Labyrinth

Bina Antarbudaya
5 min readDec 27, 2022

Shabrina Putri Syahradini — INA AKP to Japan YP 22/23

This newsletter is written 4.757km far from home.

みなさん、こんにちは👋😃

Today, in the middle of a cloudy day, inside a room with traditional J-style, me, Shabrina Putri Syahradini, a 17-year-old girl who is surviving in the land of cherry blossoms comes from, will give you some clues about my first-three-month of living alone and separately from the home story. Wait a minute, I think it’s too complicated to be called a story; I prefer to call it as 夏のLabyrinth (Summer Labyrinth).

Being a girl who actually doesn’t have any experience of living alone or being far from home and suddenly needing to go to a new place where no one can understand my language is actually such a fabulous experience for me. Here, Japan, 4.757km far from home, I live in a school dormitory in Saga Prefecture. No, I don’t live in the middle of the city or between a high building with glittery lamps. I live between a mountain called 基山(Kiyama) and a rice field as long as my eyes can see. Yes, I live in a rural area of Japan on Kyushu Island. I love almost all of the things here, the weather, the view, the wind, and the environment that is actually amazing, and I never had this experience before.

On the 27th of June, I was wearing my Indonesian High School Uniform, the grey-white uniform and I had my really first introduction in front of Japanese students and teachers. That’s one of a moment that I want to cherish forever. Because then, I met 29 lovely people who are now my classmates in H1–2. They were welcoming so well, and actually, I got surprised by that because I know that I’m not such a beautiful or gorgeous person. Still, they welcomed me so well it really made my heart full of butterflies. They are so kind and also teach me about the Japanese language. What’s a precious experience though.

Not only that, but in my host-school i also have a chance to attend a Japanese cultural event, the Tea Ceremony. As we know that Japan is also famous for it’s Japanese green tea. First, we must sit in the traditional Japanese style to show respect and politeness. Second is, they will serve us some sweets, or we can call it okashi and we can take only one each person. Don’t be greedy. Third, we need to wait for a second for the Matcha or Japanese green tea. While they prepare the tea, we can see how it is actually to make green tea. Oh my god, actually we can smell the green tea scent. It’s so good. I’m so glad to have this experience because I can see a Japanese culture closer and have a chance to learn about the value of that culture.

I actually live in a school dormitory, but during the summer holiday, which is the time to have quality time and enjoy the summer vibe for 10 days, I have a chance to get an experience of being one of the Japanese family members. At that time, i have a chance to be one of the Yamaguchi Family. I have 3 host-brothers and 1 sweetest-sister, who make my summer vacation literally different from my high school dormitory life. We played and also had a trip together. They gave me an experience that I … never had before. I’m so grateful because I can meet and make such beautiful memories that I never want to forget them for real. This picture was taken when we had a trip to Yufuin, Oita-Prefecture. We enjoy all the bright sunshine, fresh air, beautiful scenery and fish that swim in the lake. It’s actually such a warm and sweet 夏休み (Summer vacation).

Being an exchange student is obviously such a super great experience. We can interact with other people who actually have so many differences in many things. And also, we have a chance to make a relationship with the native people in order to bridge intercultural understanding between each country. By creating a good relationship with the other native people from the other country, we can make peace in the world in the future.

Being an exchange student is bittersweet. You will feel so happy when you have arrived at your placement but you realize that you will begin your own life story alone without someone who can understand your daily language or feelings. Whatever you see in our Instagram story is just a little bit of our exchange life story. But behind that, we have many things that are as bitter as Matcha. If you think that matcha has a sweet flavor, it’s not wrong at all, but it’s a little bit different if you try it in Japan. Matcha has a bitter taste, but it’s good and unique. I hope my exchange life can be like matcha and I wish for a bit of sugar and other spices so it can be amazing.

If you already reach this paragraph, congratulations and thank you for reading my story. That is such a big honor to me. I hope you can take some good value and join us for being one of AFSer! Thanks and have a goody! みんなまたね!(^―^)ノ

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Bina Antarbudaya

The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning Official Partner of AFS Programs