519 Exchange Student

Kate talk about being an exchange students.

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Todd: 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: Separately?

Kate: Separately.

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.

Todd: Really?

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.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson


It was very interesting. The customs were so different.

"Customs" are the social habits or traditions of a country, group of people or family, which have a long history.  Notice the following:

  1. It was difficult to adapt to the custom of eating with her hands.
  2. It is a custom in our family to eat turkey on holiday.


In a way they have this togetherness, the family.

If a group of people have "togetherness," then they have intimacy, friendship or feeling of community.  Notice the following:

  1. The family was very close; they had a togetherness that was obvious.
  2. The team won most of the games, not because of their skill, but because of their togetherness.

get their own

Everybody just gets their own dinner.

If you "get your own" car it means you buy it for yourself.  Notice the following:

  1. Everybody should get their own ticket to the concert.
  2. They were tired of living in an apartment and finally got their own house.


They all share the same water, they don’t waste water.

To "waste" something is to use or consume it without good reason.  For example if you leave lights on when you aren't using them you are wasting electricity.  Notice the following:

  1. He always wastes his money on clothes that he wears one time.
  2. She wastes a lot of time chatting with her friends on the internet.


I slept on a futon.

A "futon" is a combination of a sofa and a bed.  It folds up to be a sofa and lies flat to be a bed.  Notice the following:

  1. There is a futon that you can sleep on in the living room.
  2. He didn't have a lot of furniture, but he had a futon and a television, which was all he wanted.


Answer the following questions about the interview.

Keep Listening

Below are some more great lessons!

Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
custom • togetherness • their own
waste • futon
  1. We don't want to water, so only do laundry when you have to.
  2. I just sleep on a in the living room when I visit my brother.
  3. Are we sharing hotel rooms this weekend, or is everybody just getting ?
  4. My friends and I have a strong sense of .
  5. The of greeting everyone around you in a restaurant is strange to get used to.