I spent 10 months in Bangor, Maine and learned many things that I would have never learned without this experience. I experienced too many things to explain in one essay but my life changed in three major ways: I faced many new experiences, I learned English (with a lot of effort) and I noticed how fortunate I am.
First, there were a lot of new things for me in my life there. My host family liked outdoor activities and they took me to their lake house, where we went canoeing and kayaking. They also took me hiking, skiing, and biking. I had never tried most of those activities, especially cross country skiing but I joined the ski team and enjoyed it a lot. The school was also full of new experiences, such as choosing all classes by myself, joining 3 sports teams that are dependent on seasons, and talking with teachers like they were friends. It was scary for me to try new things but was also fun and I found myself in many ways. There were also many times when I could only think of going back home. I remember having a hard time with asking for a ride before I needed one, and that made the relationship between my host mom and me worse. I got scared to ask anything because I didn’t want to get into trouble any more. I don’t think that makes sense for anyone other than me but I felt that way and it was hard for me to talk to her. But when I finally went back to Japan and she gave me a hug and said, “Good luck,” I couldn’t help crying because I realized she was thinking about me and had treated me as her child. It was also my first time not getting along with someone that much and found him/her as a great person at the end. I also met the nicest person I’ve ever met in my life - my host sister. She was helpful to me anytime even when she was in a bad mood and it was very nice to have her as my host sister. It was new feeling for me to think about someone that nice because, of course, I hadn’t met my host sister before but also because I had room in my mind to think about someone deeply and could appreciate him/her honestly.
Second, my English got better through this program and after half of the year, I could feel it. I couldn’t speak English and it was much harder than I had imagined; when I got there so I only said yes or no. It wasn’t fun to say those 2 words but I just couldn’t think of any other word right away. I was embarrassed to speak up because of my poor English but I knew that I needed to speak up and so I decided not to be a quiet girl but to be chatty one. After more than 3 months of trying not to be a quiet girl, I was able to talk to friends and since then, I have also learned useful expressions for conversations from those conversations with them. My host family also corrected my English when I made a mistake using it so I think I learned good English. For my writing skills, I could see the improvement in the essays that I wrote over the 10 months. At first, I had no idea how to write them and it was hard for me to finish a page of writing even if I had a topic that I liked; but now, I can write any essay of three pages without that much effort. After the program, I could think, not only to write what I want to say but also to use a better way to explain my idea by using other sources. My ability to read English also got a lot better from last August by reading a lot of books. I wasn’t a “reading person” before I went to America; however, my host family loved to read and they spent a lot of time reading books. It wasn’t unusual for them to spend whole afternoon reading a book if the weather were bad. I didn’t like reading books and the first book that I read there took me 2 months to finish. But I didn’t have other choice so I continued reading some books. After a couple of months, I started to enjoy reading because it was good way to study English and I also liked some detailed descriptions in the books rather than movies. I became a “reading person” because of my host family and I appreciate them for giving me the great life-long hobby. I read 23 books in 10 months!
Finally, I noticed that I was very fortunate to be there, doing what I wanted to do although I sometimes wanted to go back home badly. I probably would not have gotten to read that many books nor have gotten to do many outdoor activities if I had gone to different family. Without all the things and the people that I know of through my life, like LABO, I wouldn’t have been able to try this program and learn these things. These thoughts make me ponder for a long time and allow me to consider myself fortunate. I also found myself alone there and feeling sad because my family wasn’t near me and that made me realize how dependent I was on my family and how important they are for me. For the first time in 18 years of my life, I thought about my family a lot, not missing them but just feeling that they are a big part of me. I have appreciated them for being my family ever since then and I will never forget this gratitude. That also makes me feel fortunate.
All things considered, although there were some hard things to overcome, I learned many things from those experiences and found the things that I would never have found if I hadn’t tried this program. I think it was worth the effort for me to go to America for 10 months and I’m glad that I got to go there. Thank you very much to everyone that supported me on this trip!