Monday, July 18, 2011

Travel Plan

Hej Everyone!

So I promise I will actually keep this one short.... I just wanted to announce that I now have my visa processing (ugghh of course it will just never be completed, they still have to send it to the office of immigration in Denmark, but at least now I have my passport!!!!)!

The BIG news though, is that I now have my flight plan!!!!!! I will have the actual tickets soon (they're in the mail from my travel agent.... or at least they better be!), but I have my official itinerary! So........ the plan is:

I arrive at JAX (Jacksonville International Airport) around 10:45 am and leave there at 1:50 (unfortunately I have to be there 3 hrs before I leave). I will be heading to Newark NJ where I'll arrive at 4:14 PM (I love how they're so precise instead of just rounding to 4:15.... but anywhoo) and leave at 5:50 PM (kinda a short layover for someone who has never flown alone before and has never been to that airport) for Frankfurt! I arrive in Frankfurt at 7:25 AM (such a long flight, and yes you might like to think that I will have plenty of time to sleep, but let's get real here.... it's me.... hyperactive McKenzie.... plus I'll be super duper pumped about leaving for Denmark for a year.... in other words... there's no way I will be getting a wink of sleep!) From Frankfurt, I will leave at 8:55 (so much for the whole "we give our exchange students long layovers.... that's really short and normally I'd be excited but that seems like a very short amount of time to find my way in a German airport.... but I'm still confident it can be done!). I will be heading straight to the Billund Airport where I'll arrive at 10:10 AM and once there I will find that all my bags arrived on time and then quickly move through customs without any confiscations and then find my host family greeting me (I'm being positive, even though we all know that there's a very small chance it will be THAT perfect!).

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the air companies (is that what they're called?) that will be taking me to the amazing land of Denmark! Continental airlines/ Express Jet (both are listed on the ticket so I'm not sure which) will be taking me from JAX to Newark. Then Lufthansa will be taking me  from NJ to Germany and from Frankfurt to Billund. Oh and you wanna know what plane I'll be taking as I cross the pond.... take a guess....

here I'll give you a hint:

That would happen to be a Lufthansa Airlines Boeing 747! I know my excitement is a tad too much.... but.... come on I've never flown internationally! These are the pathetic things that make me happy!

Okay so yet again I kinda stunk at being brief and short.... but if you know me then you know that will never happen.... I like to talk too much for that!

I will probably not post again for maybe 2 weeks or so... right before I leave! Yay!!!!!


Friday, July 1, 2011

RYE FL Events & My New Home!

     Hej! So now that you've gotten caught up on how I got into RYE, I guess I should finish all the catching-up we have by telling you all about my orientations, 6970 district conference, and my info on my new home for next year!

     As far as orientations go, there were two RYE Fl statewide orientation weekends. They were both held at the beautiful Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center (me and my sarcasm again!) in Leesburg FL (a.k.a. the middle of nowhere).

     The first orientation was in January. This orientation happened a little over a month after I found out what country I was going to! It was amazing! I made tons of friends (there's over 75 of us) and had the time of my life. That orientation was mainly focusing on language and learning about Rotary International and Rotary Youth Exchange International & FL. At this orientation, I was really excited because I took a picture of myself with the Danish flag for the first time! See:

(Isn't the Dannebrog just beautiful!)

     The second orientation was last weekend. Before that orientation I was only able to say that I had RYE friends, and now I can honestly call them my RYE family! We basically spent the entire weekend bonding.... although RYE FL claims it was for "cultural boot camp"! That weekend we played tons of fun and... interesting games (oh and the games usually had some multi-cultural twist that we weren't aware of at first). I don't want to say too much so that if future students end up reading this then I can't be the blame for ruining the surprises. Basically we had a psychologist (Dr. Dennis White) who specializes in culture shock come and create zillions of fun cultural difference simulations and we all had fun! This is our group picture of all the exchange students from my graduating class of RYE FL (that's right... we all graduated from cultural boot camp and we have the certificate to prove it.... it's okay you can be jealous, we understand!):
     In between the two orientations, the main event for my district was the district conference. It was a two day event in May (the Rotarians are well known by us now for their perfect timing.... the Friday was an AP exam day and the Saturday was an SAT testing day... great planning!) that all of the inbounds and outbounds from my district attended. Friday was the big flag ceremony (sorry no picture :(  but I wish I had one), lunch with Rotarians (very interesting!), an amazing speaker who survived polio, fun and games at the YMCA, and an insane sleepover at the YMCA.... a very busy day obviously! Saturday we woke up (with the help from a little Starbucks coffee that a nice Rotarian brought us.... the ballet room floors don't make for a good night's sleep!), did some activities, and then did a huge service project! Here's a picture of some of the group at the service project:

     Aside from those 3 jumbo-events, the only other event that happened for the most part was the District 6970 language camp. All the future outbounds spent a day at a local community college with people fluent in our future languages. We practiced our speeches and learned some basic phrases.

     Now.... the fun part! My new home! Beginning on June 9th, I began getting emails from my 4 host families. I won't bore you with all the personal details but here's the basics:
  • Family 1: Will just be my host parents, their cat, and me. Their children all live out of the house.
  • Family 2: I'm going to have a sister!!!!!! They have 3 daughters, but only 1 still lives with them (the other 2 have already moved out). My new sister is currently on exchange in Australia but will be back in time for me to live with her! They have a cat too!
  • Family 3: It will just be my host parents and me. They have children but they've all moved out. The parents are both retired school teachers. They don't have any pets :( which I wanted but they were so nice about it and I think I'll absolutely love living with them (I get to be an only child for 1/2 of the year next year for the first time in my life!)
  • Family 4: I will have a brother (when I first heard that I thought "oh great so much for a year without a bratty younger brother like I have now" but it's cool because I will finally have an older brother! He's 19 and sounds really nice!). Oh and the family has a dog so when I miss my doggies I can just hug their dog!
     So maybe I did go a tad overboard with details that only I care about.... sorry I have a tendency to talk on and on and on (especially when I'm excited!), just ask my friends and family! But I promise I'll try (but still no guarantee) to be brief about my town....

     My town(s) is Ejstrupholm (where my host families live)/ Nørre Snede (where my Rotary club meets)/ Ikast-Brande (where my school is).... it's kinda like one big town made up of these 3 tiny towns. It's a really really really small town about 35 km away from the Billund Airport (Billund is the area with Legoland theme park!) and it seems adorable. It's on central Jylland (the continental area of Denmark that shoots up above Germany). Unfortunately google images sucks and doesn't really have any pics of my town, but I promise I'll post some once I get there! For now, here's a map of Denmark and the tiny red circle is where my town is:

     Until next time, Farvel!

          -McKenzie B. <3