During my exchange year I stayed with various Japanese families. Most of the time it was quite funny and it gave me the possibility to see what it’s like to live in Japan, what a normal family looks like and also to improve my Japanese. But it wasn’t all fun. Because one of my host family suddenly decided to just throw me out. In this article I’m going to talk about why my host family kicked me out.
New Host Family
4 months after arriving in Osaka I had to switch host families. I didn’t get kicked out there, it’s just how my program went. The plan was that I would change families about all three to four months. I knew that it would be annoying to always pack my bags and then unpack them again but it gave me the opportunity to have a look inside many different Japanese households.
At my first host family I spent most of my free time tired in my own room. That’s because my Japanese wasn’t really good and everything was still pretty new to me and I just needed at break.
But I felt like I had to change that. I can’t just be in Japan and stay in my own room the whole time.
Why did I even go to Japan then?
So I wrote down some things I wanted to change:
- Talk more with my host family
- Do more with my host family
- Improve my Japanese
- Make new friends
- Go to the gym and put on weight
With those things in mind I left behind my old family and tried to make a fresh start.
My New Host Family
If you have read the title, you might think that these aren’t the nicest people (or that I’m a moron and that they kicked me out because I can’t behave). But that’s not the case.
My new host family was a young couple in their twenties. They were extremely friendly and talked a lot with me. On the day I arrived they asked me if I wanted to come to Kyoto with them the next day.
I said yes, because doing more with my host family was one of my main goals I had. And hey, Kyoto is an extremely beautiful city.
Life With My New Host Family
In short, I had a great time with my new host family. And I still feel like that despite having been kicked out.
I think the main reason for why I enjoyed it so much there was because, unlike before, I really tried to be proactive and talk more. Basically it all came down to how well I tried to achieve the goals I had.
As I said before, one of my main goals was talking more with my host family. So unlike during my first homestay, I tried to stay in the living room as much as I could. There I tried starting conversations by asking them question like why they started doing homestays, what countries they have been to, what they like to do, etc. And because of that I got more and more comfortable talking with people.
My second goal was doing more with my host family. That meant that on weekends I wouldn’t just stay in my own room but rather ask if we can do something together. Obviously they have to work too or want to relax on their days off. But they also seemed willing to show me around or do something exciting with me. They invited me to a baseball game, we also went eating tonkatsu (fried porklet) in a well-known restaurant, we went on vacation together and basically had a fun time together.
Of course I also wanted to improve my Japanese. One day I stumbled upon a technique called All Japanese All The Time (short AJATT). And it changed my life. I started filling every free minute I had with Japanese media. Whenever I had nothing to do, I’d either watch, listen or read something in Japanese. By doing that my Japanese improved a lot. Which in turn made it easier to talk to people around me.
My fourth goal was making new friends. In the first few months everybody wanted to talk with me because I’m like the only non-Japanese in a school with 3’000 students. But that soon stopped when they realised that my Japanese was just bad af. So I had to be the one to approach people. And that’s what I did. With new confidence in myself and my Japanese I started asking people if they could show me cool places in Osaka or something like that. By doing that people suddenly started being interested in me again and I made a ton of new friends. Actually so many that I started mixing up their names…
Related article: How to Make Friends in Japan
And finally, I wanted to go to the gym and put on weight. Because I was thinner than a stick. But I never realised. It was only after having been told that I look like a skeleton by a close friend that I started to see just how thin I was. After that I started to take eating seriously. What I did at the gym was also important but I had to eat more. So I stopped buying super market lunch boxes (which had about 2/3 of the calories I needed) and started to cook them on my own. I still don’t look like Arnold but I did put on weight and found two new hobbies (cooking and going to the gym).
In short, my life changed quite a bit while I stayed with this host family.
When I first moved there, which was in November, I was told that after January I had to switch again. But the house was very close to school, I really liked my host family and I got so used to the environment there that I asked my host family if I could stay longer.
They also quite liked living with me so they agreed and we extended the homestay until the end of my exchange year.
But things were about to change…
Why My Host Family Kicked Me Out
I think I have to give you some more information before I can tell you the reason for why my host family kicked me out.
My host family was a couple in their twenties without children. They both were working five days a week until late in the evening. For them I was the first exchange student who stayed longer than just a few days. Which meant that for them life changed quite drastically. Because now they suddenly had one person more in their household who needed food and clean clothes. And on top of that, it’s a foreigner who doesn’t know all the “rules” and the language that well.
But I will come to the reason why my host family kicked me out now.
As many things in Japan, the reason why my host family kicked me out has to do with rice.
My host family never really ate much. They would cook rice about one to two times per week and then put the rice into small boxes which they would then put into the freezer. So when you were hungry you could just take a box out, put it into the microwave and eat rice without having to cook rice in the rice cooker.
But because I ate about twice as much rice as them, my host mother started preparing special boxes with more rice in them for me that I could then take to school as part of my bento.
