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My Tokyo Exchange

At the end of last year, we found out that three of our students had been selected by AUT and Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education to go on a 12-day exchange program to Tokyo, Japan.

Sam White

On the 8 December 2018, Jonathon Brouwer (13LP), Milli Phillips (12WI), and I started our trip to Japan as a part of AUT’s Japanese Experience Programme. We were selected together with 14 other students from New Zealand to be part of this exciting experience.

We were individually sent to different suburbs of Tokyo, Mitaka, Hakuou, and Machida for a total of 12 days. We each stayed with a host family and attended school with our own host brother or sister. In Japan, we experienced the school life of high school students, Japanese traditional cultural practices, and learned about the everyday routine of Japanese people. This involved many things such as visiting shrines in Narita, exploring the colourful streets of Shinjuku, teaching English to students, participating in after school activities and watching a style of classical musical theatre called Noh.

With each of us having different host families, attending different schools and rarely ever seeing each other, we all had our own personal experiences which makes it very difficult to list everything we did in Tokyo, but this means we all experienced a different Japan. We all have been learning Japanese for the past few years at Rutherford College. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us. We finally got to use our Japanese in real life and learned more about the language that we don’t get to learn in a classroom environment. We are all very grateful for the chance it gave us to experience Japanese culture and language first hand. While the trip may have only lasted for a short time, the friends and memories we made will not be forgotten, and we hope to visit Japan another day in the future.

To anyone that has the opportunity to experience a different culture in a similar way to we did, I highly recommend you get involved. Even if you don’t speak the language or don’t understand the culture, it allows yourself to develop as a person as it presents the world in a different way to that you are used to.

Milli Phillips

Last December, I went to Tokyo on an exchange trip for two weeks, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life! My host family were so nice, I immediately felt as though I was part of the family.

We lived life as normal, we went to school by train and had bento (Japanese lunch box) for lunch. One of the best times I had with them was when my host-sister and I went to a karaoke bar – I was terrible, but I had so much fun! I went to Hakuo High School and made some amazing friends, some were exchange students and some Japanese students.

Tokyo was so different to Auckland, it was so big and incredibly beautiful. It would be skyscrapers one second and then short, narrow alleyways the next. One of my most memorable experience was looking down at the city at night from The Tokyo Skytree, the view was breathtaking. It gave a real scope of just how big the city was. Another cool place I visited was the Sensoji Temple. It’s a packed tourist area, and aside from the awesome temple, there were gardens, souvenir shops and some of the best food I have ever had. My favourite was Melon-Pan, sweet bread with a cookie-crust on top.

In the end, I fell in love with Tokyo, made some unforgettable friends and am currently saving up so I can go again soon.

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