How to Gain Weight in 35 Days
Sheilla Difa (INA AFS to Japan- Short Program)
I’ve dreamed about Japan since I was 5 years old. Everything on Japan seems perfect to me. Japanese literature, foods, games, technology, amusement park, almost everything on Japan seems like heaven on earth. There is no country I want to visit more than Japan. I have to go there, said 12 years old me.
In 2016, God suddenly heard my prayer and He made it come true! At first it seems unbelievable — since before God didn’t hear my prayer for the YES program — but He prepared another plan for me. Japan. And even more, Tochigi.
Have you ever heard of Tochigi? Yap, me neither. Tochigi is very unfamiliar and even my friends from Japan don’t know what and where Tochigi is. Peculiar, isn’t it? But the cupid was there when I googled Tochigi, and guess what, I’m in love. It’s truly love at first sight. I couldn’t wish more than that. I didn’t expect to have an exchange to Tokyo or Osaka or Kyoto or some mainstream city like that. Because people have already seen that. But Tochigi is a whole new level for me.
It is the Iwahashi family who kindly accepted me as their part of family. Consisted of Daisuke Iwahashi, a very funny person who loves matcha ice cream so much as I do and the only person in my house who can eat spicy foods, Miyuki Iwahashi, a Japanese version of my mother, Momoka Iwahashi, who’s at Phillipines at that time, and Miku Iwahashi, she’s my favorite Japanese until now.
My first impression of them; real family. I can feel the Indonesia atmosphere at their home. How they talk, how they eat, how they spend the free time, I felt like I was at home. Oh, not to forget that they are in love with Indonesia! And almost all of their furniture was imported from Indonesia, which make me very proud.
Utsunomiya Minami High School, is my second favorite place in Japan, after my host family’s house. Even though I became a kouhai — junior — there, everybody welcomed me just like I’m a real student there!
October 2016, I went there and have orientation first at Osaka. It’s not really cold at Osaka so I underestimated the weather of Japan. “It’s not even cold why do I waste my space on winter jackets and stuffs?” I thought about that for legit 3 days and when I arrived at Tochigi, “O God I wish I could put heater inside of my jacket”. It is totemo samui! Super cold even though it still autumn.
First week at Japan, hmm, I could say that it is a hell week. Because everyone speaks very fast and they just don’t understand English. Basically, I speak with my hands and heart. I also went to school with bicycle for 14 kilometers each day. Once again it is the main reason why I mark my first week was a hell week because of; bicycle. My host family introduce me to a lot of people and every morning, when I go to school with bicycle, people would honk their cars and open their windows just to say, “Ohayou, Sheira-chan!”
Second week, I’ve managed to speak Japanese confidently (but still in a very incorrect way) and joined some after school activities such as ikebana and tea ceremony club. Unlike Indonesian teenagers nowadays, Japanese teenagers really appreciate their culture, and when I joined the cultural club, I believe that they have such a beautiful culture. How their hands move when they serve tea, how they make a traditional matcha very gently, and how they gave it to people is very beautiful. I also learn many Japanese food on my second week. The best part of my second week is going to Nikko, which is a pretty popular place in Japan, or as I could say, it is the only famous place on Tochigi (my Okaasan said that). I wore Kimono and it was the most beautiful thing I ever wore! People even took pictures with me, because of my kimono, but still I felt very special that time. I definitely will recommend every Indonesian to go to Nikko because it is the best nature themed place on Japan.
Third week is the best week I guess. I started to feel that Japan is my second home, although I knew the following week I’m going back home. They even arranged a Halloween party for me because I never celebrate Halloween before. But the thing is, I gained weight, and it is not good. Not good. But even though I gained weight, I still ate everything I can because I only have 1 week left! Sushi, okonomiyaki, udon, takoyaki, taiyaki, you named it, I must’ve eaten all of them.
I didn’t really want to leave, but I have too. My last week is the worst, people started to say goodbyes. I just want to hug everyone I know on Japan, but it is not their culture so I just hug several people. They gave soooo many gifts including a card which written “Sampai Jumpa Lagi, Sheilla!” and it made me cry everytime I saw the gift. My schoolmates even arranged a farewell party, in which I cried that time. Everyting goes on so fast until I realized I only have 3 days left. At the last day, I cooked Indonesian meals for my host family and they loved it!
That is my 35 days’ experience on Japan and if any of you guys are wondering how to gain weights (and got great experiences) in just 35 days, I have a great advice for you; join the AFS short program. ありがとうございます! またね!! (Bye-bye! See you later!)