Kaylee DaCosta

Belgium

Hometown: Sanford, Florida
School: Seminole High School - Sanford
Sponsor District : District 6980
Sponsor Club: Sanford, Florida
Host District: 1620
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Thuin-Thudinie

 

My Bio


Hello, I am Kaylee DaCosta. I will spend 2015-2016 in Belgium! I was born in the Virgin Islands and grew up in Florida, so I am going to freeze my butt off in Europe. My parents are divorced so my little brother and I spend an equal amount of time with each parent. Even though my parents are divorced, they are the best parents I could ever ask for. As a senior at Seminole High School, I am part of Interact Club, American Sign Language Honors Society, and Best Buddies. When I was a junior Scott, the chairman of my district, came to my psychology class and explained Rotary; ever since then I knew I wanted to be an exchange student for Rotary. My 2nd school is the dance studio. Dance has been a major influence in my life for almost 15 years. My older brother tours around the world with a dance company (I have to say I am pretty jealous). Luckily, he doesn't mind me and my family traveling to wherever he is performing to visit him. Even though I've been fortunate enough to tag along with my brother in a couple of countries, it is a great feeling knowing I will be going on my own adventure. I hope my journey connects me to new culture, people, and language, but most of all brings a new understanding of the world and myself.


Thuin,Belgium

Thuin,Belgium

My first host family

My first host family

A traditional Belgian meal: moules frites

A traditional Belgian meal: moules frites

Bataille de Waterloo

Bataille de Waterloo

Some of District 1620's exchange students in Mons.

Some of District 1620's exchange students in Mons.

Mons,Belgium. This monkey is meant to bring good luck when the left hand is placed on its head.

Mons,Belgium. This monkey is meant to bring good luck when the left hand is placed on its head.

Before I left Florida my host family asked if I liked candy (of course I said yes). When I finally arrived in Belgium, I walked into my new room to be welcomed by handfuls of candy.

Before I left Florida my host family asked if I liked candy (of course I said yes). When I finally arrived in Belgium, I walked into my new room to be welcomed by handfuls of candy.

Journal: Kaylee - Belgium 2015-2016

  • Kaylee, outbound to Belgium

    One of my favorite aspects of exchange is the ability to travel. A perk about doing exchange in Europe is easily being able to visit other countries and exchange students.

    My first experience of visitation was back in November when Chloé Hill (in Denmark on exchange) came to Belgium right after the Paris attacks. She spent a day at my school and met my Belgian friends and host family. It was hard to grasp we were actually in Europe together so far away from home.

    In February, I went to the Netherlands with Rotary. I am grateful for this visit because I had the opportunity to visit many inspiring museums such as the Vermeer museum, the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum.

    The most recent break, spring break, I spent in three countries. At the beginning of the break, Nick Pollio (in Germany on exchange) came to Belgium despite the terrorist attacks that happened in Brussels the same week; I find it bizarre that there is always a terrorist attack right before someone visits me, but this just goes to show we must keep on living life even if a group of people try to scare us. Nick and I visited many cities in Belgium and created memorable exchange stories.

    After he left, I went on a Rotary trip to Greece with 56 other exchange students. At the start of the trip I had no relation to most of the exchange students but by the end of the trip we were a family. It amazes me how a group of random people around the world placed in a random country for a week can form a family. In Greece, we visited Olympia along with other ruins, went on a boat ride to an island, hiked up a 588 meter mountain to visit a monastery, which we discovered was closed after having climbed to the top. We swam in the sea, biked 25 kilometers around an island and spent time in Athens. I can easily say this trip was one of the best trips of my life.

    The day after landing back in Belgium, I was on another flight headed to Germany to visit Nick. While in Germany, we explored Berlin and Dresden. Although I have already been to Dresden a few years ago, I fell in love with the city all over again. I had the chance to meet and spend time with Nick’s friends, getting a taste of his exchange life. My last night in Germany, Nick and I found the best Döner aka Tuna (not actually tuna) in Berlin. We spent 40 minutes finding the “restaurant” ( we later found out it was just a food stand) and another 40 minutes waiting in line. It was all worth it.

    I have had great travels while on exchange and I can not wait to explore more of Europe during these last three months abroad.

    To see my home page click HERE


  • Kaylee, outbound to Belgium

    Before I even started my exchange the phrase “ this is will the best year of your life” was engraved in my head. Well here I am over six months into “the best year of my life.”
    After completing over half of my exchange, I would not give this year the title of the best year. Leading up to exchange, exchange students participate in retreats which explain the roller coaster of exchange. Despite all the helpful exercises and storytelling, nothing can truly prepare a student for the year they are about to endure. I have had lows I have never experienced prior to exchange. In a split moment, a normal day can turn into me fighting back tears, longing to go back to the comfort zone I call home. Whereas the next moment, I cannot imagine boarding the plane home that signifies the end of my exchange. But at the end of the day, I know that this year is a year that can never be repeated. I can always continue to travel or have another opportunity to study abroad, but no matter the circumstances, nothing will ever be this exchange year; this thought frightens me the most.
    I may not classify this year as the best year of my life (yet) but it is the most rewarding. So how do I entitle this year? “The year of confusing happiness.”

