Jeri-Ann Apel

Denmark

Hometown: Lake City, Florida
School: Santa Fe High School
Sponsor District: District 6970
Sponsor Club: Gainesville, Florida
Host District: District 1450
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Holstebro Venstre

 

My Bio


Hej, jeg hedder Jeri Ann Apel and I will be spending my junior year studying in Denmark. To say that I’m not terrified would be a complete lie, but I’ve always believed in taking risks, and I am also thrilled about this opportunity. I grew up in a small town called High Springs, Florida, with my mom and dog, Charlie. I am currently a sophomore at Santa Fe High School, where I’m a member of Interact and drama club, preferring behind-the-scenes work. I’m also a movie fanatic, but reading takes up quite a bit of my spare time. Growing up in a small-town environment definitely had its benefits, but also left me feeling like I’ve never been exposed to the real world. This has led me to seek out this adventure. After several years spent researching different exchange programs, without any one seeming right for me, Rotary Youth Exchange popped up in a letter during French class. RYE Florida seemed to come into my life at the perfect time, so I decided to go for it. I am ready to be thrown into a whole new world. I am ready to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I am ready to try something new and frightening and entirely exhilarating. This is a once in a lifetime experience, and I am unbelievably excited to see what Denmark has in store for me. RYE is an amazing program and I am so grateful for this opportunity. Mange tak!

 

 

Jeri-Ann Apel Image

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A very necessary picture in Bach, Austria

A very necessary picture in Bach, Austria

Lido de Jesolo

Lido de Jesolo

Eurotour 2015

Eurotour 2015

Journals: Jeri Ann - Denmark

  • Jeri Ann, outbound to Denmark

    I hope that I never forget what this type of happiness feels like; it’s the kind of happiness that you miss before it’s even gone. In two weeks, this will all be over and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m saying goodbye to my friends and family and I have no idea when I’ll see them again. Coming back to Florida will be as big of a challenge as this exchange itself, but hopefully it will be just as big of an adventure.
    This year has made me realize how much people can mean to me. I’ve made so many connections and built so many friendships. There have been times in exchange where I’ve felt lonelier than I thought was possible, but it ended with gaining friends and family in every corner of the world. This place may not be my home, but these people are.
    I’ve spent evenings in the Eiffel tower, gone skiing in Norway, gone night-swimming in Italy. I’ve been “hiking” in the Alps and I’ve illegally jumped the gates at the Paris metro with some of the best people I’ve ever met. I’ve tasted snails and learned a language and fallen off of my bike a million and one times. I’ve made friends and lost friends and had the time of my life. I have eaten and I have cried and I have fallen in love with so many people and places, and I have never been so thankful. Every moment has been worth it.

    Thank you, Rotary. You have given me so much more than you know.


  • Jeri Ann, outbound to Denmark

    A few days ago, it hit me that I’m almost 5 months in. I’m nearly at the half-way point. I’ve already made it through the “tough first months”, and everything is falling into place. I haven’t written a single journal since I’ve been here, and I think it’s mostly because I’ve been afraid to.

    Sitting down to analyze my “exchange”, just anchors me back down to the real world; that I’m not in a dream, that I have a whole other life back in Florida, and that this is only temporary. It’s difficult to think about Denmark as exchange, because it’s so much more than that. This is my life. These are my friends. This is my school, and this is now where I feel at home.

    However, this year is just life; while exchange is a great adventure, you can’t expect this year to be never-ending excitement. We were shown the diagrams, our “emotional roller coaster, but I think nothing can actually prepare you for it. Doing this is hard. Being here is hard. This the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is totally and completely worth it. I am enjoying my time here, and I’ve learned more in the past months than I’ve learned in the past 16 years of my life.

    I would not change a thing. I’ve done things that I would have never dreamed of doing in Florida. The things like riding my bike to school and eating cake in pajamas with my host siblings have become the moments that I find the most happiness in.

    The first month of my exchange was very nice. Everything was new and exciting and I loved it. I biked around the town and found my way around. I began school and met all of the other exchange students at Introcamp.

    When I reached my second and third month, things began to slow down and I started to miss home. Everything was uncomfortable; it was hard to get past the fact that I was sleeping in a strange bed, going to a strange school, and constantly pushing myself. However, there was almost an immediate change when I reached my 4th month. I switched host families, became better friends with my classmates, and Danish started to click. While there are still hard moments, Denmark has been magical. I just experienced my first white Christmas, and I can’t even put into words how lovely it was. Christmas is celebrated on the 24th in Denmark, and the whole day is spent with family. The Danish Christmas was very cozy; days of “hygge” and Christmas food. I am fu ll-heartedly looking forward to what the rest of my exchange has in store for me. (And I promise to write these more often).

    Thank you SO much to Rotary Florida and Rotary Denmark for this opportunity.


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