Emma Nestler
2011-12 Outbound to Belgium

Hometown: Oakland Park, Florida
School: Pompano Beach High School
Sponsor: Fort Lauderdale Rotary Club, District 6990, Florida
Host: TBA, District 1630, Belgium

Emma's Bio

Bonjour! Je m'appelle Emma Nestler. I'm currently 15 years old but when I leave for Belgium I'll be 16. I'm a sophomore at Pompano Beach High School. I live with my parents and my dog in Ft. Lauderdale. I also have a brother who lives in New York and a sister who just had a baby girl. Spending time with family is very important to me. I'm always dreaming about what the future will bring and now I'm about to embark on the biggest adventure of my life. (Well, so far.)

I love singing and I'm in the chorus at my school. I also love musical theater and having themed movie marathons with my friends. I love making people smile and I try my best to brighten someone’s day. Since I don't have school on Fridays, I volunteer at the library. I love going to new places and meeting new people. I've always wanted to travel and it’s finally happening. Words cannot describe the excitement I am feeling!

I would like to thank Rotary for everything they have done and will continue to do to make my dream come true. I would also like to thank my family for supporting my decision to become an exchange student.

Emma's Journals

I have been in Belgium for 3 weeks and 2 days. That blows my mind because it went by too fast. But I’m definitely making the most out of everything. I have been too Waterloo where Napoleon was defeated with my host parents, I have taken walks in extremely pretty areas, I have made Belgian friends and gone to my first Belgian party, I’ve gone to Brugge and the chocolate museum, I’ve been to the beach at Ostende(where I got sunburnt, don’t laugh at me), I've hung out with my host brothers and have spent time with the best exchange students ever.  I have eaten amazing food and I know how to successfully take a bus without getting lost. I have also had some funny language mishaps. For example, telling my friend my dog has only three paws.

Being an exchange student is the best decision I’ve ever made. 3 weeks in and I know my life has already changed a bit and I know that I won’t be the same person I was when I landed. I’m not going to lie and say this is easy because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done; you feel like you’re a little baby again not being able to talk or express how you feel. It’s probably the most frustrating thing ever. But when you’re host mom and brother tell you that your French has gotten so much better since you arrived makes all of it worth it.

One thing I wasn’t really ready for was the family culture shock. I knew Belgian culture in itself was different but I never thought about the culture of your host family. It’s so different and it takes so much getting used to but even though you want to do something the way you’ve been doing for your whole life but you can’t because you need to adapt. But I’m starting to develop some of the little things like the way they eat with their knife and fork.

I’m so excited for my exchange year and everything I’ll be able to do and see. I’m not going to let time pass me by and I’m going to take every opportunity that comes my way.

Merci Rotary! and a big Merci to my family.


November 18, 2011

98 days. 2352 hours. A little more than 3 months. That’s how long I’ve been in Belgium and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by. I love Belgium and everything about it. (well, I’m not a big fan of the cold haha) I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been all rainbows and butterflies because this has been the hardest 3 months of my life. There have been times when the thought of wanting to go home has crossed my mind but it’s only made me a stronger person because I won't give up. Today my friends at school told me that they don’t want me to go back and that they will me miss me so much. That made me realize how crazy I was for thinking that I couldn’t do this because I can. I believe in myself. I’m learning from my mistakes and how to be smarter and pay more attention to everything.

"Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles, and the bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. Your decision to be, have and do something out of the ordinary entails facing difficulties and challenges that are out of the ordinary as well. Sometimes your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay with it longer than anyone else."

~ Brian Tracy

At the beginning of November, I had the opportunity to stay a week in Paris. It was everything I’d dreamed of and more. Everything is so amazing there. There was one day when the weather was beautiful, so I took my book and went to the Eiffel Tower and laid down in the park. It was maybe the coolest thing I’d ever experienced. I also had the opportunity to go to Disney in Paris which made me feel like a little kid again and everything was already decorated for Christmas. It was magical.

As for the French, it’s so much better from then when I arrived but it’s far from perfect. But I’m happy with my progress and I learn something new everyday. I’m starting to notice little by little that I’m starting to think in French. I have attempted to cook for my family which didn’t go that well…haha. I have also had a woman show me her tattoo on her lower back of an eagle with the American flag. I always get asked the stereotypical questions about American which always makes me laugh. I have also inspired my friend at school to go on exchange and she wants to come to Florida!

Next weekend, I’m going to the ocean in France. Exams at my school start the 9th of December and continue up to winter break. I only have to take 2 exams so I’m going to have a lot of time off so I hope to be able to explore more of Belgium and maybe other countries and try not to die from the cold.

à la prochaine!