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1. Does anyone know how easy using the internet will be? Especially wireless? I will be taking my new Netbook and would like to be able to contact home while commuting to/from school. If they use some odd internet protocols, some tech heads-up would be nice.
Also, do most homes have easily accessible internet? I am unsure how far away from school I will be staying as I have not been told where my host family lives yet, but if I end up in the countryside, will I be doomed?
2. Omiyage- I already know food is typically best, and it should be wrapped nicely. Should I avoid chocolate during the summer? (I've already been told to avoid cheap chocolate, even Russel Stover.) Would maybe a nice jar of Planter's premium mixed nuts work? Dried fruits? I really want them to like what I give them!
3. Meals: I know most of the basics about chopsticks, etc. Is it rude to put elbows on the table? Should I wait until everyone is done before excusing myself from the table? Should I wait until everyone else starts to eat?
Also, how likely will I be to have them let me cook for them at least once during my stay?
How expensive is stuff like cheese?
4. "Personal" issues... I am female, and females have... "personal" items to dispose of related to... "monthly business". I hate to put these items in another person's bathroom trash because it seems gross for them to have to deal with. the family will have at least one daughter, and have probably hosted homestays before. Any suggestions?
5. Other Communications: I will not be using a prepaid or rented keitai during my stay as it's only a month. How do the payphones work? I've read there's a different color for different types of phone. How much do local calls normally cost? How about non-local but inside Japan calls? I would like to be able to contact my host family if I will be out late, etc.
6. Random otherness... I am terrible with kanji and my grammar is not so great. Will reading signs be an issue? How difficult is navigating the rail system?
Also, any handy phrases that might be useful? The standard greetings I'm good with. I really want to appear as polite and proper as possible! I know I will be forgiven quite a few mistakes as I am Gaijin, but I would like to impress a little with my manners.
How can I explain to my host family I would like to be corrected when I make either a cultural blunder or a grammatical error?
One more thing... I end up in an infinite "thank you" or "arigatou" loop when talking with the Japanese Teacher's assistant... Should I let her have the last "thank you"? Sometimes it's awkward because she says "thank you" after I thank her for doing something for me!
Well, that's all I can think of for now, Please include the question # when answering.
Thanks in advance for all your help!
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Hikaritennyo wrote:4. "Personal" issues... I am female, and females have... "personal" items to dispose of related to... "monthly business". I hate to put these items in another person's bathroom trash because it seems gross for them to have to deal with. the family will have at least one daughter, and have probably hosted homestays before. Any suggestions?
I'm also a female and I know what are you talking about! I don't live in Japan, I live in NY for now but I plan on moving to Japan too when I finish my degree. What I do when I have to stay at a friend's house for a long period of time like a month or two and am in those days well I dispose it on the street trash but not in the toliet. You said the family has one daughter that host homestays ask her where she drops her owns or where is the waste disposal and throw them there. Well that is my opinion but someone else that lives in Japan knows better than me and may help you better. I'm sorry if it wasn't helpful I just telling you what I do in those days when I'm away from home for a long period of time.
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I did a summer homestay with a host family as well (although now that I think about it, that was 8 years ago! ), so I'll try to answer as many questions as I can!
1. Do you mean finding wifi hotspots, or something like that? Apparently they're not common here... how will you be commuting to school? I'm afraid that you might not be able to access the internet during the commute Your host family will probably have internet, but it may not be wireless - it varies from household to household though!
2. Yeah, chocolate might be a tough one during summer. I think both of the other choices you listed sound fine - where are you from? Is there any kind of food that your area is known for? (that's possible to take abroad, that is)
3. Usually everyone waits until everyone is seated before they start eating, so that's a good idea. Out of politeness I'd wait until they say it's okay before excusing yourself from the table as well. I think your host family would be happy if you made something for them! And yes, cheese is relatively expensive and there is not a lot of variety, but it can be found!
4. Like Ulver_684 suggested, I would ask the daughter or your host mother about what to do - I'm sure they'll be understanding and it won't be a big deal.
5. Pay phones are typically green or grey - some green pay phones can make international calls, while most grey ones do. I found this information about the charges: "Pay phones in Japan will charge ¥10 per minute for calls within the city and ¥10 for 80 seconds between the hours of 23:00 to 08:00."
6. In a major city like Osaka, a lot of signs at train stations and stuff will have English or at least romaji for place names, so you shouldn't run into much difficulty. If you will be navigating the rail system by yourself a lot though, write down and get familiar with the kanji for the station names/place names you will be using a lot, just in case. Ask your host family if you can get a train map and keep it with you at all times. The rail system looks really confusing at first, but it's actually well organized and not hard to navigate once you get used to it. If I were you I would make sure you master such phrases like "_____ wa doko desu ka?" (Where is _____?) and get familiar with direction words: hidari (left), migi (right), massugu (straight), etc. I recommend going through the Survival Phrases series if you haven't yet! This series was designed with people who are going to Japan in mind, so I think you'll find it quite useful for your trip.
I hope this helps! Let us know if you have any more questions!
Leave us a message in the forum if you have any comments, questions, or feedback!
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