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Golden Sierra Student Studies in Japan
Posted 5/16/19


May 14, 2019


Golden Sierra Student Studies in Japan


What would it be like to travel to a foreign country, study in a new language, live with a new family and become immersed in a completely new culture?  Golden Sierra High School junior Kiyana Pitre did just that. In August 2018, Pitre, who studied Japanese online for two years, became an exchange student through CIEE’s Global Navigator Study Abroad Program at Doshisha International High School in Kyoto, Japan.  She loved it so much that her semester became a full year of study. Parents Mike Pitre and Kalin Finsand, GSJSHS graduate and big sister Mika, as well as Grandma Lucy Finsand will join Pitre for a three-week final tour of Japan before returning to Cool in June.

When asked to describe the highlights of her year abroad, Pitre smiled and said, “My host families, living in a completely different culture and attending school in a different country.”  Her host families have been very welcoming and involved, exposing her to wonderful food, baseball with little brothers, friendship with a big brother and sister and living in a small traditional Japanese village near the Byodo-in Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

School days are very different in Kyoto.  Just getting to school has been an experience, including an hour and a half journey by bus, two trains and walking. Classes in English, Science, History, Pre-Calculus, Health and Physics, are all taught in Japanese six days a week. When asked how she managed working in Japanese, Pitre shared that she has had very helpful Japanese tutors during study hall. Her after-school volleyball club is held seven days a week with tournaments in neighboring cities that she travels to via public transportation.

Another extra special highlight was Golden Week, a Japanese holiday that was extended ten days this year due to the extraordinary Imperial Succession.  Pitre traveled with her host family to their family home on the Japanese Sea where they fished, toured local historical sites, experienced a traditional onsen (bath house) and sampled unique Japanese cuisine.

Pitre’s plans for senior year at GSJSHS include sharing a presentation of her year abroad with fellow students, continuing her study of Japanese, dance, art, music and preparing for college which may be abroad.  Pitre believes this year in Japan has helped her become a more globalized citizen and more aware of the possibilities that she has before her. It is obvious that leaving will be bittersweet but the memories will be forever cherished.