Homestay Testimonials: Oriana Riley

Oriana Riley
Creative Writing
Fall 2008

Favorite Course

Kingston's Japan Today history class AND Cleveland's Youth and Deviant Subcultures. I'm very much an anthropology geek with a specific interest in Japanese culture and these courses really provided me with a fantastic amount of knowledge.

Best Excursion

A few weeks before (very sadly) leaving Tokyo, my host mom and I had a girl's day out in Harajuku. We went shopping at Takeshita Dori, visited the Togo Shrine antique market, and walked around Yoyogi Park. I'd been to the area numerous times, but doing it with my host mom made it really special. She had so much fun and that really made it an great trip.

Favorite Dish

Oyakodon, Seafood Nabe, Curry Rice, Negi Ramen, Omurice, Mochi Least Favorite Dish: Konnyaku and Roe Sushi

How has this experience changed you?

I've been back in the US for three weeks now and since my arrival, my host family has sent me a Christmas and New Year's card. My host mother and I have exchanged emails to check up and just say Hi to one another. I wish my Japanese was good enough for me to explain to her how much I miss our conversations over breakfast in the morning, her encouragement to me when I was really tired from my commute and going to school, or having my host sisters tackle me happily as I returned home from school. These memories are what define my time in Tokyo, at Temple University. In many ways, my homestay experience was my most important experience during my semester in Japan.

I feel as though I've found a home away from home, a family that has really become a family to me. The members of my host family are the sweetest, most unassuming, kind people I've met in my life. They didn't just treat me like an exchange student, they really embraced me as though I was one of their daughters, and both of my host sisters treated as though I were an older sister to them. Despite the language and cultural barriers, we all really worked hard to understand each other and we never had any problems whatsoever. Everyone was very patient and helpful in allowing me to make mistakes in learning Japanese. We had dinner together every night, I attended my host sisters' ballet performances and practices, had the best bowl of ramen I've ever eaten at my host father's ramen shop. We went bowling, did karaoke, and sometimes, we just hung out at home, enjoying each other's company.

The time I spent as part of the family is time I will forever cherish. I learned so much about life in Japan living with them but I also learn a lot about myself. I never imagined that I would be able to live 8,000 miles away from home, integrate myself in a different culture and new family, but I did and I feel as though I am wiser and stronger because of it. I am really happy I had the chance to meet the Narita's and I hope to visit them again someday soon.