By living with international students while abroad, I have had the opportunity to learn about many other cultures not just the Swedish culture. I now have friends from all over the world: Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, South Korea, Czech Republic, Columbia, Turkey, and Japan. I have learned a lot about these countries and cultures as we compare our lives at home. We talk about health care, human rights, educational systems, holidays, and language differences. One of the most lively debates on my apartment floor is whether to pronounce the ‘l’ in ‘salmon.’ I also found my friends’ explanations of their cultures interesting. For example, the crust of pizza is called the ear of the pizza in Japanese and in Columbia, baby Jesus delivers the presents instead of Santa because it makes more sense that a baby could fit down a chimney than an old man.
Last night was a special party that had taken months to prepare: the Japanese Dinner Party. There are 30 or so Japanese students studying abroad at my school. Every semester, the Japanese students receive special funding to create a Japanese culture night to promote visiting and studying in Japan. Exchange students and Swedish locals are invited to the event. The Japanese exchange students have been working tirelessly to prepare for this extravaganza. They ordered food, decorations, candy, and bento boxes in the mail. They rented one of the fanciest venues in town overlooking Truman Lake. They spent all of their free time creating decorations and origami cranes. My friend said he was so busy he didn’t sleep the night before the dinner. With all of the stress and hours put into creating this experience, my friends all said they were so relieved when it was over.
The Japanese Dinner Party was an incredible experience for me. It started with each person receiving a bento box with samples of nine Japanese dishes in an ornately decorated room. My favorite food was tamagoyaki, a sweet Japanese omelet though all of the dishes were very tasty. After the meal, the Japanese exchange students gave presentations about Japanese culture, music, animation, language, and transportation. During the presentations, they made parallels to Swedish culture and showed how Swedish culture had influenced Japanese culture and how some Japanese traditions are now popular in Sweden. They said they were demonstrating what you could expect to see and experience if you visited Japan. Their overview was very thorough, and I learned a lot. After the presentations, they offered Japanese souvenirs and games. The dinner party ended with the Japanese students performing traditional instruments and dances. This was my favorite part. Everybody was so happy and proud of their cultural heritage.
I am very proud of my friends for all of their hard work in creating this event. The whole evening was beautiful and enchanting. I really want to visit Japan now.