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McKayla Rodman – Japan

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こにちわ! My name is McKayla Rodman. I’m 16 years old and a Sophomore at Buckeye Valley High School. I will be going on exchange to Fukuoka, Japan my junior year! I can barely wait to begin my journey and create many experiences, memories and learn more about myself, and who I want to be. I am a lover of books and writing so I plan to write a lot on my exchange! I also love music and singing, I have been in choir every year that it’s been offered so far (6th-10th grade) and have been memorizing lyrics since I can remember. I currently live in Delaware, Ohio with my mom, dad, brother, and 2 dogs. Japan was my first choice and finding out that’s where I was going was amazing, so much so I started crying. I’m excited to learn more about Japan and what it’s like to like as a student in a family there, how different daily life is. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to travel and learn more about Japan! Someone very close to me told me “It’s pretty hard for us as humans not to reach for the stars” and that’s what I plan to do!

October 1, 2017

The month of September has gone by too quickly! September 2nd was my birthday and I got to spend it will all of my host families and friends! I also became friends with my neighbor and go out walking their dog every so often! September 9th at school for 3 days we had a sports festival! It was sooo fun and I cheered on my class the entire time. It was a great way to start school and make new friends. September 9th my host club also set up a birthday dinner for me and my friend from Australia Matthew. It was a complete suprise and I feel so lucky to be put in the Fukuoka Josei Rotary Club! September 10th I got dressed in a summer kimono and went to watch fire works at a festival with a few Japanese friends. September 12th I had my second rotary meeting and made another speech using new vocabulary I’ve learned since the last meeting. September 14th I went to a festival at a shrine and got to do so many traditions and also see them being done. September 19th-21st I went on a trip with my host mom and her work (she works at a college in Fukuoka) to Yufuin and went to a real onsen and saw many cute small shops in the city, and went to an owl zoo! I pet so many owls and held one on my arm! I also played games in Japanese like “Life” or “Super smash bros” with college students and teachers. And nothing could beat the feeling of waking up in a hotel in the mountains! September 24th I was invited by one of my exchange friends parents to get VIP baseball tickets, we got to see where people were live on tv and radios and we watched the entire game complete with jerseys! And just last Friday, I went to a cat cafe for the first time! I went with a Japanese friend from my school that exchanges to Oregon last year through AFS! This month has been amazing! I feel blessed to be here in an amazing country!

November 1, 2017

The month of October has been my favorite month so far, and there’s good reason why. This month has been full of crazy and amazing adventures I’ve been going on! In the beginning of October I had a Rotary Trip to Nagasaki where we had the opportunity to meet a man who survived the bombing and told us his story, we also went to the Atomic Bomb museum and the Nagasaki Peace Park! On this trip we also went to Huis Ten Bosch! A few days after getting back I also went on a trip with my school to Tokyo, Yokohama, Karuiza, up Mt. Fuji and many other cities on the main land. This trip with the school made making friends so much easier and I now have more friends than I can remember the names of! On this trip my friends and I had lunch on Mount Fuji, ventured through caves, rode bikes around and to big malls, and playing uno at night having what they called “girls talk”, went to onsens and went to cafes and shopped around the biggest China town in Asia and so much more. Spending 5 days with my best friends here was my favorite thing so far. As far as host families I’ve so far had the best experience with mine. The majority of my time here it’s just been my host mom and I which made us very close and she’s always doing things to make sure I’m happy and more than okay! I’ve also been hanging out with friends after school a lot. My best friend and I started talking by bonding over our favorite K-Pop group and now we often get together and rent out a dance room and practice the choreography to our favorite songs by them. The scariest thing on my exchange is thinking about leaving!

