22 March 2009

Hi! My name is Nicole and I live in Berea, Ohio. In August I am doing an exchange program through AFS to Norway for a year. I am actually a senior in high school right now but instead of going to college next year I decided studying abroad is what I want to do.

Ever since middle school, when someone from AFS came to talk to us, I wanted to study abroad. My dream never really started coming true until last year. I was supposed to go on an exchange trip to Finland in August 2008 but my grandmother got really ill so I decided to stay home. But then my family hosted an exchange student! His name is Goncalo and he is from Portugal. He will be leaving here at the end of June and I am so not looking forward to that. I love having him here, he really is like a brother to me. It has been such an amazing year with him here. He kind of inspired me to still study abroad this fall. I want to go to Norway because I am actually half Norwegian. I really would like to learn about the culture that I come from, plus it is absolutely beautiful there from the pictures I have seen. My application is in Norway right now actually and I can't wait to find out who my host family will be and where I will be living!

There are so many things I hope to gain and learn from studying abroad. I believe I will benefit from this experience in many ways:
  • learn a new language
  • become more independent
  • become more aware of the world and a different culture
  • grow as a person
  • discover more about who I am
  • gain a new family
  • learn to have an open mind
  • learn to have more patience

There are so many more things that I hope to gain and I think this trip will completely change my life and my perspective on everything.

Overall my family and friends think my decision to study abroad is a good one. Some of them tell me to take advantage of this opportunity and make the best of it. If I have the chance why not take it? Others think I should just go to college and study abroad while I'm there. But I just don't think studying abroad in college is the same as studying abroad with AFS. I don't want to just be put in a dorm with other kids from my college because then I wouldn't be as involved in the culture. I don't believe I would learn as much. But I still do plan on studying abroad in college just to see what it is like. I know that I will miss my friends and family greatly and I hope they will miss me just as much. This summer should be a pretty amazing one because I will be spending so much time with my friends and family. I want to make the best of it before I leave.

I have done quite a few things to fundraise for my exchange. Malley's offers a deal for fundraising and thats what I am in the process of doing right now. We bought 900 candy bars from them for only 500 dollars. Its a pretty good deal, I get to keep 400 towards my trip. I also have applied for a scholarship from AFS and I got one. The other scholarship I am applying for is the Robbie Robinson Scholarship. I have to write an essay about what my education/career goals are and why I want to study abroad. My grandparents have donated some money to me for my trip and I have been saving money since last year. I have almost cut the price of my trip in half (including spending money) which is amazing. Maaike (exchange student from the Netherlands this year) and me are going to talk to our AFS club leader once it gets warmer out to see if we can do some car washes to try to raise money. I am also trying to get a job, which would be very helpful.

Well thank you for reading this! I will continue writing blogs while I am abroad to keep everyone updated!