When I was a little eighth grader, I knew that someday I would become a columnist. I am not sure how, because really the chances of a ninth grade girl getting a column the next year were probably more slim than I knew. There was one particular columnist that I really looked up to. My life in several ways changed when my favorite columnist wrote a column announcing that she was going to be a Rotary Youth Exchange Student to Chile, and not just because I got the spot when she started writing every other week the next year.

Immediately, I wanted to become an exchange student someday. I spent the next year dreaming of becoming an exchange student, only to be shut down. I did not know it could happen again until around March of my junior year, after a rejection from something else forced me to look at my circumstances.

I still wanted to become an exchange student more than ever. That hadn’t changed. What did was the fact that what previously had closed the door from going on exchange wasn’t a barrier anymore. I realized that I could still make this happen after I graduate.

I took the leap while I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop (which I actually now work at). The people sitting next to me in the coffee shop were from Rotary, and I started talking to them about becoming an exchange student. I wasn’t aware that I was talking to the future president of our local club. He gave me the contact info to the club exchange coordinator, and soon I met up with him.

In September I was sent the forms, and later in the month I got the stamp of approval from our club after an interview. Then it was time for the extensive paperwork. It would have been easier, but it turns out that there are a million different mistakes that your doctor can make on the medical forms. Though there only around two on mine, it took a ton of coordinating to pick up the redid forms. It was a lot of work, but not as terrible as I heard.

Next came the interview at districts. I had mine a little later than most, because neither of my parents could make it to the first one. I was told it would be worse than clubs, but the reality is that the main person interviewing me at clubs was a very experienced lawyer who knew me pretty well. He can grill easily and get people trapped in situations, so even though a few of the questions at Districts made me think, it was a lot easier than clubs. The person interviewing me for the political questions was very nice, and I love talking about politics, so that was pretty fun!

After that it was time to wait. I have pretty bad application anxiety, so that wasn’t easy. Finally, at 11:45 p.m. last Sunday, I was emailed my acceptance letter. I may have gotten quite excited and didn’t get the most sleep that night, but it was so worth it. I have been happy tired all week, and went to my second Rotary meeting (first time had been with club president back in July). I was announced to the club as the outbound exchange student for 2016-17, and got to meet a lot of the Rotary members!

I have been asked a lot lately if I know which country I am going to. I will not know until January 23rd, unless my district coordinator gets the announcements early. Since I am going after I graduate, I don’t really get to choose which countries were in my top twelve, because the restrictions on age are pretty tight. I am not complaining, however; it’s honestly a little exciting not having any say where I am going to spend a year of my life. I know that’s strange, but I feel like this is the way it is supposed to be.

I am not sure what I will do yet for blogging on my exchange year, but I am hoping to do something much bigger than what I have been doing. That’s something for when I graduate!