Seven months from now 15-year-old Alicia Armstrong will head to a foreign country far away from family and friends and attend school in a foreign language for one whole year.
And the best part is, she doesn't even know which country or which language yet.
Armstrong is the Rotary Club of Chilliwack Fraser's newest outbound youth exchange student.
She was selected just over a week ago after a rigorous application process that involved two panel interviews in front of both local and district committees.
What set the Sardis secondary Grade 10 student apart were the thoroughgoing answers on her application, according to Chilliwack Fraser Rotary youth exchange officer Linda Rook.
"Her application was outstanding," she said. " She had really gone through the process herself as to why she wanted to be an exchange student, what she was going to get out of the program. She really analyzed it well, and she's a very mature student."
But Armstrong said her answers weren't just for the committees.
"I didn't just want to do this on a whim," she said. "I wanted to go through and make sure that I really did want to do this, so a lot of my answers were really in depth."
She knows being away family and friends will be a challenge, especially since Rotary encourages youth exchangers to limit contact with home so they don't spend all their time abroad thinking only of the people they left behind.
"My main problem would be I like my parents a lot, and it'll be really hard for me not being able to talk to them," she said.
But she's confident the challenges will be worth it for the chance to immerse herself in another way of life.
"I want to be able to really experience a different culture," she said. "When you visit somewhere for a week or so, you don't really get to see the culture. Unless you're actually living there you don't get to see it, so I really wanted to go on the longer exchange."
Rotary seemed liked a natural fit since her dad Gary has been a Chilliwack Fraser Rotarian for about seven years.
"He's talked so much about all the good they've done, and that really got me interested," Armstrong said.
Her father had talked to her about the exchange before, but being a shy youngster, she didn't feel ready until a job as a receptionist in her mom's veterinary clinic pushed her out of her comfort zone.
"It's given me a lot of confidence," she said. "Having to be up there and talk to people and answer phones, it really helped me get some confidence to do these things."
Her dad predicts that confidence will only grow during her year with the Rotary exchange.
"As a Rotarian, I've seen a number of young students that have come through from foreign countries, and I've always been very impressed, not only with the Rotary program, but also with the students themselves," he said. "They come in rather shy, sometimes with just rudimentary language skills, but they go out incredibly confident ambassadors for their country and for Rotary itself. It's an amazing change to see happen."
Language is a big challenge for some but Armstrong hopes her years as a French immersion student will help her pick up another languages a little quicker.
She also isn't worried that the exchange will put her a year behind in school. (Although youth in the exchange attend school in their host countries, the courses they take don't count towards their academic record because the stress of taking courses in a foreign language for credit would make the exchange too stressful.)
Armstrong may not graduate with her current classmates, but she'll gain invaluable life experience, she said.
"If I fall behind, I'll still be learning the same things, and I'll have that extra benefit of the knowledge of the culture of wherever I go."
It's a lot to take in as Armstrong waits the hear what country she'll be calling home next year (something Rotary will announce in March) but she's confident the trip will be well worth.
Her dad agrees, and, despite some inevitable parental anxiety, he knows his daughter is ready for it.
"She'll be gone for a year, and she's going to a foreign country," he said. " Of course all the prerequisite worries and anxieties other parents would have are there, but we know the program's a very good one. We know there's a lot of safeguards in place for her there, and we also are very confident in Alicia to be able to navigate the challenges that she's going to meet."