David Reese  
2012-13 Outbound to Sweden
Hometown: Key West, FL
School: Lake Mary High School
Sponsor: District 6980, FL
Host: District 2370, Sweden
The Rotary Club of Nyköping Öster

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August 29, 2012

You are just sitting there.

Why are you just sitting there?

You could be out doing something. You could be out traveling the world. You could be out submitting your Rotary Youth Exchange Application.

You could be chosen to go to Sweden. You could be on a plane with a nice Chinese Guy who let you play with his old Game Boy during the longest flight of your life.

You could be meeting some of the nicest people you will ever meet. You could be crying your eyes out.

You could be standing next to a lighthouse on the rocky shore of the Baltic Sea. You could be picking wild Strawberries and running away from Sheep in the process. You could be allergic to cats.

You could be watching your Host Mom's cat die right in front of your eyes, but you could also be going out for an Ice Cream after that visit to the Vet's office. You could Fika three to four times a day.

You could be learning a new language with the help of Family Guy. You could be paying $10 for a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. You could be getting stuck in the rain on the way to a Music Festival. You could be dancing in the rain. You could be laughing at the fact that most Swedes say Irun instead of Iron. You could fall in love with long, licorice type candies in various flavors.

You could be eating fish that is a year old and smells like a dirty diaper. You could also be gagging. You could be riding on a train and not know how to open the door to get out. You could be getting lost in Stockholm Central. You could be visiting an Ostrich Farm. You could be rowing back to shore because your motor went out in Nyköping Harbor.

You could be eating pancakes and pea soup every Thursday evening. You could be missing your bus stop on the way to Language Camp. You could be gaining weight from meatballs, and meatballs alone.

You could be missing your old life, your family beyond your wildest belief. You could be feeling awkward in social situations. You could be experiencing the most challenging, most rewarding time of your life. You could be missing out. You could be...

My God...I've been sitting here far too long.

To the future,
David Allin


December 7, 2012

I am not going to write a novel of an entry, nor am I going to tell you about all the great things that have happened to me since I have come to Sweden. I am here to tell you the truth.

Exchange is so much more than what Outbounds write in their journals.

Exchange is so much more than pictures of statues or historical sites.

Exchange is so much more than that one Rotary trip that everyone goes on.

Exchange is so much more than simply living in another country.

Exchange is so much more than learning a language.

Exchange is so much more than what anyone can possibly prepare you for.

Exchange is so much more than this.

You must find out what Exchange is on your own... but just know, it is nothing what you expect... embrace it.

To the future,
David Allin


April 11 2013

3:00 AM

Somewhere over the Arctic Circle, Sweden

I almost just got kicked off of a train.
I almost saw the Northern Lights.
I almost thought it was noon, but the sun was high at three in the morning.
I almost fell to my knees when I saw my Mom for the first time in eight months.
I almost lost my breath at the sight of fjords resting in the ocean and rising into the clouds.
I almost laughed to death with my friends in a late night conversation, inside of a room no bigger than a common closet.
I almost used up all my tears when I saw my Mom sitting at a table of the kindest, most wonderful people I will ever know.
I almost feel like I am home, falling asleep in the sun on Easter Sunday with a family so kind, I cannot describe it beyond this.
I almost couldn’t believe it when I heard Rotary of Iceland wanted to host me for one week.
I almost can’t love my friends more than I do now.
I almost fainted when I was told I would be going to Croatia to go diving in the Adriatic Sea.
I almost cannot tell any one of you, any of you reading this, how a year can be ‘I almost did this’ and ‘I almost did that’.

‘I almost got the language.’
‘I almost made friends.’
‘I almost travelled.’
‘I almost asked.’
‘I almost received.’

Don’t let it happen.

The only other thing I can say is this: I am almost done with my exchange year.