2008 - Vanessa Miegel - Gifu, Japan

2008-05-01 Vanessa Meigel - Youth Exchange - Japan.

Mina-san konnichiwa!

Wow, I know it’s the biggest cliché, but it is hard to believe I have been here 2 months!.....

My town, Gifu is a beautiful place in the centre of Japan. Surrounded by snow-tipped mountains in winter and covered in pink cherry blossoms in spring, it is breathtaking! Famous for their paper lantern and cormorant fishing, Gifu has so much history, traditions and culture!

I soon got used to everyday life over here which meant eating rice 2-3 times a day, everyday, eating everything with

chopsticks and wearing slippers in school! I love my school so much. Although I have just started to understand what’s going

on as everyone speaks so fast. I take two different Maths classes, Science, both ancient Japanese and Chinese history, Japanese, Geography. Home-making, Computers, English, Oral Communications (English) and my elective, Music! School goes from 8.25-4pm and I have 7 classes a day. I have also joined the brass band club which practices for an hour every day. I am really glad that I am only 20 minutes from school by bus and 30 minutes from the central station. The biggest difference between school is you eat lunch inside and the teachers move from class to class, not you.

My biggest problem at the moment is reading. The Japanese felt the need to create 2 alphabets and then combine them over a thousand Chinese characters! The best part about school is lunch. My host mum cooks my lunch every morning and usually includes rice, egg rolls, fish or chicken in mini tomato! Sorry mum, but this beats a salad roll and apple any day.

The people here are amazing and I have made many new friends. They all love trying to copy my English but they sometimes fail as Japanese people can’t say “L” or “V” . Consequently I am known as “Banessa” or “Nesu” and I “pray” the “fruto”. In February I got to go to the snow festival with all the other exchange students in my district which was awesome.

There are 6 Aussie’s (including me) as well as one person from China, Sweden and France and two Americans. So far I have been lucky to travel around most of Gifu and I get to go to Kanazawa with my Rotary Club this weekend. I have also climbed up to Gifu castle, walked around some beautiful, traditional towns and seen a Japanese Tea Ceremony! Spring holidays start soon so I’ll be able to do some more travelling and see some more of this wonderful country.

Onegaishimasu, Vanessa.

2008-02-07 Vanessa Miegel


I'm doing really great. I have been so busy and my host family is soo fantastic! I just started school today and I'm very tired. School goes from 8-4 and then I have a music club afterwards so I get back around half 6. The language is going ok, they have to speak slowly but I understand most of it. The hardest part is the Kanji (Chinese characters) which are really hard to draw and can have several meanings. Also, there's hundreds of  Kanji which doesn't make it any easier to learn!

I have met the mayor of Gifu, been fishing, to an ancient temple, visited the longest shopping centre in Japan and have also tried so many foods even though I have no idea what they are! I have also met Meiko (inbound Japanese exchange). She is extremely nice and her English is very good. I sit next to her in class and she is also in my music club. I have made several friends at school all of which want me to teach them English! I know this will not help my exchange so I made a deal that for every bit of English I teach them they have to teach me some Japanese!

My teachers are all very nice and everyone finds strange things amazing. For instance when I was able to understand and answer the science question they we're all impressed (the question was easy and it was just numbers, no Japanese).

There are two festivals coming up soon that I have been invited to and my host dad said the Rotarians like me, which is a good start. I now realise the importance of wearing my blazer everywhere. I was debating wearing it to the temple and it was cold so I took it. When we stopped by one of the cafes on the path leading to the temple the lady gave me two $3 Japanese trinkets to put on my blazer for free! It has been very cold here and it has even snowed a few times! Although the culture is so extremely different, I am getting used to wearing slippers at school and eating with chopsticks!

Thank you so much for what you have done to get me here. I am so grateful! I am having so much fun and the people are so nice (although sometimes shy)! Meiko is really looking forward to her exchange and I am sure everyone in Australia will love her! I can't believe I've only been here a week it feels like a lifetime. The people are so welcoming and supportive!

Thanks again


2007-07 Vanessa Miegel off to Japan

After placing advertisements in the Free Press in April this year for students wishing to go on a years exchange overseas, the Rotary Club of Corowa has interviewed and selected its outgoing student for 2008. The student selected is Vanessa Miegel, youngest daughter of local pharmacists Paul & Meredith Miegel and a student at Scots School in Albury. After surviving the club interview process, Vanessa was then interviewed at district level and passed with flying colours. She also got her first choice of country, Japan, following on from her mother who was also a Rotary Exchange Student to Japan.

Vanessa is currently studying Japanese at school and was keen to expand on her interest

in the Japanese culture. She also plays the flute and cello and is interested in studying to become a doctor when she finishes high school.