names Andrea Sullivan. In less than a year, Iíll be all the way in
Switzerland! Researching the culture, looking at pictures, and hearing
stories from family and friends about their visits has made this opportunity
seem almost unreal, and I can never be grateful enough to Rotary for giving
it to me.
currently 15 years old and a sophomore at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Sports, other events, and school spirit is a big deal there, so of course
Iím always involved in some way. I live in a city in South Florida called
Plantation which isnít far from my favorite place in the world, the beach; a
huge difference from where Iíll soon be living. As accustomed to tropical
weather as I am, just thinking about the difference in climate is a
challenge, but I can hardly wait! I speak English and Spanish, so speaking
German is going to be something completely new to me.
to play soccer, and on the side like to continue in gymnastics or dance
lessons. Recently, photography has become one of my hobbies. I love the
beach, but I find any part of nature beautiful, and its what I like
photograph the most. I love to travel as well, and hope to learn at least 2
more languages. Iím very outgoing, easy to get along with, and was taught to
speak what is on my mind. I spend a lot of time with family (which happens
to be very big) and close friends. They mean the world to me, and I will
miss everyone so much!
I can only imagine what an amazing time I am going to have and what an
amazing experience its going to be for me to not only learn about but be a
part of a culture I am completely unfamiliar with for a whole year. Iíd like
to thank my Mom, Dad, and older brother, who is leaving as well, but for
college, for helping me with and supporting me through this process.
However, Iíd especially like to thank my Grandma for the influence she has
had on me in always being interested in other cultures and gaining knowledge
about the world that most of us only know so little about.
I have always
gone to either my mom or grandma when I face difficult decisions, and like
the other times they have encouraged me to do something, I know this coming
year is bound to be not only a success but the experience of a lifetime.
Dear Family and Friends,
Future Exchange Students,
Current Exchange Students,
None of the Above,
Unlike most of the other exchange students, I havnít kept up with a blog
filling you in on the past 4 months. Iíll start with today and work my way
backwards until August, when I arrived in Switzerland.
My day starts 6 hours before most of yours, so itís already noon on
Christmas Day. Of course, Iím spending the holidays with my host family: My
host parents, 2 older host-sisters, their boyfriends, and 2 older
host-brothers, (my third host-sister is in California for an exchange right
now as well.) I couldnít ask for a better family to be with, and I couldnít
feel more loved by them.
Last night, we had a traditional Swiss dinner called fondue chinois, which
is with meat instead of cheese. I tried doe for the first time and
definitely donít recommend it. What also made it slightly less appetizing
was that when I asked which type of meat it was, and didnít understand the
German word, they explained by saying it was Bambi. I ate Bambi.:í( I
couldnít get myself to try the horse. Now itís not as unusual sounding as
before, but yes, horses are food, not only friends. But aside from eating
Spirit and Bambi, it was delicious.
It snowed in the village I live in on Monday, and I was happily initiated by
my classmates with a lot of snow to the face. Waking up to see everything
covered in white outside is amazing and stomping on the snow walking to
school is so much more fun than finding the crunchy leaves to step on. I
find myself singing and dancing on the way home about as much as or more
than the preschoolers here, which the people waiting at the bus stops along
the way always seem to find entertaining. (especially the elderly women that
watch me almost slip on the icy spots in mid-song.)
Speaking of walking to school, I no longer have Daniel Michael to force me
into the car in order to be on time, which means I have to try not being
late all by myself. My habit of being fashionably late here doesnít fit in
very well. (one time I even got to a dinner party with my prior family 2
minutes early. EARLY.) So anyways, I usually end up running a lot more than
walking, and to my surprise even, and probably to everybody who lives
here(because they would most likely disagree), I am so much more punctual,
and I even have a personal agenda. For planning aheadÖlike real days and
weeks ahead. Not just a few hours or minutes. Itís very exciting to use.
School isnít like at home, Iím with the same 20 classmates for all subjects
and we sometimes have several hours for lunch, or the day doesnít end until
6:15. Iím not complaining though, I love school here. I donít have to take
tests, or learn. Except in English; my English teacher insists that I take
her class just as seriously as the other students because I must learn
English. I even get to read aloud when its my turn. I also get asked to
explain words sometimes, but theyíre usually words like ďpurrď, and then,
naturally, Iím asked to demonstrate. My class is awesome though, and the
school is beautiful.
I donít wear uniforms, so I have to choose an outfit every day, which isnít
as hard as I thought it would be, I actually really like it, but pink
sweatpants are frowned upon by the other girls. They donít like my pink
sweatpants. Flamboyant colors arenít so popular here, and Iíve kind of
managed to own an article of clothing in about every bright shade. Which is
ok, because they go along well with my rainbow rain boots, and bright orange
cap that looks like a cat, which are equally frowned upon by angry female by
My German at the moment is 100x better than it was 4 months ago, but I think
it should be called Andrea Language, because its more of a combination of
High-German, twisted English and Spanish words that I think fit nicely into
my sentence, a lot of noises and hand-motions, and some Swiss-German words
thrown in occasionally.
Iím not allowed to dateÖor drinkÖ.
Ok, next paragraph.
Mountains are great, they really are, and I like them, I really do, but one
time I had so much mountain wandering in one week that I refused to walk up
another one. The primary reason I didnít want to look at another mountain
this particular time was because my week wasnít exactly spent wandering up
mountains, it was spent biking up them, and quite honestly, I will NEVER do
that again. Not because it was a horrible experience or anything, but I was
in a group of about 10 Swiss boys, and my Swiss host-sister and I were the
only girls (I made sure to add the ďSwissĒ because I swear people here are
born on bicycles.) Dear state champ football players, I will never feel
sorry watching you work out after having done this.
I canít forget to add that I was hit by a car during this beloved week of
In these months, Iíve also managed to slip down the stairs so many times,
that my family gave me socks with grips on the bottom.
This isnít everything of course, but I, being as punctual and good at time
management as I am, only have half an hour to pack before we leave to a
Chalet in the alps for the week, where I will be learning how to snowboard!
Merry Christmas Everyone! I miss you all and wish I could be sharing more of
the amazing time Iím having here with you. Enjoy your holidays and time with
loves ones, and know that I wish you all the very best for the new year, and
hope you not only seize any opportunity for love, success, and happiness
that may come across you, but find these things in what you have and make
the most of it.
With all my love from Switzerland,
p.s. yes, I eat chocolate like theres no tomorrow; no, dad, I don't know how
to yodel; I have no idea how many times I've been asked how often I eat
McDonalds; and when I mention I'm from South Florida, its seems like
screaming "Spring Break!!" is an involuntary reaction from some of the guys.