    P.S. I promise my next entry will be about all the fun things!

    To see my homepage click HERE


  • Kaylee, outbound to Belgium

    Warning!:
    Sorry for the poor English. Writing English is becoming harder and harder.

    It has almost been 3 months in Belgium. I have spent these past couple of months creating relationships. It is crazy thinking that the people I interact with everyday were once strangers. It is a great feeling being able to say I have developed relationships with these used to be strangers.

    Since I have been here, I have noticed that about 3 of every 5 people remind me of people who relate to the United States. The people who the Belgians remind me of are not necessarily people I am close with; it can be someone I used to walk past in the hallways of my high school or other exchange students from different countries I have met in Florida.

    True friendships are forming with other exchange students and the students from school. I always look forward to exploring the country with the other exchangers because memories are always bound to be made, and I love being around Belgians because I am engaged in the culture. At school, I enjoy singing English songs with the students (Victoria), and most of the time they know the lyrics better than I do. I am also grateful that the students are willing to help me with the language ( Prof Lucie).

    I am having an amazing time on my exchange but with the tragic events that have happened around the world, I am reminded of what the goal of exchange is. My exchange is not only about the amazing experience or finding who I am, but it is about being an ambassador of my country to create what is really important: World Peace.

    To see my home page and some photos click HERE


  • Kaylee, outbound to Belgium

    One month into my exchange… I have lost my sense in time. A day can feel like two weeks yet two weeks can feel a day. I have lost control over my emotions; one moment I am gleeful the next moment I am mournful. But one month into my exchange and I have already gained so much: a new family, a new school, new friends, weight, new adventures, new knowledge and a new life.

    For starters, I gained a family that I adore. My first host family includes a dad, mom, brother, and a sister who is also on exchange. Every member of the family has made me feel very welcomed. It amazes me how in just one month I have a great amount of respect and appreciation towards my family. I am beyond grateful I am placed with such a wonderful family and I hope one day I will find a way to share my appreciation.

    School has been the biggest cultural shock for me. I hardly remember my first day, but I remember feeling hopeless. Everything was completely different (of course I knew things would be different, but nothing hits you until you are actually in the situation). I originally come from a high school that has thousands of students and my school now has fewer people than my graduating class in Florida. So this school reminds me of a doll house.

    As time went on, I adjusted to the school. Now, school isn't all that bad. There are 2 exchange students including me attending the school. Having another exchange student has its pros and cons. We are both in grade 5 (grade 11). It sometimes feels weird being in class with people who are 2-3 years younger than me; most of the time I forget how young they are. As a whole, people at school are kind and I hope to develop close relationships with students even if they are younger than me.

    One of my favorite part of exchange is meeting other exchange students. We all are going through the same experience yet every person has their own unique experience. Knowing hundreds of students around the world can come together and form positive relationships brings me joy. There is always new people to meet and bond with at every Rotary function.

    One of my worst part of exchange is gaining weight. As much as I hate the feeling of gaining weight, I cannot stop eating. I eat bread daily. My favorite snack is a waffle. When I bite into a waffle I can see all the clumps of sugar… it is delicious. The fries are best when it is homemade. It’s best to leave it at I eat well here in Belgium.

    My exchange has already brought the most difficult challenge: learning a new language. There is nothing like being plopped in a country with a different language. I came knowing very little French and I still know very little French. A month ago I would have thought I would have a better grip of the language. I am learning but at a slow pace. There are days when I feel accomplished with the language and other days I feel like a complete failure. I often have to tell myself that everyone learns at a different pace because the other students in my club are more advanced than me.

    Do I wish I knew more French before I arrived? Yes. But a little part of me doesn’t mind I came knowing very little because this has been the biggest challenge I have had to face ( If any future outbounds are reading this, do not think this is an excuse to go to your host country not knowing any language. Know as much as you possibly can!!).

    Living outside the United States has brought awareness to myself. I can feel my tough shell slowly soften but also harden. I think about the personality I have always had in the states and realize how it is slowly transforming. Of course I am still me but being away from everything I have ever known brings a sense of consciousness. I have also become more open-eyed. There are things I never expected to be different which are completely different. For example, I asked my host brother for writing paper and he handed me graphing paper; I looked at him like he was crazy. On my first day of school I realized he wasn’t crazy because every single person uses graphing paper as if it were college ruled paper. So I suppose I am the crazy one.

    When I think about my month in Belgium, I don’t think I have done much. But in reality, I have had many adventures. I visited the capital, Brussels. I went to my first festival. I explored Mons, the European capital of culture. I biked over 20 miles in the neighboring city Charleroi. I attempted to golf. I went kayaking and I ended up in the freezing water. Everyday is a new adventure.

    Before I jumped on the plane to my new life, saying “I will be living in Europe for a year” was a big deal. Now that I am actually living in Europe, that’s exactly what it is: living. It is my life now, it is normal. But when I realize that this living isn't permanent, I take a moment, view my beautiful surroundings, smile and remember to make this a year to remember and make my life worth living for.

    To see my home page and some photos click HERE

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