Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Answering some questions

Since I've told everyone I'm going to Hungary, I've gotten tons of questions! I decided to answer some here... just in case anyone reads it!

When do you leave?
I don't know for sure, but it's most probably going to be in August

Where in Hungary will you be?
I won't know specific city or any host family details until probably March at the earliest.

Why Hungary?
Well, I didn't exactly pick it. During the interviews, I said my top three were Norway, Sweden, and Belgium. Afterwards, I kept thinking about Hungary and I just could not get it out of my head. It just seemed so interesting and different and under appreciated. I'm extremely glad I got it, and am so excited!

Won't you miss your family and friends?
Of course! But they will be here when I come back :)

You're seriously missing your senior year to live in a foreign country?
Yep! For me... walking with my friends at graduation or going to prom aren't comparable to spending a year learning and growing.

So besides all of that.. I don't really have any updates or anything! I'm just working on finishing my application and making sure I've got everything. It really is a long process, but I love every minute of it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm going to...


I got the call this afternoon around 3 and I have not stopped jumping around! I'm so excited! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010


It's official - I'm accepted and going on exchange next year!

I'll know which country in the next couple of weeks. I can't wait :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

District Interviews

Alright so, this is really late considering the interviews were a week ago, but I've been pretty busy! This will probably be pretty long, so bear with me :).

We had to meet in the parking lot of a park somewhat near my house. I put off packing until I got home from after school, so I was really worried I'd be late! We got there at exactly 4:30, though, and not everyone was there yet. When we got there, I saw one of my sister's friends, Paige, who was also interviewing! It was a really nice surprise and I felt a lot better knowing someone else that was going. We all put our stuff in the car and got in there, but Junso (my Rotary club contact.. he interviewed me at the club level) was talking to my mom for a really long time. I was afraid he was talking to her about how I didn't have a club and this weekend wasn't for sure and a whole bunch of other stuff, but my mom told me he was saying good things :). In the car there were three inbounds (Ecuador, Taiwan, Brazil) and I think 6 possible outbounds. Junso told us that there were 27 of us being interviewed, but they only had 19 spots available. I started really getting nervous after that! After about an hour we arrived at Adventure Park in Visalia. There were so many people there.. everyone went around shaking hands and introducing themselves. It was hard to distinguish inbounds from outbounds.. so every greeting started with, "Where are you from?" The inbounds did their country presentations and we got to walk around and meet all of them and hear about the countries. After that, I didn't care where I went: I just wanted to go! We all ate and played games, and then a group of us played laser tag! It was all a lot of fun :). After, we went to our weekend host family's house. We stayed with Peter, who used to be the one in charge of all of this. He gave us a lot of advice. In our house was two Brazilians, Isa and Cecilia, and Ariel, another outbound, and I. It was adorable listening to them speak in Portuguese :).

We all met at San Joaquin Valley College and had breakfast and sat around for about an hour before the meeting started. All of the outbounds had to stand up and introduce themselves, saying why they wanted to exchange and where they wanted to go. They talked to us about almost all aspects of the exchange and it was really interesting. After, the inbounds left to go to the Sequoia trees, and our parents came. While they talked to our parents, we played a really interesting game called Bafa Bafa. It showed us really interesting aspects of cultural differences and not knowing how to act in a strange environment. When we finished, we sat in the room with our parents and waited to be called back for interviews! When it was finally my turn, my mom and I were really nervous. The first room was not hard at all. They asked me my strongest trait, my weakest trait, and my country selections. I chose Norway, Sweden, and Belgium. In the next room, I was asked to talk about a goal I set for myself and accomplished, a time I was mature, and if I was working out all the credits and such to graduate on time. The last room was Rotex, and they asked me about homesickness and how I would deal with it. Overall it was really short and I feel good about how it went :). After the interviews, the inbounds came back. We all went to this school and ate dinner and had a talent show. Paige and I told jokes as our talent :). It was just a lot of fun to let go and see everyone have fun. We all stood in a circle and had candles and turned the lights out. As we lit each other's candles, we had to say a wish we had for the group or inbounds or outbounds. It was really emotional and it made me realize how real everything is!

We met at a mexican restaurant, Amigos, to have breakfast. After breakfast, they talked to us about the application a little bit. When we finished, the district had their meeting to discuss a preliminary list of who was going and who wasn't. While they talked, we all went to Starbucks. We pretty much took over, and were there for hours. I talked to a lot of inbounds though and it was all just a lot of fun. When they finished, we all left. It was really sad leaving, because I didn't know if I'd ever see any of them again!

