The Fair Oaks Rotary Club had the good fortune to sponsor and host Nicolai Nissen during his year in the USA as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program.  The Rotary Youth Exchange program sends a local high school student abroad for a year (outbound student) and at the same time receives a student from abroad to host (inbound student).  The following essay briefly describes Nicolai’s experience with Rotary Youth Exchange.

I came to California in August 2011, not knowing what I could expect, but one thing was sure, I was excited, and ready for an adventure.

America is different than what I am used to in Denmark. People are different, and families have different cultures, and the school was a lot bigger, but that was a good thing, because the main reason I went on the exchange was to experience other cultures, and learn a new language.

During my year here in America, I have learned a lot.  I have learned a lot about the world, and I have learned a lot about my self. After spending my Year abroad, I see the world as much smaller than before as a result of becoming friends with both other exchange students from around the world and with American High School students. Now that we have Skype, I have also been able to talk to my parents and actually see them. If I had any problems, or I just needed to speak Danish I communicated with my parents.

Being 16 years old, and being so far away from home and your parents, can also be hard, but my experience has shown me that it is possible.  Also I found that being away from home sounds worse than it is. I never thought that I would last for so long without family and friends, but this year has gone by so fast, that it is hard to believe it is almost over. I also always knew that my old friends and my family in Denmark would still be there when I got back, so that was never a problem for me.

My choice of becoming an exchange student was the best choice I have ever made. I have seen and experienced much more than I could ever imagine.  A group of wonderful people have let me into their homes and life, so I could have the experience of being an American high school student. They have taken me on family vacations, and family get togethers.  For a year I felt that I was a part of three amazing families.


If after reading Nicolai’s letter you are interested in hosting an inbound student, please contact us at