Emily York


Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
School: Johns Creek High School
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Johns Creek, Georgia
Host District: 1910
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Perchtoldsdorf

My Bio

Grüß Gott! My name is Emily and I excited to be studying in Austria for the 2019-2020 school year! I am currently in my third year at Johns Creek High School, in Johns Creek, GA, where I have lived my whole life. I live at home with my parents and dog, and have two older siblings. My sister attends college in Alabama, and my brother is in the National Guard. I enjoy playing sports, so you can usually find me on the softball field, basketball court, or lacrosse field after school. Sports are a huge part of my life and I am interested to see how I will continue that next year in Austria. When I’m not competing, I volunteer within the school and community through Beta Club, National Spanish Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, and NHS. I spend some of my free time studying other languages, and even founded the school’s German club! I am very fortunate to have traveled a bit as I have grown up which has influenced me greatly. My travels have helped me gain a global outlook and realize that the world is so much bigger than we know. I hope to continue learning these lessons during my Rotary Youth Exchange year. I am so excited to continue to grow my global knowledge and experience the joys and challenges that exchange will bring. Tschüss!

Journals: Emily-Austria Blog 2019-20

  • Emily, Outbound to Austria

    Servus! Another month has passed here in Austria, and I have started settling into a more “normal” life. My school started at the beginning of September, and it has been interesting.

    Academically, school is not too difficult for me. I recognize the topics in Chemistry, Math, Geography, Spanish, and Physics, and English is also quite easy for me. I understand close to nothing in History, Psychology, and German, so I study language in those classes, or translate words from the lessons. That has definitely been the best use of my time when I don’t understand, because it helps me pick up more of the language.

    My hours for school are quite favorable. On Monday and Wednesday, I start school at 9 am, and end at 1 pm. On Wednesday, I start at 8 am, and end at 3:30 pm with a 1 hour break, and On Thursday and Friday, I start at 8 am and end at 2 pm. This leaves me plenty of time to meet up with friends after school during the week which has been very nice.

    The difficult part at school has been the social aspect. In Georgia, I would always look forward to going to school to be able to see my friends, but I don’t really have any school friends here (yet!). I heard it would be challenging to befriend locals, and that has definitely proved to be true, but I will keep trying! I never really got the “new exchange student popularity,” but was rather just a normal new student. The main difference that I have noticed between Austrian school and American school is that I remain with the same class all the time, and the teachers move from room to room. It is also different having different classes each day rather than the same 6. I like these differences, they will hopefully allow me to get close with this smaller group of classmates and it is nice to have some variety in my daily schedule.

    We had another Rotary trip halfway through September for a weekend. It was hiking weekend, so all the exchange students met up in Villach, in southern Austria and we took a bus to Bad Kleinkirchheim where we stayed at for the weekend. The train ride was about 4 hours from Vienna, but the scenery was beautiful and all the Vienna area students traveled together which makes it even better. This was the first time that all the oldies and newbies had met up, so it was great to get to know some new people. The hike was also absolutely beautiful! It was 12 kilometers up the mountain, across the ridge, then back down. We hiked up into the clouds and it got cold, but once the sun came out it was quite warm. In the evening we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Bad Kleinkirchheim with a gala dinner. I got to wear my dirndl and we had a lovely dinner. There were a few speeches, but I doubt any of the exchange students understood anything through the quick speaking but also the different dialect.

    Since then I have done many other cool things. I took a day trip to visit another student who was in the hospital after a climbing accident. It was good to see her once again before she returned home to recover, and I got to visit Salzburg again. The weather is beautiful this time of year, making it an impeccable day. I went to Burgenland with my friends and their host families and we went for a walk around some fields. The weather was beautiful again and it was great to be together. On Friday, September the 27th, I participated in the climate strike in Vienna. It was great to see so many young people taking action for global issues that they are passionate about, and it gives s strong sense of hope for positive change in the future. Other than that, I have spent a good majority of my free time with other exchange students.

    This month has definitely been more difficult than the last. I have found that it is best to keep myself busy, rather than staying home alone giving myself time to think. I met up with an old neighbor that grew up in the same area as me, and he helped me gain a new outlook on some of the cultural differences found here in Austria. I know that it will be very good to have someone who has a longer-term experience here that can help me through tough situations that I encounter. Despite it being frowned upon, I meet with other exchange students many days per week. I believe this has had a positive impact on me, because similar experiences make it easier for us to bond, and we provide a strong support system for each other. I have also looked into new activities that I can take part in that might open new opportunities for finding local friends. I’ve started running more, and hope to do a race in the spring. It has been a good way for me to get out of the house, not spend money, and get some exercise to work off all the good food I’ve been eating. I also plan on doing ballroom dancing classes, ball season starts in late November and I have heard they are lovely in Vienna. I also reached out to the local lacrosse team to see if I could join them for the rest of the year. I guess we will see how much I get involved with in the next few months!

    Bis Später,

    Click HERE to read more about Emily and all her blogs


  • Emily, Outbound to Austria

    Hi everyone! I have been in Austria for over 3 weeks now and have had a great time so far. I figured I should start with some background information on my exchange, so here we go:

    I am staying in Vienna, the capital of Austria, in the 23rd district. I live here with my host parents and my host sister, Vanessa. I also have two host brothers, Marvin is currently on his exchange in Vail, Colorado, and Timmy lives with his girlfriend, Celine. There is also a dog named Happy! I chose Austria for many reasons. I wanted to learn German, I love the nature, and I like to ski, and Austria offers all of those opportunities. My dad also lived in Vienna for a while after college, so that also influenced me.

