Hej, mit navne er Rachael! or Hi, my name is Rachael! if you speak English instead of Danish. In just 7 months I’ll be speaking Danish every day while I live in Denmark and hopefully I’ll be fluent in it a few months after I arrive. I’m nervous about being in a completely different environment, culture, everything but I’m immensely excited. I’ve wanted to be in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program for years and I’m finally on my way! This has been a dream of mine that seemed so far away but now it’s right in front of me. I can’t believe it. For right now, I live in The Bahamas and I have for my whole life. One of my best friends moved away and then came back to visit recently and we went to the beach. She said how beautiful it was and how lucky I was to be able to come to the beach in December/January and how close it was to my home but I hadn’t really given it a second thought. A beautiful beach has always been there for me to enjoy whenever I wanted and it was always close by – always only a couple minutes driving. Going to Denmark will be a huge transition but one that I am definitely going to embrace. I want to travel and experience all kinds of different things all over the world and this is a beautiful start. I live in a house with both of my parents, two of my younger sisters (I have two older ones who don’t live with me) and my younger brother, plus two cats and two dogs. There are only around 70,000 people on the island that I live on (Grand Bahama Island) and just over 300,000 people in the whole of my country. It’s very small compared to other countries like the U.S., which has around 301 million people, or Denmark with 5.7 million people. The Bahamas can’t even touch any of those countries! I’m currently in the twelfth grade but in August when I go on the exchange, I will have already graduated. I chose to do the exchange then because here in The Bahamas, we take exams called BGCSEs, very similar to GCSEs in the UK. The courses are usually 3 years each and taking a year off anywhere from tenth grade up would have disrupted my study and preparation for these exams completely so I would have had to repeat a grade. Doing it this way is more convenient and it gives me a chance to be free and not feel so much pressure of making very good grades because I will have already completed high school. At school, I play for our senior girls soccer team. I love soccer and we practice almost every day after school on the school’s field. I have so much fun and have made a few new friends from playing the sport. It provides me with regular exercise that I welcome. When I’m not at school, I go to the beach like I mentioned before. Sometimes I take so much about being here for granted but since I’m leaving soon to go somewhere so different and far away, I’m getting a better appreciation for my home. I go out with friends more, cherishing every moment. I love just being with people who make me happy, not matter where we are (even if we’re at school!). I love to laugh and make people laugh. Something that I like about myself is that I can laugh at myself – I don’t take myself too seriously and I love a relaxed environment where I can be myself and not feel any pressure from anyone to act differently. I love people who feel the same as me. Sometimes I might be a bit shy at first but then I can relax and have a good time. I really look forward to meeting new people through my exchange – other exchange students, members of my host family, Rotary members and the natives of Denmark. I also love to read. I read multiple books a month. I can get lost in any type of book – fiction or non-fiction – anything. I especially like historical books, fiction or non-fiction and also fantasy books. They’re my escape, taking me to different worlds and making it possible for me to travel all over the world (and beyond) even though I can’t move from my small island. I love watching movies with my family because it’s a way for us to bond. We enjoy something together and then can talk all about it later.
I attend church regularly and control the slideshow that displays the songs. I assist with the sound when needed and I love learning new things to do with it. My father leads the songs and plays bass at church while my mother organizes the Sunday school. I love to help out when I can at church and at my church’s you group called IMPACT! I’m one of the oldest and have often had to step up to a leadership role. In the summer of 2011, we went to a camp in Panama City, Florida and I was the female leader of our group because our original leader fell unexpectedly sick. Although this was unfortunate for her, I was glad for the leadership experience. I had a great time. Every June my church has a bible school where a team from North Carolina comes down to help and I always have a great time with them. I’m so excited to go to Denmark that I haven’t been able to explain exactly how excited I am to someone. I love history so much and Denmark seems rich in history and culture. I’ve always wanted to travel all over the world, to see everything that I possibly could but I never had the opportunity. Now that this is happening, I barely believe it. I’m going to Denmark! It’s crazy to think that. I know that I will have the time of my life over there and there will be no experience to match it. It will certainly be a year to remember. I can’t thank Rotary enough for this opportunity.