San Fernando, Chile - Abby McD., an Outbound Student sponsored by the Rotary Club of Tacoma, Washington USA, is thoroughly enjoying her exchange in San Fernando, Chile this year. She found some of her experiences when she first arrived were not as she had expected but she feels she is learning from her host family about life in Chile and developing independence. Abby, an only child back in the United States loves getting to know her host family and her host siblings.
This picture is of me learning the Cueca (national dance)
Being in the southern hemisphere their school year is on a different schedule as in the northern hemisphere. When Abby arrived in August.....
she began school at the beginning of the second semester of the academic year. This meant her “summer” began in December. This gave her and the other exchange students in her district the opportunity to explore their new host country.
Abby tells her District 5020 country officer, Mike, that “In December my district took us all on a trip to Patagonia and the wonders of the South. Truly the most magnificent places I have ever seen. I even saw penguins! In January my host family took me with them on a 2-week beach vacation. It was fun to relax in the Latin sun”.
“My best friends on exchange are the two Germans in my city, Kira and Philipp. I enjoy learning about their culture and European lifestyle, as well as helping them with their English. My Spanish has gotten pretty good and I understand more or less everything. I still have my 'gringo accent', but have learned to laugh at myself. I also swim in my host family's pool nearly everyday and bike to Zumba classes twice a week”. 
“As it is summer I have a lot of free time and am making the most of it by traveling when I am presented with the opportunity and reading furiously. I am flying through classic English literature and starting small with the "A Diary of A Wimpy Kid" series, Spanish translation”. 
Abby is looking forward to returning to school again in March and though is sad to leave her first host family is looking forward to changing host families. She understands that experiencing different host families give the students the opportunity to see how families in other countries are all different; just like back home with new rules and new relationships.
With her exchange half way through she will bring a lifetime of stories back home with her.
Do you want to learn more about how to apply to be a Youth Exchange Scholar with Rotary? Just send us a quick message and we will put you in touch with a Rotary Club in your area!