One day there was no boxes anymore. I told that to my host mother but she didn’t seem to have a good day and said: “Well do it yourself then…” I didn’t really have a problem with that. Because she might just think that it’s better if I decide on my own how much rice I want to eat. She then told me that she would come home late that day and that as usual there’d be food ready in the fridge.
So I went to school, then to the gym and came back home quite hungry at about 7 p.m. Right when I came home I heard the jingle the rice cooker plays when it has finished cooking the rice. I remembered that my host mother had told me in the morning that I should prepare my lunch boxes on my own. So I did that and left about half of the rice inside the rice cooker, so that she could also eat something. I then ate dinner and after that went up to my room to watch some Netflix. (Why do Japanese people eat on the floor?)
But after about 20 minutes I suddenly heard my host mother, who seemed to have come home, shout “Levin! What the fuck?!”
I was like “Oh no what did I do” and hurried down the stairs to ask what the problem was. But as soon as I saw here face I knew that I’d better shut up.
“Why did you take all the rice?! That was mine! […] You’re only thinking about yourself! I have enough! I’m calling the home stay agent right now!”
Realising that I had just been kicked out I tried apologising but it was already to late. I went up to my room closed the door and just said fuuuck. I then started to pack my stuff because I had no idea how much longer I’d be there.
These are two of my instagram stories I posted right after having been kicked out.
They basically say (in bad Japanese) that I just had a fight with my host mother and got kicked out.
At about 10 o’clock my host father came home. He first spoke to my (former) host mother and then came to my room. But he didn’t even seem angry. He just said to me that this was the first time he had seen his wife be so angry and that I couldn’t stay any longer. To my surprise he also said that he quite enjoyed the time with me but there were some “bad” things I had done which made my host mother to kicking me out.
I asked him what I had done, because well I wanted to know why they kicked me out. And the things he pointed out showed me once again how different the Japanese way of thinking is.
When Japanese people say „It‘s ok.“ they don‘t really mean „It‘s ok.“ What they actually mean is „This time it‘s ok but the next time it won‘t, so learn to behave!“ (read why).
Of course they would never say that sentence out loud, because that could cause trouble even more trouble.
And they would also never tell you what you should do. In Japan you always have to guess what the other person wants you to do.
Here’s an example to show you what I mean. During golden week (a huge national holiday) we went to Fukushima. There I wrote a post card for my grandmother(in German obviously). I then asked my host mum and host dad if they could sign at the end of the card. But they refused saying: „Sorry but we can‘t sign something that we don‘t understand“. Which makes sense. I wouldn‘t sign something I didn’t undestand either. But come on it’s a post card… So in the end, I just sent the post card without their signature and thought everything would be fine.
But it wasn‘t. As my host father told me the evening I got kicked out, I should have explained them what I had written on the post card. But how should I have known that if they didn‘t tell me. Well for them it’s an obvious thing to do, but definetely not for me. And if they really wanted to sign that badly they could have just asked me to explain what I had written there.
To give you some more examples of the „bad things“ I had done during those six months here‘s a list:
- I went to the gym during our vacation on a day on which we didn‘t have anything planned (apparently I should have come up with a plan about what we could do together)
- I went to an expensive restaurant with high school friends
- I‘m too sarcastic
- I said I’d be volunteering at an event but arrived 30 minutes late and then said that it was fun when I got home. (According to my host mother volunteers are there to entertain others and don‘t have the right to have fun themselves…)
After They Kicked Me Out
Luckily I didn’t have to sleep on the street that night. The after I got kicked out I had a meeting with my homestay agent who told me that I could stay at the host family‘s until they find a new host family. They also wanted to know my side of the story and then in the end gave me a daily amount of money for food.
I have to say that they really handled the situation professionally and found a solution that works for all sides. I would recommend Homestay in Japan in 10/10 cases (not sponsored).
So I had to now somehow survive on 1200 Yen for dinner and breakfast and also try to avoid my host mother. The latter was pretty easy because she also didn’t want to see me and staid at work as long as possible. On the first two days I could something for myself but after that I had enough and asked friends if we could go out and eat somewhere. Which was pretty fun.
About one week later of eating at Yoshinoya, a new host family was found and I had to say goodbye to my old one. My host father was already at work and my host mother was the only one home, until the very last moment she hid herself away in her bedroom and only came down to say me bye and then close the door. I told her that I really enjoyed the time with them but she didn’t really care.
Why Being Kicked Out Was a Good Thing
Being kicked out by my host family was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Because I met a new host family who was extremely nice, talked a lot, cooked good food, and tried to do as many things as possible in those two months I stayed with them.
またね！ 2ヶ月だけでしたが、ものすごく楽しかったです。 ママの「へええええ」はお気に入りです！ いつか安楽死のため、スイスに来るらしいです。 #留学 #留学生 #留学生活 #スイス #スイス人 #exchangestudents #exchangeprogram #exchangestudentjapan #japanexchange #japanexchangestudent #studyabroadjapan #留学終了 #最後 #卒業 #austauschjahr #exchangeyear #studyingabroad #homestay #hostfamily #ホストファミリー #homestayinjapan #akzentsprachbildung @homestay_in_japan @akzentsprachbildung