Journals from Japan: Packing and preparations


Yamazato Kei

Kwassui Junior & Senior High School in Nagasaki City, Japan, sits atop a hill. June 30, 2022.

It’s that time of year again. 

Back to school season is upon us. While many students are busy picking up their schedules and new school supplies, others await their plane tickets.

Despite being a rising junior at Salem High School, my coming school year will not be spent in the classrooms of P-CEP. 

I will instead be living in Nagasaki, Japan, as a Rotary youth exchange student. 

Leaving my friends and family behind in the United States, I will take on the challenge of both learning the culture of the country I will be residing in as well as the challenge of how to communicate with others in another language that I do not speak. 

I will be immersing myself in the culture by attending Kwassui Junior & Senior High School with Japanese students. None of my classes will be taught in English. I will be staying with three host families for approximately three months each. 

Before the wheels of the plane can leave the ground, there are many preparations that must be made. I have been packing my suitcase and buying gifts for my host families and sponsoring Rotary clubs. 

Preparing for a year away from home can be difficult. I have packed clothing, lots of Michigan-related presents, and my Rotary blazer which is used to collect pins from other exchange students. 

A common phrase used amongst exchange students to describe foreign exchange is: “It’s not a year in a life, but a life in a year.” Packing a life’s worth of belongings into a suitcase is not an easy task. However the most important thing that I will take is not an item, but instead, an open mind. 

As I prepare to depart for this adventure on August 17, I will approach my exchange with as much openness as possible. I have some fears, but I would rather be scared and still try new experiences than not have any at all.

Throughout my time in Japan, I invite you to join me as I document my experiences here in The Perspective, in my column entitled “Journals from Japan.”