Destiny Gabriel

 Poland

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
School: Pedro Menendez
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: St. Augustine, Florida
Host District: 2231
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Bydgoszcz


My Bio


Cześć! My name is Destiny and I live in St. Augustine Florida with my grandparents, and my two golden retrievers, Bella and Cody. I am thrilled to be spending this coming year in Poland! I am so grateful for the St. Augustine Rotary Club sponsoring me to be living a year abroad. I’m currently a junior at Pedro Menendez High School as well as earning credits at St. Johns River State College. I am a member of the National Honor Society, I like to volunteer at local pet shelters, and am on the World Winter Guard team. I love to spend time with my family and friends. I also love to read and listen to music, I find it very relaxing. In my free time, I like to go to the beach with my friends, go camping, kayak, play guitar, and shop. I have always loved the outdoors and cannot wait to see all the beautiful nature in Poland. After my exchange, I plan on attending Flagler College and majoring in International Business. I will forever be grateful to the Rotary for this once in a life time experience that will change my life forever. I never would have thought that I would be spending my senior year in Poland. It is truly a dream come true. I know that I will create friendships and relationships that will be never ending. Poland is rich in its culture and I can’t wait to be a part of it. It will be so amazing to learn a new language and experience all that Poland has to offer. I am so excited. Dziękuję Rotary!

Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw

Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw

Inbound class 2017-2018 in Bydgoszcz for Language Camp

Inbound class 2017-2018 in Bydgoszcz for Language Camp

Me arriving in Warsaw Poland to my Host dad and sister

Me arriving in Warsaw Poland to my Host dad and sister

Lech Wałęsa, the former president who freed Poland from communism

Lech Wałęsa, the former president who freed Poland from communism

Gina and I representing Florida at the EEMA conference in Warsaw

Gina and I representing Florida at the EEMA conference in Warsaw

Stary Miasto in Bydgoszcz center

Stary Miasto in Bydgoszcz center

This is My high school, called Liceum 1

This is My high school, called Liceum 1

Natalia and I at Bydgoszcz Philharmonic

Natalia and I at Bydgoszcz Philharmonic

Me in Wrocław with my Polish flag

Me in Wrocław with my Polish flag

Some of the Bydgoszcz kids on our camping trip

Some of the Bydgoszcz kids on our camping trip

Alice and I on the boat tour in Toruń

Alice and I on the boat tour in Toruń

My family and I during All Saints Day weekend

My family and I during All Saints Day weekend

Grudziądz Poland

Grudziądz Poland

Carousel in Gdańsk

Carousel in Gdańsk

The Autumn leaves changing

The Autumn leaves changing

Jed and I at the Christmas market in Wrocław

Jed and I at the Christmas market in Wrocław

Me in the mountains in the south of Poland

Me in the mountains in the south of Poland

My friends and I in Prague

My friends and I in Prague

entry-137-natalia_and_i_in_germany_(1)

entry-137-natalia_and_i_in_germany_(1)

My family and I celebrating Thanksgiving

My family and I celebrating Thanksgiving

Jed and I in Stary Rynek for New Years

Jed and I in Stary Rynek for New Years

My grandma and I on Christmas Eve

My grandma and I on Christmas Eve

My friends and I at Ksiąz Castle

My friends and I at Ksiąz Castle

Natalia and I in Dresden Germany

Natalia and I in Dresden Germany

Jed and I saying goodbye at the airport

Jed and I saying goodbye at the airport

Me with my American flag in the Alps

Me with my American flag in the Alps

Me in Kraków

Me in Kraków

Klara and I on her first birthday

Klara and I on her first birthday

Me and my friends skiing in Zakopane

Me and my friends skiing in Zakopane

The gates of Auschwitz

The gates of Auschwitz

Me celebrating Tłusty Czwartek

Me celebrating Tłusty Czwartek

My friends and I skiing in Austria

My friends and I skiing in Austria

Journals: Destiny-Poland Blog 2017-18

  • Destiny, Outbound to Poland

    The biggest things that have happened in the past three months: On January 19th my good friend Jed finished his exchange and went back to Australia. The other exchange students and I were extremely upset; a piece of us was in another place now. But through this we all started to spend more time together and we got even closer. My Polish friends took me ice skating which for this Floridian was quite a challenge. My friends were super kind and taught me a few tricks to help me glide. I still fell a few times, but the most important thing is I got back up and tried again. (An important thing I have learned on exchange, don’t give up, try again). January 27th -February 3rd I went with Rotary on a skiing trip to Austria. It was the absolute best week of my life. How many people get to say they learned how to ski in the Alps? We had a ski instructor and at the beginning of the week skiing seemed so difficult; however, at the end of week I felt like a pro (sort of). I plan on going skiing with my family and friends a lot more in the states. The slopes were beautiful, and the hot chocolate was great. Every night the Rotarians would play trivia games with us about our countries. We made so many amazing and funny memories and it was definitely one of the highlights of my exchange.

