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Mioko MoriI am from Yokohama in Japan and I am a Year 12 student. I live with my father and mother and my younger brother.

I applied to become an exchange student because I wanted to see more of the world and to live in a different country to learn the culture. I was interested to go to America or Australia. In Australia I wanted to see the famous beautiful beaches and to visit Melbourne and Sydney. The final decision was made by Rotary and I am very happy that is was Australia.

I also wanted to see and learn new things, and especially to learn more English language, because in Japan you are more successful if you can speak English. I also wanted to learn more about media studies to help me when I return to Japan in August 2009.

The selection process was an academic test, which I didn’t think that I went very well in, but it must have been successful. Then 5 Rotary people interviewed my Father and Mother and myself. My family are not members of Rotary, but they were always very supportive of my application and that is still the case. After that I received a letter from Rotary to say that I had been successful.

The cost to my family has been the flights, going on safari, clothes and some spending money to start me off when I came to Australia. It amounts to many thousands of dollars. I am very grateful for the monthly allowance that is given to me by the Rotary club.

I have really enjoyed living in Australia and seeing so many new things and places and now that I have learned to speak and read English it is much more enjoyable. When I first came to Australia I found it very difficult to communicate at school and at home. I have really enjoyed living with June and Keith, then with Rhonda and Michael and now with Desley and Geoff. I am really looking forward to going on safari, and when I get back I am going to live with Pam and Trevor. I have also really enjoyed my short term stays with Jessie, Kath and Rob. All of these have been different experiences, which has been very good for my learning of Australian families.

In Australia, the houses are much bigger than Japan. I have found all people to be very kind and the Rotary club has been very good to me and helped my to enjoy my stay. I found it hard at first at school making new friends but that is better now. Overall the women in Australia are much taller and bigger than Japanese women. I enjoy all the food but I am not used to eating so much meat as we eat a lot of fish in Japan. I have also enjoyed meeting with other Exchange students at Youth Exchange weekends and I will be seeing them again on safari.

I am very happy to be in Australia.

Mioko walking to the Pinnacles, Halls Gap, Victoria, Australia