When I try to remember my arrival in Jacksonville, six weeks ago, I canít
feel my sensation anymore that I had. It was unique. My host family waits me
with some of their friends at the airport with placards and then they bring
me to their favorite fast food. Actually I have an excellent family. My host
brother and sister are really nice! I think that it helped me at the
beginning to have a brother with the same age than me. He could show me the
world of Americanís teenagers. So after fast food I visited their house
before to go sleeping after 25 hours of travel and about leaving my country,
and about a new lifestyle. Itís weird to say that but the first two days I
just felt like a Robot: - I didnít really know before my new family, my new
house, St Augustine and the answer to the question ďWhy am I doing an
exchange and didnít continue my school in Switzerland where all my friends
Then the first days, I adapt to this ďother worldĒ. Though that I did
lots of things like to go doctor for immunizations, get a YMCA pass, or
meeting people. I even go tubing with my first two friends who I get along
very well now. The first two days passed quite slowly. I enjoy these days as
today, but I was in my little bubble. I didnít feel so much sensation about
everything that I did. Perhaps I did not realize that I was still in
Florida. I just followed my host family and discovered my new background.
After these two days I had my welcome party. It was so nice. I think it was
there, that I realized that I have everything to have a great year. When I
began to meet new people, I felt more and more safe. We also had a welcome
party with other exchange students (Ana, Elizabeth and Balŗzs) at the
Lighthouse. We even could eat our faces on the welcomeís cake. They are very
nice, I really like them. Then I went in North Carolina with my family too.
I had a Rotary Retreat in Lake Yale where I met all the Rotaryís exchange
Students in Florida. I know that I did plenty of awesome things, I could
write a book about my first two weeks, but I didnít remember yet. It was too
dense. Hopefully I took pictures of that.
So as you could see I was really busy before I began school. My family is
so active. They also do a lot of sport! Itís so nice for me. They live in a
beautiful neighborhood like in Beverly Hillsí. But itís Marsh Creek. Itís
very good for me because I met a lot of people and I can practice sport a
lot. I began cross country one week before I started school. I could meet
lots of teenagers who are in the same high school than me and they help me a
lot for the first days: they all asked me if I needed help and they greeted
me between classes with their traditional: ďWhatís up?Ē And now I can say
that until the races began, I did not know them a lot, but now I begin to
talk to them as friends and thatís really nice to be in a team and
particularly this one!
St Augustine high school is a really good school. The students are fun
and really friendly! I even could take a Guitar Class. It really changes
from Switzerland. In America, I have more funny classes, I could take
courses like photography, Cooking, Acting, Piano Ö And we have every day the
same seven classes. In my college last year, I had 13 classes spread in the
whole week with a different Schedule each day. We have the same number of
students, but my high school is on only one floor and lots of students come
to school with their cars. I like to hang out to some places with them! Iím
getting used to go to the football game. I like watching the cheerleaders
dancing; actually itís like in American movies. I donít play football here
but Iím playing tennis at Flagler College courts . The people are nice!
So far, I had a great time. It was hard for me to explain my last six
weeks because I did lots of fun things. But I think that I said the most
important. My integration is on a good way and I just canít imagine that Iím
here since one month and a half. Florida is just the place to be and now I
begin to know the answer to my initial question, ďWhy am I doing an
I hope you had fun to read my journal.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Time becomes faster. I feel that the winter comes kindly even if I still
go in my swimming pool. The winter, here, is maybe the same as the summer in
Central Europe. I feel like my English is getting better; I can now hear the
differences between accents. The southern accent sounds really funny. I even
had my Rotary Presentation, where I had to present my country in front of my
rotary club. They were impressive that Switzerland was a quarter of the size
of Florida and that I did not know Swiss miss coco before I came here.
During the same week, I have had the Rotary week end in Saint Augustine with
the other exchange students. It is always the same pleasure to meet them.
Otherwise in St Augustine High school, we have a great program named
SJCCA; it is kind of a building where we can practice art classes. So
besides my regular classes I took Chorus and Guitar. I even went listening,
LAGQ, a classical guitar band famous in US, with my guitar class. We even
played for them! That was just awesome for me. Now I have to practice my
guitar, I have my first concert in two weeks. I received my grades last
week, I was rather proud of me. In fact school is a bit easier here. I also
prefer the American school schedule; we have probably more time after school
than in my home country. Plus cross country is over. I can more hang out. I
really love St Augustine. The lifestyle is so relax, probably because of the
beach and the heat. I hang out more with Americans friends now. I discover
new things days after days. Last month I went to my first homecoming dance.
