Rotary Youth Exchange Student Corey Yeung posts his first journal entry from Japan

Arriving in Japan

Arriving in Japan

こんにちわ、コーリーです!

Corey Yeung Rotary Youth Exchange Student Sponsored by Rotary Club of Safety Harbor

Corey Yeung
Rotary Youth Exchange Student Sponsored by Rotary Club of Safety Harbor

What an experience this is. I’ve only been here for ten days and it feels like I  already had a year’s worth of experience. My arrival in Japan was not as I expected. I thought I would either be vivacious or extremely anxious, but instead I didn’t know what I really felt. The initial feelings of excitement for an exchange student did not come to me immediately. While I was at the
airport, I was just thinking, “Alright…okay, I’m in Japan.” My perception that the Tokyo airport would be frenetic and completely confusing was the complete opposite. It was quite calm and the steps I needed to take through customs were pretty explicit. It was not hard to follow and I was able to get through the airport smoothly. My preconceived assumptions of how things would go were already
different from how it actually was.

After going through customs, my host family and fellow Rotarians were already
there. They greeted me as I bowed and pictures were taken. I thought that only
my host family would be there, but I was welcomed with several Rotarians. The
thought that the car ride from the airport would be silent wasn’t the same for
me. Even though I did not speak much, the car ride was comfortable. I rested a little
from my jet lag and was getting ready for the meal ahead, as it was dinner
time. The meal was excellent and everyone was having a good time. The people in
Japan are really easy-going with friends; the conversation was lively (even
though I did not understand it) and many laughs were going around. Albeit all
this being said, the first few days were very difficult for me.

Adapting to the culture and getting use to the host family’s routine was not
the difficulty, it was the language barrier was hitting me hard and I was
feeling overwhelmed with the task ahead. I was feeling lost and wondering what
in the world I was doing here. Am I really capable of doing this? How am I able
to push on? These were the kinds of questions I was contemplating over. However,
after that rough patch, I was finally introduced with the excitement of
learning about a new culture and having new perspectives. The support I have is
incredible (my family, friends, and Rotarians from the US and Japan) and that
was what motivated me to push on.

Taking small steps at a time was the solution. You can’t expect to learn
everything overnight, it takes time. Aside from events here and there, I am
studying all day, every day. I just organized a steady study regiment which is
relieving.

The Japanese culture is one to admire and I am very appreciative to be given
this opportunity. What is in store for me in the near future is unpredictable
and that is what makes this so exciting, as independence and growth are
attributes that I will inevitably encounter. I can now look forward to this
exciting adventure.

– Corey Yeung