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Students Abroad Blog

Bella Giunta
  • Bella Giunta
  • Bella Giunta is a 16 year old from Galloway Township who is spending her Junior year in Madrid, Spain, through the Rotary Youth Exchange.
Kalla Jovanovic
  • Kalla Jovanovic
  • Kalla Jovanovic, 16, is a junior at Pitman High School who be studying abroad in Denia, Spain, as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange. Last year, she travelled to Spain and France, a trip that sparked a passion for travel.
Eliza Freeman
  • Eliza Freeman
  • Eliza Freeman is a 16 year old from Haddonfield who will be spending a year abroad in Dallgow-Döberitz, a suburb outside of Berlin, Germany, through the Rotary Youth Exchange. She speaks German conversationally and has been to Germany twice.
Rosy Tucker
  • Rosy Tucker
  • Rosy Tucker, 18, of Haddonfield, is an exchange student in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she hopes to become a fluent Spanish speaker. She applied for the Rotary Exchange program because she wanted to broaden her horizons before entering Rutgers University, where she plans to major in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and Spanish.
Roman Papademetriou
  • Roman Papademetriou
  • Roman Papademetriou, of Linwood, is a rising senior at Mainland Regional High School. He has won a U.S. State Department National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship to study Turkish in Bursa, Turkey, this summer. He is excited to share his insights and experiences while living abroad, including sharing the realities of living with a host family, explaining the history and culture of Bursa, and giving an outside perspective on the changing political climate of Turkey.
Friday 07/26/2013
Posted: July 26, 2013 - 12:24 pm
Roman Papademetriou: Of backgammon and days in Turkey

The dice are rolled. The random numbers are counted. And the black and white pieces are moved in haste. I am sitting in a tea garden in Nilufer, Bursa, watching my host father play tavli (backgammon) against his Turkish counterpart. Again and again the dice are rolled, the random numbers are counted, pieces are moved, and it feels like a repetitive cycle that is only broken for a sip of tea or simultaneous snickering. This repetition makes me think of my daily routine in Turkey, although my days are hardly monotonous and sometime have the randomness of the dice.

Monday 07/15/2013
Posted: July 15, 2013 - 3:30 pm
Roman Papademetriou: Fasting during Ramadan brings Muslims together

Imagine going an entire day without eating or drinking anything. Now imagine going an entire month without eating during each day. Finally, imagine that you are doing all this in the midst of summer, with scorching temperatures and the longest days of the year. This is exactly what Muslims around the world do each year during the month long celebration of Ramadan.

Tuesday 07/09/2013
Posted: July 09, 2013 - 12:11 pm
Roman Papademetriou: Meeting his Turkish family

While I sit in the barbershop, surrounded by mirrors, I figure its time for a reflection. My host brother Berkay is getting a haircut, and of course the barber is a close family friend. A lot has happened since I last wrote, and I'm sorry for the delay. I will certainly give a synopsis of my trip so far, but I decided to dedicate this blog to solely my first encounter with my host family.

Friday 06/28/2013
Posted: June 28, 2013 - 3:21 pm
Roman Papademetriou: Taking a new approach to learning a language

As I stepped out of the car to begin my Pre-Departure Orientation, I was struck with a stifling wave of elation. Although it may have been the humidity of Washington D.C. that caused this momentary fervor, I know that my proliferating excitement was a result of months of anticipation. I dragged my bursting suitcase to the lobby of the hotel, kissed my parents goodbye, and stepped into a conference room filled with students. It was easy to tell that these students had also been struck with this same wave of elation, as the conference room seemed to be transformed into a commotion of intellectual conversations and a frenzy of giggles. Peers from all over the country: Florida, Wisconsin, Boston, Alaska, Michigan, and Hawaii were all gathered together in one conference room, under one program, with one goal -- to learn a new language.

