A very, very long time and no see! I haven't been here for a while now, have I.... But HEY, I'M BACK! AND STILL ALIVE!
I am still going strong and my life here is a lot of fun, I'm all up in my daily routines and am really immersed in everything that is going on around me (which I think is the biggest reason as to why I've been quiet here for a while). My language skills are getting better and better and I feel comfortable speaking with people around me (even though I know I make mistakes all the time, I've just decided that it doesn't matter and that it won't stop me from speaking), and whatever life I had before this feels like a thousand years away. Although I guess it's starting to come back to me now that Sweden is closing in again... I'm constantly re-remembering Swedish words that I've forgotten during the year (a few days ago the word purjolök came to me, I had completely forgotten about its existence and it almost felt like learning it all over again), and I am starting to kind of mentally prepare myself more for the whole leaving-and-returning-thing.... while I at the same time try my best to live in the moment and really focus on here and now and all that is going on. No wonder I'm constantly tired nowadays..........
There has happened a lot in the time that I've been away from the blog, and a lot of things have changed! I went to Tokyo and I went fishing and I've been going to an international church and I've been in school from 07.00-19.00 last week and this week, and, and, and... But the first thing I want to tell you about is that I GRADUATED THE FIRST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL! Woho! Well, I've already graduated from the first grade of "high school" once (in Sweden ofc), and the second as well, but since they placed me in the first year here I graduated with my class in the end of march and once again, once again I became a second year student. And being a second year student in Japan (and a first year student for that matter, being anything really, just being) is quite different from being one in Sweden. To take an example, in the schools here (or at least in mine) you keep check on your study hours (they literally have schedules they write down how long they've studied every day) and the expectations the teachers have, even though the school days are long and many of the students have club after school, are very high. And so the first year is hard to begin with, but I think you can guess that the second year is even harder and more busy. And let's not get into how the third graders have it, we don't wanna scare the kids. Like, I can't compare it with how I had it before. It's worlds away.
Another thing that's different is that when you transfer to the second year and the new, cute little first year students come, you suddenly become something that is joked around a lot about on the internet - a senpai. Senpai means superior or elder, and since Japan has a very strong tradition of treating your superiors with respect that is exactly what happens with us here as well. The first year students, and especially the ones that join the same club as you are in, speak to you in polite Japanese, bow when they greet you and generally just treat you with a lot of respect. This is natural here and like a part of the circle or life, but I, who in no way am used to this, find it very strange and I have yet to get comfortable in my new shoes. When I have cute little girls from my club running up to me shouting KONNICHIWA JOHANNA-SENPAI, what the heck do I do?! RUN?
But to be honest this change has been- and is a lot of fun, it's fun with new faces in school and just feeling like things are being stirred around a bit. I feel like the students have gotten used to my face now because they have been getting more and more social with me the last three months or so, and so instead of just staring or shyly waving to me they approach and talk and ask questions and notice that hey, that lil' exchange student can actually speak Japanese (well, a little bit). We have this crazy thing going on in school right now that I will write more about later, and it has required a lot of working together with the other classes and years, which has led to me making TONS of new friends! And I absolutely love it, I love all of them and they are so much fun and I'm getting a lot better at remembering names as well (ABOUT TIME JOHANNA). It makes it harder to think that I have to leave all of it in a while, but is making my life here even better and I'm always super thrilled to go to school! The teachers are super nice to me (well, most of them, with the exception of the few ones who give me weird looks) and encourage me and just the whole we're-all-in-this-together and joined-forces spirit is really cool and very different from what I used to and it is definitly an environment I like being in.
I think that the last third part or last quarter of my exchange year has been the best in many ways, I'm both way more comfortable and just really, genuinly happy. I am not looking forward to leaving even though it's gonna be fun meeting all the people back in the cold lands of the north again and eating all the food that I miss to death, but I realize that I need to start preparing myself a bit mentally for leaving. It's a bit less than one and a half month left now, and I'm slowly starting to accept that my exchange year will end and I'm also trying to change my mindset and look forward to coming home to Sweden again, just so that it won't be as hard as I've heard people telling me it is.... And that has also made me want to talk and write a bit more about it and in that sense, as well as in so many others, exchange students are magic. What would I do without you?!
I have more to write about my recent adventures but I'm not gonna squeeze everything in here. I'll write another post. Thank you everyone, thank you for following me here and sharing my moments and everything! I'm hopefully gonna get my things together and be a bit more active these last weeks.
And, so, yeah. See ya, I guess!
xoxo Johanna senpai