When the opportunity arose to attend this study tour, I was incredibly grateful to be considered. I was fearful to leave my children and husband in New Zealand for 18 days, and as a distance student, I was also fearful of going to another country with people I barely knew. Upon being graciously accepted into the program, the host family experience raised its own fears. I had heard that it may be easy to offend people in the Japanese culture, therefore, I researched what customs and expectations were in the household before I attended. As I now know there was nothing to be afraid of. This program has provided me with an opportunity to branch out of my comfort zone for something that I would have never expected to be able to participate in. Not only have I made lifelong friendships, but I was able to observe and participate in school and family life in Japan. There are not many people I know that have been able to gain that opportunity and I appreciate it wholeheartedly. Another point that was raised for me was the ability to break down the language barriers. The students in the schools were respectful in their understanding that we were from another culture and they encouraged us in their classrooms.
Another focus that I had before going to Japan was behaviour management of students and classrooms, and the nutrition availability for students while at school. There are many schools in New Zealand where students attend school without lunches, or parents have no lunches for their children and do not send them to school. There are initiatives in New Zealand that are tackling this, however, I positively commend the Japanese school lunch system for enabling students to have healthy lunches at school.
Overall the school experiences were an informative way to be able to reflect and contrast the differences between New Zealand and Japanese schools. There were many positives that I encountered with the Japanese schooling system and I will endeavour to research the background of how learning was scaffolded to get to the appeared efficiency of student learning. As I do during my school placements with Canterbury University, I have reflected as to how and why the schooling systems appear to differ so much between Japan and New Zealand and will continue to do so in my future teaching.