A quarter abroad in Japan

Juniors reap benefits of international travel

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A quarter abroad in Japan

Junior Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas in front of the Osaka Castle in Japan during his quarter abroad. (Courtesy of Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas)

Junior Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas in front of the Osaka Castle in Japan during his quarter abroad. (Courtesy of Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas)

Junior Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas in front of the Osaka Castle in Japan during his quarter abroad. (Courtesy of Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas)

Junior Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas in front of the Osaka Castle in Japan during his quarter abroad. (Courtesy of Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas)

Elsa Anderson, Features Editor

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While many students have ambitions to study abroad at some point in their lives, few students pursue this goal during high school. Juniors Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas and Noah Yee are doing just that.

“I think it’s just kind of an experience that I’ve always wanted to have to see how school goes in another country,” Hawthorne-Dallas said over Skype.

He has quickly learned lots about lives of high school students in Japan. “The way that classes work in a Japanese classroom is that all of the kids stay the same and the teachers come to you, which is pretty interesting. Unlike Ballard, they have a different schedule every day,” Hawthorne-Dallas said. “Every day except for Wednesday I have math and science and all of those classes, and then on Wednesday I have two hours of my elective class, which is an art class. We also have a general health, like preparing you for the real world kind of class. We’re doing cooking right now, which is pretty cool.”

They start each day with a ten minute test. “On Monday and Tuesday we take an English test, on Wednesday and Thursday we take a math test and on Friday we take a Japanese test. The math tests are 8 questions and the English is like ‘rearrange this sentence, translate this thing to English. It’s very strange,” Hawthorne-Dallas said. “P.E. is weird, too. Every Friday we have judo and have basketball and swimming. It all changes every week so you don’t really know what you’re doing, at least I don’t. I’m sure they do, but I don’t.”

Noah has also experienced the differences of school in Japan. “One of the biggest things we have experienced is the difference in cultures between America and Japan especially in daily home life. It feels like everyday I learn new words,” Yee said.

While life in Japan has gone smoothly overall, at least for Hawthorne-Dallas, the trip to Japan itself was hectic. “I have actually never been outside the U.S. I’ve only been outside of Washington once. The last time I took a plane was when I was three years old, so it was a bit of a shock at first, obviously. When I arrived in Japan, I actually had to stay the night in the Tokyo airport, which was a very, very interesting experience,” he said. “I was 100% by myself because my dad’s friend bought my ticket with his miles, so I had a different flight than Noah that was a lot more complicated. I had, like three connecting flights from Seattle to Portland from Portland to San Francisco, and then from San Francisco to Tokyo, spent the night there, and then took a plane to Osaka.”

Although Yee experienced fewer stops along the way, flying internationally was still intimidating. “ I flew by myself from Vancouver to Osaka where I was picked up by our former Japanese teacher,” he said. “It was scary going by myself on an international flight because I had never done either of those things before.”

From there, Hawthorne-Dallas and Yee stayed with Shinohara Sensei, who spent time in the Japanese classes last year as part of a program that allowed her to learn how to teach English in a Japanese classroom.

“[Staying with her] was a nice easy in instead of kind of just getting thrown into it,” Hawthorne-Dallas said.

Because junior year is such a busy time, Hawthorne-Dallas and Yee both had to make sacrifices in order to make the trip work. For Yee, this included not being able to take all the classes he wanted. “I talked to Mr. Wynkoop about taking AP chemistry and he said that since I was gone I couldn’t take it because it was over enrolled and he didn’t want to stop someone in America from taking it while I was gone,” he said. “Also for APUSH I have to take the an online class first semester so I’m not behind when I get back.”

Hawthorne-Dallas had to take a step back from his ASB position during the first quarter in order to make the trip work. “The homecoming video always gets the most views and it’s kind of the most hype one, but I can’t be there for that, unfortunately. I trust my crew, though, i hope they do a good job,” he said. “They were very nice and decided not to tell me anything about it so that I won’t have to stress about it because I would.”

Despite the necessary sacrifices and prevalent language barrier, Hawthorne-Dallas feels that he has already experienced the benefits of studying abroad. “The people in the class worked very hard to make friends with me and I was really surprised just how fast you can become friends with someone even though you don’t speak the same language,” he said. “We were waiting for our school’s cultural festival to happen the first weekend I was at the school so I was there after school just doing crafts with all these students that I’ve never met before that didn’t speak my language at all and then by the end of the week I knew all of their names and they obviously knew my name, but we’re all pretty close.”

Because of his positive experience in Japan so far, both Hawthorne-Dallas and Yee would like to do a similar program again in the future.

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