I am amazed at how strong my friendships have become here. I have people that I can truly call my friends, something that surprised me greatly. I am impressed with myself. Being outgoing in the beginning really helped me later on. People felt comfortable approaching me, opening so many doors that wouldn’t have opened had I been quiet and reclusive. I will miss the dorms here. They are home to all the students here, and it feels like one large family. Everyone pitches in to help clean up, whether it be the dishes, the rooms, or the bathrooms. The seniors are finishing their finals and it is nice to see them becoming happier, smiling more often. IB exams here are very rigorous. The grades are ranked from 1-7, 7 being absolute excellence. The grading system is interesting and there is a large importance placed upon writing essays. Overall, I have had a wonderful experience here and I am surprised at how many meaningful connections I have made. I have learned a lot about myself during this trip, gaining experiences I will never forget.
The parade lasted for many hours, becoming a huge movement. My legs were aching by the time we were finished walking. We were very hungry and only had a couple snacks in our bag. Onigiri was one of the snacks. I had seen them before, but had never tried it because it did not look appetizing to me. I had no idea what I was missing out on. They are riceballs with delicious meat inside. I had one with salmon inside, it was absolutely delicious. We later went to a place called Fridays in Shibuya. When I walked inside, it was almost as though I was back in America. It felt like a diner, completed with burgers and milkshakes on the menu. It was a delicious meal. Afterwards we looked at shops upon shops, wanting to buy everything we saw. We were exhausted by the end of the day, falling asleep but happy with the days achievements.
On Sunday I went to Tokyo with my friend and her mother to participate in the pride parade. The parade celebrates members of the LGBTQ community. I had never been to such a parade, but was excited to be part of a huge movement. I was amazed by the amount of participants, especially in Japan. There were thousands upon thousands of people arriving, people from all walks of life. Drag queens, straight people, gay people, young children and the elderly. Although there is still a large stigma against the LGBTQ community in Japan, the parade felt very safe and happy. Groups marched behind floats, organized nicely in certain themes. We were in the group of high school students. We were to walk around Shibuya and Harajuku, striping our rainbow colored gear and waving. It was amazing.
Today I slept in even later than saturday, I got up and out of my room around 10:30. We didn’t have too much planned for today since this was a big homework day for everyone. One of the homestay sisters made a really good breakfast with pancakes and bacon. That was a really nice way to start my day. This was a really low key day spent watching tv and doing homework. I also did laundry. We went out the house once to get starbucks and a get a caffeine boost. This day also went by really fast. Before I knew it, it was already 7:00 and time for dinner. Dinner was really good, it was lamb chops, salad, and roasted tomatoes. After dinner I relaxed more until it was time to get ready for bed. Overall it was a really nice weekend where I got to meet a lot of new people.
I slept in a lil while and woke up around 9. I got some breakfast and coffee and had a good talk with their dad for a little bit. We talked about art and things. This was the day we were going to the city to explore. At around 12:30 we took a train downtown to meet some friends. Once we got downtown we went and got mac’n cheese, which was pretty good. After we got food we went to the Franklin institute, which is an interactive museum. After the museum we took the train back home. About an hour later we went out to the movies then back home to meet more people and chill. This time around I stayed up pretty late. But eventually I got really tired and of course, I went to sleep.
Finally a friday had arrived. Definitely the rainiest day of the week so far. We had plans to to a Phillies game, but it seemed like that was not going to be happening. I was surprised by how fast the week had gone by already. I had three classes to start the day before an early lunch. The entire day went by pretty fast. We had practice after school again and after practice we went out to dinner. After dinner we went back home with some people and just chilled for a little bit. After that we went out to get ice cream and after we got ice cream we went back home with the same people. I eventually got super tired and went to sleep.
Today I went to Saku with my friends to go and explore Saku. I was curious when I saw the McDonalds inside the mall, so I decided to go in. I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted pretty much the same, except the portions were smaller. Although I adore Japanese food, it was nice to have a bit of cheese and fries. We then went to an arcade, something which was very interesting. People of all ages were inside the arcade, the games ranging from basketball to car racing. I had a blast. Later we did karaoke and watched an orchestra perform. Although Saku is very small compared to Tokyo, it still felt lively. I had a great time and was able to relax at ISAK for the rest of the day.
Today was a good return to normal classes at school after the long math day. I had math first and realized they were very ahead of me so that wasn’t the best situation to be in, but it was nice to just sit and relax there. I had photography after that, which was pretty fun. Taking pictures is always fun and plus it was still sunny out. After that we had an all highschool meeting of silence for 45 minutes. I obviously fell asleep for the entire time, but we were sitting in the middle of every basically so that was interesting. After that we had lunch. Lunch was good per usual. I had two classes after that; economy and media studies. After that it was time to go to another game. The game was a non-league game, but it was still a pretty close loss. After the game we got vietnamese food, which was really good. I decided to go to bed extra early that night since I had no homework and wanted to have a lot of energy for friday. So overall it was another good day and left me excited to be energized or Friday.
Today we had to wake up very early for an event that happens once a year at this school. The event is called math day. People are split up into groups and have to go into the downtown to do math related questions using the terrain of downtown. I was especially excited for this day because I had yet to explore downtown Philly in any way. As soon as we left school on the buses I fell asleep. Luckily the ride was about a half hour so I got plenty of rest. We got dropped off downtown and immediately got to work on exploring. We did a lot of walking and luckily the sun was out so i got to work on getting my complexion back a little bit more. We stopped to get lunch at a place that had many really good restaurants. The place was a popular place called “Reading Terminal”. I got a burrito there and it was very tasty. After the massive field trip the day was still not over as I still had to go to practice. Practice was fun as usual. After practice we still had night classes. These classes happen once a week and go for 2 and a half hours. Before class we got Cheesesteaks, which was very interesting because I had never had one before so it was nice to finally have one. The night class we had was an english class focused around speech. After the class was over we went home and I went straight to bed because I was feeling super tired. So overall once again it was a very successful day.
This was the day I finally started to understand how GFS worked. I finally knew where all of my classes were and generally where to go majority of the time. This was all the day where I developed a routine around waking up and getting out the house and everything involved with that. I was supposed to go on a field trip with my science class, but since there was an away lacrosse game I was unable to attend that field trip. I was fine with that because for the field trip we were supposed to go to a farm and I honestly did not want to do that. Throughout the day I went to my normal classes and did the whole school thing, which was interesting as always 😉
Then we were dismissed at 2pm for the away game. GFS was playing one of their top rivals so it was supposed to be a really good game. When we all got to the field I was assigned the task with filming the game so the team could use the footage to recap and everything. GFs ended up losing the game by a lot. It was a tough game because they had just recently lost their best player to a broken leg. After the game we came home and had a really good dinner. I also finally had a little bit of homework to do, which I finished in about 20 minutes. Then after that I went to bed because I had a very long day ahead of me. Overall it was a very successful second day of school.