The following is a monthly report from Zoe Taber, the Plattsburgh Sunrise Club Youth Exchange Student in Japan...
こにちわ、(translates to "Good Day" or maybe "Hello")

It's been two months now and it still feels like I just got here. At the same time, it feels like years ago that I said goodbye to my family and friends in New York and got on the plane — what strange feeling! This last month has been a very good one.
By the end of my first month I was starting to feel comfortable in my school, my host club, and my host family, so this month I have really gotten to enjoy myself in my new life. It was my birthday a few days ago and after a wonderful day I remember thinking to myself — Wow it's been a genuinely and effortlessly good day, and that's amazing because I haven't seen a single person I knew before two months ago! Thinking about my life before I came here, it already seems more like I live on a different planet than a different country.
I have surprised myself with how well I've been able to manage homesickness so far. Before coming, I was sure that I would be crying every night because I loved my life and my family in New York and was so content and happy there, that I would miss it constantly while I was gone. What I've realized here is that I can love both at the same time, It makes me happy rather than wistful to think about my home while I'm here, and to talk about my family and our traditions and habits with anyone who is curious. I can smile when I get letters from my family in New York, without wishing I were there. My happy life will still be there when I get back, and by being here I am simply making another happy world for myself, and I feel lucky to get two amazing lifes and families. I know that there are many months and challenges to come, and that I may yet feel very homesick, but so far I feel stronger than I ever have before.

My Japanese is slowly getting better. School is very difficult for me, especially because of the thousands of Chinese characters they use. I still have a long ways to go before I can read and write well. I am starting to be able to understand when people talk to me directly, however, and to speak in simple sentenced well enough to make myself understood, which is a wonderful feeling. 
Next week I change to my second host family, it will be so hard to say goodbye to this one, they have been so kind to me. I really love them and am so grateful for all they've done for me. I know that we will stay in touch for the rest of my life.

Zoe Taber