Student perspective: A year on exchange

Maggie Lynch, International Student Coordinator
Arito Nagasaka

Japanese exchange student from Rikkyo High School, Arito Nagasaka spent 2019 at Brighton Grammar in Year 10. He loved the school, his host family the Sidebottoms and the experience.

Arito felt very welcomed by Anne Sidebottom and her family from the start: “I am pretty sure that I have become a part of the most beautiful family since the first day we met”.

“Every moment was the best memory of my exchange in Australia. In contrast, the city of Tokyo, my hometown, is incredibly busy as it is known as one of the busiest places in the world.

In Australia now is different from Japan. It is usual to greet each other with a massive smile. I have time to see a beautiful sunset and chat with a family about how was your day so far”.

One event that stood out for him was a three day trip to Hall’s Gap, an annual event for the Sidebottom family in memory of their late Uncle Andy. Arito played footy with all the cousins, saw kangaroos in the bush and talked around the campfire. Memorably for him, he was welcomed into the extended family. “I had never met most of them before, but I had felt we had known each other before we met. And all 28 people in the Sidebottom family were my mates and a great family in Australia”.

As his exchange came to a close at the end of last year, Arito turned his mind to a gift for the family, “to repay them for what they have given to me”.

“My host brother and sister always said ‘Goodbye!’ and waved their hands with smiles until they could not see me when I leaved home. My host mother always gave me good advice for essays, my career or life. She is one of the kindest, funniest and most gallant women in the world. I will miss them so much”.

“On the other hand, I am pretty sure they would have gained something from the experience. My six-year old host brother started to park his bike the same as I usually do (which is so cute). And we often go to his school by bike or play basketball and footy”.

“My host family has given me thousands of good memories, but I realised I also gave them thousands of happy memories as well. That is the whole point of the homestay in overseas program that people who have a different culture share the same memories”.

“It is an incredibly short time that I spent with them. But even though we will be living in different countries, we are still family, and it will never change. These eight months mean so much to me. Thanks for hosting me and I will never forget you, as like your family never forget me”.

“See you mate!”

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