UL Camp with AFS

3 augustus

From July 31 until Aug 3 I had Camp together with all AFS students from Sapporo and Asahikawa. The camp was organized by a girl’s only school in Asahikawa that was happy to meet us. What UL means have no idea 😛

We had to be ready at 8 O’clock at Sapporo central station but I was there already at 7 O’clock! Our express train left at 8 O’clock. The trip took 2 hours but it was fun together with Emma, Erika and the AFS boys, although they were sitting apart.

When we arrived in Asahikawa we apparently found no one from AFS and we did not know where to go. Finally we walked to a bus stop and there we met an AFS woman and two girls from the school that took us to a bus. It took another two hours before we arrived at the camp.

They had two rules at the camp: You only speak English and as little as possible with the other AFS students. The first rule is contra dictionary with the general AFS rule that you have to speak the local language when possible, and the second rule was also a little bit hard since we did not seenthe Asahikawa students since we left Tokyo in March and we had to tell each other so much!

The school students spoke English very well. I seem to be the only one who is at a Japanese school were they hardly speak English so I was pretty much surprised! From one side that is pretty good for me but on the other side, the students at my school are afraid to talk to me because they know so little English and it is also difficult for me to ask something because of that. Difficult but a good challenge though.

There were 4 English teachers, one female and 1 Dutch!! Yes a teacher from HOLLAND! Sometimes I have a Skype chat with my parents in Holland but talking face to face in your native language is really nice! It was funny to meet someone from the Netherlands, and he was SO DUTCH!, although he lives in Japan for so long.

Ps. Perhaps the latter was perhaps a little bit confusing but here is some explanation: Holland is also called ‘The Netherlands’ and our native language is Dutch  Netherlands means “low land” and that is because half of the Netherlands is a few meters below sea level and is protected by dikes

On arrival we were divided in groups. I was together with 3 first year students, 2 second year and Museon, the Korean.
Our group was called Venus. Our group had to do cleaning for 4 days and we slept together on one room, except the boys of course!
The building was a former school building, it had been prepared for camps. It was a very cute little building.

The First day, we were playing games to get acquainted. We played soccer, who is it, and other games. We also had to prepare a drama of about 10 minutes, all in English.
We had to prepare a drama based on a subject that we received. Our group had the subject: The Foolish Terrorist.

We went to a room with a laptop were we had to write our script. It was a little awkward however. The first year students did not say a word, the second year students wanted to help but that was quite hard for them. And we had to give a performance in three days! I felt pretty much responsible to write the script because all they others stalled and I can stand when something must be done and no one does it. Luckily Museon and Reina (the group leader) gave their support.

In the camp we slept on a futon in a tatami room, completely in Japanese style like we did in Tokyo. I don’t have problems with a futon as long as it is not too thin , this one was rather uncomfortable, it was like sleeping on a carpet!

The showers and bath were in a large room. I stick to it, it does not feel nice but as soon as you are undressed and run into the shower, sit down on a stool and start washing yourself it is OK.

The second day Aug. 1 we first had to clean up and wipe the floor. We all had to draw a number and were all sitting on different places in order to talk with different people all the time. Next we went to play games again like base ball, volley ball etc.

For lunch we went to a lake near the camp. It was really beautiful! Unfortunately I did forget to bring my camera so I took pictures with my iPhone instead.

We spend the afternoon working on our drama again. Since we had to write more script I thought: if you don’t do anything, I won’t do it either. Finally we went on with it and it went better than yesterday. The first year students started painting the décor and Museon and I finished the script.

That evening we watched a horror movie. That is really not my thing but everyone watched the movie so I joined them. The movie was ‘the Crudge’. Japanese people hate scary things but on the other hand they like it very much!

Afterwards we went for a walk in the forest, it was already dark, and went into a deserted train tunnel were it was pitch dark. First we went together with lights through the tunnel that had a slide turn so you were not able to see the end. There were bats all over the place and for several reasons we were not allowed to touch the walls. We were also not allowed to run and scream. When we arrived at the other end of the tunnel we had to go back in pairs, without any lights! I was with a first year student and we were both very scared, you could not see anything at all! She was hitting the wall with her foot all the time and then we had to go back to the middle again.
The floor was full of big pebbles and it was very hard to walk on them. Then I started asking about her hobbies and the music she likes to make her feel more comfortable. We finally made it! But it was scary though! I went to bed early and fortunately I did not had any nightmares.

The next day Aug. 2 we started with cleaning, breakfast and playing games. This time we played hit and run. Because I didn’t sleep very well that night I felt a little sick and then suddenly Eden, the big Ausi, was throwing a ball towards Museon but it hit my head quite hard. Eden asked “are you ok” but I was dizzy and sat down for a while. Next Tyler came to me and told me not to act like a sissy and join the game again. I was thinking of hitting him in the face but I walked away very calm and then started crying. I think it was a mixture of little sleep, home sickness, it was all too much. It relived me however and everyone was very nice to me.

We also went outside to slam water melons while being blindfolded! We first had to turn around a few times while being blindfolded and then had to listen to instructions from your group members. The first three of our group started but they all missed. When it was my turn I did not see anything . They told me when the melon was right in front of me and I used all my power to hit it and I SUCCEEDED!
I splashed it in two parts on the first hit! Even the boys failed to do that so I was very proud of myself! Afterwards we ate the melon and watched how the others were doing.

That afternoon we finished our drama, selected costumes and finished the decors. The we practiced virtually nonstop and went for the general repetition!
At the international Night everyone did their performance and everything was pretty funny, especially because the AFS people improvised a lot and the Japanese had written their texts on their arms and it looked pretty awkward.

After the performances we went to the camp fire were we learned a traditional dance. To me it looked like a Japanese dance on German music…. very …. interesting!
We also danced the official Yosakoi dance dressed in red vests.
Then we sang a song and suddenly went for a shower and then to bed.

By the way, I am now seeing Kanji for a month! That is worth telling you!

The last day Aug. 3 we had to do the final clean up. We went for dinner and next we went to the gym where we had the awards for the best teams in games, drama and for the best actor and actress! Our team won the game award and we ended third in Drama. And Shina, our second years won the award for best actress! We were awarded with snacks and a trophy. Well Museon and me were left empty handed, but it was fun!
Next we sat in groups and were allowed to speak Japanese! But that was hard for us. The AFS students had to move to other groups in order to speak with all of them. It was very funny and nice.

At the beginning we were not that enthusiasts but it turned out to be a very nice time and I made a lot new friends! Although they live somewhat far away.
In the bus back home I was sitting next to Reina, our group leader, because we share the same interests. We already decided to see each other when I come to Asahikawa or she comes to Sapporo.

Then we went back by train, again for 2 hours. On Sapporo station an AFS woman was waiting for us. We were all rather astonished to see how many people there were on Sapporo station. Next we decided to go out for dinner. The boys wanted to have Gyudon, that is meet on rice. When Erika and I looked at each other we both knew what we wanted to have for dinner! Yes indeed, these super delicious TEMPURA! Later it appeared not to be Tempura but Katsu, a sort of Tempura but then different, super nice! We choose the same menu as last time and when Emma said she had enough Erika and I immediately attacked her plate! No one leaves that food untouched! We were fully stuffed and nothing was left!

I thought my host parents would pick me up but I had to find it all out by myself with these buses and so. They know how disastrous I am with public transport. And I did not wanted to spoil my money on public transport so I walked home all the way. It took me 45 minutes but luckily I brought my music so it wasn’t that bad. There was no one home and I took a shower. Then my host mom arrived and we had melon and I went to sleep. I was completely exhausted, but the camp was well worth it!

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