    I left Atlanta on August 8th and had very conflicting emotions, I was very excited to start this adventure, but it was really hard to leave my family and friends. I arrived in Vienna on August 9th and was greeted by the entire family at the airport. The first day was really a blur because I was so tired from not sleeping for 40 hours...


    My second day here was my birthday and I was surprised with a great breakfast. We later went to Schönbrunn, the summer palace of the Hapsburgs. It was very beautiful and is close to my house, so I can go there as often as I’d like. I had my first schnitzel that day and we played some card games. In the evening, I was surprised with a bunch of people, Sachertorte and some gifts. We had a barbecue that night and it was great.


    On Sunday, I met up with some oldies (exchange students from Australia and New Zealand that stay from January- December) and they showed me around the city. It was my first time going into the Innere Stadt and it was absolutely breathtaking. It reminded me why I was here. That was also my first time using the public transportation system, I had no issues at all, I just followed the colored lines until I got to my station. When I got home, I described my day to my host mom, only using German.


    Monday we worked on logistical things like my phone, bank account, and visa, but only accomplished getting my SIM card. In the evening, I thought we were heading to the Rotary meeting, but we went to a restaurant in the city and did trivia night. I was pretty much clueless about everything, except I recognized the translation of Royals by Lorde and helped with the question :)


    Tuesday was pretty cool too, we went to Hans Zimmer, he is a classical composer and lots of his music is in movies like The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Inception. The concert was in Burgenland and there was a great view of Neusiedler See, the biggest lake in Austria, from the venue.


    On Wednesday, I met up with oldies again and we went shopping. I saw some new parts of Vienna and we met up with a Rotex for dinner. Everyone has given me so many tips to make my year the best ever and it has been super helpful.


    On Thursday, my host mom took me on a tour around the city and I again saw many new things. The highlights were definitely the Hundertwasserhaus and the amazing view from Kahlenberg. This city is beautiful and I am so grateful to have been placed here.


    I woke up early on Friday to take care of my visa. We drove to the office, waited in a bunch of lines, and were done after about 2-3 hours. In the afternoon I met up with other students from the US and Canada. We walked around and talked about everything.


    On Saturday, I spent most of the day relaxing and getting ready for a cultural event that night. Most people wear Lederhosen and Dirndls, so I wanted to fit in. My host mom asked her friends if they had one I could borrow and they did! I met up with other students and some Rotex and we had a great time.

    Language Camp

    On Sunday, I left for Salzburg for two weeks of language camp. I met with many of the Vienna students at the train station and we headed off to Salzburg. I sat on the train with Maya, Serena, and Daniel and we all bonded super well, we spent most of our time with each other. It is good that my closest friends are from Vienna, because we will be able to spend lots of time together outside of Rotary events. The first night was interesting because we were not very sure of what we had to do, so we took it as free time, and had a great time meeting all the other 40 students from around the world. The days usually followed a consistent schedule. We had breakfast at 8 AM which was Semmel (bread), meat, cheese, vegetables, Müsli, yogurt and coffee. They brought in some fruit after about 5 days for us and that was delicious. We had class from 9 AM-12 PM, lunch from 12:15 PM-1PM, and afternoon class from 1PM-3PM, usually. We had free time from 3PM-6PM and 7PM-10PM, with dinner from 6PM-7PM. The schedule was sometimes changed with shortened class to go swimming if the weather was nice. In our free time, we went into Salzburg, walked along the river, played cards, swam in the river, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.

    On Sunday, we took a special trip to Hallstatt for the day. The town is very small, but beautiful. We got our first glimpse and it was breathtaking. Later, we took the cable car up the mountain and went on a tour of the salt mines. The tour was in both English and German, so it was cool to see what I understood first in German before it was told in English. After the tour, we went back into the time and had time to explore on our own. We wandered the streets and found a great view of the church and lake. I had a good time talking with new people on the bus ride home, and we stopped for Schnitzel for dinner. I’d say it was a pretty great day.

    Our trips into Salzburg were also a good time. We saw the gardens, castle, went shopping, and both times had Asian food for dinner. The city was the most beautiful in the sunlight, the colors of the buildings were so vibrant and the views were even better. We also ran into some oldies while we were there, which is always cool!

    Yesterday (Saturday, August 31st) was the end of language camp, and Maya’s host parents drove us back to Vienna. Although I loved being in nature in Puch with everyone, I was filled with so much joy to be back in Vienna. It was great to be home, and even better to know that this is home and feels that way. Today I went for a walk at Schneeberg with my host mom. It was relatively chaotic when we arrived because she accidentally locked the keys in the car. Luckily, help came about 30 minutes later and all was fine.

    The most difficult thing for me has been the language. I arrived with a strong base of knowledge, but my host family will only speak German with me. I know this is going to be very helpful for me, but I struggle to follow conversations. Big meals with people are the most difficult with more than one person talking, I do my best to answer properly, but I am still limited to pretty basic German. Nevertheless, I am proud that I have been able to succeed in responding to questions, order my meals at restaurants in German, ask for directions, and anything else when I am out.

    Today is the first day of September, crazy to think of how one month ago, I was anticipating this grand experience, and now it is my real life. I have been known among my friends to say, “guys, this is our country” when there is a beautiful view or when we are having a lot of fun. As cheesy as it sounds, I am still in awe that I live here and get to experience so many amazing things surrounded by even better people.

    These journals were the most helpful thing for me when I was deciding to go on exchange, so I will do my best to make time monthly and give updates here. To future outbounds: follow your dreams. If you’ve always wanted to go on exchange, apply! Rotary is an amazing organization and will help you reach success. I am so thankful for this opportunity and am looking forward to all the other amazing adventures I will get to go on this year.

    Until next time,


    Click HERE to read more about Emily and all her blogs

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