Tuesday, July 28, 2009


[ Cameo appearances ]

It has been three years now since I have departed and returned from Saga, Japan on my first YFU study abroad scholarship experience. With this blog as proof, my life has been evolving and ever changing since. I have met so many great people along the way, and each person has inspired me in some different way that has led me to the next adventure in my life. These are the people that make me continue to pursue what I love doing- exploring and writing while traveling and living abroad. I try my very best to keep in touch with everyone and for many that I have met that have ties to Europe, I may see them throughout this upcoming year! This post is just a little update and dedication to some people that I was able to see again over the past two years. From my past blogs you will recognize them, and probably recall many of the fun stories that I have had with them on my other travels.

In 2007-08 my host sister from Saga, Japan – Erika Kai – traveled as a full year YFU exchange student and lived in Minnesota. Erika and I were the same age, both 16, when I was in Japan, and going to school together everyday, we became very close. When she was in America, I was so excited to keep in touch with her and hear what she thought about America [“ High school is just like the movie mean girls” ].

My family was able to make two trips out to see her. During the fall, my family made a trip out to Minnesota, and while there we shopped, picked pumpkins, went on hayrides, and other fun things to do in the fall in America. Seeing Erika was so great, and I was so happy that she was finally able to meet my brother and parents.

Later that year we did another trip and met Erika and her host family in Chicago. This was an excellent trip, and we were able to stop by some landmarks for perfect photo-ops including michigan avenue, the mirror bean, and even a “free-hugs-campaign”! Right now Erika is in college at Kansai Kokusai Daigaku [ Kansai International University] which is in Osaka, Japan. I miss the Kai family tremendously and I can’t wait to see them again in the future. Hopefully opportunities will open up for me as time passes. From our regular Skype chats, both the Kai family and my family want to meet up in Hawaii one day for a joint family vacation. I think it would be perfect!

Another special guest that you will quickly recognize from my travels to Turku, Finland is my host cousin, Fanny. Fanny and I became close since she was a cousin of my Salminen host sisters and frequently babysat them. We also went on a summer vacation together and she introduced me to many of her friends.

When leaving Finland I offered many people a place to stay if they ever wanted to come to America. Fanny kept in touch, and after a year of correspondence through my first year at college, she came to spend about a month with my family this past June. Throughout the three weeks we went on a family trip to Niagara Falls, celebrated my brothers graduation, hung out with friends, and ultimately experienced a good sampling of the American [and Canadian ;) ] experience.

Fanny is definitely full of life and is a go-getter, and we crammed our few weeks with a lot of events. We also have developed a sibling-like relationship complete with laughter, bickering, and a multitude of jokes of which we are the pun.

While driving Fanny back to Detroit metro airport for her to depart we all thought it would be cool to call the popular Detroit top-40 radio station 955 and get a shout-out. Buda, the new dj, surprisingly came on the radio and bode Fanny bon voyage : “ Hey Detroit! This is Buuuuudaaaaa, we have a special shout-out to Fanny from Finland. So Fanny with a big Fanny – have a safe trip home from America!”
You know that Fanny felt so cool hearing her shout out – some friends heard it too! It was the perfect departure surprise. It was great to see Fanny and I hope her first experience in America was a good one. I will definitely see her, the Impila and the Salminen family again when I revisit Finland at some point this year.

Another familiar face, and the newest addition to the Crachiola family was our exchange student – and brother – from Okinawa, Japan : Shinya Tawata. Shinya joined our family and attended Athens high school with my brother for the second half of this past school year. He was able to visit Florida, niagara falls, and typical troy life with us. He also was able to graduate with an honorary diploma from Athens with a 4.0!

Shinya was a great cook, loved and played piano beautifully, and was very interested in international travel. We have so many great memories with him, and whereas he might have a family back home in Okinawa, he is the 3rd brother at the Crachiola house [ and he might have an Obachan in Okinawa, but he also has a Babcia in Troy that loves him too!]

Living with Shinya really made my YFU experience come full circle. I have been an exchange student myself, been a orientation leader for other travelers, and now I am officially a host brother too. Hosting an exchange student provides so many great experiences, and looking back at the funny times, the stressful times, and the simple together-as-a-family times, Shinya brought so many stories into our home. We can’t wait to one day visit him in the paradise of Okinawa, Japan one day too! If you are interested in becoming a host family, and experiencing all the great memories that come along with it, there is always a high demand for host families. Visit www.yfu-usa.org if you would like any information on hosting an exchange student eager to come to America.

On subject of Okinawa, my Japanese teacher, Mori Sensei, and her family have had some traveling themselves this summer. Mori Sensei visited her family back in Okinawa, and even saw Shinya while she was there! Also, Mori Sensei’s daugher, and my good friend, Aima Mori received the great opportunity to also be a FUSSYE YFU scholar to Finland as well! She has some great pictures of her life in Tampere, Finland at www.aimafinn.blogspot.com . She seems to have a great family, I am sure she is learning so much while she is there.

With one last shout out, and on subject of YFU traveling, the one person that I am probably going to miss the most out of this entire year is my brother, Adam. We share so much together, and while we are both extremely excited to potentially meet up in Europe, I am going to miss his entire first year at college when he goes to Michigan State University. Moving my brother in to his first dorm would have been something I would have really looked forward to. My brother also shared a love for Japan and experienced the country in a very different part than I did. In 2007 he traveled to Asahikawa in Hokkaido, Japan. He has some funny stories and pictures at his blog at www.ajcjapan.blogspot.com .

This post was lengthy, but it still really cut short all of the stories that I have of all the people I mentioned. The great thing about this post is that it excites me of all the friends to meet abroad, and how they stay a part of your life.

1 comment:

  1. Christopher, I love you :]
    I will miss you too.
    I am happy I will always know what you are up to since you are writing your good book :]