Monday 06/17/2013
Posted: June 17, 2013 - 7:25 pm
Eliza Freeman: Reflecting on the changes a year brings

On June 14th, my host parents allowed me to have my goodbye party (Abschiedsfeier) at our home. Goodbye is such a terrible word. However, if my year did not have an expiration date, I don't think I would have appreciated it as much.

Thursday 05/30/2013
Posted: May 30, 2013 - 1:22 pm
Eliza Freeman: Preparing for year's end

It's very strange to wrap my head around the fact that my sister will be graduating in less than two days. I'm really proud of her and can't wait to have her so close again - three cheers for studying in Philadelphia!

Wednesday 05/22/2013
Posted: May 22, 2013 - 11:47 am
Eliza Freeman: Drinking in the culture at a fun carnival

For all of you who have been keeping up with my blog lately, you know how much trouble I am having dealing with the fact that I have to say goodbye to Berlin and everyone and everything I have learned to love here.

Wednesday 05/08/2013
Posted: May 08, 2013 - 1:53 pm
Eliza Freeman: On the road in Europe

I have the window wide open and can hear the neighborhood children playing outside and fathers testing out their lawn mowers after the long winter. On one hand, I am so excited that the weather is as good as it is, but on the other hand .... not only does it mean I have to leave what I now call home in 8 short weeks, it also means that the bees will come (I have the most irrational fear of bees and flying insects, don't ask me why).

Posted: May 08, 2013 - 1:50 pm
Bella Giunta: Enjoying some time off

Remember how I told you all that there are a lot of vacations from school/work here? Well, there are these magical, amazing things here in Spain that they call ‘puentes’. It literally means bridge, but for kids of all ages it means LONG WEEKEND- and that my friends, is universal.

Wednesday 04/24/2013
Posted: April 24, 2013 - 1:06 pm
Bella Giunta: A parental visit

Normally, by this time in our exchange the long awaited “parent visit” has passed. Yes, it’s an amazing feeling seeing your family after such a long period of time and tears are shed, but (like almost everything in life) this visit has an ulterior motive. You can deny it all you want, but you and I both know that it’s all about showing off. Your language skills, your new independence - it’s all just a way to say “Hey! Mom! Dad! Look! I did it! I did it on my own!” or … in other words: without you!

Monday 04/08/2013
Posted: April 08, 2013 - 11:38 am
Rosy Tucker: A busy month spent making memories

It's been a while since I've written because it's been a while since I've been at home with the time to update my blog!

Friday 03/29/2013
Posted: March 29, 2013 - 1:30 pm
Eliza Freeman: Stumbling across a sobering reminder of hate

As I went on a run the other day, I literally stumbled upon a cobblestone, that turned out not to be a cobblestone after all. They were placed in the brick sidewalk, two bronze blocks lying next to another. On these stones read the names of a (presumbly) husband and wife, Iva and Hermann Zorn, stating that they had lived in the neighboring house. Underneath the names stood the respective birth dates, and then the phrase:

Sunday 03/17/2013
Posted: March 17, 2013 - 6:27 pm
Eliza Freeman: Lots to do in the final months

For those of you who don't know, my sister, aunt, and cousin are coming to visit today! I actually had a nightmare last night that I slept through my alarm and wasn't there to meet them at the airport.

Monday 03/11/2013
Posted: March 11, 2013 - 4:25 pm
Eliza Freeman: Maintaining a sunny outlook

This weekend I went to Greifswald for my third orientation weekend. It was a whole bunch of fun, but a little depressing... It made me realize my exchange year is almost over, and I am in no way ready!

Posted: March 11, 2013 - 4:27 pm
Eliza Freeman: An American abroad

What's so special about being American? What did we do to deserve all this recognition? Why does everyone want to be something American, yet hate Americans at the same time?

Monday 03/04/2013
Posted: March 04, 2013 - 5:08 pm
Eliza Freeman: The accent is on progress

My week has been crawling along at a snail's pace, but that's probably because I am looking forward to the weekend. I have my third and last orientation weekend, this time in Greifswald, a university town near the Polish border. All of the exchange students from my district are going to be there, even the 'newbies'!

