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District 6990 Inbound  2010 ~ 2011

Susanna

SWEDEN

 

Sponsor: NykŲping-÷ster Rotary Club, District 2370, Sweden
 

Host: Coral Springs-Parkland Rotary Club

REPORTS AND PICTURES

May 24, 2011

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Hi!

A couple of weeks ago I went on another fabulous trip Ė this time to the wonderful Bahamas with the exchange students in the district. We had an amazing time there, were hosted by Bahamian Rotarians that told us a lot about Bahamian culture, and of course, let us try Bahamian food such as conch fritters. We also did something that I know is a dream for a lot of people around the world Ė we swam with dolphins. It was absolutely amazing. Iím so thankful to my Rotary host club and to the Rotary clubs of Grand Bahama Island that took care of us and made our trip unforgettable.

I have never ever before had as mixed feelings about anything, as I have now about this year coming to an end. I am ridiculously excited to come home and see my friends and family again Ė but that means Iím leaving a whole new life Iíve built up during one year, here in Florida.

As Iím writing this, I only have two days left of school and thatís it. This morning we had a huge crying-party in my dance class while saying goodbye to our dance teacher and each other.

Iím getting my yearbook (how American is that?!) signed by as many as possible Ė I want to remember this year and the people I met, forever.

Now, after almost 10 months of being a foreign exchange student, Iíve come to the conclusion that it was actually harder than I had expected it to be. I had never before been in a situation where you know NO ONE, and have to build up a whole new life from scratch. Iíve always seen myself as a social and relatively outgoing person, so I wasnít really that worried about school or making friends or anything like that. Now when itís almost over, I can say that I was right and didnít have to worry, however, it took longer than I thought it would do. Not only do not you know anyone Ė youíre not even from the same country as them. Which really does make a difference Ė we DO talk differently, dress differently, laugh at different kinds of jokes, see life from different perspectives.

What I learned from that is how important it is to never give up. A challenge means something hard but doable, from which you can learn something really important.

Well, now I sound like itís already over. But it is NOT Ė I still have so much fun to do before I leave. Next up is a cruise with my host family, and then graduation (I canít wait Ė I have a feeling thatís gonna be the most ĒAmericanĒ experience of them all. Since Iím in my schoolís chorus, weíre gonna sing, and of course ĒStar-spangled bannerĒ, and Iíll be wearing the American graduation cap and gown.) and a bunch of other things.

Love!

Susanna

April 18, 2011

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I havenít written a journal in a very long time. There has been a whole lot going on, not that that would be an excuse, but an explanation.

I have had a great time Ė time is passing by extremely fast and I canít believe thereís not even three months left until I go home.

In February I switched host families Ė something I think is a great thing to do, even if you love your first host family. This way you get to know even more people, and you get to see another every-day life. Basically, you just get to experience even more!

In the end of February I went on an absolutely amazing trip to Hawaii. We were a group of approximately 25 exchange students and we had a great time. We learned how to surf, we visited a pineapple plantation, we took a very, very long walk up to the top of the Diamond Head volcano, from where the view was breathtaking. We snorkeled, we saw whales, we visited Pearl Harbor. It was absolutely amazing, and Iím so grateful to Rotary and to Belo USA for giving us this opportunity to travel around and see so much!
What I loved most about the trip to Hawaii was that I got to see America from a totally different angle Ė and it really amazes me how many different kinds of places this country has. Palm trees, mountains, volcanoes, skiing resorts, deserts, tropical forests and so on.

A couple of weeks before that, I got to experience the American version of Valentineís day! It was a lot bigger here than it usually is in Sweden. The weeks before in my chorus class, we had practiced for our Valentineís day Sing-a-grams, which we delivered to students all day in school. It was a lot of fun and it felt very, very American.

By the end of March something that I had been waiting for for a very long time happened. My family came over all way from Sweden to visit me. I was incredibly nervous when I was waiting for them at the airport Ė and the happiness I felt when they finally came is impossible to describe in words. That was, with no doubt, one of the most emotional moments of my life.

While my family was here I participated in a big dance show at school that I had been practiced for with my dance class for months. It was so much fun and Iím so glad that my family was able to see it, and also meet my school friends and my dance teacher.