December 1, 2017

Hello! The month of November has gone by so quickly! Starting on November 1st, my english class had a halloween party and we all brought halloween hats, headbands, masks and i brought everyone candy! November 2nd i got my first package from home! it was i giant box full to the brim of American snacks and candy i love and have got to share with my friends here! Also on November 2nd i visited our schools English club and we had a halloween party after school! November 3rd I went on a rotary trip to Karatsu Kunchi! it was a really fun festival where we saw traditional japanese festivals and visited shrines! We also had tea ceremony and we even ended up on live tv! November 4th I went out with my host mom and aunt to see temples in my city light up with christmas lights! and after we had dinner and the Hard Rock Cafe in my city Fukuoka. November 12th my friend who went on exchange to america showed me around to all the famous places to visit in Fukuoka and also watched a marathon that went on the same day! While at starbucks we took a picture that ended up on the starbucks japans website! November 18th i went to Marine world with my 3rd host family and spent the whole day with them and watching dolphin shows with my little sister! November 22nd i went out with my friend from school Ami to go see christmas lights, drink hot chocolate, go to a purikura booth and walk around the city! November 23rd i went out with my 4th host family and friends to Dazaifu and saw a bunch of shrines where my 4th host dad works! turns out my fourth host families house is right next to the famous shrines of dazaifu! and November 26th my host mom and host aunt and i all went to Ainoshima! aka cat island! it as super fun and the island was full of cats! This month has been just as exciting and full of adventure. Ive yet to have a dull day where nothing crazy has happened. Being a foreigner in a school uniform in japan is definitely a rare sight to see. I’ve had pictures taken of me, people who ask for pictures with me and this month strangers have given me the craziest things, fro chocolate to fruit on the train. I’m sure i’ll have the craziest stories to tell when i get back to America!

January 1, 2018

In America December is a month full of joy and excitement for Christmas and New Years!! Although neither are celebrated as crazy as America celebrates it, it’s still a holiday in Japan. Before it came I thought I’d be upset or sad around that time because I wasn’t with family and it wouldn’t be the same as in America. I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case. The holidays was such a fun time to celebrate with my host family, that treat me as a real family member. Here’s the main events of my month of December!! (My Report is a few days late so there’s also event that’s happened up until now, sorry!!)

December 2nd-3rd I went on a rotary trip to Kagoshima to see a volcano and a Japanese garden

December 6th my host family and I got together and we decorated the house for Christmas and put up the Christmas tree!(my favorite part of December)

December 16th we went to a rotary Christmas party where all the exchange students including me put on a play in Japanese!

December 19th was also another rotary Christmas party where there was a special guest from America who works at Japan’s consulate

December 25th I went out with my host family to go shopping and after, I went to dinner, saw the new Star Wars movie and looked at Christmas lights with a friend who went on exchange to America last year.

December 29th is a day in Japan where you clean for the gods to prepare for the new year, so I helped clean the house top to bottom and after that my host sisters and I went out to karaoke for almost 4 hours! It was the most fun I’ve had doing karaoke ever.

December 31st-January 1st I went with my host family on a New Years vacation to Beppu. It’s a city most famous for the most visited onsens in Japan. It was such an amazing way to start the New Year and was very relaxing!

January 2nd I went to have dinner with my host moms side of the family and had traditional Japanese foods and met all of the family!

This month is definitely something I’d love to re-live again. Although I wasn’t with my real family in America I was still as happy as ever!!

February 1, 2018

January has been cold for Japan, I’m suprised to say it but I’m suddenly wishing I was back in the blazing heat of August, when I couldn’t even wear a longsleeve! It definitely not as cold as Ohio, although sometimes it feels like it since girls school uniforms include skirts instead of pants. The month of January has been a cool down, relaxed month in general. I haven’t been as busy as my past months. I have mostly been hanging out with friends and meeting new people! Having free time means I have time to enjoy doing things with friends and exploring Fukuoka (aka the most amazing Prefecture in Japan). Having public transportation and living near a big city makes it so easy to see and make memories with friends.

I’ve also managed to get myself on crutches for a week after getting a stress fracture from working out and dancing. I knew injuring myself was bound to happen within the span of a year, I’m glad it wasn’t a very bad injury!(: it’s been a few weeks now and I feel no pain at all.