Posted: March 04, 2013 - 5:04 pm
Rosy Tucker: Helping with orphans while on vacation

Hello! It's been a while since I've updated my blog, but I guess I've fallen into a bit of a routine and there isn't really too much new to report.

Tuesday 02/19/2013
Posted: February 19, 2013 - 1:45 pm
Eliza Freeman: When school work strikes back

Today, when I went in to write my German homework in my agenda book, I didn't have any room. There was not one line free on the entire page. From reminders about my 50-verb Spanish test tomorrow to the Otto Von Bismarck presentation I have to have done by Thursday, everything is full.

Monday 02/18/2013
Posted: February 18, 2013 - 2:50 pm
Rosy Tucker: Carnaval in Ambato!

All over the world people celebrated Carnaval last weekend. A weekend of parties, parades, and general craziness before the beginning of Lent. Of course, every country celebrates differently.

Posted: February 18, 2013 - 2:47 pm
Bella Giunta: Learning an important lesson

Exchange teaches you many things. One is that there are a lot of different types of people in the world. Another (and my opinion, more important) is that not of all of them are good.

Monday 02/11/2013
Posted: February 11, 2013 - 6:30 pm
Eliza Freeman: Snowy skiing in the Austrian Alps

Before I arrived in Germany, my host parents and I emailed a little back and forth. I was so excited, I must have been checking my email about five times a day! One of the emails they sent me included the question: 'Do you ski?'.

Tuesday 02/05/2013
Posted: February 05, 2013 - 1:05 pm
Rosy Tucker: Taking a trip to Quito

It's been a while! I got back from this trip almost a week ago and I'm just now writing about it! I blame it on the really bad sunburn I got yesterday at the beach…. or just my laziness.

Friday 02/01/2013
Posted: February 01, 2013 - 3:20 pm
Eliza Freeman: Some trivia about Germany

As of three hours ago, I successfully completed the first semester of my exchange year. I rode my bike to school, given the dry weather, and hung out with everyone for half an hour while they received their report cards. Fortunately, I was not given official grades for the first semester, but I will be given them next semester. I’ve already got a few friends lined up for tutoring, I’m planning on paying them in English help.

Thursday 01/31/2013
Posted: January 31, 2013 - 11:42 am
Bella Giunta: A visit from an old friend

Last Friday I found myself sitting in Terminal 2 of the Madrid airport, nervously awaiting the arrival of one of my favorite people in the world! Yes, that’s right- the wait was over and Marianne was coming to visit! Marianne is my Norwegian exchange sister. She was living in my house last year and, well you can ask any exchange student- host siblings become inseparable. So, as you could imagine the 7 months between the time she left the US and last Friday was far too long for us to be apart.

Tuesday 01/29/2013
Posted: January 29, 2013 - 12:00 pm
Eliza Freeman: Dreams in English, films in German

I'm very disappointed.

Posted: January 29, 2013 - 11:57 am
Rosy Tucker: Meeting some new friends

As I think I've mentioned, I'm on my summer vacations from school. And since Christmas my life has been a lot of eating, going to malls, and watching movies. For some people, this is really nice, but it has been driving me crazy not having a schedule! For a while my friend Maeve have been looking for a volunteer opportunity here in the city and today we finally started our service project!

Monday 01/21/2013
Posted: January 21, 2013 - 3:37 pm
Bella Giunta: Celebrating New Year's in Spain

It might be a little late for a holiday entry over there, but here, the festivities just ended last week. Plus I have to fill you guys in on what has been keeping me so busy!

