Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a blog by Mackensi Green, who is an exchange student from North Zulch living in Japan.
I recently went to orientation (for the Japanese exchange student program) in Lake Limestone, and I can say that it was the most fun I have had all year. A lot of things don’t fall under my list of events to remember for the rest of my life.
But I can guarantee that this memory will forever be placed in the back of my mind, which gives me an erratic, almost giddy, feeling about Japan.
My father, grandmother and I arrived an hour and a half early. To some this would be a bad thing. My dear grandmother is not like some and told me it would be a great opportunity to connect with the volunteers and area reps or in other words: to break the thick block of ice I made over the years. I was frightened for I had thought that only adults would be there.
Once Melanie, the one who organized the grand event and volunteers to host students, invited me into the house I was relieved while simultaneously having a small anxiety attack. Four exchange students from Europe sat inside. I first gazed over a girl from France. Melanie introduced me to the rest of the girls. Two were from Denmark and one from Germany. They all seemed to know each other well. It made me ponder whether they had met before the orientation. (Most of the exchange students had been in America for about eight months.)
I was nervous and it all felt a little foreign. I never went anywhere without the comfort of my friends or family, and suddenly I was in a whole new habitat and the scary part was whether I would adapt or not. A few hours of awkward chatter went by, and the rest of the volunteers, exchange students and study abroad kids flowed into the house.
A girl named Claire is going to Japan on the same scholarship (Japan-America Friendship Scholars) as I am. Once orientation started, we immediately clicked, and I could tell I had nothing to worry about.
After it was all over and the questions had been answered, Claire and I met more of the exchange students and children who were studying abroad. We met a girl from Japan named Sai. She was ecstatic to see that four out of the five of us were going to her home country and was happy to tell us new words and share about her culture.
On that same night, we also met Dhiya from Indonesia. He loves America and chatted with us about his home and events that occurred while he was here. When everyone was having a fantastic time and bonding with each other, I knew I was meant to be there.
I realized that until I left the next morning, and even now, I still get that feeling in my chest when thinking about all the memories. The feeling that arises within in me when I imagine the memories I will make in Japan and all the other adventures I will stumble upon through my lifetime.
Mackensi Green is a North Zulch High School student who is spending six weeks as an exchange student in Japan this summer.