Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How it all got started

     Hey everyone! So before I start blogging about my RYE (Rotary Youth Exchange) orientations and the last few months before I leave, I figured I should tell you about applying and getting my country assignment (Denmark! woohoo!!!!!).....

     Let me just start off by saying that this has been a dream of mine for basically my entire life. I don't quite remember this, but my mom has always told me that when I was in 1st or 2nd grade, I told her that I wanted to be an exchange student in Europe for a year. I guess I always wanted to do it for a few reasons. When my mom was in high school, she hosted an exchange student from France for a few weeks over the summer. I still hear stories about her hosting and how they are still friends. Another reason I always wanted to do exchange was because I was always super independent and loved to travel.

     So, now that you're all caught up on why I wanted to do exchange.... I'll tell you about how I actually got into a program as great as RYE Florida! One day in August during my sophomore year of high school (the past year of school), my french class was told to go to a presentation on exchange. I sat down in the auditorium and listened to the amazing Mrs. Daphne Cameron (one of the Rotarians sending me out of the country for the year) give a presentation on RYE. The whole time, I remember sitting listening to her describe all the ups and downs of exchange, I kept thinking in the back of my mind that as much as I wanted to do this, it would cost tens of thousands of dollars and my parents would never say yes.

     As much as I thought about my parents saying no, I couldn't get the idea out of my mind. All day at school, I basically paid no attention to my classes (oops! I probably should've still listened in class... but it's okay it all worked out alright in the end!) and kept reading the flyer they gave us over and over.... I probably read it well over 200 times.... and I wound up memorizing it! haha

     That night, I came home from school and ever so casually (can you detect the hint of sarcasm?) brought up the presentation to my mom. My mom actually laughed when I told her! She knew I wanted to do it but she (like me) figured it would be uber-expensive and said no... but then I told her it was only $4,100 and filled in all the other details. After I said this, well let's just say the laughter turned into a face I liked very much (it's that face your parents give you when they're actually thinking about maybe saying yes to something but they don't want to let you know they might say yes.... even though we can totally tell they might say yes!).

     To make the super long story a little shorter, my parents agreed (and it was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be). About two weeks later (but what felt like years), I went to the parents presentation in Ponte Vedra given by Mrs. Paula Roderick (another one of those awesome Rotarians you just can't help but to love because they're being angels by giving me this miracle). How did this presentation go? Well.... let's just say that if my mom wasn't 100% convinced that RYE is the program for me, she was definitely sure after that night. It actually went so well that my application (longest set of papers I have ever had to complete in my life!!!! But then again I haven't applied to colleges yet...) was in the mail the next morning!

     Okay so in my attempt to keep this short (my failed attempt... sorry!), I will skip all my nervousness and head straight to the interviews... but I can't say too much (I can't give away all the RYE FL D6970 interview secrets away)! I went to the interview, almost peed my pants because I was so scared in some of the rooms (for those of you who know what I'm talking about.... room R is evil.... but I want to be in that room 2 years from now!), and had my brain fried from answering so many questions. One the 1.5hr drive home from Daytona, I basically sat there and told my mom that the interview didn't deter me one bit and if I didn't make it in this year I would just try again and again until I either made it in or was too old! Luckily for the Rotarians, I made it in on my first try!

     Then, one of the longest waits in my life began.... I had to wait about 1-2 months before I found out if I would get in!!!!!! Eventually I got my email telling me I'd been accepted, and let me just say that I have never been so happy to see an email. I still feel bad for my friends who had to listen to my screaming! I called just about everyone I know that night and I put it on facebook!

     Then, one week later (almost down to the hour), I got the most amazing phone call of my life! Mr. Jody Davis (another one of those RYE angels... there's a lot of them!) called me to tell me the words "Well, McKenze.... (insert insanely long pause here).... you're going to.... (even longer pause).... DENMARK!!!!" I didn't even know how to respond. Honestly, the country didn't matter to me at that point. I was still in the happy cloud of excitement of being accepted. I was just happy to know my country!

     That night, I spent HOURS on the computer researching my amazing, beautiful, new home! There was more screaming, more phone calls, and more posts on facebook!

    Well... I think this is long enough for now! In my next blog I promise I'll get you up to date on my orientations, other RYE events, and finding out my host families! But for now, I just want to say "tak Rotary"!

     Until next time, farvel!

     -McKenzie Bolin