By Sarah Cook
---- — Writing this earlierin December, I can’t believe it’s that time of year already! Because of the holiday season, I have had my fair share of homesickness. I’ve heard of the new students that were accepted and will be going abroad next year and can’t believe that it was a year ago that I found out I was going to Japan.
I can remember that day like it was yesterday.
It was a chilly day, my dad, mom and I walked into the school gym where I would be finding my fate out. I was extremely nervous and excited (the first of those times I found out!) My mom kept trying to get me to go talk to the other people there; I was so anxious that I just wanted the program to start.
Finally I went and talked to some people and the time flew by. I said my hellos to the adult Rotarians, and then they made the announcement for all of us to please be seated. As the minutes passed I got more and more anxious, Mr. Bullock recited quotes from past/current exchange students.
Then it was time: All the inbound exchange students were lined up; with the countries they came from in alphabetic order. When they started calling, it went fast … I remember thinking every one of the countries I had chosen as they were called but my name wasn’t called.
Finally all but one of the countries hadn’t been called and it was Japan! My name was the last name called. I waited my turn, less than patient, but that is expected. Who could be patient when the next year of their lives was going to be announced in less than a couple of minutes!?
Well when they finally called my name I just jumped up and tried to control my pace of walking to actual walking. When I finally got to the front so everyone could see me and the inbounds from Japan could congratulate me. I felt like no one could ever top my excitement.
It’s funny how at that time it felt like time itself couldn’t go fast enough. Now I wish I could stop time and enjoy it, just a little more, and explore each and every corner that is available to me. Though I remember not being as happy and grateful at first when I found out I was going to Japan because it was my third choice, I have come to love and want to pass the message to those new exchange students that although you may not get your choice, you are on a roller coaster ride, but you will enjoy it more than anything!
When Rotary explained our year would be like a roller coaster I realized by emotions it would be, but there was one thing that I didn’t expect. Time … it seems as though time has become less and less.
In January I will be with my third host family and will be getting ready to go on trips with my school, and Rotary. Time, it is one thing everyone talks about: “Time goes by so quickly.” When I read that, I couldn’t see how that was possible. Now here I am saying the same thing, knowing people are thinking the same thing I was last year. It is possible, but sometimes you need to experience it yourself.
I changed host families on Dec. 26. I’m so very lucky to have been able to spend Christmas with my current family. I will miss them dearly. My next host family lives quite far from my school, so I will be taking the train. It will be an experience, and I will have a younger sister. I’m excited and quite nervous!
My current host family has taken their Christmas tree out from storage where it has been for five or six years, so they could put it up because I was staying with them. I decorated the Christmas tree with my host dad and my host sister when she got home from studying.
I’ve had my end of the semester tests. I am so happy they are done. I had to take English reading, English grammar, English oral communication, math 1, and two Japanese tests that my tutors gave to me. I know I didn’t do great on the reading, oral communication, math, and on one of the Japanese tests.
Yes, I know, English tests, but there is usually quite a big portion of translating. For the English grammar this time I was lucky and there was no translating, so I finished the whole test and feel like I did pretty well.
Well I wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas! To those exchange students going abroad next year, enjoy the time with your family and be very excited you are very lucky people.
Sarah Cook is a Rotary Exchange student from Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School. If you want to read more about her adventures check out her blog: www.sarahsjourneytojapan.blogspot.com.