Anna Briggs
2013-14 Outbound to Croatia

Hometown: Vero Beach, Florida
School: Vero Beach High School
Sponsor: District 6930, Florida
Host: The Rotary Club of Rijeka

Anna's Bio

Hello, my name is Anna Briggs, I am fifteen years old and I live in Vero Beach, Florida. When I have free time I enjoy spending time with my friends and doing things like surfing or going to the beach. I also love to travel and to make jewelry with beads from places I visit. I am on my high school's competitive swim team, I have been a student government representative for Vero Beach High School, and I am also the President of the Vero Beach Chapter of Glamour Gals. It’s an organization where we go to retirement communities and do the women’s nails and make up. My house is walking distance from the beach and I go there all the time, the beach is my favorite place to spend my time. My mom is a pharmaceutical sales representative and my dad is an airline pilot, my little brother is 9 years old and is in 4th grade, I also have a Maltese dog named Chloe. Getting to live the way other people do for a while has been something I really enjoy about traveling and something I am looking forward to. My God-Mother Lisa was a Rotary President in Savannah, GA and I have heard about Rotary since I was a little girl, my Mom was also an exchange student when she was in high school so I am so proud to be a Rotary Exchange student representing Florida. I hope to become more independent and I am looking forward to new foods and new traditions in Croatia. I am excited to see the ancient cities in Croatia and the amazing sea side towns I have seen in pictures and learn about Croatia’s rich history. I can’t wait for all of the new experiences I will be having and I hope to share my experiences and teach other people about life in Croatia when I get home.

October 19, 2013

As I walk down a street in Opatija, Croatia the sights and smells are overwhelming. I look to my left and next to a coffee shop I see a bakery with different breads, croissants, and pastries. The smell of fresh baked goods drifts through the air and when I glance to the right the crystal clear water of the Adriatic sea catches my eye. The sea is truly breathtaking here. Being a Florida girl who loves the water, the sea here has become a sanctuary for me. When I need time to think, or to take a breath of fresh air I find myself taking a walk to the Croatian coastline. Croatia has been such an adventure so far, from my first day of school, my first time on a public bus, traveling to Italy and spending time on the island of Pag, to meeting so many new people, making new friends, to missing my family, and discovering how wonderful my host family is. I cant believe I've only been here for around a month, and can't imagine what is going to happen over the course of a whole year!

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about school here is, "different". My school is in a beautiful old building in the city of Rijeka. It's four stories high, but so much smaller than what I'm used to in Florida. Even though I don't understand most subjects yet, I like to go to school because I get to see my friends, and all the students are so interested in America and they haven't run out of questions yet! I've become very close to several people in my class and have made so many memories so far. Its amazing to me how my friends and host family have accepted and learned to trust me so quickly. I am the first American exchange student in this school, so I give presentations daily. I am really grateful for this opportunity because I have become very comfortable talking to large groups of people and I love it. I think this is a skill that I will use a lot in the future

Last weekend my host parents took me to Venice, Italy. It was stunning. The water, the gondolas, the architecture. It was truly beautiful. I was able to enjoy lunch on the water and learn about Venetian history. But my favorite part was being lost in the streets of Venice, and finding myself. I know it sounds cliché but as I was wandering through the streets, a couple steps behind my host parents my mind was clear. I started to think about myself, my life, and how its up to me to determine my future. I started thinking about all the choices I have made, good and bad, and how I'm proud of myself and my choices for getting to this point. I am so grateful for Rotary and the amazing opportunities I have been given.  I also realize how grateful I am for everything in my life back home in Florida and at my new home in Croatia.