Before my parents and my sisters went back home again, we drove down to the Keys to spend some time in Islamorada and Key West and we had a wonderful time. It was so nice to see everything Ēthrough their eyesĒ Ė I could suddenly remember in detail what I thought about everything in the beginning of my year when it was all so new Ė it made me realize how used Iíve gotten to my new American life.

Just a few days ago I got to experience something very special, and that was Grad Bash at Universalís Studios in Orlando! After lunch, we left the school and drove up there in buses. The park was packed with seniors that had come from all over, it was really cool. Me and my friends went on so many rides, we were all dizzy and exhausted when we went back to the buses at 2 am. It was a great night!

I feel like I say it all the time, but it is so true Ė time flies. Now it has been 8 months since I got here. I really feel that I have improved my English, I never feel uncomfortable speaking it, and sometimes when I meet new people they donít realize Iím foreign until I tell them cause they donít hear an accent. That makes me very, very happy! I know that the English I learn from being here right now is something Iíll have advantage of for the rest of my life.

So, thanks once again Rotary Youth Exchange for making it possible for me to be here, and to fill my life with thousands of new experiences.

January 15, 2011

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I was going to start off with saying something about how fast the time goes by but realized that that was exactly what I did in both my previous journals (but seriously - time really does go by ridiculously fast).

What I've done since last time I wrote is a lot - I went to St Augustine for a weekend with my host family, and I loved that city so much! Small streets where you can actually walk, it felt so good to see them again! It was beautiful up there and I learned a lot about the history of the city. And actually, the first night when we were there, was probably the first time since I came to Florida that I found the temperature lower outside than inside - it was starting to get "cold". I also went on a cruise to the beautiful Bahamas which was absolutely amazing. We went to Nassau and there we did a "Segway tour"! Which was just so much fun, me and my host sister were so excited about it! And then we also went to this beautiful peaceful island with beautiful beaches, palm trees and clear blue water, and I tanned all day long, loved it.And then of course - I've had my first Thanksgiving!! My family had a lot of friends coming over for the big dinner - and oh my god, there was a lot of food. And it was all delicious and I could definitely see how all Americans love Thanksgiving. And then we had leftovers of turkey, green beans casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry sauce and cheezy mashed potatoes for days and days afterwards - all soo good!


What I've also done is helping out with Harvest Drive - collecting food for poor families around Broward County - and I can't describe the feeling of seeing SO MUCH donated food and so many people helping out - it was incredible. And then, all of a sudden, it was Christmas time! The decoration some people do here is not like anything I've ever seen! Crazy, but fun I guess! I guess that's what you have to do when you don't get any snow - you have to compensate that with thousands of more blinking lights and blow-up dancing Santas.

I can't really say I got any Christmas feelings this year. The summer temperature made it pretty hard. Even though I loved to experience the American way of celebrating Christmas, I must say I missed my own family back in Sweden a lot those days. But, it was kind of funny to be able to sit outside in the sun Christmas morning. Never ever have I done that before and especially this winter it would be very hard to do it - since Sweden is having their coldest winter in hundreds of years! And then it is COLD, not really like the "cold" the South Floridians consider as COLD - when everybody freaks out and comes to school with large winter coats and talks about the "lovely winter". And the temperature is just above a chilly summer night temperature in Sweden. But, I did actually get some real winter! My host family took me to one of the top places in the world that I've always wanted to see - New York City! I can't even put it down in words how much I loved it there. Before I went, people kept telling me that there is NOTHING like New York around Christmas time - and I believed them. My expectations were so high but I didn't get disappointed at all. Everything was just amazing and we had such a great time. We were there for New years eve and saw the famous ball drop on Times Square! It was an amazing trip that I'll never forget.

So now as I'm writing this, I've been here for 5 months. And I can't say enough how much I love this experience - to actually live a totally new, different life. It is something I wish that everyone could get the chance to do, you learn so much from it! So now I only have half a year left here, and it makes me sad to think about how I'm eventually going to say goodbye to everyone here and leave this life behind. But at the same time, I'm so excited to see all the people back home again. But now, half a year is half a year so we're not really talking about tomorrow.