    In February 8th, we had Tłusty Czwartek which is Fat Thursday. It is a holiday where you eat as much Pączki as you can. It is believed that if you don’t eat Pączki you will be miserable for the rest of the year. Pączki are Polish “doughnuts” that have many different fillings (plum, apricot, strawberry, custard, and bacon). My friends and I had a lot of fun eating all the Pączki we could that day. Later that month three of my good friends and I went on a ski trip to Zakopane. It was so much fun and we all had a great time skiing together again. We even got to visit the city if Zakopane, and we got to see some beautiful handmade plaques and traditional Polish clothing.

    At the beginning of March, I was asked to make a presentation about the different stereotypes of states around the country. All of the students were interested about what I had to say and they loved hearing about the United States from a natives view. I got to celebrate my host cousins first birthday with her and our family. There is a tradition when a baby turns one that the mother will lay 3 items in front of them. The items are money, a rosary, and a shot glass. The money means the child will be prosperous, ambitious, and driven. The Rosary means the child will be religious and spiritual. The shot glass means the child will be outgoing and very social. My cousin picked the money and we were all very happy for her.

    Weather: It is still cold here. I woke up today and looked outside, it was like winter wonderland. Some days are beautifully sunny and quite warm 45-50 degrees; then out of nowhere it will start to rain or snow. But I remember I must be adaptable and try my best to stay prepared (always carry an umbrella). I think my new favorite thing is watching the snow fall. I love that I can look out my window and see the trees frosted, it’s beautiful. It’s quite a different view from Florida’s hot and sunny beaches.

    Friends: I could talk about them all day. I feel like I have said this a million times but the exchange students are my family. We laugh together, cry together, travel together, and experience Poland together. The thought of leaving them breaks my heart, but it also makes me think about how lucky I am to have made such strong relationships with these people I have only known for 7 months. The exchange kids in my city are lucky because we have a group of 9 students. We all have shared so much about each other’s countries and I have learned about Japanese Canadian, Mexican, Taiwanese, and Australian culture. I know I will stay friends with these people for the rest of my life. In fact, we are already making plans to visit each other soon after exchange.

    This past weekend, Rotary took my whole district to Kraków and Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Kraków is a beautiful city and my new favorite. We got to go on a tour of the Wawel Castle, it was breathtaking. The markets in the city center sell very traditional things like: headpieces, hand painted Easter eggs, and my favorite, Pierogi. They even had carriage tours around the city. In the middle of the markets there were people performing traditional dances in traditional clothes. The exchange kids and I were so happy to see so much culture being displayed. We all have a lot of love for Kraków.

    The next day we visited Auschwitz Concentration Camp and Birkenau Death Camp. It was so crazy for us because we had all learned about the Holocaust and seen pictures of the concentration camp in textbooks before; however, actually being there and seeing it in real life was a whole other story. It was something really hard to accept and comprehend. To stand in the place where thousands were mass killed… there was just no words. But I would not trade my experiences for anything and if you ever go to Poland it is definitely something worth seeing.

    I would like to thank Rotary so much for my exchange and for being able to experience so much in this year. I really do love Poland and I have loved growing as a person and becoming more independent. I would also like to thank my family for always supporting me and loving me. Dziękuję i do zobaczenia. Jeszcze trzy miesiące ...

    Click HERE to read more about Destiny and all her blogs

  • Destiny, Outbound to Poland

    I remember Mrs. Paula always telling me and the other outbounds to always say yes; this advice has led me to great opportunities. To every future outbound I encourage you to always say yes because that’s when you truly start living.

    In November I got to go on trip with some other exchange students in my city to Czech Prague, Vienna Austria, and the mountains in the south of Poland. I got to see snow for the first time in years. As soon as we all saw the snow we jumped out of the train and started throwing it at each other and it was so much fun. During the trip me and the girls became really close and I will cherish the hilarious memories we made together. Also, if you ever get the chance to go to Prague TAKE IT! It is the most beautiful city I have ever seen.

    I have been told from exchange students that Thanksgiving is a very hard time where you will feel the homesickness, they are not wrong. I was really lucky though because my host family made me a big Thanksgiving dinner and they had my grandparents come over. I was extremely touched, and it helped me so much. There is a tradition in my family where we pray and then pass a spoon around the table and we say the things we are thankful for. When my host grandma started praying she was thanking God that I came into their lives and that I was such a good girl and that she was thankful I was a part of their family. I cried very much because I felt so loved and happy and they all made me feel like I was family.

