Read the stories of previous exchange students

During my Rotary Youth exchange, I experienced many things, meet some incredible people and pushed myself to grow in ways that I didn’t think possible. My exchange forced me to become a more outgoing and confident person, these things helped me to meet new friends, not just during my exchange but after it as well. This newfound confidence gave me the drive to follow my dreams, even if sometimes they are a little scary. I feel like my exchange really allowed me to trust myself and the decisions I make in life.

Alice Bush

Japan

Today, I did the yearly-ish cleanse of my wardrobe of clothes I no longer wanted or needed. I ummed and ahhed over many things until I came to this rarely worn item. There was never any hesitation in my mind about parting with this treasure; I took it out of its hanging bag and had a look at the various pins and objects stuck to it, and then placed it back carefully. This blazer represents the most life-changing journey I took. In a few weeks, it will be 10 years since I got on the plane to spend a year in Sweden as a Rotary International exchange student. I remember being scared, anxious, a little overwhelmed, and excited. It was a challenging but such rewarding year that taught me so much about myself and fuelled the adventure bug for me. The things I have achieved since would not have happened without it, and I’m so glad for the people I met and the experiences they shared. It truly changed my life.

Robyn Speck

Sweden

I left NZ as a quiet but determined 16 year old and returned as a well travelled, confident 17 year old.  Whilst I attended school in Germany I wouldn’t say it was an academic trip – but definitely a lesson in life skills and independence plus I gained friends, learnt the German language (now very rusty but it’s still there) and certainly had my eyes opened.  From history class at Pukekohe High School to standing at the site of the Berlin Wall was amazing!!! 

I have made wonderful friends – one of my school friends is now a Lufthansa pilot and we met up for coffee in San Francisco a year ago.  Another friend was a fellow exchange student from Melbourne who I catch up with every couple of years visiting her and her family.  When I was away we didn’t have email, facebook etc (thank goodness that would have been a completely different trip) but now we can stay in touch very easily.  It would be neat to find others from our year and see what everyone is doing (a job for the new year??).  I have been back to Germany to see one of my host families which was very special. 

I already loved travelling (though had only been to Australia and Rarotonga with my family) but in 1995 was extremely lucky to see a lot of Europe.

Today, I have worked all my career in the travel industry and love everything about going places, meeting people, seeing amazing sights and trying new things.  My love of travel took myself and my husband to live in the UK years ago, my 4 sons now travel with us regularly and have been to Fiji, Rarotonga, Italy, UK and USA.  They are very worldy and open to new things.  My parents and sister have also now travelled widely and I think so much of this comes from my year away.

I can’t think of a single element of my life that has not been shaped in some part by my Rotary Exchange – even if it’s just having the confidence to give something a go.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity and will continue to enjoy the benefits for years to come.

Nicky Swan

Germany

I loved my time in New Zealand.

Jane Doe

Belgium

I loved my time in New Zealand.

Jane Doe

Belgium