Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Where have you been, young lady?"

You know how when you have something you need to do, but it is a little behind and will take some time and you're not really ready to deal with it, so you ignore it, so it gets more behind so you REALLY don't want to look at it now, so you ignore it some more?

Yeah. That's what i did yesterday. I ignored the internet and read a trashy detective novel instead. But this morning, the internet is still there. Amazing.

We took our Japanese exchange student, Asuka, to the airport yesterday morning and said goodbye. It was sad. We ended up having a really good time with her. She came with a group of students who all stayed with other students from Em's school. There was a large group of kids at the airport, with all the girls weeping and declaring undying friendship and the boys standing around punching each other.

Some observations:

  • The Japanese girls all have the same haircut. One of Em's friends called it The Japanese Schoolgirl Mullet. That pretty much sums it up.
  • None of the Japanese kids are overweight in the slightest. About half of the Americans are. I find that sad.
  • The Japanese eat like lumberjacks. I don't know where Asuka put it all. The Mister says that food is very expensive in Japan, so they eat everything in front of them. Don't know if this is true or not.
  • Asuka LOVED to shop. I took her to the mall and we went into every single store and she didn't buy anything. This was repeated several times during her visit at different malls.
  • She also loves Starbucks. Asuka purchased many souvenir items from Starbucks as gifts, including a pound of coffee beans. I don't think she has a grinder either, but she was insistent upon beans, rather than ground coffee.
  • One family hosted a pool party one night so i got to see all the visitors. You should have seen their eyes whenever i would stand up. I think in Japan i would frighten small children.
  • Asuka used two towels everyday, one for each shower. She would trot out each morning with a small pile of laundry and want to do a teeny load every day. If she had been staying longer i would have had a chat with her about this, but for a week? Eh.
  • I took Asuka to a Top Foods (a large grocery store) so she could buy gifts for her family. Here is a sample of the things she bought; those little boxes of cereal, Chips Ahoy cookies, a bag of Jujubes, Altoids mints, Triscuits.
  • Asuka was always exclaiming "SO BIG!" Our dishwasher, our refrigerator, her bedroom, our cats, our houses (and our house was the smallest one she saw while she was here,) our cars....
  • She was not used to riding in cars and i had to remind her many times to put on her seatbelt. "Oh yes, seatbelt!" she would say.
  • I would host an exchange student again in a heartbeat.


sari said...

Asuka sounds wonderful! I'm glad your visit went so well, maybe she can come back and visit again.

alphawoman said...

She sounds so cute! My nephew is going to Chile as a college student in the spring. He will stay with a family willing to have him. The adventure!! The total immersion into another culture. I imagine it was a blast for you also.

flutter said...

Wow that was a spam comment if I have ever seen one!

She sounds lovely and a load of fun

luckyzmom said...

Saw that same spam stuff on someone elses comments yesterday.

Anyway, what a grand experience for you all. My husband spent a few days in Japan once and was most amazed at how melon is sold by the slice after it has been cut into 60 thin slivers, for as much or more than we would pay for one melon. Here in Reno at the buffets, since hearing about the melon from my husband, I notice that the Japanese visitors will all select huge amounts of fruits. I feel so happy for them. And they really can pack it away. What a great experience for your family.

QT said...

How fun! What a great experience and I love that it only lasted a short time. Anything longer and perhaps some things (like the laundry) would have gotten on your nerves. Maybe since they have tiny appliances they have to do tiny loads of laundry?

I know whenever we go to Ecuador we take along a suitcase full of requested items - windex being one of them...lactaid was another until they saw what the package looked like and could find it in the stores there.

Tink said...

That's awesome! I love looking at our lives through the eyes of other people. We get so jaded. It's nice to have someone around who makes us realize there are different lifestyles than these.

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered about kids brave enough to leave their schools, much less their entire countries. What a horizon-expanding experience! As for the Japanese Schoolgirl Phenom, all I can tell you is that William Gibson seems to have a pretty good handle on that sorta thing, and it confuses the gaijin hell out of me. *lol*

TTQ said...

The Japanese Schoolgirl Mullet.

Mrs. Chili said...

One of my blogger friends, I don't recall which one at the moment, posted a link to a comparison by country of obese people. Japan and the Koreas were at the bottom of the list, the US was at the top.

SO BIG, indeed!

Mrs. Chili said...

I found the link! It was on Thomas's blog (which is here: http://tvickers.blogspot.com/)

The link to the "World of Fatness" is here:


meno said...

sari, she was a great guest. I hope this will encourage Em to go over there and visit.

alphawoman, it was like visiting another country, without traveling, very cool.

flutter, yes it was, and i used the power of the little trash can. Does ANYONE ever read those things?

luckyzmom, weird huh? It was a great time.

qt, in some ways longer would have been better, so we could have been more relaxed about doing things, and in some ways, it was just right. I bet you are right about the washers and dryers. Windex?

tink, it was fun, and she cooked a few Japanese things that i now feel comfortable trying.

irrelephant, he sure does, and Neil Stephenson. Did i ever tell you that i met Neil a few months ago? "Oh, shit, you're famous." i thought.

ttq, without exception, that was the style.

mrs. chili, thank you for that. What a contrast.

thailandchani said...