Posted: January 21, 2013 - 3:33 pm
Eliza Freeman: Learning what hard work really is

Painted in big bold letters above my family’s kitchen cabinets is: ‘CARPE DIEM- SEIZE THE DAY’. From Day One, I think my mom has overused the phrase. That, and ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’

Monday 01/14/2013
Updated: January 14, 2013 - 7:32 pm
Eliza Freeman: Saying goodbye to a good friend

Lugging my duffel into school Friday, I felt like a total idiot. It contained exactly one pair of Pennington Tennis 2011 sweatpants, one Haddonfield Field Hockey t-shirt, two German romantic comedies, one copy of Forrest Gump, and two chocolate Santas left over from Christmas. Yet somehow, it felt so much heavier. Maybe because it carried with it an unsaid goodbye.

Posted: January 14, 2013 - 7:25 pm
Rosy Tucker: A visit to the doctor

All my life I have suffered from bizarre skin problems. For some reason, my skin is terribly sensitive. So sensitive, that when I had a consultation with the doctor who gave me my vaccines to come to Ecuador, she decided that I should get a rabies vaccine after looking over my records. Hardly anyone gets vaccinated for Rabies, unless they're going to be working with animals. I've had chiggers, poison oak, years of eczema, 3 infected ear piercings, just to name a few.

Wednesday 01/09/2013
Posted: January 09, 2013 - 12:54 pm
Eliza Freeman: Secondary schools in Germany

Ich bin wieder da! (I'm back!)

Tuesday 01/08/2013
Posted: January 08, 2013 - 6:27 pm
Eliza Freeman: New year in a new country

I am writing this post six hours away from my normal kitchen table in Dallgow-Döberitz, in a small little city called Heidelberg. Some of you may know the town because of the University, where Mark Twain famously studied. There is also a beautiful ruin of a castle here, but not as famous. This is the third time I have been to the picture-perfect city. About five years ago (I can't believe it's been so long!) I spent Christmas here with my family, visiting very close family friends of ours, and also later visited on my own during the summer, spending a few days at a Gymnasium (high school) and sightseeing with the mentioned family. I am here to pay them another visit (but this time we are speaking German)! I'd just like to thank them, as without this family, I would have never chosen German as a possibility, and without my interest in the language I would never have considered an exchange year.

Posted: January 08, 2013 - 6:22 pm
Rosy Tucker: A fiery way to welcome the new year

New Years Eve comes with a lot of hype. Everyone is planning and talking about it, looking forward to it for months, and when it comes down to it, it usually goes by just like most other nights. This year was a New Years that I will never forget, obviously, because I'm an exchange student…. but also because of the uniquely spectacular Ecuadorian New Year tradition.

Wednesday 01/02/2013
Posted: January 02, 2013 - 6:33 pm
Eliza Freeman: Homesick for the holidays

I still haven't accepted the fact that Christmas is tomorrow. Christmas in Germany is celebrated on our Christmas Eve, which they call Heiligabend- literally: Holy Evening.

Posted: January 02, 2013 - 6:36 pm
Rosy Tucker: A return proves a happy surprise

For the past month or so, I have known that my host sister who was an exchange student in France, was coming home.

Wednesday 12/19/2012
Posted: December 19, 2012 - 7:11 pm
Rosy Tucker: A few days in the Amazon

For the past couple of weeks, I've been in a bit of a rut. I wasn't doing anything, I felt like I wasn't improving much in Spanish, and I was dreading my next three months without school. But if anything could make me feel like I was where I was supposed to be, it was my trip to the Amazon rainforest with Rotary.

Posted: December 19, 2012 - 6:59 pm
Eliza Freeman: Celebrating my birthday with new friends

I am so sorry this post is so late! The Christmas season is turning out to be just as busy 4,000 miles away.

Thursday 11/29/2012
Posted: November 29, 2012 - 12:47 pm
Bella Giunta: In Spain in time of crisis

Last week I got my first look into the real “Crisis” of Spain. Before that I was just enjoying the days off of school because of strikes or watching it on the news. To me, The Crisis had just been the explanation to any, and every, bad thing that had happened … crowded subway… “¡La Crisis!” … expensive groceries … “¡La Crisis!” … it rains … “¡La Crisis!”

