Hello, my name is Ashley and I'm super thrilled to say that I'm going to be a Rotary Outbound exchange student to Sweden! Sweden was my last choice of country, so I was not exactly ecstatic; my sister got assigned to the same country when she was a Rotary Outbound exchange student in high school too. I am currently a junior at Miami Arts Charter School, so on my exchange I will be a senior. I am in the Music branch at school. I'm in the chorus and in jazz combo. I love to spend time at the beach; I play volleyball, and just finished an internship with Sony Music Entertainment. I live with my mother, father and little brother; have two older sisters who live in Boston and Connecticut. My sister was the person who got me interested in Rotary, showing me all her scrap books, and telling me all her adventures while in Sweden.
I am not scared about leaving my friends and family for a year, because I know that this adventure that I will take on will teach me so much about myself, and the struggles of truly being on my own. I believe that this will benefit me when I move away to college, already knowing how to take care of myself and manage my time and money. I know that I’m going to make international friendships that will last me a lifetime. So thank you Rotary so much for this opportunity to represent the United States over seas !
Ashley- Outbound to Sweden
Hej! jag hetter Ashley och jag har varit här i 2
månader. (Hey I'm Ashley and I've been here for 2 months). School started
about a month ago and I have this nice little routine, gotten used to yogurt
on cereal, the weird cheese slicer, and eco-friendly family....I’d say
things are going well. Swedes in general are pretty shy and won't come up to
talk to you. You have to go and make the conversation. Pretty much everyone
I’ve met has asked me: “Do you like Obama or Romney?”, “Do you have a
driver’s license?”, “Do you ”, “Is it really like Miami Vice?”, and “Can you
have someone send us red cups?”. It's actually really funny hearing all
their theories about the US and Miami. Swedish school is really stress-free
compared to American schools. No bells, no hall passes, you just get up and
go; it's great! You also have a different schedule every day. It's not block
schedule or anything, there is no real structure period system or standard
break length. It’s actually like college.
I could really get used to being able to get
wherever I want by bus and/or train.
I am so happy that I get to live in one of the
most beautiful cities in the world, Stockholm. Living here is like living a
Miley Cyrus movie! (I'm serious). I live in Älvsjö the little suburbs but
I'm 3 train stops from the city, it's AMAZING. I am so in love with the city
that is Stockholm. On my 3 hour breaks I go into the city maybe do some
shopping and eating. By the way did you know there are 4 H&M's on one block?
It's insane! Anyway, my 18th birthday is tomorrow and I'm so excited. My
host family has this whole week planned for me. I really am so thankful to
have been placed with such a loving family. I have a host sister who's 17
and a little brother who is 15, and I get along with them so well! It's like
I've lived with them for more than 2 months.
It's fall now and it's getting colder, I don't know how this Miami girl is
going to handle the winter. We shall see!
There's no combination of words that can describe the past 6
months in Sweden, but I'll try.
I am so mind blown by the amount of knowledge you can instill in your brain
in six months. Now, I'm not perfectly fluent in Swedish but I can understand
about 89.9% of the conversations going on, and I feel like I can literally
do anything. Being here for just six months has changed my whole perspective
on life. I thought that I knew everything I wanted to do regarding college
and things to do when I come home from exchange, but now I just feel like
the complete opposite of everything I was for. You never really know
yourself and what you want in life if you don't go out into the world and
truly see if your opinions and plans can be altered or influenced, because
mine sure are!
Being here for 6 months has changed my whole life, and it's halfway done. I
have had the best host family that anyone could ever ask for. I truly
believe I am part of the family and I know I will have this relationship
with them for a lifetime. My friends here in Sweden have now opened up to
not only me fellow Stockholm exchange students but my Swedish friends at
school. They are about the best group of people I have ever met and they're
so helpful with school and the language that I can count on them for
Furthermore, I have come to consider Stockholm as my home city and I never
want to leave. I thought I understood it, but I didn't I only understood the
idea of it, how this one single year could change my whole life and it's
something that I will hold with me forever and I can't thank Rotary enough
for making this possible. I love everything about my host country and my
city. You walk down the streets and you just feel like it' not real, like
it' a movie. Being here IS surreal. I've come to love the city of Stockholm
so much that I defend it against all the other cities with a rivalry against
it. Stockholm is considered the Capital of Scandinavia and I couldn't agree
more. When I think about going home I start to cry knowing I will not have
all the things Sweden has to offer back home.
I think my turning point here was when our "oldies" from Australia left and
we got a new batch of Aussie's and I've got especially close to one and I
felt like I've lived in Stockholm all my life when I gave him a tour of the
city, knowing it like the back of my hand.
So advice to the to-be exchange students, enjoy every minute of it, never
take it for granted and never say no, say yes to everything. Try ANYTHING!
Living here for 10 months I have come to appreciate things that I took
for granted back home like the hot sun, and the cool beach of Miami. I now
know why Swedes light so many candles at dinner time, to keep it cozy and
have some light in the dark time of the winter. Sweden has taught me to
really appreciate home and the things I have there, but also be so curious
to want to try new things and see the world from another perspective. I now
only have a mere 59 days left in Stockholm and I want to cry because I have
never been so in love with another country as I am with Sweden. Exchange is
an opportunity of a lifetime that cannot be described in words or pictures,
as much as you sit there and read through other people's journals. Because
there's a certain feeling you get in the moments you have here and only
other exchange students can understand it. You can't stop time, you can only
think on the many memories; having bonfires wit h all the exchange students
in Stockholm, getting lost in a Stockholm suburb on your way to a party
because the streets all look the same, gaining weight from meatballs and
numerous fika and waiting outside at 2am for 2 hours in the freezing arctic
wearing nothing but pajama shorts uggs and a down jacket with another
american exchange student because you thought you saw the Northern Lights,
when in fact it was just the sun rising, but nothing had ever seemed more
beautiful than that.
Saint Augustine said "The world is a book and those who do not travel read
only one page." This quote is what I have lived by my entire life, and
having the opportunity to leave my home country and travel to Europe has let
me read more than one chapter of my book and surely bring me more to come in
the future. Travel makes you modest, and you see what a tiny place you
occupy in the world. This year abroad has really opened my eyes and saved me
from making choices that I didn't want to make, this year has taught me so
much about myself. I'm not sure what I'll do, but I want to go places and
see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a
big scale. So I thank Rotary for giving me this chance to go abroad and I
thank the Rotary club of Älvsjö for hosting me this year and for putting me
with two amazing families and giving me the opportunity to take your country
in fully, experience all the culture and live like a tr ue Swede.
Jag älska Sverige ! Tack för en fantastiskt år. De här inte hej då. Du och
jag vi ses igen, Puss puss :* <3
Titta på vattnet vid Stadshuset i Stockholm (City hall in Stockholm)
18-timmar tåg till Kiruna. (On an 18-hour train ride to Kiruna, Arctic
Fjords in Norway
Södermalmstorg, Stockholm 5/10/13 (on top of Katarina Hissen in Slussen)
With Swedish friends in Westminster Abbey, London
Bonfire with the exchange students Oliver (Australia) & David (Florida)
Cherry Blossom trees in Kungsträdgården