That was a lot of fun.
The food is delicious here. However the bread is a bit too soft. I mainly
eat at home with my family, but it is impossible to not go to fast foods. My
favorite fast food is Chick-Fil-A; it is a fast food where they make chicken
sandwiches. I often went to football games in High School because it is the
main event to meet lots of people in High School, but unfortunately they are
done now. Three weeks ago, I have been to a Gators peperali and Gators game.
It is the biggest peperali for a college football game in the world.
Last week I ran the Half Marathon of Saint Augustine. That was so pretty
in the morning. I even won a trophy because I was the second of my category.
I love running since Cross Country. This week end I had my first
Thanksgiving. I ate so much. The same evening, we went black Friday
shopping. It means that we went shopping during all the night. Everything
was really cheap. I am still tired of that. I have also been in Sea world
with some friends the day before. That was a really nice trip. I think after
each of these experiences, I consider things differently than before. Even
though I have only been an exchange student for three months, I really feel
much more outgoing now.
I think after each of these experiences, I consider things differently
than before. Even though I have only been an exchange student for three
months, I really feel much more outgoing now.
Saint Augustine Beach
Disneyland with my first host family
Cross Country Team
Classical Guitar Ensemble
January 31, 2012
December - January
Hey yíall !
Today is January 30th. I switched my family weeks ago. And January 31th will
be the half way of my exchange year. I did so many things since November.
First I am going to explain what I did in early December, then my actual
three last weeks.
December was really busy. At the beginning of the month I had my first
guitar concert. I was so excited and I even had the opportunity to play a
solo piece: ďRomanceĒ. It was the first time that I played guitar for about
200 people. I played well. Then I could leave for the Rotary fall Disney
trip in Orlando with an empty mind. All of the 70 exchanges students were
here in Orlando to meet each other again and to have fun together. Thatís
kind of strange because it was only the second time that weíve met, but I
felt like everybody is my really good friend. We are really close each
other, even if we are spread in 35 different countries. Then I came back and
I had a chorus concert and a Guitar concert at the lighthouse in St
Augustine. And then, I went again to Disney. We had to sing for the Candle
Light with Chorus, and then we were free in the Park Magic Kingdom the
second day. I think I am almost able to draw the Disney Park by memory after
these &ldq uo;2 weeks in DisneyĒ. Ė A lot of fun to sing at Epcot, with an
orchestra, and mainly when you never really sang before this yearÖ I donít
know how to thank my first host mom to have involved me in this program.
Thatís quite awesome.
Then when I got back home, I had to pack to change my host family. I came
with only one luggage and now I have 3... On this Sunday, my new family, the
Frasers picked me up at home. It is kind of weird to transfer like that. You
began to be attached to a family then you have to move again. I know itís
the Rotary rules to have several families, and I totally accept that, I find
it nice, because we can see other lifestyles. But it s still a bit the same
that the beginning, you just go to go, even if you donít really know where
youíre gonna go But I mean now, when I am able to communicate better, it
doesnít really matter until my family is nice with me. I love them now. They
are so sweet with me.
Now I have two older siblings, John and Ali who study in College, and Ian
who is in Middle School. They all play tennis and they are really good at
ping pong too. I love it. Otherwise, we celebrated Christmas here at home. I
was so impress about all the presents that my host dad packed for us.
Christmas was really good. Then I didnít really notice what I did during
this break, but I mainly hang out, went to some Rotary parties, hang out
here in St Augustine. I even went surfing on January 6th. I forgot to say
that now I live exactly 2 minutes away from the beach by bike. In summary I
love this family and I look forward for everything that I am going to do
Last week-end I went to the Keys with the Rotary Youth Exchange. We had a
Sea camp; we learned a bunch of stuff about the Ocean. We even went
snorkeling! It was really pretty. Now the Rotary kids are like my second
family. I love each single person in this big group!
To come back at the beginning, I really canít believe that in 1 day I will
be the half of my exchange. I am kind of sad. It begins to be really fun
here, and since I know people better. I guess I have to get used to this
idea of ďa coming back quite soonĒ. I just want to avail thoroughly!
March 21, 2012
Time flies. Only 3 and half months left.
I know every time that I begin my journal I write about the time that I
spent here so far. I guess it is just because I canít realize that my last
journal is already 3 months old.
