03 August 2011

Final Summer: preparing

  I just graduated from high school and I am about to leave the country.  What??  I'm crazy I think.  But it all has to do with pushing my limits.  I love to get out of my comfort zone and make my "box" bigger.  I think RYE will definitely do it for me.
  I've recently realized that I've always spelled "definitely" wrong.  There is definately no "a" in that word.  Just so you are aware.
Ben Bailey
Ambassador to Belgium
  This is the summer before I leave.  To be specific, on this day, it is about 16 days till I leave.  The first leg of my flight is on the 18th, but I don't think I can do the math right now.  This summer I have gotten a Visa, a SWEET suit, a Rotary blazer with a way cool Rotary patch and embroidery on it,  business cards,  lapel pins that look like golden records and say "Nashville", and other preparatory... stuff!  Like a camera and stuff.  I've been to Rotary meetings in the Wild Horse Saloon in downtown, which I must say, are a hoot!  I love going to meet all the Rotarians, even though I feel a little bit out of place, walking around the dance floor now covered with tables and tablecloths with a plate full of food and looking for a place to sit (first day at a new school? you've been there. admit it) in a room full of people who are all much older than me.  But they are all the NICEST people and always have such interesting things to say.  Am I the only one who thinks it's funny that Nashville Rotary club meets in a saloon?  Don't worry, we keep it classy.
  Speaking of keeping it classy... in June, I went to SCRYEOC! I totally made that one up.  But South Central Rotary Youth Exchange is a real one.  The "OC" stands for Outbound Camp, which was a 5 day camp in Oklahoma at a local college (I flew by myself.  it. was. awesome.)  with all the other long-term exchangers in the South-Central US; so that's from Texas or so east to Tennessee up to about Nebraska, so Oklahoma is centrally located.
  Side note: I say long-term exchangers as opposed to short-term exchangers because Rotary also does short-term exchanges for 3-4 weeks during the summer.  But I don't actually know any of those kids... back to business.
  Outbound camp was quite fun.  I had the best roommate ever, Joseph Dobson (eat your heart out) who's going to Sweden and a bunch of other kids who are going ALL over the world, from South America, to all over Europe, and even Taiwan.  These kids are all amazing people.  Of course they're all pretty outgoing and friendly, and we form a support group for all the kids as they are abroad.  I didn't get to know half as many as I should like and I like half as many of them as well as they deserve (once again).  But seriously, I would feel comfortable talking to any one of them about practically anything just because of the shared experience we had and the one we are about to embark upon.
Unfortunately, my flight out of Oklahoma left the same time this photo was taken.
So I ripped it off of facebook.
  Camp was mostly sitting through sessions (taught by Rotarians from the represented districts) that covered everything from getting the visa, packing, flying, and first night questions, to dealing with homesickness, health issues, fitting in, local Rotary meetings, final months and even the return journey.  My favorite topic was culture shock/reverse culture shock.  So basically there will be shock upon entering the culture and stages that often appear and how to avoid being defeated by that depression, but then also there will be culture shock upon returning home!  They say it will be worse than going because you don't expect it and people knew you before, but now they kindof have to adjust to a new you as well.  They made a big deal about how this will change us.  It's not just a tourist trip where your shock is limited to the fact that you can't understand anyone, the food all looks and tastes very different, and you don't know how to tip your waiter/concierge/cab driver.  This is an exchange.  For a year.  We will literally adjust to a different culture.  So coming back we'll have to adjust again.  And I think that's my favorite because it is a sign of the fact that it will indeed change me!  I mentioned I want to get out of the box, so here's proof that I did!
  Omigoshhhh Wicked just came on my iTunes shuffle.  Score.
  And I suppose I should mention the camp "counsellors," the Rotex.  Though I don't know at all what it means or how the word was coined, they were kids who had come back from exchange within the last 5 years and had a lot of first-hand advice.  They were organized by destination, so my Rotex had gone to Belgium, the South Americans had South American Rotex etc.  We were all so appreciative of them and their deep pools of wisdom.  We would meet after dinner and have Q&A sessions with the rotex (some groups more productive than others) around the dorms.  First night, we chose to sit in the grass right outside the front door of the snack bar in the dark.  But then the sprinkler system came on.  So with wet shirts, we moved to the parking lot, and almost got hit by a car.  Fun timeeeeeeess with the Belgians.
Our talent show act was to be the Rotex.  I jumped in with team France to be Ryk,
 one of the German Rotex.  And yes, I had to steal these off of someone else's
 facebook. Thanks, Hanna Franklin!

  There was a camp talent show that everyone participated in.  The most fun talent show you've ever been to.  Reason being that everyone was supportive (loudly I might add) of everyone else no matter what random act people put together to show.  My favorite act was the  accordion (wow had to look up the spelling for that) player, Serena Caffrey.  You had to be there.  But she was so great.

 The camp concluded with a dance.  Events that I happen to ADORE.  I love love dance parties.  I wonder if I can get any pictures in this post from the said dance party.  Needless to say it was a blast.
You CAN add pictures!  Did I mention the dance was a costumed event?  It seems Brenna Paxton can't stay out of exchangers' blogs.  Thanks again, Hanna Franklin!
  I learned SO much at camp, and met so many kids that I really wish for more time with, but we are all about to leave the continent (well, not Mexico).  I really value the experience I got in quickly adapting to an environment that was completely new.  Not the same without the communication barrier, but with the right attitude, the barrier is more like a doorknob.

  So far after the fact,
I don't think I can really
 do the details of the
camp justice, but at
least there's a taste.
Soon I'll be with my
 family, the Vanrykels,
 with whom I've
exchanged several
emails with my broken
 French.  I don't think
they realize how long it
 takes me to write a
 response haha.  in
Tinlot. outside of Seraing. outside of Liege. in Wallonia.

 in Belgium.

It doesn't bother me that this one is in blue.

 in the EU.

in Europe. in the Eastern Hemisphere. on Earth.

  That's a little zoom out for ya.

  I feel like I've had to do a lot of catch up on this whole thing.  This may end up being the most I write in this blog.  I'm afraid I might not keep up with it once I'm there.  But hopefully I will get enough down that it will flow and maybe even be entertaining to read!
  I'm going to sign off with "LOL."  But I'm going to use it to mean "lots of love" instead of the usual denotation.  ...We'll see if it catches on.


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