WHAT ARE FLORIDA TEENS JUST LIKE YOU SAYING DURING THEIR YEAR IN WESTERN EUROPE?
Tony in SPAIN: I kept noticing the big differences in between the American culture and the Spanish culture. How they were not punctual in any way, they had this thing called sobremesa, which is a time that they sit after dinner or a meal, and talk FOREVER. But, there were also lots of great big things, the fact that they have incredible bread, and that the people are generally very laid back and relaxed. It’s also nice to see an incredibly old culture, because ours is, relatively speaking, a baby nation and in turn we don’t have the grand architecture of places such as Spain and the rest of Europe.
Becca in ITALY: As of today I have been in Rome for three weeks. It already feels like it is becoming my home. I knew that immersion in the language would help me with learning Italian but, I didn't think that it would work this fast! Within the first week I was making coherent sentences, though grammatically horrific, they got the point across to my family. The food here, well it's Italian, I haven't had anything crazy to eat but it is all delicious. I eat gelato all the time and then walk it all off after. I go into Rome a fair amount because I absolutely love the city. I feel truly blessed as I walk across the ground that gladiators fought for their lives on and behold the art that artists poured themselves into. Rotary has given each one of us a gift that will change our lives forever.
Hunter in FRANCE: Bonjour! I love France! The way the cities are build, everything is closer together. I can leave my house and it’s only about a 10 minute walk to get to the center of town, which is where all the shops and restaurants are. If I don’t feel like walking, I can hop onto a bus and proceed to my destination. I like to hang out in the city with French friends from school, and other exchange students from all over the world: Canada, fellow ‘Muricans, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Croatia, Turkey, India, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. The French culture isn’t incredibly different, but goodness, I miss hugs. The French barely (if ever) hug! A lot of French teens smoke too, A LOT, and French teens can also just go to a bar, sit down, and order a beer. And Homesickness? Yup, every exchange student has been there. ! This is the greatest decision I've ever made in my life, and I suggest it to anyone and everyone. The application process may be a pain, but it is so worth it!
Ella in BELGIUM: I’ve been in Belgium 5 months, I’ve changed host families and visited 5 other European countries, learned French (thats right, i'm almost fluent!!!!), made friends, passed my exams (miraculously) gotten homesick then once again happy. I’ve had time to think about also how lucky I am to be a part of this program. It’s changed me already for the better. I went to Monaco for Christmas and New Years, and strangely it was one of the hardest things I've ever done emotionally - no presents, no Christmas tree, no family fights and cookies and hokey music. One thing that was the same was that we went to a midnight mass. The second I walked into that church I was blasted out of my funk. I felt closer to my real family than I have in a long time. I was hit with a feeling of "Oh wow, it's truly a small and relatable world.” Even though our lives and languages and traditions and cultures may be different, and sometimes we feel completely alone in the world, be comforted in the fact that at least all churches smell the same.