April has possibly been the best month of my exchange so far. The first week was my mother's visit to Japan, she stayed from the 1st to the 8th. I was beyond excited to see her for the first time after 7 months, and I was so happy that she could meet my host families and host Rotary club. 

Together with each of my host families, we took day trips around the Kansai area; Nara, Kyoto, and Osaka, and we introduced her to some of our favorite Japanese foods. I was so excited to show her around my city, my school, and my favorite places in Osaka. I especially loved surprising her with how far I've come with my Japanese language skills, my ability to navigate the train and subway systems, and even my chopstick skills!
 
It reminded me how far I've come with all of these things since I arrived in Japan. We both spoke at my host Rotary club's weekly meeting; this is one of the best memories for me from my mother's time here, it meant a lot to me that she could meet the people who have shown me so much kindness.
 
As it turns out, April is also the perfect time to harvest the new bamboo sprouts. Two weeks ago I had a great time at my second host family's barbecue/ bamboo harvest party. They taught me how to use the bamboo digging tools, and then we cooked and ate the bamboo sprouts we had just picked from the ground. This was such a New and memorable experience for me.
 
April also marked the start of the new Japanese school year. I graduated from "first grade" in February, so this is the start of my 2nd grade year (the Japanese equivalent of junior year). I was a little nervous at first because with the new year comes a new set of class-mates, but it has been three weeks now and I feel like I already have great new friends.
 
In two weeks I will have the chance to participate in another Japanese high school tradition; Taikusai, or "Sports Festival". We will all compete against the other classes in races, relays, dodge ball matches and so on. Although this isn't until May, the preparations have already started. All of the students meet to practice there team's dancing and cheer routines every day during lunch and after school. Although I'm not much of an athlete, I'm looking forward to dancing with my classmates and cheering for the new friends I've made during our practice time.
 
I can't believe how quickly the time is flying. With just a little over two months left, I am starting to feel like my time here is coming to an end. But, as that is too sad to think about just yet, all I can do is make the most of the weeks I have left, and enjoy the company of all the wonderful friends and family I have around me here.
 
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