IT wasn’t until Meg Rankin’s teacher suggested Japanese exchange that it first crossed her mind.
In 2015, the Muswellbrook High School pupil hosted a Japanese student at her home.
The experience began a love of learning about different cultures.
The following year, she had the opportunity to travel to Japan as an exchange student.
For the past two weeks, Meg, along with 16 other students hosted a group of Japanese pupils in their homes.
The Muswellbrook teen welcomed Momoka Kojima into her home.
Her 2017 highlight was being able to speak to her Asian friend in Japanese more than in previous years.
“And, being able to communicate and actually being able to get to know her a bit better than I have previously with the other students I’ve been with,” she said.
“It’s really cool to be able to [have] that whole cultural exchange and that whole teaching people about different cultures.
“It is good just helping people experience your culture, and learning about other cultures is really cool and something I’m super interested in.
“With Japanese culture, the hand gestures and facial expressions are quite different and I’m starting to actually get the hang of that now.
“I stayed with a girl named Natsumi in Japan and compared to her Momoka was a bit more reserved, and spoke a bit less English.
“So it was in a way a bit harder but more rewarding to really get to know each other and I’ve loved it.
“She’s lovely and we’ve really gotten along.
“It’s been such a fun experience and I’m really, really, lucky that we get the opportunity to do this at school.
“To have that whole sister school relationship is really exciting.”
Meg would like to thank her Japanese teacher Bronwyn Tier for encouraging her in the experience, and her parents for making it all possible.
“Ms Tier’s really helped me and I did a Japanese speaking competition last year which even got me into it more,” she said.
Looking forward, Meg would definitely go back to Japan and would “100 per cent” recommend the exchange program to other students.
“And, not even just Japan – anywhere you get the opportunity,” she said.