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Todd: Er Kate, you said you were an exchange student when you were younger?
Kate: That’s right. When I was 15 I went to Tokyo, Japan for just 2 weeks on a high school exchange.
Todd: So were you alone or with your school?
Kate: Erm I was…Well you could say I was alone. I went with a group of about 7 people around about the same age and they were from the same city.
Todd: What was it like living with a Japanese family?
Kate: Oh it was very interesting. The customs were so different. The family was really great to me, really kind and caring.
Todd: What is different about the Japanese lifestyle and the lifestyle in New Zealand?
Kate: Erm, in a way they have this togetherness , the family. The traditional way is that the mother is home all day: she is a housewife and she will wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning, make the breakfast for the whole family and then she is at the home all day cleaning. Then when the kids come home and she makes them dinner and finally the father comes home very late at night after work, and then he gets his dinner. Very very different from my family which is everybody just gets their own dinner. Everyone is independent.
Todd: Wow that is a lot different. Any other differences like, for example, bathing or sleeping or eating or anything like that?
Kate: Bathing, yeah. They share ofuro… it’s like, they share a bath. I think it starts when they’re children. I’m not sure, I can’t quite remember but they all share the same water, they don’t waste water. They are very conservative.
Todd: So one person gets in the bath, then the next person, then the next?
Kate: That’s right.
Todd: Oh, interesting. Ok, and what about sleeping? Did you sleep on a bed or a futon?
Kate: I slept on a futon which to me… it felt like the floor. I might as well just put the futon away and slept on the floor but I got used to it.
Todd: What do you prefer now: a futon or a bed?
Kate: I have a bed now but I don’t mind a futon. I’ve really gotten used to it.
Todd: So you obviously have really good memories having an exchange… or being an exchange student. Would you like to have an exchange student some day?
Kate: Yes, of course. I’ve had 3 already actually in my house.
Kate: Yes, because when you go to Japan you’re expected to have a host sister or host brother come back to New Zealand the next year, the following year.
Todd: Ah, I see.