This month I’ve thought a lot about how I’ve changed since August. Thinking back at myself I just think about how it seems like I was so young when I came to japan, in terms of my mindset. I feel like a different person. I’m more open to saying yes to new experiences, I’ve made friends with all these amazing people and heard stories from people across Japan and the world. It almost unbelievable how much can happen in just a few months I could’ve never expected my exchange to be so amazing. Knowing I have to say goodbye to this city and my friends one day is something I don’t like to think about. But I came into this experience knowing I had 11 months to have the best time and learn as much as I can and I feel so lucky to be able to do that. I will definitely be coming back after my exchange.


March 1, 2018

It’s getting warm again!!
February is a short month, but being on exchange makes it feel so much shorter!  February 2nd I had a party at my host families house with friends and my host sister because I was changing host families soon! We baked and sang together and talked but I had to go early so I could pack my things to move host families! I’m so happy with my current host family. My little sister is so cute and makes everyday fun, I feel like she’s actually my little sister!  February 3rd I said goodbye to my friend from Mexico and my other friend from Denmark. It was very sad but we still keep in contact and I have hope we can see eachother again one day.  February 11th I went to see Kabuki with Rotary. It’s a very important thing to see if you’re interested in Japanese culture. It was very interesting! But also hard to understand completely.   February 17th my host family took me to go see the Chinese Lantern Festival in Nagasaki. Nagasaki is my second favorite place in japan! First being my prefecture, Fukuoka (:
Almost every weekend after the 17th I’ve been hanging out with friends from school! I have more plans with them after testing week! It is so easy to make plans and be with friends with japans public transportation.

I have 3 months left on this journey and thinking about when I have to leave is terrifying. But I’m going to use everyday fully until then!  I’m surprised homesickness has not been a problem for me yet, but I’m glad I’m able to focus on being here now and in the moment!

I want to encourage any kids who feel like exchange would be interesting to sign up for it and do it, because this has been a crazy amazing experience that I think so many people should be able to also experience!!


April 1, 2018

It’s March/April which means the Sakura Trees are now blooming again!! Spring and Summer in my opinion is the best time in Japan. Although it get so extremely hot, the atmosphere around you is happy. This month I’ve been with friends a lot which makes me happy. This weekend I’ll take a trip with my host family, it will be my second time leaving Kyushu since being on exchange. We are going to visit very popular shrines and temples, and hopefully onsens!

I’ll be going on a lot more trips soon because the weather is much better now! The rotary Tokyo/Osaka trip is something I’m really looking forward to!

I’m excited for more adventures! I’m even more excited to share my experiences with people back in America!


May 1, 2018

I think every exchange student goes through a period of time where they struggle a bit. This month was mine time, but I came out stronger than I was at the beginning of the month! I return home next month so I’m ready to make the next weeks full of joy. In two days, I will go on a 6 day trip with rotary to Tokyo, Disney sea, And many more places. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since the beginning, I’m ready to travel Japan again with my friends for a last time! Many of my friends go home two months later than me so I will be with them as much as possible! My last host family is also very kind! But when I left my last host family my host sister and host mom cried before leaving to change host families, I was told that these host families will always be my family and it’s true, I have five families now and I can’t wait to see them in the future after returning home!


June 1, 2018

May was my last full month in japan. Well, for my exchange that is. Before I went on exchange I hoped exchange would help me realize what I want to do in the future, and it definitely has. After graduation, I want to go to japan for college, and teach Japanese kids English!

My weekends from now, to until I leave are all completely full. Mostly because of Rotary meetings. You never think about how your exchange is going to end at one point, until you’re just days away until leaving. I’m very happy with how my exchange has gone. It’s been much more amazing than I could’ve ever asked for. Many of my exchange friends are antsy to finally be back in their home country, but I’d love to have an extra year added to my exchange! (: but I’m very excited to go home and share my experiences with everyone. I’m mostly excited to encourage kids to join rotary and go on exchange because it’s the best choice I could’ve ever made!