That sounds like a wonderful experience.. just to have her around.. to hear her perspectives on things.



ms chica said...

It's good to be exposed to different cultures. We need to be reminded the world is more diverse than what we see from day to day. It encourages more compassion.

QT reminded me of my cousin who lived in Venezuela and Peru. She always asked anyone visiting to load up an extra duffel with poptarts.

amusing said...

Oh, I love things like tiny cereal boxes as souvenirs. I always ask for things like chapstick or toothpaste. Who could say no to a tube of toothpaste all in French? C'est tres chic, non?

Liv said...

I hope that I'll be reminded of your post when my kids are in high school and I start getting hit up to host a kid in my home... house guest = not my most favorite thing!

Liv said...

well, uh, except for people like Chica.

Schmoopie said...

Stucco wears his "I'm Huge in Japan" t-shirt all the time. You should have had him come over to visit you, while wearing it. :)

crazymumma said...

what an awesome idea!

I hope your daughter gets to go to Japan...

Anonymous said...

I love her shopping list of souvenirs. Foreigners never buy what you imagine they would buy. (And in spite of things being more expensive in Japan, I am betting that in the Land of Gadgets Par Excellence, somebody she knows has a coffee grinder.)

Snoskred said...

A friend of ours used to be the caretaker of a place exchange students for university were able to come and stay at. We often took them out to various places and it was always a fantastic experience. I absolutely would recommend becoming a host family to anyone. ;)

Over here you are reimbursed somewhat towards the costs like food etc, I'm not sure how that works in the states though I think some places don't pay the host families in order to make sure they really want to be host families. I'm not sure that is entirely fair because there are costs associated with having another person come to live with you.. but if you can afford to absorb those costs the experience is very worthwhile.

Well done!

Oh and while I'm here. Meno, I was going to email you, I wanted to know if I could use something you said on Chani's site as a thought of the day sometime in the future? You said - Wouldn't it be a better world if all of us started our relationships with curiosity instead of assumptions? - I'll credit you and link to your blog when I post it, if that's ok?

Snoskred -

Dick said...

Over the years we had exchange students from Japan, Mexico and Spain and they were all fun. We learned a lot from them.

Girlplustwo said...

she sounds adorable. well done, exchange student mommy of the year.

Princess in Galoshes said...

Hee hee, I feel that way about the internet all the time.

And yes, as everyone else said, congrats on an awesome exchange student experience. We hosted a couple of French kids growing up, but more often, I was the exchange student abroad. It was an awesome experience, definitely life-altering if you can muster the courage.

meno said...

chani, it was a wonderful experience.

ms. chica, exactly. We are not the only ones in the world. We need to be reminded of that more often. Poptarts? Ick!

amusing, oui!

liv, not my favorite thing either. Except for present company.

schmoopie, oh that's great! I need one of those shirts.

crazymumma, i hope so too. Think what she would learn.

ortizzle, it was a wonderful assortment, for sure.

snos, i'm glad you liked that quote, i was rather pleased with it myself. And it's so true. You have my permission.

dick, what a great variety. We had students from Japan, New zealand and Sweden when i was in High School. What an experience.

princess, the internet is my life. Where did you go?

meno said...

and jen, she was adorable. We were pleased to be able to show her a great time.

Lynn said...

When I was in high school, my best friend hosted an exchange student from Brazil for one year. The exchange student became so 'Americanized' during that time that she decided to stay. One week sounds about right to me.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

What a great experience for all of you. I hope that Em will decide to visit other countries. She would be a great ambassador as well as broadening her own horizons.

Unknown said...

"Japanese Schoolgirl Mullet. " I'm going to try and use that in a song some day.

Sienna said...

I used to live next door to the sweetest Japanese lady *Akiko*, and was the babysitter to her two adorable sons, (taught them to kick a football)...just the most beautiful family.

My niece is off to Japan in October, she is very, very tall (14yo) and very fair.

Asuka will never forget you all.


Unknown said...

I went to Cameroon and Gabon in Africa the summer after eigth grade and that spring we had an exchange student. I will never forget the trips we took with her, or the things I learned from her. I'm glad you did it and I hope you get a chance to do it again!

Anonymous said...

It sounds great. So does that mean my room is available again? I need a quiet bed and a few trips to the mall right now.

amusing said...

Y'all could always just go as far as Hawaii -- there were many times there that I was the only haole on the bus -- and I towered over everyone else.

Mother of Invention said...

Yes, kinda puts things in perspective for us and how our kids are here. The Chinese kids I taught in the late 70's thought I was just like the Bionic Woman...tall and blonde! They were such sweet kids. They'd back out of my office bowing!!

Anonymous said...

We had loads of exchange students - Japanese, Brazilian, German, Australian, New Zealanders. My little brother's favorite trick was to feed them peanut butter and root beer. Universally hated overseas, both of these.

