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Gangnam Stylin’ in Matsuyama with the locals

Our third day in Matsuyama, professors and directors of the program arranged a whole afternoon for students with the locals. Bill Cahill ’14 and myself were lucky enough to be hosted by Michiko Izumitani, Associate Professor of Leadership and Communication at Ehime University in Matsuyama.

Michiko and her family wanted us to to have the best time in Matsuyama, which she absolutely achieved. I didn’t really know what to expect from a Sunday afternoon with a Japanese family, and what ended up happening is that we just had some fantastic family time. Our first stop was a local shopping mall, where we just went for a walk and got some groceries for dinner. Since Michiko went to college in New York, she knew exactly how to get the most of our day, perfectly understanding cultural differences and what could be appealing to us. We stopped by at a local conveyor belt sushi bar and bought enormous amounts of sushi.

Party really started at a house where Michiko grew up, her mother’s. It was actually her mom’s birthday, so Bill and I got to be a part of real Japanese family gathering. Other than Michiko, her husband and cousin Hiroshi, nobody spoke English. I saw that only as a good thing, since we melted down with the family and tried to dabble some Japanese with other 13 members of the Family. Michiko’s youngest, nine year old son learned “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” last week, so we were equal in saying random stuff in English/Japanese.

Bill and Vuk

I ate sushi until I started looking like a blowfish, and I was hoping that we can have some green tea and call it a night, completely unaware that party is yet to pick up. After responsibly savoring wine, beer and champagne with sushi, okonomiyaki, dumplings, yakitori and followed by fruit cake and kiwi gelly, we found a baseball game between Japan and USA for a minor league baseball world cup. Little competition only warmed everybody up for Grandma’s birthday song, followed by Gangnam Style dancing and Don’t Stop Believing karaoke.

Bill and Vuk2

We are all still experiencing cultural shocks that we are unaware of. Families like Serizawa and Izumitani make us forget just for a second that we are half way around the globe away from our families and closest friends. However, that doesn’t even matter because they made a phenomenal replica of home away from home and on that, we thank you.

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