    Recently I got to go to Warsaw and see all of the Christmas decorations and my good friend Weronika. We even got to go Ice skating in front of the Palace of Culture and Science, which is probably my favorite building in Poland, it almost felt like dream. To be honest I have a lot of these moments because on exchange I have experienced so many things that I have always wanted to do. I have made really good relationships with exchange students, Polish friends, and my host families, and I absolutely LOVE my city Bydgoszcz. Side note, it is extremely easy to make friends with exchange students, they will become your family while you are on exchange. It is super easy to connect because you all go through the same things and you know how to comfort each other.

    Recently I also went on a school trip to the Christmas markets in Dresden Germany. In December, we had our Wrocław Rotary trip. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone from our exchange group. We got to go to Ksiąz castle where Hitler lived and worked. We also went to the Zoo and we went to a hydraulics museum. During our weekend we went to the Christmas of many nations meeting where exchange students would sing Christmas carols in Polish. At the end, we all got in a circle and sang “We Are the World” and it was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced, I will never forget it.

    I got to celebrate Christmas which was a very nice holiday. In Poland we celebrate on the 24th. We have a big dinner which mainly consists of many different fish dishes. We also open gifts this night too. There is a tradition here that you break apart a piece of a wafer and wish everyone good health, a happy life, and you bless them. It is such a sweet thing to do and I will definitely be bringing this tradition back to my family in the U.S. I will say Christmas time was probably my hardest time so far in terms of homesickness; the only advice I can give is to realize how lucky you are to be on exchange and live it to your fullest because next year you will be back with your family again. So, try to be positive and soak up as much of this new culture you can.

    I also switched families a little after new year. I am so blessed to have had such a wonderful first family and now a wonderful second family. I already love them so much. I have a little sister and I can tell we will be close. On my first night she sat with me while I unpacked, and we listened to music and danced and played monopoly and I think she is the sweetest thing. My parents are extremely helpful and are super funny. I have already picked up new Polish phrases and words from speaking with them.

    The weather is definitely something that takes some adjusting to get used to, layering is key and always keep your head covered. Something else that is helpful is to get waterproof boots for the fall and winter seasons because it rains and snows a lot. Public transportation is something very daunting at first, but you will get the hang of it quickly; I take buses and trams all over my city now.

    Polish is definitely difficult, but it is also do able. Practice makes perfect. Also, don’t be afraid to use your Polish, people will be happy to see you are trying because they know it is such a hard language to learn. Making mistakes also helps you learn more and faster so don’t be afraid.

    Good luck to all of the new outbounds, whoever gets Poland I know you will love it just as much as I do. Thank you Rotary for giving me this once in a life time opportunity to grow as a person and to see the world. Dziekuje, powodzenia, I do zobaczenia.

    Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku (Happy New Year).

    Click HERE to read more about Destiny and all her blogs

  • Destiny, Outbound to Poland

    I am almost at my 3-month mark here in Poland. I really do believe that this is a life within a year and not just a year within my life. I have seen and done so much already. I have been traveling to different cities almost every weekend. I have made some really good friends that have helped me so much. My friend Natalia took me to the Philharmonic in my city Bydgoszcz, which is the best one in Poland. It was beautiful. I went to a city called Grudziądz and got to see some of the other exchange students. Then we had a Rotary meeting in Toruń with all the other exchange students, we got to go to the Gingerbread Museum and learn how to make homemade Gingerbread. We also got to go on a boat tour. My Rotary Club took me and 4 other students to a camping trip. We went on a hike and got to see all the leaves changing. It was breathtaking and definitely one of my favorite things about Autumn in Poland. Then my parents took me on a trip to Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot, also known as the Tri-city. We had so much fun together. We went to the WWII museum, Destroyer tour, Carousel ride, and I got to see the beach that I have been missing.

    Then I went to Wrocław to see some of my really good friends. We got to see the city and the Dwarfs of Wrocław, which is something I have wanted to see since I heard I was coming to Poland. On November 1, we have a holiday called All Saints Day. It is a holiday of remembrance to those who have passed. My family and I went to the village where my mom grew up to celebrate and meet family. We went to Mass then went to the cemetery. There must have been 100 families there. The graves were decorated beautifully, there were big tombs made of marble and they were covered with flowers and candles. The Priest came and sprayed holy water and prayed over everyone. It was a very beautiful holiday to celebrate. The most breath-taking part was seeing the cemeteries at night. The candles lit up the whole sky and you felt this type of peace. It was so touching to see how much everyone cares and loves their families.

