That last post was actually a post I brainstormed when the countdown was 39, but I forgot my log-in details for this.
I have been getting ready here and there. My grandparents have purchased my luggage for me. I can only look at this experience in awe; I'm so blessed to get to go on it. I have had so many obstacles in my way, and I want to share that so everyone else may take the stand for their exchange; when there is a will there is a way.
When I first came to exchange, it was because one of my friends was going on an exchange to Estonia with Rotary about 3 years ago. At that point I was not sure what exchange was, or that ordinary people could do it; I figured it would take a boatload of money. Don't get me wrong, the price tag is not cheap but it is certainely not the $100,000 I expected! Anyways, I just let the idea roll off my mind.
Then, a year later, I met my first exchange students. I even dated one. So, I heard nothing but how amazing it is. It was then that the idea came back. It still was far away, but I decided to look into it.
At first it was China, then Sweden, then it was Finland, and it wasn't long before I bounced around the thought of all the Nordic countries. Either way, Rotary would decide for me ultimately; and they only had Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.
To skip things a bit, the Rotarians and I hit it off amazingly! I KNEW I was to be a Rotary kid; how could I not? I was the full package and they loved me. They all knew I would succeed. I waited on the edge of my seat after the final interview (A rough, tough interview spanning 3 days with a homestay portion with the another exchangie on program. And you thought your 30 minute interview was intense ;) ) for my letter that would tell me where I was going.
The letter came.
The destination didn't.
Because of my anxiety, the Rotary club decided I should wait another year. Not only that, that put me into the age range of gap years. The only gap years were to Brazil, Argentina, and Taiwan. I loved all the countries but I had no real desire to learn Portugese, Spanish, or polish off my Mandarin.
I cried and fell apart. This was it. I was not an exchange class of '10-'11. I would not get my year. I was doomed!
But I wanted this with my entire soul, so I picked myself off my bedroom floor. I wiped the tears from my eyes. Opened my bedroom door. And made my way to the computer.
See, I had put applications in YFU, AFS, and others just in case. I was mostly just bored and wanted to do something to do with exchange. Little did I know, that boredom would bring me to the best thing to happen to me.
I throw my dice into AFS once more.
To keep it short (er) I will just let you know what happened. For even in AFS, I still had to fight for my life.
1. I was rejected at first because of medication
- I gathered doctor's approval and the like, and begged for another changce
2. I could not afford the $900 deposit
- There was a special going on that made it $500
- I sold my bassoon to make the money; my dad was in the hospital at this point
3. I had taken my interview, not realizing AFS would not cancel it after rejection
- I'm pretty positive that a good review helped them reconsider
4. I lived in an area with scholarships
- My tuition was paid with $5,000 grant and $2,800 loan from my local club
5. I got a Global Leader's scholarship
- I got $1,000
6. My passport needed expiditing because I applied literally last minute
- It barely got here in time to be sent off to apply for my visa
7. My parents did not believe I would make it all the way + did not handle any part of the process but signatures
As you can see, it has been one long journey. Every turn held a roadblock; but what was important was that I pushed through and never gave up.
It is my hope that you will reach for your dreams no matter what. So, that is my story.