Sunday, June 19, 2011

Families, towns, school and all that other stuff

So, this post is going to be about my future host families, where I will be living, where I will be going to school, and about my Rotary club a bit.
I am going to have three families I think while I am on exchange, but right now I only know the first two.

My first family consists of Jytte (mom), Niels (dad), Ellen (sister), and Chris (brother). Ellen is 15 and Chris is 11. Ellen will be going on an exchange to Alaska in August, so I might be able to meet her for a day or two. I am really excited to finally have a little brother and he seems really fun and it seems like we have a bunch of common interests, so that will be nice. They also have a chocolate labrador named Mille, so that will keep me from missing my own dog, Joey, as much. Both my host parents seem really nice also and I think we will get along well. Jytte works at a bank and Niels is a salesman for agricultural goods of some sort. They live in Morud, which is on the island of Fyn. It is around 8 miles to the third biggest city in Denmark, Odense, 18 miles from my school, and 12 miles to my Rotary club, so overall I think I will be in a good location. My house is very pretty and kind of tucked away in the forest, which will be an interesting change for me with all that peace and quiet. I have been e-mailing and Facebooking my family and so far I think it is going to be a great fit!
From left to right: Ellen, Niels, Chris, and Jytte

My house

Mille, my dog

My second family consists of Tina (mom), Karina (sister), and Benjamin (brother). Karina is 15 also and Benjamin is 13 years old. Karina is also going on an exchange next year to Australia, but she leaves in July, so I won't be able to meet her this time around. I will be staying in Karina's room, so a big THANK YOU to her ahead of time for letting me stay there while she is gone! Again it will be fun having a brother and I am excited to finally gain not just one brother, but two! Tina works as a social worker with the sick and elderly, so maybe I will get the chance to go to her job with her at some point! Their house is also out in the country somewhat, but it is very nice looking and again looks peaceful. They live in Brenderup on Fyn, which is around 3 miles from my Rotary club, 10 miles from my school, and 18 miles from Odense, so again I am in a good location. It also looks somewhat close to the beach, which will be nice except it will be too cold for swimming most of the time! They all seem really nice and again I think we will get along really well!

Benjamin and Karina

I will be attending a traditional Danish gymnasium, which is called Middelfart Gymnasium. Yes, you read that right, the word fart is in the name of my school. It is located in Middelfart and seems like a really good school. Here is the link to my school:
and here is a link to a flash mob they did one time in the cafeteria of my school:
I think this school is going to be a good fit for me and my counselor told me that maybe one or two other exchange students would be going there, so that will be comforting to have someone who is going through the same thing! I have already gotten in contact with one girl through my host sister, Karina, who will be in first year at Middelfart Gymnasium, so who knows we could end up in the same class!
My hosting Rotary club is the Rotary club of Ejby and my counselor is Anders. As I understand it I will be staying with Anders and his wife, Karin, for a few days at the beginning of my stay, so I will get to know them right away! Thank you Rotary club of Ejby for hosting me!!!
I couldn't be happier with my location and families. Everyone just seems so nice and excited to host me, which is a nice feeling!
Farvel for nu!

Just the beginning... recap of events since January

Hej! Going on an exchange has just been a long waiting process for me. I mean LOTS of waiting. That's one thing exchange students learn is patience. I mean I had to wait from October of 2009 when I found out I was too young to apply until October 2010 to apply. Then I had to wait until mid November to get my interview and then wait an EXTREMELY long week to find out I was chosen to go on an exchange. My counselor, Shelly, called me and when I got the phone call and she informed me I did a silent scream and then thanked her profusely. After that the real scream happened and I couldn't take the smile off my face. Then the paperwork began. That was an extremely long process that had many specifications (only done in blue ink) and just took a long time to make sure we got it right. Then after that was all processed I waited until January 28, 2011 to go on a ski trip to Mt. Shasta with all the other exchange students (inbounds, outbounds, rebounds) and a bunch of kind rotarians. In case you don't know inbounds are kids here in my district from another country, outbounds are kids going on exchange next year, such as myself, and rebounds are kids who have returned from an exchange and want to stay involved. My district is 5130 and includes the coast of California starting in Petaluma and going up to the Oregon border I think. Okay, so this was the day pretty much all outbounds had been happy, anxious, worried, nervous, but mostly excited about. It was the day we all found out our host countries! It took a long day of waiting, but meeting all the new people made it go by way faster. This was the first time most of us outbounds were meeting the inbounds and other outbounds and everyone else. We all met Glenda, the chair of youth exchange in 5130, and she knew all our names just from our pictures on our applications. It was just a really special day for everyone and a really fun weekend. We found out our countries that night and had a long outbound orientation, which pretty much covered everything we ever wanted to know about going. The ski trip was one of my favorite weekends in a long time. We just all hung out, got to know one another, skied (not my favorite part haha), did a massage train, got very little sleep, and just had fun! Sorry that was a really long part, but I am also sort of using this as a journal of my exchange, so all the extra details are for my benefit in the future. I think the below picture pretty much sums up that weekend:

After the great ski trip more waiting happened. We were all just waiting to find out our district, town, families, and schools. It was a weird thing going back to school that Monday. I had had this life changing weekend that was determining my life while everyone else had just had normal weekends hanging out with friends and doing homework. This is when it was nice to be able to text a fellow outbound, Georgia, who is going to Switzerland and just talk about how weird it was and we were both feeling the same thing. 
In March we had another outbound meeting up in Ukiah. This was information overload, but it was mostly for our parents since we had heard most of it in January. And I knew a lot of it since I had read just about everything on the Rotary website about youth exchange and my district. This is when I found out my estimated departure date which was between July 31 to August 10 or so. This was exciting news because then at least I would know around when I was leaving. Here is a picture from that day with all the outbounds:

Now on March 27 I returned from a sleepover with bunch of the exchange students, which was really fun. I got home and checking my email had become a thing I did probably 50 times a day just to see if there was anything new. I got an email from the chairwoman in Denmark, Kirsten, who told me I would be in District 1460. This was an exciting day the involved more screaming on my part, because finally I knew sorta kinda where I would be. 
Later on Chelsea, the outbound from 5130 and in Denmark right now, messaged me on Facebook and told me that I had been put on the database and she told me my town! This was again scream worthy because now I knew the island and exact area I would be on. 
And now the waiting continued...... and continued... and continued. On May 6 when I was just about to leave for the Rotary District Conference in Reno, Nevada I got an envelope in the mail. This contained my guarantee form saying I was officially accepted my Rotary club! This was a really exciting moment since it had my host family's email on it, my school, my club, and my host counselor's information, but this was also bad timing as I had to leave in about 30 minutes to get a ride to Reno. I googled as much as I could about my town, but it didn't take long since it only has like 2,500 people in it. I decided to wait to return to e-mail my host family, so as not to rush through it and make a bad first impression, well technically second since I had already written a letter introducing myself before I even knew my country. Do you know how hard it is writing a letter to unknown people, in an unknown country, when trying to seem normal, nice, and pleasant to have around is? Not that easy. 
Reno was a great trip as well and was a very fun and special one. We spent Friday hanging out, practicing 2 songs, Saturday doing a volunteer project, practicing some more, another outbound meeting, and going to a formal Rotary dinner. Sunday morning was by far my favorite day of the weekend. We sang 2 songs for Rotary, which is a tradition. We sang a Japanese song called Sukiyaki to honor the Japanese Rotary Group Study Exchange that were with us that day. Then we sang Heal the World, by Michael Jackson to close it all. This was an emotional morning, but it meant a lot to sing to the our Japanese guests and to thank our wonderful Rotary members with the songs for giving us this opportunity. Here is a picture of us all dressed up for the Rotary dinner:
These main events are what made me find myself day-dreaming about Denmark, my future families, my future life, and just my amazing year to come!All this waiting definitely paid off and now that I know a lot about my first 2 families and my school I am just waiting for one last small detail...... my flight information. I think once that is booked it will feel more real. Or maybe it will finally feel real the week before... the night before... or once I am walking through the gate at security at the airport. 
Sorry this was such a long post, but I just wanted to make up for not including all the important events in the very beginning of my exchange and this seemed the best way to get everything in there. 
Farvel for nu!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Hej. That means hello in Danish and I think this is how I will be starting my blogs, so creative I know. Well if you have arrived on this page I assume you know I will be going to Denmark next year, but if not here is more than you ever wanted to know. I was chosen as a Rotary Youth Exchange student back in November and on January 28 I found out I would be going to Denmark next year! I am beyond thrilled and thankful for this opportunity! In case you don't know what Rotary is take a look at their website and look under "Students and Youth" for more information on the youth exchange program. Okay and now for the answers to the questions I know many of you have since I have already answered them many, many times (all you other exchange students reading this know what I am talking about), but that's alright because talking about my next year always puts a smile on my face. I will be gone for around 11 months starting in the beginning of August and will be returning sometime in July most likely. I will be living with 3 host families, which may seem crazy to some of you, but to me it seems perfect. I get to experience 3 different life styles and gain a greater view of what Danish life really consists of. I will be living on the island of Fyn (yes, Denmark is made up of 5 main islands- see the maps on the side bar). I am told that it is one of the most beautiful parts of Denmark, so I am excited for that. I will be attending a traditional Danish school with all my classes except for English being taught in Danish. I have started doing some practice online, but it is a hard language just to learn through a computer, but once I get there the complete immersion will allow me to quickly progress. My counselor, Anders, from the Rotary Club of Ejby informed me that I will be taking Danish classes once I get there, so that will also help a lot in my Danish improving. One last question I get asked a lot is why I want to go away for a year and leave my family and friends behind. My answer generally is that I want to experience a life different than what I know and have lived for the last 16 years. I love traveling and my mom was a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Brazil a long time ago, so I have always sort of known it was an option. Last year I applied, but was not accepted because I was not old enough, but this year I knew I had to apply again and ever since those 2 nerve-wracking, panel interviews that turned out to be comfortable and relaxed, I have found myself daydreaming about a year in another country, barely understanding the language and culture, having the time of my life. I am hoping to update this blog as often as possible while in Denmark, but who knows what will happen once Danish life takes over : ). For now I will continue blog posts about what is happening and what else I learn about my families, towns, school, and so on. Feel free to comment with any other questions you have or e-mail them to me at I will do my best to answer them!
Farvel for nu (bye for now)