Wednesday 11/28/2012
Posted: November 28, 2012 - 6:29 pm
Eliza Freeman: A Thanksgiving in Germany

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted: November 28, 2012 - 6:25 pm
Rosy Tucker: A memorable Thanksgiving below the equator

Quite the opposite of what most people expect for a Thanksgiving away from home, I had an amazing day and hardly missed my family at all. Thanksgiving here was all about embracing that it would be very different, and shared with very different people, and trying to enjoy what was really happening rather than compare it to what was going on at the same time at home.

Tuesday 11/20/2012
Posted: November 20, 2012 - 6:27 pm
Eliza Freeman: A busy week breaks routines

I am a woman of routine. I enjoy routine, I need routine. It doesn't do much for the spontaneity in my life, but at least I know what comes next.

Posted: November 20, 2012 - 6:17 pm
Rosy Tucker: Things I miss, things I love here

So. I've been here for two months. And it's really, really hard to believe. The time has flown by. I feel like I just got here yesterday, and at the same time I feel like I've been here for years. I'm 1/5th of the way done with my exchange. Which seems like I have so little time left, but really there is still so much more to come!

Monday 11/12/2012
Posted: November 12, 2012 - 5:10 pm
Bella Giunta: Hiking in storybook country

Waking up this morning with noodle legs and a camera full of memories, I can’t help but smile back (with a bit of nostalgia) on the adventures of yesterday . . .

Posted: November 12, 2012 - 5:07 pm
Kalla Jovanovic: Trying to make new friends and have fun

On Saturday nights in Spain you are expected to go out. It doesn't matter if you are an exchange student from America that can still barely speak Spanish and has a hard time making friends in this country - you are expected to go out and have a social life.

Posted: November 12, 2012 - 4:56 pm
Rosy Tucker: Becoming a soccer fan

Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed one pattern for sure: Soccer here is everything. Across the coast of Ecuador, no matter how far away you stray from the cities, out into the open desert like land scattered with tiny towns and shacks made from palm, you will always find fans crazy for their favorite coastal football team. On the coast there are two major teams, Emelec and Barcelona, and your answer to the question, “Blue or yellow?” can make or break your first impression with people.

Tuesday 11/06/2012
Posted: November 06, 2012 - 7:14 pm
Eliza Freeman: An unforgettable weekend in Paris

The city of lights, love and high fashion cannot be properly toured in three days. When I was in Bonn, the brother of my host mother told me a joke, which goes as follows:

Updated: November 06, 2012 - 7:25 pm
Rosy Tucker: Fresh air and adventure

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to get out of the heat and smog of Guayaquil and into the Sierra region of Ecuador to a city called Baños. For those of you who know me well, it will be completely obvious to you after reading this as to why I have fallen madly in love with this city.

Monday 10/22/2012
Updated: October 22, 2012 - 4:36 pm
Rosy Tucker: The night I lost my pins

As a Rotary Youth Exchange Student … the pins are important. Every student brings pins from their host countries to trade with the other students they meet. Everyone puts the pins they collect onto their blazer which we wear to all Rotary events … the result being that at the end of the year you come home with a blazer full of pins from all over the world to remind you of all of the interesting people you met during your year abroad.

Posted: October 22, 2012 - 4:32 pm
Eliza Freeman: Math tests and some time to sleep

I was stressed about my math exam (Mathe Klausur) for nothing, because on Thursday, about five minutes before my first block ended, we all found out it was postponed until Tuesday. All the other math classes had to write their tests, but my class had a surprise free block! I enjoyed it while it lasted, and tried not to think about the next week, where three exams loom ahead of me. It gives me extra time to prep, but no room to breathe.

Updated: October 22, 2012 - 4:41 pm
Eliza Freeman: Finding a place to love in Germany

I'm sitting here in the car and am trying to recount the past week of vacation, but I can't even begin! I've done so much that, as my host mom says, "mein Kopf raucht" - my head is smoking. Looking forward to the weeks ahead, there's still no break in sight. I cannot emphasize this enough: Exchange students never have time to sleep.

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