At Home in Japan
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Module 10.2

If All Else Fails. . . How to Bail

Sometimes, the situation is such that you may need to leave your homestay. At this point you should pay close attention to the warning signs in (1) below, (some of which you can grasp from the cases in the previous page). If you do need to leave your homestay, and no program office is available to help you, you should then follow the directions in (2) below.
1. Warning signs you should pay serious attention to in a homestay:
  • The family doesn't treat you as a guest when you first arrive, but expects you to know and act like the family members with no initial cushioning period.
  • The family ignores you and acts like they want nothing to do with you.
  • The family has unrealistic expectations of English learning, and sees your function solely as an English instructor.
  • The family has serious problems that are manifested in fighting, violence, or sexual advances toward you.
  • A sudden drastic change in your treatment by the family. For example, if their behavior has shifted from treating you as an honored guest to doing things to make your life miserable.

2. How to Leave Your Homestay:

Here are the steps to take if your homestay has serious warning signs and if you have no program office (or the program office is not helping you). This was the situation faced by both Kate and Gwen.
  1. Leave fast. Don't try to stay on, hoping that the problem will resolve itself, or that you can either ignore or resolve the problem. Make arrangements to move in with a friend, go to a hotel, do something.
  1. Don't call on your family for help. After you find yourself another place to live, tell your family you are leaving only when you have finalized all the arrangements. Don't extend or change your leaving date, or tell them before you know exactly when you'll be leaving. Tell them when you are leaving, and then leave on that date.
  1. Don't try to maintain the façade that you want to continue relating with the family after you leave. You can tell your family a tatemae reason why you are leaving (I want to be closer to my campus, my friend wants me to live with her, etc.) But the chances are they want you to leave as much as you want to leave, so the thing to do now is to get out quickly and cleanly.
  1. Don't ask your family to help move your stuff, and don't call on their friends either (unless you don't care that they will be extremely angry at you for doing this).
  1. Before you leave, take care of all loose ends so that you do not have to return. Clean the space you have used thoroughly, and put everything back in the order you found it. This is extremely important and should be done, even if you are angry with the family. Return all keys and any other items you have borrowed. Do not give presents, or try to have niceties such as tea and cakes when you leave. Things are past this point.
  1. When you leave, bow, thank your hosts politely, and then take your leave.


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