I hope you do it again. I have excellent memories from every single visitor. Even the bossy, rich boy from Dresden. He at least gave us nice gifts.

If you host Rotary students it's usually only a 3-month stint, if you're worried about the committment.

egan said...

Ha, Asuka is awesome. I wish I knew about her love for Starbucks. I could have given her some cool stuff. Oh well. It sounds like a great time was had by all.

Some day I'd love to host an exchange student. Good on you for doing this. I worked with a non-profit placing students in homes.

Lynnea said...

Amusing is a crack up. Next Christmas I think I will make gift baskets of drug store items with the french labels, I never would have thought of that...

I sure wish you had gotten a picture of that mullet.

This sounded like so much fun, I'm going to try it someday when the opportunity avails.

meno said...

lynn, i think 6 weeks would have been great too. Less intense.

hearts, i hope she does too, she would learn so much. Her Japanese really improved during Asuka's visit.

d-man, i can't wait to hear it.

pam, Em isn't too tall, but she is blonde and pale enough so that she would be very unusual in Japan. We will never forget her either.

wng, wow. I bet those visits changed you forever.

de, your bed just needs some clean sheets and then come on.

amusing, i could always go to Hawai'i. :) I love it there.

moi, how cute. Asuka kept asking if she was being rude. She didn't have the language skills for me to explain to her that rudeness must be intentional, in my mind.

mignon, peanut butter and root beer! How odd. My brother was a Rotary exchange student, so i know about their deal.

egan, hmmm, i think i just learned something about you. The highlight of her trip to the Market was seeing the "First Starbuck's Ever."

maggie, i dunno, i think a trip to Hawai'i sounds very sensible to me. Wanna go? We did get pictures of the mullet, but i am not going to post a picture of her without her knowing.

Mermaid Melanie said...

what a great opportunity and a great way to see things from a different perspective. I do have a desire to see this japanese haircut though.

*wonders if she should google it*

Anonymous said...

What fun. We used to 'do' exchange students when we were in England. I could certainly relate to poor Asuka's culture shock - I'm still pretty shaken myself.

When we first arrived in the States in August I thought I'd been cast into a desert it was so hot! I couldn't figure out why you needed a fridge the size of a coffin unless it was to climb inside to cool off.

And yes, food is very expensive in Japan. Probably accounts for their little fridges!


Anonymous said...

p.s. what did you read!

Anonymous said...

You met Neal Stephenson? Can I touch the hand you touched him with?

Anonymous said...

I could handle an exchange student for a month or less. I'm not good with extended stays.

What a great experience for everyone in your household. Not to get too personal, but, um, is that your new line to the Mister?

meno said...

melanie, i just tried googling it. Um, let's just say that Japanese Schoolgirl brings up some interesting sites.

mnewen, i think their little houses also might account for their little fridges too. You are the first person to ask what i was reading. It was Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King. A series i am really enjoying.

irrelephant, I KNOW! And his wife too.

my pool, the young lady line? Nope, just being a stand in for you all.

Unknown said...

You met Neal Stephenson? You are my HERO!

I remember turning a corner in San Francisco's Chinatown, seeing eye to eye with a crowd, and thinking that at last I had found my people.

O's family in Ireland laughed at all the 'Irish stuff' we treated like relics and bought to take home -- chocolate bars, cookies, tea, barley water. They couldn't believe it wasn't as good in America. It isn't.

Anonymous said...

mcewen, I wanted to 'do' exchange students too. Especially that hot French guy with the 30-year-old man stubble...

Susanne said...

Sounds like a marvelous experience. Does this mean that Em is going to go to Japan too?

Andrea Frazer said...

Can I be your next exchange student? I come with two human carry-ons but promise not to use more than one towel/day.

urban-urchin said...

Fabulous, I'll be arriving next month. I only use one towel, and don't do laundry everyday.

Glad it was a positive experience for you guys. Is this something Em wants to do? Be an exchange student? That would be cool.

Anonymous said...

My mother is preparing to host three German boys (ages 13-14) who are coming over to perform in a musical something or other. Her church volunteered to find families for them, and she was first in line. They've been emailing back and forth, she's been planning, cleaning, etc. She's even got my dad studying up on German phrases. She's in her element just preparing ... they won't know what hit them when they actually arrive on Kentucky soil!

meno said...

nancy, I KNOW! We were just chatting at this party and i asked him what he did and he said he was a writer and i asked him what he wrote and he said science fiction and i asked if he's published any books and he said about 9 and then i asked him what his last name was and when he told me i just looked at him and said "oh!"
Whew! You would have fit right in with the Japanese, well, except for the red hair and the pale skin and all.

mignon, i thought the same thing when i read her comment. Especially those two guys from New Zealand, they were hot.

susanne, i don't know. She missed her chance last year to go with the school, but some of them are talking about going in the spring. I hope so.

mamap, one towel for all three?

u-u, that would be totally cool. And you are welcome anytime.

jennifer, three? boys? 13-14? Man, she is a brave woman.