Overall, it was an amazing weekend. It opened my eyes a lot to the process and what exchange really means. I should find out next week if I made it or not :)!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not really exchange related..

I just looked at the date, and there's 12 days until my Rotary district interview! I'm seriously excited to see how that goes. In all honesty, if I don't get picked up by a club and don't end up making it.. I don't know what I'll do :/. I've been in the mindset that I'm going for so long now.. It's hard to imagine not being able to!

Besides exchange stuff, I seriously love forensics! At UOP for debate, I was 2nd place overall and my record was 8-2 :). Yesterday for speech I got third place in impromptu! Really amazing considering I never practiced or anything!

Other than that.. I'm super busy. I'm so stressed about grades and making time for everything. I'll write more after my interview!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rotary Interview!

So this is pretty late, but my club interview was on Tuesday!

There were two of us being interviewed, and they told us they were only going to sponsor one. However, if both of us seemed like good applicants, they would send both applications to the District level and another club might pick up the other one.

I was pretty nervous going in and rambled a lot about everything! We laughed a couple of times though, which helped make it a lot more relaxing. Throughout the whole interview, I realized I called one member of Rotary by the wrong name, and e-mailed one of my interviewers right after. He told me they understood who I meant, and that they were going to send both applications to the district!!

So now I have district interviews from November 19th - November 21st! I'm so excited yet extremely nervous. If anyone has any advice about how district interviews go, let me know!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


My Rotary interview is in exactly one week! Finally! I'm so eager to start the process. It's basically all I can think about.

I'm so annoyed with regular life. High school is boring. Immaturity is annoying. It's really bad and I suppose I should be more appreciative of things here but it's hard to be when I feel like there's a lot of adventure out there and I'm stuck in Fresno.

I'll write more following my interview. Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dramatic changes..

Alright so! So many things have changed since I last posted.. and it's kind of embarrassing looking back at the last post I made since.. well I'll explain.

About a week after my last post, I discussed the financial aspects of an exchange with my family, and we realized that trying to raise $9,000 by November was somewhat unrealistic. After much reconsidering, we decided to look into other cheaper programs for me to go next year.

We looked into Rotary Youth Exchange, and I've sent in an initial application. We have interviews in October, and then again in November for the weekend, which I'm really excited for! I'm just really hoping things work out through Rotary, as they're fairly selective.

While I am really bummed things didn't work out with AFS, I think I'll be very happy just being able to go anywhere through any program :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Nerves, Stress, and Doubt!

Alright so, this is going to be the most depressing post I'll probably ever write, but hopefully it's a window into what I'm currently feeling.

The students leaving for the year program in Italy fly out tomorrow night. I can't even explain how jealous I am. They have their applications done, their trip paid for, and their visas done. Guess what I have? Nothing. No full application yet. No money at all. No visa. I'm so worried.

Basically, I've spent the past two weeks thinking about this exchange and what it means to me. In June, I looked into it for fun. Just something to consider and look at and dream about. Over three months, I've fallen in love with the idea. I want to go to another country. I want to learn a new language. I want to experience a new culture. I want to explore. I want to travel. I want to start living.

I'm so worried about not getting funded. It literally scares me to the point where I want to just give up all the time. It's hard to stay positive when you've made effort with no luck. I've sat here and thought about how much money I'm NOT making and how I'll NEVER be able to go and this was all silly and I should've never even started this process. Lately, the side of me that started this journey is screaming at me. Why haven't I made attempts at fundraising? Why do I get home and nap, instead of writing emails, making phone calls, or visiting businesses asking for a minute of their time to explain my trip? Why am I sitting here, saying "I can't, I can't, I can't" when in reality, I'm not, I'm not I'm not?

Advice for any future exchangers: Do NOT lose hope! If you want it bad enough, somehow it will happen. I need to take this more seriously and get dedicated to fundraising and make a darn effort. It's not going to just fall in my lap. I'm not going to stumble upon an abandoned briefcase with 9,000 dollars. I have to work for it, I have to grow up, and I have to take myself a lot more seriously.

Starting today I'm going to make it known that this is what I'm doing and I'm going to get it no matter what. I need to start establishing myself as a foreign exchanger instead of a "possible foreign exchanger". I AM leaving in January, and I WILL live in Italy for 6 months! Prayers, donations, advice, anything at this point is very appreciated.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Work & Such

Today was my second day of work! Yesterday was my first, and it was a WAY better day than today. Today was really just not fun at all. It was super slow and I kept doing every little thing wrong. But by the end of the week I'll have made $92 so that's a positive thing! Oh and here's a picture of me in my adorable uniform :D!

