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My name is Camilla Kulka; I am an eighteen-year-old from Italy, and in December I had the opportunity to live in Japan thanks to the Lions Club. At first, when I got an email telling me that I had been chosen for this exchange, I was overcome with uncertainty: it's a long travel, I have never been so far away from home, and I would have to skip two weeks of school. I was sure my parents and my teachers would forbid me to go: my flight was scheduled on the 7th of December, but Christmas Holidays don't start until the 23rd. I'm in the fifth and final year of high-school, I can't afford to lose so many days of school. 
However my parents supported me, and to my surprise my teachers did too: they scheduled all my exams in advance in order to allow me to finish the trimester before my classmates, so I could leave with no problem.

I was so excited to come to Japan: the culture is so different from what I'm used to, so I was super curious to experience it first hand
When the day came I packed my stuff, said goodbye and left Italy, full of insecurities and expectations.
The travel was no easy thing: after changing airplanes in London and Tokyo, I arrived in Takamatsu where my host family was waiting for me. I was tired for having been awake for almost 24 hours, but as soon as I saw them my energies came back: I was eager to meet them, but also quite nervous (what if they didn't like me?)
To my relief, they turned out to be the most lovely and kind family I could have hoped for; I just regret not knowing how to speak Japanese: communicating was quite difficult sometimes, and we had to rely on technology to translate articulated sentences. Luckily enough last year I had hosted a Japanese girl, Sakurako, who taught me a few words and prompted me to study some more on my own: I knew some basic phrases and words that revealed themselves to be very useful during my stay. Also, since I was completely immersed in a Japanese-only environment, I was able to learn even more words, and my family was always encouraging my (poor) attempts of speaking Japanese. 
During those amazing three weeks I had the chance to stay with different people, usually members of the Lions Club, who would take me sightseeing or make me experience the local culture. I particularly enjoyed visiting the schools: I went to an elementary, a junior high and a high school, and they were all greatly different from the Italian ones. I was also able to interact with the students and take part in the lessons, which was a lot of fun. 
I also loved visiting the temples: I saw five of them in Zentsuji, then Hashikura and on Christmas Day I went to Konpira-san. In Italy we only have Christian churches, so it was my first time visiting temples: I find the cultural differences fascinating, and I was very curious to learn how to behave in a temple. Another aspect I really enjoyed was food: I got to try everything, from soba to yakiniku, from ramen to curry, and now that I'm back in Italy I miss Japanese cuisine so much
Going to the camp organized by the Lions Club was amazing: I got to meet a lot of people my age, and we had a lot of fun together. We went skiing, and even though there was almost no snow we had the time of our life. I also tried to go to a typical Japanese onsen, which was a completely new experience for me, but it was way better than I anticipated: in Europe thermal baths are definitively different, so I was a bit uncertain on what expect. On the last morning we tried fishing, another activity I had never tried out before: it was exciting, but at the same time I felt a bit bad for killing a fish. Even though the camp only lasted two days I really loved it, and I met such lovely people.
Visiting Japan has been a wonderful experience: everyday I had the chance to learn so many new things, I never got bored, there was always something to do. I truly spent three amazing weeks, and I just can’t wait to come back and see everyone again.