Selected last fall, Zoe Taber will depart for Japan late this next summer for an incredible year as Sunrise Rotary's outbound for 2016-2017!
Monday the eleventh of January was the second best day of my life so far, second only to the day in November when I learned I would finally be given the opportunity to achieve my lifelong dream of being an exchange student. This was the day I received the phone call informing me of my host country - where I will be spending the next year of my life.

I knew anywhere I was placed would be an amazing and life changing experience, and I knew that the Rotary is notorious for considering each student’s situation carefully and matching them with a host country perfect for them, My only reason for being anxious to know my host country was that I wanted to immediately start learning all I can about the place I will be spending the next year of my life living in, and getting a head start on learning the language; I can not remember ever being more excited for anything.

Since my first orientation I could think of little else, so when I got the phone call informing me I'd been placed in my first choice: Japan, nothing can express my excitement and surprise! I hardly imagined that I would be lucky enough to be placed in one of my top choices, let alone my first choice, it was one of those moments where life literally seems to good to be true.

One of my reasons for wanting to be an exchange student was the chance to explore a culture very different than my own, and Japan is such a perfect place to do that. After receiving the news I immediately called all my relatives, I read the blogs of former exchange students to Japan, and looked into how I could start learning Japanese. Learning the language to the best of my ability before I go is very important to me. From the blogs I've read, and the information I've received from my orientation,I've learned that any knowledge of the language learned ahead of time becomes priceless once in your host country, and will make assimilation easier.

This is why I have started babysitting on Sundays to pay for a Japanese tutor (we start in March). And as soon as I finish my economics class through Clinton community college, I am going to apply for a real job to start saving money for my exchange year. This opportunity is such a dream come true for me, and I am ready and willing to do all it takes to make it a success.

The Rotary youth exchange motto is “if it's to be, it's up to me” and I could not agree with this more, I have to take it upon myself to learn my language, to create a bond with my host family, and get involved with my host community and host club, and I could not be more excited for this challenge.

I will have to wait another 6 long months before I leave, but until then I will try to enjoy the anticipation and excitement. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous, I know I will make mistakes while learning the language, and adapting to the new culture, but I know that with hard work and the support of rotary that this will be the most amazing year of my life.

I can not express how grateful I am to be given this opportunity, and how excited I am to be a part ofthis amazing program.