From Westerville to Okawa- A look at an alum's travel abroad


I'm proud to share Westerville North's very own Rex Lundstrom and his journeys in Japan. Rex graduated from North in May 2015 and is now spending a gap year studying abroad in Japan. Check out his bio and first blog entry below. To continue receiving his updates, visit

 Congratulations Rex, we wish you the best!


Hometown: Westerville, Ohio
School: Westerville North High School
Sponsor Club: Westerville Sunrise, Ohio
Host District: 2700
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Okawa

My Bio

Konnichiwa! My name is Rex Lundstrom; I’m 18 years old and thrilled to say that thanks to the generous Westerville Sunrise Rotary Club, I’m spending a gap year in Japan! I’m in the midst of picking up this very difficult language, while having an awesome time at my school. I plan on attending every club this school has to offer at least once; so far volleyball, basketball, and badminton have been extremely fun. In the USA I play ultimate Frisbee, have pickup games of basketball with friends, participate in some competitive gaming, and work as a lifeguard for a Jewish camp in the summer. I’ve decided to travel abroad for several reasons: I love trying new foods (Japanese food is amazing), living abroad without people I am familiar with is a challenge that will strengthen my adaptation and problem solving skills, and, to sum it all up, this is the opportunity of a lifetime and will be something I reflect upon throughout my future. I am ecstatic to be fluent in Japanese and let my family, friends, and Rotary club know all that I will have accomplished!


October 1 letter to my sponsor club – Konnichi wa! (Hello everyone)

Japan is beyond incredible!

My first host family is a perfect balance of a fun easygoing dad, a loving mom, a sister who’s been to Ohio on exchange, and two crazy little brothers who always keep me occupied! I’ve honestly tried so many new things that it’s hard to recall everything! So far, I’ve seen a firework show that was far more impressive than Red White and Boom, I introduced myself for two minutes in Japanese and English in front of my school, (400-500 staff and students) I entered a singing competition for fun at my host father’s music shop, my Obaachan (grandmother) who lives next door taught me how to perform the ancient Japanese tea making ceremony, 15 of my classmates threw me a welcome BBQ, and I even met the mayor of Okawa!

Last week I traveled by bullet train to the lively city of Osaka! I saw one of the world’s largest aquariums which held Manta rays, huge whale sharks, and nearly 2 million gallons of saltwater in the 2 foot thick acrylic glass.

But of course, I cannot write about Japan without mentioning the food I’ve tried here! If anyone is a vegan, or member of PETA, please cover your eyes and ears. First, a very popular dish I wasn’t aware of before I came to Japan is called Nato. It is fermented soybeans usually served over rice that have the most slime-like consistency of any food I’ve ever seen. It’s something you honestly have to see in person to understand how beans can appear so unappetizing. One of the more strange foods I’ve eaten is referred to as “Hormone,” which is a broad word that refers to the parts of an animal you wouldn’t usually serve, mostly chicken intestine and some other mystery organs. But probably the craziest dish I’ve had so far is raw whale meat; served cold with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

I’m enjoying every day here, and I’ve been having so much fun with students in various after school clubs. I can’t thank Westerville Sunrise Rotary club enough for making this entire experience possible! There’s nothing I could possibly be doing in America that compares to the life I’m living in Okawa! I’m studying Japanese everyday when I’m in school and I’ve noticed definite improvement, but I would be lost if it wasn’t for the Westerville school’s program that allowed me to take college Japanese classes and gain such a solid foundation of language skills. This whole experience has made me even more grateful to have been raised in the selfless community that is Westerville! I will continue to try and be the best exchange student I can be, as I represent all of America in the eyes of everyone here. Thank you so much; Many updates to come!!!