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.