Sunday, June 19, 2011

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!

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