By Valentina, a current Rotary Youth Exchange student from the United States to Japan who received round-trip airfare through United’s 10 Million Charity Miles Giveaway.
I have been in Japan for only two weeks, but already so much has happened! The day I arrived I was greeted by local Rotary members and my host mother at the airport. I couldn’t believe I was in Japan.
That night, my host Rotary club had a welcoming party for me. I was greeted by so many people. The place where the club meets is very traditional, so I shed my shoes. It felt weird walking around with just my bare feet.
I enjoy being with my host family a lot. Even though my Japanese isn’t very good, they help me study and teach me new words every day. The house is very traditional: the floor is tatami mat and I sleep on a futon, which took a little getting used to.
Recently my host mother and I went to a YMCA camp for the weekend, where a group of Rotary members, other exchange students and I got to climb Mount Fuji! It was hot at first but then became very cold and windy and started to rain. By the time we reached the lodge in the dark, I was cold and soaked. Climbing for four to five hours, my legs felt like they were going to fall off.
But we had dinner at the lodge and spent the night there, and woke up bright and early to see the sunrise on top of Mt. Fuji. It was beautiful! The descent was actually harder than climbing up, but the whole trip was worth it just to see the sunrise.
My school here is very different from my school in America. We stay in the same classroom all day and the teachers are the ones who change classes. I also have many pairs of shoes just for school: one for walking outside, one for walking inside, one for the bathroom, one for gym indoors, and one for gym outdoors. Overall, it has been a wonderful experience, and I am looking forward to the rest of my year here.