Yesterday I had an incredible day with my homestay. We went to harajuku and shibuya. It was gloriously sunny outside and I had an amazing time. We met up with my group from the eimeikan program and we sang karaoke for several hours. We then went to go and eat in a very fun but narrow restaurant. We were celebrating the birthday of my group member but they also gave me presents to celebrate my birthday, knowing they wouldn’t be able to see me on my actual birthday. I was very touched at how sensitive and amazing they are. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to them, I hope we can keep in touch.


Marina Doherty

Arrived at homestay

Today was an interesting and wonderful day,

I left ISAK at around 12 in order to leave for the stations. I learned quickly that knowing simple phrases such as “how do you get to Hachioji?” could be a lifesaver. It was scary at first, seeing all these people knowing exactly where they are going. But complete strangers showed me immense kindness through the entire day. Reuniting with my homestay sister was wonderful and I am so lucky to be able to call her a friend. I look forward to reuniting with the rest of my Japanese group tomorrow!

Cherry Blossoms and Classes

I have interacted with many different students at this point! I have now met students from Singapore, Somalia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Burma, Bahamas, and so much more. I can already tell that this is going to be an experience of a lifetime. Classes today were fun and interesting. History classes are basically made up of debates. Today, people debated whether the UN has been successful in their endeavors or not. I also visited a park to look at the gorgeous cherry blossoms. Nothing compares to the absolute peace I felt when I was there.


Marina Doherty

Day 1


I am writing from ISAK in Karuizawa, Japan! I am so happy to be here and have been fighting the jet lag. I attended classes yesterday for the first time and it was amazing. It has been very easy to make friends, considering everyone is so incredibly welcoming! I love my roommates, teachers, and other people I have met. I also went to a supermarket the other day and bought lots of delicious snacks and treats. I look forward to eating them all. Lastly, I had my first Japanese class this morning. Although I am far behind, I still wish to learn as much as I can within the given time.


Marina Doherty

Nine days till Philly!

These past few weeks I’ve been preparing for my two week exchange trip in Philadelphia. During my trip there I will be staying with a very kind family and attending a high school called GFS (Germantown Friends School). The family has two kids who are both around my age and they also have a dog and three chickens. It really seems that the family is really excited to meet me! I still have a lot of packing to do and a lot of teachers to talk to before it’s officially time to leave. I’m looking forward to finally getting to meet the family and experience Philadelphia for all it has to offer. I’m especially excited for this trip because it’ll allow me to be immersed in a city culture that’s very different from Seattle and the trip will give me some much needed time in the sun. I can’t wait to attend the high school there and meet a lot of new people i never would have gotten the chance to meet. With just about one week until I leave, I have been taking care of a few last minute tasks. I have been brainstorming gift ideas with my family and making sure to stay on top of my homework. Nine days until a brand new experience that I know I will remember for a long time.

Before Trip Post


I am very excited to be leaving this Saturday for Japan. I am going to be going attending an international school in Karuizawa that is called ISAK. On the weekdays I will be going to classes and getting to know the students, then travel to Tokyo to visit my homestay family on weekends. I chose to go here because the school seems very diverse and progressive. People from all around the world attend the institution and I knew that this could be a life changing experience for me. I look forward to meeting people from different backgrounds and learning even more about Japanese culture. I am so grateful to be given this opportunity and will not take it for granted whatsoever. I will be consistently updating the blog on my journey, and am excited to do so. Knowing that I will be able to reunite with my home-stay and the friends I already have made in Japan is something I am incredibly thankful for. Until next time!

Marina Doherty

Week 5, Vacation!

It is incredible that five weeks have already passed by and only another five remain. The past week and a half we have been on spring break, and it continues until the next Monday. Three sets of weekends and two sets of weekdays! It is long. Over the break, all of the Passepartout kids and their families went first to Caen for the weekend, then Paris the next.

Caen, April 8th-9th
We left on Saturday morning to drive to Caen, which was about a two and a half hour drive which took about 4 hours since we got lost and there were two different traffic diversions. We arrived at Pointe du Hoc, a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach in Normandy that had been filled (or emptied, come to think of it) with craters after being bombed as part of the WW2 D-Day invasion. There were destroyed fragments of bunkers and crawl-spaces littered about, as well as a monument constructed at the top of one fairly intact bunker.
We visited many museums, went to the water’s edge on Omaha Beach, and visited the American Cemetery, filled with thousands of white crosses and star tombstones for the men who lost their lives during the invasion and the months that followed. While at the cemetery, we happened to visit at the same time as a group of young French Marines, with whom we took a picture and they sang a song in a Pacific language in memorial. What an experience. Although it was my second time visiting Normandy, it was still stunning, and I was glad to see the historical monuments again.

Paris, April 15th, 16th, and 17th
Paris, the largest city in France, and only a three hour drive from Chateau Gontier! Again, we left on Saturday morning and met up with all the families when we arrived. The French sure know how to vacation – they vacation hard! Long days and early mornings, but that means more time do to things. After arriving in Paris, we hit the streets immediately, taking the metro from our hotel on the outskirts of the city to the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, the Opera building, then stopped for dinner in a French café. Day Two was even more: 22 kilometers of walking and even more kilometers by metro! We saw the Grand and Small Palais, the Arc de Triomphe, walked down the Champs Elysées, saw the Concord, ate a picnic lunch in the Tuileries, saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and toured Notre Dame Cathedrale. On Day Three, we went to the Eiffel Tower, took a Bateaux-Mouches boat tour on the Seine, and did the funky wax-figure museum, the Musée Grevin. After a long weekend of walking, experiencing the big things in Paris, and being in a group of 14 people the whole time, it was nice to get back to the house and have a long night of sleep. The country and the city sure are different, and I’m lucky to have experienced them both with my French family.

Ivan Repin: Last Weekend…

My last weekend in Château-Gontier was quite an exciting one.

On Saturday, Gino and his family took me to a rock concert held just steps away from our house. The atmosphere and vibe of the concert was incredible, and I had a wonderful time rocking out to some great music. Although this was a two day festival with multiple bands and groups playing we mostly came to see a quite popular band called the Wampas. This is band originated in France and here is a link to one of their many songs on youtube:

Then, on Sunday we all went to the Château d’Angers. This is a castle located in the heart of Angers, not too far away from Château-Gontier. There we explored breathtaking scenery overlooking the Maine river. We took a tour of the whole castle, passing through exhibits of paintings and artifacts. After we climbed the steps to the very top where we could see almost all of Angers. We made sure we took lots of selfies with the scenery in the background. Clothilde, Gino’s mom, then drove us to her Aunt’s house where they treated us with some home made lemon cake which was so delicious.

I had such a great time last weekend, I wish I could do it all over again.

To conclude, school is going well, although difficult, it’s definitely manageable for me as I made a couple changes to my schedule giving me two hours of music class every Tuesday. I love the people in my class and I have already made some friends.

I can’t wait what awaits me in the future!