In October, a few students from Slovenj Gradec High School participated in an exchange with the Japanese city of Myoko. I have also been a part of it so here I intend to share my experience with you guys.
When I first brought my application letter to the principal’s office in June I did not really know what I was getting myself into. This students exchange sounded like a lot of fun, and a one-time opportunity which I didn’t want to miss. I was hoping that I would be among the chosen students who will be able to experience the cultural interaction between the two completely different worlds.
In September we finally found out who will be hosting guests from Japan. I was happy that I was given the opportunity. Looking back I  realize how unaware I was of the influence this project will have on me, I couldn’t imagine getting close to a person in just  8 days- time. From that day on I was just looking forward to getting to know my guest, showing her my culture and just giving her the best experience possible of our small country.
  I was to host a girl. In school, we got allocated papers. On the paper there was only a student’s name and an email address. I was given a paper with a name of Runa Miyazaki.  Later that day I already tried to contact her via email. But there was no reply for quite some time.  When I finally got her answer I realized that this will affect my life a lot, my family and I were extremely excited. Runa and I exchanged a few more emails in order to get to know each other more and then I started counting down days to her arrival.

The first time we met was at the airport where my classmates and I were waiting for our guests. I remember being very impatient and nervous and the time went by slowly as we were standing next to the exit, carrying written posters and waiting for their plane to land.  The exit doors finally opened.

Runa met my family and they were all so excited. We talked a lot, about culture differences and similarities, about our families … It was a great way to start our exchange. In the evening I also showed her a bit of my village and from her facial expressions I could tell that she was amazed (even though my village is nothing special).

During the week we did a lot of stuff. We took them to our high school where we made origami and showed them around our school. One day we took them to Postojna cave and Ljubljana and later to Bled. Runa said that she hadn’t seen anything as beautiful as Bled. They were all amazed by Postojna cave as well.

On Sunday my family went to my grandparents’ house and we had a traditional Slovenian lunch. I must say that during her visit here she liked most of our food. She loved Čokolino and Milka chocolate, I actually cannot remember a single food she didn’t like

Besides eating we also did some sport activities. For example, on Sunday afternoon all of us students went swimming in Topolšica where we had so much fun. Not only did we teach them ‘petelinje borbe’ but also dancing to the ‘duck song’. It was one of the funniest attempts of learning the dance choreography – but in water.
On Monday we went to Vienna. On that given day we have taken so many photos that most of our SD cards were so full we had camera malfunctions – one after another. We visited the Shoenbrunn park, enjoyed Hundertwasser’s creations and so much more.
On Tuesday we went to our school again. We prepared presentations about our journey together. In the evening we had some sort of a ‘goodbye ceremony’. We had some guests, our principal, the mayor of Slovenj Gradec and even a representative of the Japanese embassy came to see the incredible bond we’ve made during their stay here. Each family had to share their experience of the exchange. When it was my family’s turn I couldn’t tell much, because at the end of the first sentence I started shaking and later crying. I was filled with excitement (because of an amazing journey we’ve been through) and sadness (because they were leaving the next day) at the same time and  looking at Runa tears just filled my eyes … tears of joy … tears of sadness … tears of gratitude.
And then Wednesday came, the day our Japanese friends flew back home. Saying goodbye was hard. We made quite a bond during their time here. As I have already mentioned I cried during the ‘goodbye ceremony’, so you can probably imagine how much I cried at the airport. But I was not the only one. We all had a rough time saying goodbye.
I can only say thank you, Runa Miyazaki, for sharing your culture with me, telling me stories about your home and your hometown, giving me the chance to get to know you better …  thank you for everything. I can’t wait to see you again. Arigato.