Brief, never forget that this counter down could break at every moment by
being sent back home for diverse reasons; I or one of my family could simply
die, a war could come over the US, a Hurricane could come over Florida or I
can stupidly by mistake break a rule which all would make me going back home
without living the best. Sometimes I just forget the everyday chance to be
here in Florida. The chance to live all these experiences that only an
exchange student could live. It is what I learnt during the last weeks: I
want to appreciate these days like my last one not by getting the easy way,
but by working harder and go over my limits. Despite that I know my last day
will be the saddest one Ö
January and February were full in experiences. I had an awesome new yearís
party near Jacksonville with all the exchange students. I love them. I also
swam on January 4th in the ocean with Ian, my little host brother. I went
for my first time to the keys which were gorgeous. I ran my first full
marathon (26 miles) with some friends of high school and my first host mom.
It was like my crazy goal of this year: running a marathon in the US at 16.
I ran it in 4 hours 10. I also got into the tennis team which I am currently
number 2 Varsity. I went to Hawaii for some days as well. It is really
You know, I remember these highlights of the last two months, but were they
really the most joyful moments that I had during these last months? Ė I
donít know. The best feelings should also be considerate as highlights but
it is harder to remember, I guess, or harder to describe them too, they come
randomly. These feelings come in general when I am with friends, and I feel
that I know them really good, and what the matter, I will never forget them;
they are part of my life, or when I do something completely new too. I think
my best advice to give to a future exchange student would be: try out
everything that you would have never imagined you to do! Who would have
seriously thought that I would sing in a chorus, or would sing Valentineís
in front of my entire high School with some good American friends, or simply
run a marathon? So I did.
But time goes and goes. That is the rule of life. Otherwise these last days
were really beautiful, and sunny. It was the best time to go to the beach
and play tennis every day. I went tubing as well with some friends. We also
bought a Sleepín slide for 5$ at Wal-Mart. That was so much fun. Yesterday,
I went to Bill Clintonís speech in St Augustine. It was the first time I saw
a president in my life. ďWe are living in a world, where what we earn is a
function of what we learn.Ē Ė Bill Clinton- That was really interesting. I
learned a lot about American politics. Now I am done with my 3rd quarter
tests. I did pretty well! Spring break is coming!
Picture with Mr Rotary
Today, I looked my school planner. There is only 4 weeks left of school!
Thatís exciting; of course I am looking forward to be on some long vacation.
Itís just strange the fact that after school ends, I will not see some
friends anymore. Then I will have to go back home. I really look forward to
see my friends again, but I donít want to lose my Floridian life. I saw a
quote really cool recently: ďAn exchange year is not a year in a life; it's
a life in a yearĒ. It is quite true; everything change since I came here. It
just goes too fast! I will not have so much time to appreciate this month
and just hang out. Elisabeth and I got in to the musical ďBeauty and the
BeastĒ at the high school. Since 2 weeks every day until 9 we are practicing
for the show which is going to be at the end of the week. Thatís fun, I meet
new people. I wish to have more time to play tennis thoughÖ I kind of miss
my daily practices. After this play, I am going to celebrate our birthday at
the Fountain of Youth, and I am just going to be kind of busy with prom, my
guitar concerts, the rotary week end etc. Tomorrow I am also heading to
state with my chorus class. You canít even imagine how an exchange is full
of experiences. Thatís great.
April was a good month. The weather became so much nicer. Now itís sunny and
30įC or 80įF everyday! (= beach a lot). Thatís kind of cool to live close to
the beach. Yes, by the way, Iíve moved to my last family 2 weeks ago. I was
sad, they were so nice. The Highlights with the Frasers were probably
Christmas, Colorado, going to church periodically, their sympathy and their
traditional Sonnyís, they go there on every Sunday. Thatís a good barbecue!
I had a wonderful time with them. I really donít want to lose contact with
them. But as a Rotary Youth Exchange, switching between my families had
become familiar. For me it had been 3 times during the year.
I am here since 2 weeks now and, they are really nice too! I have one
host brother Michael and one host mom Cathy. We live between the light house
and downtown. The location is a bit better than my last host house. Now I
can just skateboard almost everywhere. I can go to St Augustine downtown in
5 minutes. This town is so pretty. I am so lucky to be here. THANK YOU
ROTARY! This week end, I volunteered for rhythm and ribs, a festival in
downtown. The other Exchange students from St Augustine came too. We were
together again. We had to look after the kids in the bounce castle. I became
really close to them. We were even talking about buying a house between the
four of us to come every year in St Augustine!
In sum, being A RYE student is awesome! And you should definitely come to
the Musical, and try to come to my last guitar concert next week; I am not
playing a solo this time. It still will be awesome.