I got an email from my local AFS representative telling me about a Central California scholarship! However, they review scholarships in January, but I'd leave in January.. so I basically have to be funded and then I assume I'd be refunded? So it doesn't solve the lack of money now situation. He said he emailed the Portland AFS office to see why I was rejected from Global Leaders.. so maybe there's still hope.

On a way positive note.. our house is basically sold! So now we have 45 days to secure a place to live (although it probably won't take that long) and then I can turn in my full application with the $900 deposit! But first I have to actually go to the doctor/school and get all the forms filled out that are necessary. Oh and I'll probably have to have some type of a photo shoot for my cover page/picture page.. ha.

Anyway, it's exciting that things are actually moving forward (even if slowly) and I'm making money so yay! Things can only go up from here!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I got a job!!

Finally! I'm now an employee at Wienerschnitzel, and my first day is Friday! So I'll be making $8/h (minimum wage) but it's totally worth it. Also, (hopefully) by the beginning of September, I'll be able to have my full application and the $900 turned in! Fingers crossed.

Plus, next weekend, I finally start those refereeing classes for soccer (which will hopefully not conflict with work).

OH! AND! Alissa (my best friend...not) and I are auditioning for Wheel of Fortune's Teen Best Friend week on next Wednesday! It's mainly just for fun and to see what happens, but we're both pretty confident in our abilities to solve puzzles.

Annnndd we're moving REALLY soon, which means we'll have extra money to put towards my trip (yessssssssss!!!) and I'll be that much closer to being there!

So many exciting things (in the midst of the rejection from the scholarship - which we're appealing) and they all somehow come back to Italy. Funny how that works ;).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So... some unfortunate news.

I just currently found out that I was rejected from the Global Leader's Scholarship through AFS. I'm definitely disappointed but not too worried. I know if I try hard enough I'll be able to get it fully funded!

I had a job interview today and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something good will come from it! Ahhh so much praying to do!

Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Good news good news!

So! I found out the total cost will be $9,250, which is about $2,000 cheaper than we were expecting! And with $4,000-$5,000 in scholarships coming up, this is like definitely happening! I'm so excited and happy and anxious and I can't wait to get started on everything!

Also, I'm going to start refereeing soccer on weekends starting in August, and I'll make $60 :)!! And hopefully some kind of job opportunity will come up. I'm just going to keep praying!!

And there's always the chip in button on the side ;).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Recent movement!

Hello again! So recently, I've submitted a preliminary application, applied for the Global Leader's Scholarship, and gotten started on my full application. Now I'm hoping to get my Sponsor an AFSer thing up, so that I can start getting some donations!

Also, I turned 16 yesterday, so I can legally apply for jobs! I'm really excited and hope to get hired soon! I guess I'm just going to have to keep calling places back until they give me definite answers! One of my birthday presents was a phrase book in Italian with basic slang and curse words (thanks Maddy!). So far, all I really know how to say is "I have a foot fetish, and am not ashamed!" and "Those shoes make you look like a redneck". While I probably won't be using them in Italy, it's still fun to know :).

So that's basically it! Hopefully I'll hear back on more information and get my full application started!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And so it begins..

Hello! My name is Nicole, I'm 16, and I'm trying to go to Italy through AFS! However, this journey will cost about $10,000 or more. Through this blog, I hope to raise awareness of my cause and fundraisers, as well as providing a location for people to donate.

I suppose I should start off by saying what living in Italy for a semester would mean to me. In February, I went to China for nearly two weeks. During that time, I was so in awe of the fact that I was actually somewhere else in the world, seeing new things and having new experiences for the first time. Ever since we came back, I've been yearning for the opportunity to travel somewhere else. Living in Italy would give me the chance to fully immerse myself in another language, culture, and way of living. I would attend a school in which they would speak Italian, which would require me to take language classes two or three times a week. I would live with a host family and have host siblings, who would show me what they do for fun and introduce me to all of their friends.

Through this experience, I would mature and learn so much more than I could in California. I think it would be a great opportunity for me to learn about another culture, as well learn about myself. I hope I am able to raise as much money as I can to make this dream a reality. During my time in Italy, I would be updating this blog as frequently as possible, as a way to give back to those who donate. Any little bit helps!