    My Rotary Club has signed me and some other students up for Thai Boxing. It is really fun. It is very intense though… I have to work off that Pierogi somehow. The weather is definitely a lot colder than what I’m used to. It is rainy and cold most days. The Autumn season is leaving, and Winter is on its way. I am hoping I will get to see some snow soon.

    Polish is getting easier every week. I can understand more than I can say. I have a Polish tutor who is helping in the areas of Polish I am not strong in. For me and the other students this is grammar. With Polish you can’t just be submerged, it’s not enough. You really have to work for it. I really like Polish though and everyone says I am getting much better. The best feeling is ordering your meal, buying a train ticket, or just talking to your family at the table. It makes all the hard work worth it.

    I would just like to thank Rotary for this amazing experience. I know I am growing as a person, becoming more independent, and falling in love with Poland. For all of you future outbounds picking countries please put Poland on your list. You will see how much love is in this country and you will not be disappointed. Do Zobaczenia, Dziękuję.

    Click HERE to read more about Destiny and all her blogs

  • Destiny, Outbound to Poland

    Click HERE to read more about Destiny and all her blogs

    Dzień Dobry! It’s hard to believe I have been in Poland for a little over a month now. I cannot explain how much love I have for this beautiful country. The first thing I would like to talk about would be my flight and my airport experience. The day before I left I was just so excited I couldn’t really think of anything else, other than the fact that the big day had finally come. However, the day of my actual flight made me very emotional. There is a surreal feeling you get when you are about to leave everything you have ever known and loved; anyone who is or was an exchange student will know what I am referring to. It is this nerve wracking yet exhilarating feeling you get and all you can think about is this brand-new adventure that lays ahead of you. I really want to thank my family for being so supportive of me and for giving me the strength to go on exchange because it is something I have always wanted to do. I love you guys with all my heart.

    When I arrived in Warsaw, Poland I was greeted by my host dad and sister, and my exchange friend Weronika; I was so happy to see them. Some of my first impressions of Poland were: lots of open landscapes, lots of windmills, and lots of trams/ trains/ and buses. Also, we eat a lot of Potatoes here, baked, boiled, and fried.

    I got to meet my grandparents before I went to language camp and they were so sweet and welcoming. My grandpa had said that whenever I am missing him or my family back home, I can come over and give him a hug and spend time with them. My grandparents come to my house every Saturday and I help my grandpa in the garden; I love spending time with him. He will point to objects and tell me the word in Polish and it helps me to learn new words. My host dad was very touched that I spend time with my grandparents, I really love my family here.

    Language camp was the BEST experience. I met so many people from all over the world. I have friends from Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Chile, Venezuela, and all over the United States; and I am still meeting new people. During the course, we got take Polish grammar, vocabulary, music, sports and history. My understanding of Polish increased dramatically. I really liked my teachers, they were so helpful. We also got to visit some very interesting places like Malbork Castle and an Army Museum. My favorite part was when we got to visit the President of Bydgoszcz and introduce ourselves to him in Polish. It was so cool and I was so proud of myself for speaking Polish to him. The last day of language camp we took our exams and I got a 100% on my speaking portion, I was ecstatic.

    I started school on September 4th. On the first day of Polish school, students wear a white shirt with black pants or a black skirt; this is uniform for the first day because you will meet your main teacher and classmates. I really love my school, it’s so beautiful and the people are so helpful. I have a mix of classes that I take: Spanish, Physics, Biology, Civics, Religion, Basics of Enterprise, Polish, Chemistry, Math, Education of Safety, Knowledge of Culture, History in Spanish, Geography in Spanish, and Polish history. Here we stay with the same group of people for all our classes, it makes it easier to make friends so I am happy about that.

    September 8-10th I was in Warsaw at a Rotary conference called EEMA. The exchange students got to participate in the flag ceremony and it was very exciting. We all got to represent different countries. I really enjoyed seeing people get so happy when an exchange student was carrying their flag and representing their country. We also got to meet the former President, Lech Wałęsa, who freed Poland from Communism. We were in awe, it was so inspirational to hear him speak at the conference. After this we got to take a tour around Warsaw and spend time together, which we all really enjoyed because we missed each other.

    I really am loving my life here in Poland, my family here is so supportive, helpful, loving and caring, I am so blessed. I would like to thank my family and friends back home for loving and supporting me. I would also like to thank Rotary for this amazing opportunity, I will forever be grateful.

    To anyone thinking about going on exchange, PLEASE do it, you will have the best time of your life. Also, choose Poland, there is such beautiful culture, traditions, and language here. No matter where you will decide to go, exchange will change your life and it has made me so happy.

    Porozmawiaj z tobą wkrótce, Dziękuję bardzo

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