New Kyurizukai

My experience overseas – undermined preconceptions and assumptions
      As a third grader in elementary school, I accompanied my father, a biologist (morphological taxonomy), staying for one month in the United Kingdom and three months in the United States. Until then, I had a bias against airplanes due to accidents that occurred from time to time, saying it’s strange that such a heavy object could fly with people on board. But this view disappeared when I flew on a YS-11 (the now retired propeller-driven passenger plane made in Japan) and jetliners to visit the U.K. “Air travel is not so bad” – this was the impression of my first flight. I was also surprised to find how clouds were soft. We visited the U.K. via Moscow, where I was shocked to find people speaking a “totally foreign” language. At the same time, I was also surprised to find my father capable of communicating with these people. We brought a radio with us from Japan. As I switched it on in the U.K., to my great surprise, the language on air was English! In Japan, the radio only spoke in Japanese, but now it spoke in the local language, which was truly amazing. Social systems, cultures, products…all were different from those of Japan. At the same time, I also began to feel a yearning for British gentlemen.

Limits of knowledge
      The period of my overseas stay was only four months, so I did not attend a local school; I would study at home one day and go out the next day. For days of outing, my mother, my elder brother and I took turns to choose places to visit. One day when traveling on a bus together with my brother, who was a fifth grader in elementary school, we got lost. I consulted a Japanese-English dictionary at hand and found the words “here” (“koko” in Japanese) and “where” (“doko” in Japanese) but it didn’t show how to use these words. Although I carried this dictionary with me throughout the trip, I found it useless after all. Nevertheless, we were truly grateful to the bus driver who was kind and patient enough to deal with the two small boys who kept speaking only “here” and “where” until he could somehow understand us.
      When I returned to Japan, my classmates told me, “Your mind is out of focus due to the overseas stay.” But that overseas stay gave me a lot of rewarding experiences.