Wednesday, June 19, 2013

days < 50 -- packing

piece of advice for future outbounds #2:
start packing ahead of time.
like, waaaayyyyyyyyyy ahead of time.

since all my classes are over and i only have math review to do, i consider summer to have officially started. that said, i probably have more to do this summer than i ever did during the school months.

...makes me realize just how much i own
...makes me realize just how much i use hard.

things to celebrate in the past 10 days:
  • My host family sent me a postcard! i honestly think i have the best host family ever... really...
  • some of my friends and i went to the top of the US Bancorp Tower (it's 42 stories). very proud of myself.
  • working through German level 2. hopeful that it'll go quickly, because i'm trying to get as far as possible before i leave. (then again, there is the fact that german grammar is basically the most confusing thing in the world to me. so i need to figure out the difference between nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive forms before i move on.)
  • i have packed the bottom level of my suitcase. however, my shoes take up a lot more room than i originally thought they would. if you see a girl wearing three pairs of shoes (including rain boots) at the Portland airport in early august, that will be me.
  • logged into my travel agency website to find that my Swiss Rotary has sent in all my documents! hooray! sohappyaboutthisyouhavenoidea.
the end.

Monday, June 17, 2013


the post office at the grocery store gets a lot of traffic, even on weekdays. since school isn't out, i am the youngest person here. 
I stand up straighter, push back my bangs. Try to look like I belong here. Hope no one asks me why I'm not in school. 
Short people just naturally get taken for littler than they are. I remember one July picnic when a little boy asked me how old I was (14). I asked him how old I looked. He squinched his eyes up at me, thought hard, and said, "eleven?" my sister nearly died laughing. 
I don't ask people to guess my age anymore. 
The lady at the register looks toward us and I bring my envelopes over, sliding them across the counter like I've done it a million times. "How much will it cost me to send these to Switzerland?" 
She says "2.20" without having to think. post office ladies are cool like that.
I ask how long it'll take and she says a week. I ask if there are any ways to get it there faster.
The lady lifts her eyebrows. "well, there's a couple options. we can send it one way and that costs 33 dollars, or you can take the other option but that's 44.25." 
with as much dignity as I can muster, I say I'll stick with the first option. She takes my money, stamps the envelopes in red, and sticks international stamps on the corners. They're round, with a picture of the earth on them--pretty.
As the lady slides the envelopes away and hands me my change, I think about that stamp. It's so little to be sent halfway around the world. In my head I trace a line across the little blue globe--Switzerland is probably only about two inches away. 
except that in 60 days I'll be following that envelope, and it won't be any two inches neither. 
more than 2000 miles. 
and i realize just how little i am, to be sent halfway around the world.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

days < 60 -- counting

piece of advice for future outbounds #1:
keep track of how much time you have before you go--and make the most of it.

so today i checked my fancy little countdown timer and my mind was blown again.
it has a habit of doing that.
particularly when i check that timer.

so i probably shouldn't be surprised.
except that i still am.

things to celebrate in the past 10 days:
  • my show ended! well, not that I'm happy it ended--the finality of show run and strike is always bittersweet--but i'm so glad I got to participate in one last journey theater show before i leave. these people are amazing and i'm so blessed to be with them.
  • and my swing dance class ended too. I've enjoyed this class more than i expected, and i'm now officially addicted to swing dancing. (funny story: I was doing the shim sham at the bus stop near an intersection. it was about 11am and as one guy drove by he stuck his head out the window, took his eyes completely off the road, and gave me a "what-on-earth-is-that-crazy-girl-doing-and-why-isn't-she-in-school-and-is-she-actually-dancing-and-she-must-be-homeschooled" look. luckily there were no accidents. it totally made my day.)
  • I made it past Rosetta German level 1. seriously, I thought the milestone would never end. but anyhow, I'm very proud of myself. now I only have four more levels left to go... (there are four units per level and four lessons per unit and an average of seven sections per lesson, so however many that is. I can't add right now, it's too late at night.)
  • the Swiss Rotary is applying for my GA card, which is a train pass that allows me to ride public transit for free. This is probably one of my favorite things about Switzerland :)
  • school is over! I still have review math to do, but I'm officially finished with most of my other classes so I consider summer to have begun.
and, now that summer has begun, I'm making a list of things to do this summer before I leave. some of the things on my list are serious (volunteer at camp and impact at least one kid's life) and some of them are not-so-serious (be in a flash mob).
got any ideas for me?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

questions I've been asked recently

So you're going on exchange... you're so lucky! That's like one long vacation, right?
::stands there in surprise and shock::
excuse me while I go laugh my head off in a corner...

The short answer is no. it is not a vacation, although it totally made my day when one person asked that. :)
slightly longer answer: I will be working--and working hard--on exchange. It would probably be much easier and more vacation-like for me to stay home, where I know the language and the culture and I have friends. When I go on exchange, I will be attending high school in a different language in another culture with people I've never met. I'm homeschooled, so that means that I'll be adjusting to "real school" as well. It will be difficult, trust me.
Then again, I don't think that life was created for the purpose of avoiding work.

So you're going to Sweden?
um, no. I'm going to Switzerland :)

Switzerland... where is that?
It's smack-dab in the middle of Europe, just below Germany, above Italy and to the right of France. It's also a really tiny country, which is fantabulous.
I will be staying in the village of Magden, which is approximately 3 miles from the German border and 15 miles from the French border. If you're looking at a map, it is in the upper left hand corner of Switzerland. My school is in Muttenz, so I will be taking the bus/train to get there every morning.

Will you take classes in English, or do you need to speak Swiss?
Swiss isn't a language. That's sort of like if someone asked you whether you spoke American or United-Statesian. Just because you live in another country doesn't mean you all have your own language.
There are four official languages in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. I will be living and studying in the German part.
German? So you won't have any classes in English? Won't that be hard for you?
Um. Probably?
But I'm excited to learn the language, as nerdy and pathetic as that may sound (yes, I admit it. I am a pathetic nerd. you can stop reading my blog now...) German is a really amazing language and with so much immersion I should become fluent, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Do your parents know about this?
No. I'm running away. shhh.


Haha, just kidding. Yes, they do know about this.

When do you leave?
I'm leaving in the first week of August. My travel agency hasn't set a specific date yet, which means that I'm packing in the next month and waiting for the call/email that will let me know when I'm about to leave.

and yes, I am excited.