Alexandra Schelle
2013-14 Outbound to Paraguay

Hometown: Orlando, Florida
School: William R. Boone High School
Sponsor: District 6980, Florida
Host: The Rotary Club of Encarnacion

Alexandra's Bio

Greetings! My name is Alex, and I'm 17 years old. Like most 17-year-olds, I can't wait until I turn 18. Unlike most 17-year-olds, the reason I can't wait is because I'll celebrate the day in Argentina!!! I've lived in Orlando all my life, so I'm most definitely excited for the change of scenery. I'll have to say "see you later" to my beloved parents, grandparents, stepmom & little bro, as well as my 2 lifelong best friends. I know this adventure will be worth it all! My favorite subjects in school include Statistics, English, Spanish, Social Studies, and Art. I even like a little Physics here and there :) I serve as President of Social Justice Club, where, as our motto states, "We Help People." After school, I can be found playing lacrosse, spending time with friends, doing homework, or toiling over college applications. I wanted to be an exchange student so I could widen my perspective. I know you can't fully appreciate an idea until you look at it from all angles. Here, the idea is life, and the angles are world cultures. What better way to appreciate life than to live in a way totally new to you??? During the year I spend in South America, I hope to 1) become fluent in Spanish, 2) learn to tango, and 3) grow as a person. I don't know what the last one will look like exactly, but here's to hoping. In a nutshell, I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!

Alexandra's Journals

September 3, 2013

First off: I am in Paraguay, not Argentina. And I am so happy to say that! Nothing against Argentina, but because I know approximately zero people who have been to Paraguay, this experience will now be completely my own.

I arrived here two weeks ago, and I feel like I've been here forever (in the best way possible). Here are some rules I have picked up so far:

1. Always say yes. To everything. Even if that means joining some family members to go to the "campo" (countryside) randomly, when your Spanish is too poor to understand how long you'll be gone and for what reason you're going. Doesn't matter. Say yes to experiences.

2. When finished eating, place the fork and knife vertically next to each other in the center of your plate, with the ridges of the knife faced inward. This is your greatest weapon against more (delicious) food being forced upon you when your stomach is already about to burst.

3. Kiss both cheeks when greeting. Though I learned the awkward way that this doesn't apply to the guard. Go figure.

4. Keep your high heels on at dances (oh the pain!!!)

5. When you go on exchange, bring decks of cards. Yes, future exchange student reading this, WHEN you go.

6. Get ready to translate English songs on the radio for your host siblings.

7. Keep up with your home country's news, even if you have to seek it out. I found out we might be going to war with Syria via a German exchange student...embarrassing.

8. Traffic lights here are sparse. Most intersections obey the rule that he with more cajones may proceed. It's scary. Plus seatbelts are discouraged for some reason. BRING ON THE DANGER (Sorry, Mom)

That's all for now. Chao!

March 25, 2014

Hola,

So I just experienced for the first time in my life all my work getting deleted. It was awful. I created this beautiful blog entry for you all and BAM—deleted. Here I go again:

Most of what I have learned here aren’t the basic cultural differences the encyclopedia set in my living room back home told me about. Sure, I’ve learned that when drinking tereré, you have to put the bombilla on the side of the vaso with the threading. I’ve learned that when a party says it starts at 12:00 AM, don’t get there until 1:30 AM. I’ve learned not to rush people. Rushing is never, ever worth it.

I’ve learned a lot bigger things though, too.

I’ve learned that people teach you things without telling you. Sometimes they teach you how to be careful because they’re sensitive, or they teach how to be patient because they’re annoying. Oh, I think I’ve also learned to be Paraguayan honest…aka brutally honest. I know this is something to tone down when I get back to the States, as we are a sensitive bunch, but it’s the culture here.

I’ve learned not to be embarrassed. By anything. (Although I’m sure there are still a couple of things my biological dad can do to get me.) But at the end of the day—heck, in the moment itself—no one really cares. ESPECIALLY if you don’t.

I have learned people don’t remember you—they WON’T remember you—and it’s okay. The present is the most important. Yes, plan for the future, because one day that will BE the present, but be HERE NOW. How you impact people while interacting with them will affect their future, aka their future present, and that’s more important than making a lasting connection. So make people feel good. And forget about “you” for the time being.

I have learned that listening is a lot cooler than talking.

I learned not to feel bad about myself when people get offended. Instead, make it better. Do something. For example, I had lived the horrifying reality of losing my host mom’s high heels. I felt bad about it for a long time. But then one day, as I was walking around outside, I found myself in a shoe store, and I bought her another pair. She ended up using them to dance in Carnaval. I always worried about the fact that I couldn’t find them, but when I opened my eyes, I realized it was in my control…which brings me to my next point.

A lot of things aren’t in your control. And that’s okay, too. Going with it and trusting the environment you’re in, the people who have lived in it, and the philosophies they abide by WORKS. Never abandon your own thoughts and experiences, because those are a valuable part of you. But learn to trust. They’ve been doing this for a while.

I have learned to strive for humility.

Oh, and I’ve learned to save my work.