Monday, March 17, 2008

A Sequel Worthy of the First

Last first day.

I'm sitting here again in a familiar situation.

I'm on my laptop, humming to the music of a Japanese song. I'm trying to organize a million different thoughts and put them into the right words to get it exactly right. Get what exactly right, you may ask?

The sequel of an epic tale.

Well that may be a bit dramatic. Especially since sequels are usually not very good. Take Jaws for instance. The second Jaws was absolutely depressing compared to the original Jaws. But then I personally believe that once Roy Schneider got eaten, the first Jaws kind of went down the tube as well. Fortunately, I think, sequels aren't always bad. In fact, Terminator II: Judgement Day was 10x better than Terminator I (although Terminator III pretty much stunk.) But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.

So about this sequel.

Well as you may know, this is the very first entry into my second foreign exchange. Second!?!?! Yep. In 2006 thru 2007, I traveled from my home to the distant country of Japan. It was, thus far, the best year of my life. And I kept a wonderful website,documenting just about everything that went on during that year at But now as of March 2008, about 5 months before my perspective departure date, I have applied and had an interview for a second Rotary Youth Exchange.

Over the years I have accumulated a variety of contacts with the Rotary Youth Exchange program. Other exchange students that I have befriended, mostly through interactions with Cultures Shocked Exchange Student forum, have a special name for someone like me. You see kids that are not yet on exchange are called outbounds. While kids during their exchange are called inbounds. People like me, that have returned from their exchange, are called Rotex. So what does that make a Rotex that is going on a second exchange? ABSOLUTELY MAD! Well, yes, and Yo-Yo. There is no better fitting a name than Yo-Yo. But what it means is someone who is sent out, returns home, and is sent out again. Just like a Yo-Yo. Oh yes, I know Yo-Yo can also describe people found in the looney bin. Maybe I little crazy.

It all started one February evening, most outbounds were already being placed in their countries, and I was still planning on going to college. (I still am... but not quite just yet.) This summer my friend Zoe and I were planning on backpacking central America, which my mother was not pleased about. Somehow she suggested I do Europe, a nice safe tour through France. I replied that I would need an entire year to do a place like France.

She shrugged and said something like, "Can you still do another exchange?"

Oddly enough, this is exactly how it happened. My mother, who missed me more than words can describe during my first exchange, and would probably have not let me gone if she had not known it was the best thing in the world for me, had actually started the ball rolling. I completed the majority of my tedious application that week, and waited for the medical form. After about 3 weeks, I finally submitted my application. It was official. Along the way, I asked my Dad if he thought I was crazy for going out on a whim like this, applying to go on another exchange/ He replied, "Yep, but it's what you do." True to that word, it's just what I do.

On March 13, I arrived at my Rotary interview. Prior to the big day, one of the chief Rotarians gave me a choice between four countries: France, Germany, Brazil, and Spain. I won't go into the grueling and agonizing decision making I went through, but I had it settled on Spain, France, Germany, and Brazil in that order. To be perfectly and brutally honest, just like my first exchange, I don't care where I go. I just really want to be an exchange student, living and learning a new culture, land, and people. Japan was my third choice, and I would never have gone there if that had been my only option in the first place. Sure enough, it turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Not a moment goes by where I don't think about Japan and how much it changed my life. But as I walked into the interview with the four countries in mind, I secretly found myself hoping that I would be able to add Argentina to the mix. A few years back my family hosted Ale from Argentina, Spanish would be an important language to know, and South America just looks absolutely breath-taking. When I walked out of that interview not an hour later, I realized that if I was accepted into the program, I would be heading to beautiful sunny Argentina.

So here I am again. Not too much has changed except that I can speak Japanese, am a great deal more independent, and a little a bit older. I'm waiting to hear if I was accepted. I don't want to sound too confident, but I'm pretty sure I'm in. But above all, I'm waiting to hear which country I'm going to spend the next year of my life in. I'm back to being a silly little outbound. A yo-yo outbound.