• zoebrygs

The first step.

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

I was chosen as the St. Albert Rotary Club's outbound student for the 2019/2020 year in late September. On January 12th, I had my district interview and got the official stamp of approval, I was one of ten students leaving our lives for a year to a place not known yet. Shortly after, my Mum and I found ourselves scrambling for medical forms and passport pictures that were required for the first set of paperwork. It felt surreal to have it be processed and sent somewhere on the other side of the world. It was a crazy feeling! Butterflies with knots in my stomach was an odd combo, something that I had never felt before, but it was something I knew I would be feeling a lot more often.

Before finding out where in the world I would end up, I made my family take bets. With a random guess, my Mum was right as always ;) . Jeri (my counselor) announced at the weekly Rotary Club meeting that I would be in the French region of Belgium! If i'm being honest, I was thrilled to finally know where I would live for a year, and less thrilled to know it would be in Belgium. Reflecting back on how I felt even now, weeks later feels ridiculous. I think what made me confused was not getting a country on my top three list. Before going to my Outbound Boot-camp, I didn’t know any other exchange student that went to a country that they didn’t “want”. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I hope that as the year goes on I get more and more excited. At the St. Albert Rotary Club, we have an inbound exchange student named Mady, she’s from Belgium! Every week I become closer with her, as she teaches me about herself and her country. I am so lucky to have someone who will be in Belgium that I trust, and care about before I even arrive!

Mady and I at the weekly Rotary meetings :)

Two weeks ago, my parents and I went to the Outbound Boot-camp weekend. This was to prepare the new outbound students from the district for our year to come. I assumed it would be a bunch of nervous teenagers, sitting by their parents, trying to not make too much eye contact. It was almost the exact opposite. We all became such good friends in the span of two days! It feels really good to meet people that feel the exact same as you do. Going on exchange is a very unique experience that not many can relate to, and I'm so grateful to have an amazing group of people that will be there for each other when we need some support. We learned lots about the history of Rotary, which made me feel even more amazing about going on this exchange with such an amazing organization. I can't wait to see my exchange buddies again at the RYLE camp in May, before we head out for our year abroad.

Left to right - Kaelan, Tessa, Tye, Maryn, Lindsay, Stephanie, Kabrea, Me!, Jacob, Kobe.

I want to use this blog as a way to show my family and friends what's going on in my life while I am away, and also a way for me to look back when my year is over. I want to thank everyone who has made this possible so far. It's an experience that will last a lifetime, and I am so grateful for everyone who has made an effort to support me on this amazing journey! For now, we wait!!

~ Z

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