As I mentioned in my last blog post, I went down to the District 5580 Conference in Bismark, ND through May 12-15th. No, I did not imagine swinging on a random swing set in Bismark at 6:30 a.m. or giving my speech to a crowd that included the president-elect of Rotary International, but those sort of events happen when exchange students are present.

My first adventure happened when I showed up late to the event, so I was more than a little relieved when Baehlee – a rebound from Denmark in my club/friend/coworker – finally got on the bus that was headed to the place where all of our fellow exchange student friends were. This picture above is the face of relief after hours of controlled stress.

(Top: Kyle – Belgium – and I, then Kyle, Hannah – Japan – and I)

It was such a relief to see my exchange friends again. Baehlee and I explored the museum – which was actually pretty interesting – when we went searching for our lost Rotarian.

After that, we got to practice for our flag ceremony. This took a while, but in the end everyone knew how to walk up.

The flag ceremony practice took a while, just leaving us with a few minutes for my outbound friend Morgan (Colombia) to Facetime Kyle and Ian (Outbound to Argentina) to have some rubbery smelling decaf coffee and talk in the breakfast room at the hotel. My roommates and I then got to bed rather late, and I got up at 6 a.m. to go on a run around Bismark with my friend Aric (Outbound to Poland).

The run was fun for me, and a little fun for Aric. He got sick, but we had a fun time on the swing set of a random playground. I never imagined that I would be swinging in a random park in Bismark at 6:30 a.m., but that’s just the sort of activities that exchange students end up doing. Afterwards we got bagels and in his case, coffee, which for me was quite delicious.

After that, we all got to take a picture with the President-Elect of Rotary International. The nicest pants I had brought were my dark skinny jeans, and I had just had a run and no time to shower. My picture didn’t turn out great, but that’s okay. Note to future exchange students: own classy pants, and bring them (I don’t really have any, or any semi-formal dresses).

After that was the flag ceremony. It was fun getting to represent Denmark with  Malene, the inbound from Denmark, and Baehlee!

It was then time to practice for the talent show. For some, including myself, that involved sitting around a fair amount. However, I did get to practice my speech a few times, and after some editing it was ready to go!

Ian, Morgan, Emma (Outbound to Brasil), Santina (Outbound to Thailand), me, and Hannah waiting around during practice!

We spent the rest of the afternoon rehearsing for the talent show. Right after dinner, we headed to a huge bowling alley. It was really fun getting to know the people I was bowling with better!

The talent show the next morning went quite smoothly, and was still incredibly entertaining despite the fact that we had seen in multiple times before. Some acts include: soccer skills, a dance to “Single Ladies” by three guys, a traditional Thai dance, the best dancing I have ever seen to “Gangnum Style”, a traditional Chilean dance, many piano solos, and singing and ukulele to the Thai song “Just Fine”.  I think we were all pretty impressed with the level of entertainment and organization that this performance brought! The links for the two parts are here:

Not long after the talent show, we outbounds had our first orientation of the day. This, as well as the one later in the day, was very helpful. One of the activities we did was write letters to ourselves that we would read in October, which was nice, but it was especially fun getting to write messages for our friends. I really, truly appreciate the great group of outbounds that our district has.

After the orientations, we got dressed up for the nicest dinner yet. Here are some pictures of us looking very nice.

(Yes, those are my Docs on Morgan. They go with everything.)

The dinner was nothing short of the fanciest dinner I have ever attended. There were student string players serenading us all, and I got the pleasure of meeting one of them before and during the dinner. Morgan and I were more than happy to talk to her about going on exchange. That was the cherry on top for me after an amazing weekend.

The next morning we had to take off back home. After getting another French toast bagel with maple cream cheese, Baehlee and I were on our way to Detroit Lakes to finish our last little bit of high school up. Though finishing up school wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I now have exactly one month until I see everyone again. This time, though, time will fly by even faster, and I couldn’t be more excited to connect with  the craziest group of people I have ever met.