blog posts very very soon!

But for now, here are some videos I made to distract you.

What a terrible blogger I am!

20 07 2009

I must apologise to everyone who is/has been reading my blog and watching my videos. I have been a terrible blogger. I have not updated my posts in quite a while.

The reasons are personal and I apologise to everyone who thinks that I may have died or been kidnapped and so on..

I will be postponing my blog and video updates until the end of next month (sometime after the 25th of August).

I am just doing this post to let you know that I am alright and NOT dead. I repeat… NOT dead.

I will email friends and family regarding new blog updates next month, but until then…

Take care!

Pardon? What did you just ask??

17 06 2009

Since I arrive in Japan, I have been asked a lot of strange/stupid questions.

I have now officially been asked the King of ALL strange/stupid questions.

Today, I was asked if the staple food of Australia is Pancakes.


I laughed at this and said no, thinking it was a joke.

The person, after hearing my answer, then continued to ask me if the staple food was Waffles.


Are you bloody serious?!?

Let me also add, that this wasn’t asked by one of the taiko kids or a student.

This was from a teacher.

Should I be worried?

I think so.

Japanese Boys

15 06 2009

The entry was inspired by some comments swapped between exchange students on facebook these last few days.

To put it bluntly, Japanese boys are weird. Let me go through the reasons why.

1. They seem completely and utterly scared of girls their age.

In Australia, I am friends with both guys and girls. In Japan, my friends are all girls. The guys don’t even talk to any of  us. Guys are only friends with guys and girls are only friends with girls.


A friend of mine was commenting on how tall this guy in my class is during cleaning time. She went over to him and was trying to figure out how much taller he was than her, so i held 1 hand above her head and one above his so she could see the height difference. I accidentally lightly brushed my hand over the top of his hair but he flinched so bad. The poor kid was frozen for about 5 minutes and then spent the next minute looking extremely freaked.

2. They are all really quite girly
  • Holding hands, constant hugging and physical contact
  • Plucked eyebrows
  • Punk puma track suit (these are very ‘in’ at the moment)
  • Pink Hello Kitty short shorts

Enough said.

3. They are MORE MATURE than the girls

I think it’s also that the girls are incredibly immature.

4. They all willingly follow the school uniform rules

I stress the word ALL. Back at home, no one really wears their uniform properly (appart from the occasional person who is usually the one who gets picked on), but in Japan, EVERYONE wears their uniform properly… even the guys.

5. All of them are always clean shaven and look like they’ve spent an hour infront of the mirror fixing their hair.

The same can’t be said for most boys I know back at home. (Buster!)