Home of the
Youth Exchange


Zinnia Erickson – Japan

こんにちは! I am Zinnia Erickson. In the upcoming year I will be studying abroad in Japan during what would be my sophomore year at Buckeye Valley. I am very excited for the amazing journey that I am about to embark on. While in Japan I hope to learn as much as I can about their language and culture. This exchange will allow me the ability to grow socially and find myself. Both my mother and father have studied abroad and I am very excited to be able to follow in their footsteps. My mom studied abroad in Japan for seven years after college and my dad studied abroad for two years in Japan with work. I enjoy reading, writing, and drawing. This year I began ice skating lessons and am greatly enjoying them. I also sometimes enjoy cooking, and I would love to learn how to cook traditional Japanese meals. While abroad I hope to be able to try my hand at many different traditional Japanese arts, as well as visiting many of the traditional Shinto shrines. I have also begun taking Japanese lessons and while they are difficult I hope that it will help me in my study abroad. This year has been amazing working with Rotary, I have met so many wonderful people from all around the globe with all sorts of different stories and I can’t wait to meet more different people. Thank you to all of the people who have supported me so far. Thank you to the Delaware Rotary Club for sponsoring my exchange and District 6690 for all of the preparation and support. Also, thank you to my family for allowing me to have this amazing adventure. 行ってきます!

October 1, 2017

Hello again! I am still having so much fun in Japan! And it has finally started cooling down! Tomorrow my host family and I are going to Kyoto! We will be visiting some of the famous larger shrines and temples as well as Kyoudai University. I am so excited. This past week was busy and fun as well though!

This past Saturday me and my host father went to the local soccer team’s game! We rode into the Okayama city station and got lunch from a bakery. The bakeries here are wonderful! We walked to the stadium and I got to see a lot of the city! I saw where my second host family lives and got to see lots of flowers that were in bloom. Right now Spider Lilies are everywhere, they are my favorite flower and it is wonderful to see them in person! The game was really close, but our team still lost. It was really interesting to watch because all of the spectators were so engaged in the game and the cheering was amazing! I have never seen so much fan support.

On Sunday, my friends and I went to karaoke! To get there I had to take the bus which admittedly was nerve wracking. On buses, in Japan, there are set stops, but to stop at them you have to press a button. I was so worried I was going to miss my stop, but then I pressed the button when they called it and I was there. I met with my friends in the station and we went to karaoke! At the karaoke place there were small rooms with couches and a TV against the back wall. Your party rents a room and then you can sing until your time is up. It was so much fun! Some of the songs had dances, so my friends taught me how dance to them. I am so glad I got to go.

Everything is new and exciting here! And I can’t wait to learn and experience more things. I am so thankful for the ability to go on this amazing adventure! Thank you for this once in a lifetime experience!













November 1, 2017

Hello! I have been in Japan for a little over two months, time has passed in the blink of an eye. Already the rice is being harvested, the leaves are changing to warm hues, and I have to wear a scarf at the train station. I didn’t think it would get so cold so quick here.

Earlier this month my host family and I went to Kyoto for the weekend! We visited many famous shrines and temples, then at the end of the day ate a traditional Japanese meal. We had sashimi and a soup where you cook everything in the broth at your table. I was so amazed when they started bringing out the little pots, each equipped with a small heater! It was so interesting. Each of the shrines were painted bright orange red and stood towering so high. At the last temple we visited I tried “Omikuji.” It is where you shake a box that is filled with sticks, once a stick falls out, according to the number on it you get a fortune that last until the new year. Mine said I would be sad for a short time, but then I would be even happier than I am now. I am not worried though because I am just very happy right now.

This past week in Orchestra Club  I had my regular test which was terrifying. A regular test is where you play alone in front of the whole club.  I was worried I would hold the bow wrong and it would squeak, but it didn’t and I passed! In Orchestra Club you have to complete and pass regular tests to get new and harder music. My senpai and I practiced everyday the piece that I would play for the test and it really payed off! Now I get to try more difficult pieces, I can’t wait!

The Japanese language is very complex. While I did study it before I left there is still so much I need to learn, so I have made it my goal to learn at least 20 new kanji by the time of Thanksgiving. In my free time I am using a dictionary to read some books I bought at the used book store. It is so much fun because the kanji that pop up frequently in the books I have started being able to read them in other contexts without my dictionary!

Last weekend was the multi district Rotary meeting for 2017. There were so many people! It was a two day conference, I only attended the second day though. I gave an introduction for myself and at the next multidistrict meeting in January I will give a twenty minute speech. The title is “Try it My Way!”

