Monday, January 24, 2011


Just a few days after writing about this mysterious host family that may or may not be my real host family, I got the email from AFS:
"Great news! AFS- Chile has just provided us with information about your Permanent Host Family Placement!"

I freaked out a little bit (no, a lot bit) and ran downstairs. It was, in fact, the host family I had been contacted by via facebook a few weeks prior. It didn't exactly give me a lot of information, but I have a dad, mom, 15 year old sister (Paula) and 21 year old brother (Diego). I'm in the process of writing them an email to learn more about their family. They say they have an indoor dog,and occupation is listed as "contractor". I'll let you know more when I find out more.

Other news:
  • Leo has officially arrived and had his first day of school today. We're all getting along very well.
  • My FBI background check came back from the FBI on Saturday! We keep missing the mailman but I'm planning on picking that up tonight.
  • I'm still compiling the necessary documents for my student visa. Today i took some very ugly passport pictures.
As I mentioned earlier, I spend a lot of time looking at AFS blogs and one of my goals is to have my blog help future exchangers know what it's like to go on exchange. I really appreciate having all the details possible about each blogger's trip. So, for all you future-exchangers out there (or people who are curious) here's the timeline of AFS exchange:

April, sometime: submit pre-application
August 5th: in-home interview
August 14th: submit full application to AFS-USA (with Chile as my first choice)
September 6th: Accepted by AFS-USA (after some confusion regarding my interview)
November 26th: Accepted by AFS-Chile
January 20th: Official, permanent host family!

As you can see, there is a lot of time spent waiting. I've learned that every email from AFS probably has good news in it. Patience is important during this process--for example, AFS said that Chile would accept or deny my application in 6-8 weeks, and it turned out to be more like 10 weeks. However, I'm sure that many students going to Chile don't have host families yet, so I feel special that I was picked by a family. It does make you feel a little special inside :)

Another detail: for those of you that don't know, my school, Madison West, ended their semester January 21st. That left an awkward 4 weeks between the end of the semester and my departure date. After numerous meetings with my counselor, we worked out a plan where I'm working on a computer science related independent study in the mornings and volunteering at a local elementary school in the afternoons. It's nice, because then I stay involved at school and can go to my clubs at lunch, but not have to attend "real" school. It's a good solution.

I think that's all for now.

PS: The money keeps coming in! I got another $150 in the mail recently. I'm astonished at how successful this fundraising project was, and I just wanted to thank all of my donors once again :)

PPS: I got my official AFS luggage tags in the mail today! I already wrote my name and new address on them. So excited.

PPPS: I wrote two smiley-faces in this blog post. Don't judge.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

exchange-related tidbits

Sorry I haven't posted. For a quick explanation, I got contacted by my potential host family about two weeks ago and I was going to post when I got the confirmation from AFS that they really, truly were my host family. However, I still haven't gotten confirmation, and I don't want to jinx it by going into too much detail in case the family doesn't get approved. But as soon as I have concrete information I'll make sure to tell the hoards of people reading this blog! (joke).

Well, Leo, our Brazilian exchange student, is arriving in our house TOMORROW. He's somewhere in Madison right now at an orientation so we are frantically preparing the house for another teenager. I'm moving out of my room and into the office for the 5 weeks that all three kids will be in the house. Unfortunately, the office is about half the size of my old room and you have to walk through it to get to my parent's room, but we all have to make compromises to have him with us. I keep telling myself that giving Leo a nice, big bedroom of his own will help his adjustment.  Here's a picture of my "new room". It's not completely moved in, but you have the general idea.

I'm not sure if I already mentioned this, but another thing I did over break was complete a "practice pack". AFS limits you at one big suitcase and one carry on for your trip down, so I made a list of all the things I wanted to bring and tried to fit them all in one suitcase. Unfortunately, that plan failed, so I reworked my packing list (cutting about five thousand items of clothing) and I think I'm starting to get into pretty good shape, packing-wise. I have a feeling that I might need two suitcases on my way back home, though....

I also got my new ipod over break, which allows me to share this very nice pictures with you all. And everyone knows that a blog is more fun to read with pictures!

I almost forgot! I got my official travel notifications from AFS last week or something. I freaked out; any piece of information I get from AFS is exciting. It's not copying and pasting correctly so I'll just type it out. Basically, I fly from Madison to Miami first, leaving at 6:10 Madison time on February 23rd. All the exchange students going to Chile have a 1 night orientation in Miami, and then on February 24th, we leave at 11:25 PM and arrive in Santiago at 10:15 the following day. I leave Santiago on July 28th at 8:00 PM and arrive in Miami at 4:45 on the 29th. I don't have a plane flight back to Madison yet, but I'll probably get home in the late afternoon/early evening of the 29th.

Finally, my good friend Rosemary got back from HER exchange in Chile on Thursday night. I briefly saw her Friday at school (I cried when I saw her I was so excited. The teachers around us were worried about me.). Hearing about her incredible experience makes mine seem realer. I don't think that's a word. Here's her blog:

Well, I have a couple more blog posts being schemed up in my head that I'll write up soon. Next week is finals week so I don't know how busy I'll be. Hope you all are doing well.

P.S: I was officially awarded $200 from AFS for hosting an exchange student, and just got another $50 dollars in the mail, which pushes my total up to $1580, officially passing my goal. Thank you all for your support! It means a lot to me.