Profile: Luna Abadia


Coral Platt

Senior Luna Abadia went on an exchange in Japan during her sophomore year.

Ever since seventh grade, senior Luna Abadia knew she wanted to go on exchange to Japan. She searched for a program and taught herself Japanese using a textbook. Her love for language was one of the main factors that fueled her dream of becoming an exchange student.

“I grew up with a lot of different cultures in my house. My dad is Colombian, and so I grew up speaking Spanish and I really enjoyed language learning. I think that was one of the main drivers that made me think about learning a new language,” Abadia said.

Abadia finally found Rotary, an international exchange program with a local branch in the Portland Pearl district. She began to prepare for her year abroad by engaging in various opportunities Rotary offered, including presenting speeches in Japanese every week.

During her sophomore year, Abadia went on exchange to Ehime, Japan. She had been studying Japanese for only a year, and so for some time she was unable to understand what people around her were saying.

“I had to sit there in the classroom and piece together words that I would hear,” Abadia said. “It took me maybe three months to get really solid base where I could really have full conversations.”

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the yearlong program was cut down to seven months. 

“[It] was heartbreaking [but] I still think [it was] a really long time and I’m grateful I had those seven months there,” Abadia said. “I heard I had to leave seven days before my plane flight; it was really sudden. Those last seven days before I left were full of so many good memories.”

Abadia offers a piece of advice to anyone interested in becoming an exchange student.

“I think going on exchange is an act of bravery. Learn the language and pursue opportunities and moments that might make you uncomfortable, but know that that’s part of the learning process.”