I am so grateful to be here and be able to experience all of these amazing new things. It is like a new adventure everyday! Thank you so much for this once in a lifetime opportunity!


December 1, 2017

Hi again! I passed the hundred day mark only four days ago. I couldn’t believe it. Time has flown by way way too fast, yet at the same time it feels like I have been here forever.

The rice paddies have been harvested and the weather has turned cold. In the morning there is frost and my glasses fog up when I go outside.

This month has been busy. I discovered that I would be participating in the orchestra concert. It was nerve wracking, I only had a week to learn the new pieces. My senpai and I practiced during lunch hour as well as after school. In the end I only played maybe half of the whole piece, but it was fun to be able to hang out with my friends. We left school early and it was such a great time. I loved feeling apart of such a strongly knit group.

I also watched a traditional Japanese musical drama, called Noh! I really enjoyed it! The costumes are breathtaking. The spirits are my favorite. They have long wigs that when they dance look surreal. The main performances are a bit difficult for me to understand, but the kyogen is easier to understand. The kyogen is a short piece in between the two main dramas and often it is a comedy. It was very funny. I also got to take a Shinkansen to Fukuyama which was so exciting! Riding a Shinkansen was one of my exchange goals!

I cooked Thanksgiving food for my family on Thanksgiving. Turkey is super difficult to find in Japan, so I pan fried chicken as a substitute. I cooked squash soup and oven baked sweet potatoes. My host mom and I team baked an apple pie! Everything turned out really well! And my host father said it was good!

I have at least one period a day at during school which is self study Japanese and I decided that I wanted to make more of the time i have been given. I decided to change my goal and now I am learning seven new Kanji a day. It has really helped though. I can occasionally read signs and even when I can’t read the full text it is exciting to realize you know how to say it! My goal is to learn and be able to recognize at least 500 Kanji by the time I leave.

Okayama is so much fun! I love that everyday I am able to learn new something new! Thank you so much for this wonderful once  in a lifetime opportunity! I won’t waste a moment of it!
























February 1, 2018

Hi again! It has been so cold this month, although it is definitely not as cold as Ohio. And it has been snowing everyday. It is always sunny though when it snows, so it looks a bit like something from a movie. The time has past so fast this month. It seems that just yesterday was New Years.

New Years was super fun. We spent New Years eve at my host mother’s mother’s house in Himeji. My host sister and I wore  kimonos and took pictures in front of Himeji castle. After we changed out of the Kimonos we headed home and watched the New Year’s eve broadcast which was very funny. It was like a comedy that ran for hours. We also watched a concert broadcast that featured some of my host sisters favorite artists. Then right at midnight we ate special New Year’s food. These foods are cooked vinegar or sugar to preserve them. It was really gorgeous looking, but I must admit it was definitely not my most favorite food I have tried here. The next morning, at 5, my host father and I climbed a mountain to watch the sunrise and make our first prayers for the new year. It was a gorgeous sunrise. After that we went to my host father’s mother’s house. There we met up with his brother’s family and his mother and then we all went to a shrine in Kibitsu. We then proceeded to pay respects to his father at the cemetery.

School has been busy, although this week we have a four day weekend because of entrance exams for prospective high school students. Right now in orchestra club we are preparing for the graduation ceremony in March. The club plays the music for the event, I am looking forward to playing as a whole orchestra soon! My senpai and I are all practicing together to make sure the timing is right. In two weeks the strings teacher will come and check how we are coming along and give us tips on how to improve.

This past weekend I gave a twenty minute speech at the intercity meeting for my district. I was so nervous, but I met lots of new people and I am very glad I attended. I also got to look at Okayama Castle before the meeting which was awesome! This weekend I am attending a rotary event and will be playing the ukulele at a talent show with other exchange students from other districts. I am excited to talk to other exchange students! Next week I am doing a three minute speech on the salamanders my class takes care of in front of my host club. I can’t wait to share with my host club about my normal school life here, plus the salamanders are very cute. On the 27th I have a twenty minute speech as well. I am excited because it is being held in a garden and there may be a chance to look around before the meeting starts!

I am still working toward my goal of learning 7 new Kanji characters  a day. I have noticed that I can read and write more Kanji than before. When we take notes in class sometimes I understand bits and pieces which is very exciting. In chemistry, I understood that we were talking about the different colors of the chemicals and chemical compounds. It was nice to know that I was making improvement. I am going to keep working on my goal!

Everyday is full of new opportunities and adventures. I am so grateful to have been give this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thank you so much! I will make the most of it.












Skip to toolbar