Going on my Rotary Youth Exchange took about a year of prep work. Between applications and conferences, I had to fly to Calgary for a day to get paperwork completed. I also have to be an ambassador for our country in order to be selected.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that becoming an exchange student is all work. A big part of this program is creating lifelong bonds.
There are three types of Rotary Youth Exchange students. Students are either outbound, inbound, or rebound. Currently, I am an inbound student because I am living in Japan and not my home country, Canada. The people that I met in the Rotary Youth Exchange program while I was an outbound student have really helped me to believe in myself.
The time leading up to my exchange taught me a lot about prioritizing. With all the packing and filing, you must be organized. I had a good support system, though, that helped me both work and relax. There were late night talks with loved ones and laughs with good friends as well. A week before I left I had a farewell barbeque and bonfire as a way to spend time with people before I left.
Now, I’m living in Nagoya-East, Japan, and it is incredibly different from the Creighton and Flin Flon area. It is hot and it is also tightly packed – things aren’t the same as I’m used to.
During my first week here, I climbed Mount Fuji with two districts worth of inbound students. Sadly, I couldn’t reach the top – it took an oxygen mask just for me to reach our sleeping quarters. But I am just proud that I am okay.
The next week I met up with my district’s inbound students again for a conference, and later we went to a grape farm. It’s sad to say goodbye to my new little family but since school just started I have a feeling I will be making all kinds of new friends.