Grace, Outbound to Croatia

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2 months and 16 days into my exchange...

Where am I?

I live in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Seen in Star Wars every once and a while, and known for its role as Kings Landing in the HBO series Game of Thrones. Now, when I say I live IN Dubrovnik I truly mean it! Not a 30 minute drive away, or in some outer suburbs. I am lucky enough to be a long stroll, or quick bus ride away from the center of the city - the Old Town. Within the city walls there lie many museums, restaurants, and most importantly...cafes! I spend most of my time either in the city or cutting through it on my walk to school.

School?

Yes I go, though I am far from a straight A student. My school day runs from 8am - 2pm one week and 2pm - 8pm the next. I take 15 classes total, but only 7 everyday...that schedule was difficult to remember. I spend my days with my class of 17 students, 5 boys and 12 girls. We have every class together, every day, except when we break up into our language classes (the 3 options being Italian, German, and French). I originally worried that seeing the same people every day would cause me to grow bored or irritated. In reality, I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to grow so close to my class. Since my first day of school they have treated me with so much kindness it is hard not to want to see them all the time!

What do I do outside of school?

Not much, in all honesty. Of course I spend time with my friends and explore around Dubrovnik, but I have come to the realization that my life here has more similarities to my life at home than I had expected. The main difference being that I now have a much nicer background.

Rotary?

In all of Croatia there are 12 Rotary Youth Exchange Students. Our group lacks diversity, but makes up for it in energy with 11 of us being from North America (we have 10 Americans, 1 Canadian, and 1 French student) we all got along well right off the bat. We have taken two trips so far. Our first in early September stopped in Krapina, Varazdin, and the beautiful Plitvice Lakes. More recently, our second trip took place in some historical cities in the Eastern region of Croatia - Slavonia.

All fun and games?

Yes and no. My life here is extraordinary and amazing - but has taken some getting used to. Packing up and leaving home seemed easy until I landed in a new place with all new people. I miss my mom, my friends, and Chick-Fil-A. I try and remember that this wonderful experience will be over in the blink of an eye and I’ll be home soon enough, but homesickness has become more than something I prepared for at Rotary Orientation. I feel homesick almost every day, but I don’t view my familiarity with homesickness as a bad thing or the end all be all of my exchange. I see homesickness as more of a new challenge to overcome, and an obstacle that will ultimately help me as a person. Worse than homesickness though, I underpacked!! So take my advice and bring all the clothes you think you’ll need if you go on exchange because, you never know where the nearest shopping mall may be.

All in all these 2+ months have been quite the experience, and I look forward to find out what I will be writing about next. Until then - xoxoxo