November 16, 2010

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November 14th


Itís probably never gonna stop surprise me how quickly time passes by! November already, which means itís almost been three months since I got here. And I have done a thousands of things! First of all, Iíve got more and more used to everything that in the beginning was so different. Iíve settle in and got used to my new life here in Florida.

In the beginning I found it a bit hard to make friends in school, since you have all your classes with different people and since thereís no time in between the classes to make new friends since you just have to go straight to next class. My younger host sister introduced me to a lot of her friends and eventually I started to make my own friends too. I guess you just have to be patient and understand that it is important to be outgoing, especially when youíre somewhere where thereís already a lot of different nationalities, like here in south Florida where it doesnít make you super special because youíre from another country. However, it is a great challenge that you can learn so much from!

As I wrote in my first report, Iím in chorus and dance at school and I love it! A couple of weeks ago we had a big chorus performance at Broward center of performing arts in Fort Lauderdale and that was so much fun! Now weíre practicing for the Christmas concert, and it indeed feels a bit strange to sing all these Christmas carols when itís still summer outsideÖ! I love my dance class too and in April weíll have a big show at the school and Iím looking forward to it a lot.

I have also started to take dance classes after school at a dance studio here in Coral Springs, U4ria, so I take hip hop classes twice a week there and I absolutely love that too.

One thing that I really miss is being able to walk or bike to places. Here you have to take the car everywhere all the time, so you always have to get a ride. I miss being able to walk to the store, or bike to my friendsí house on the other side of the city.

I canít wait for my first Thanksgiving thatís coming up in just a couple of weeks! And I canít wait for everything else thatís also coming up, Iím so lucky to be able to experience so many cool things and Iím SO grateful to Rotary and to my lovely host family for giving me the opportunity to be here.

September 24, 2010

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Susanna singing at a Rotary fund raiser

September 22, 2010

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I can't believe it's already been five weeks since I left Sweden and started a new life here in Florida. Time is passing by extremely fast, and at the same time, it feels like forever since I got here. I'm still getting used to everything that's different - which is a lot. For example the school - JP Taravella High has 3000 students and my school in Sweden has 300. I felt so small and confused the first days, but fortunately, people are very kind and helpful. It's not only the size of the school that is different, I'm used to call my teachers by their first names, to go to the bathroom whenever in class, to be able to be a little bit late without getting detention, and so on. So yes - there is a lot of difference. But that is just how it is and I'm glad that I can experience this - it's never a bad thing to gain insight into how other people live. 
Since I love to dance and sing, I'm very happy to be able to take both dance and chorus classes in the school here! Sometimes after school we have chorus rehearsals and I like it a lot. A couple of weeks ago I tried out for the dance team at school but it was quite hard and unfortunately I didn't make it to the team. But that's okey, cause my host mother is now helping me to find a dance studio here in Coral Springs where I can take dance classes after school.


I have joined the Interact club and the Glee club at school, but there hasn't been more than one first meeting yet, but I'm sure it will be great. 

I would say that the host family is one of the most important things in the beginning, when you don't really know that much people in your new country. I'm fortunate to stay with a great host family and I'm so happy for that! They are really good at making me feel welcome and comfortable here and they've introduced me to a lot of nice people in the neighborhood. Two weeks ago my host family took me down to their vacation home in the Keys, and it was such a wonderful weekend. We visited Key West, went to several nice restaurants and I went tubing and snorkeling for my first time which was so much fun! I would lie though if I said that I wasn't a bit scared when we saw two stingrays just a few meters from us.. 

I really feel like I'm growing as a person in every moment - whatever I do, whether it is to brush my teeth with American toothpaste or having a conversation with someone, or tasting my first nachos from Taco Bell or feeling a bit homesick - it is a new experience from which I can learn something new. Just being this far away from my family and friends in Sweden is giving me a lot of new perspectives and again, making me grow as a person.
 

Snorkeling in the Keys

With my host sister Sarah

With some other exchange students (Severin, Ludo, Sergio, Tina and me) in Ft Lauderdale

Enjoying the shadow at Ft Lauderdale Beach

 

A beautiful sunset in the Keys