May 2012 My last month of my exchange by Aimee Bushnell, Rotary Youth Exchange student in Bolivia 


  • I don't want to go home. I am home.
    Alaska feels like a whole different life. A world away. Like a half forgotten dream.
    When I arrived to Bolivia, I started all over. Met new people and learned a whole new language and customs. 
  • Now going back, I'll basically do it all again. But this time without the language barrier. It will be easier, maybe. 
  • I'll already have connections. But as I have grown in my year abroad, some connections have been severed, and some made stronger. 
  • Now going back, I'll have to face which connections I want to reconnect, or leave broken.
  • I've grown and learned so much. With new interests and new habits, and more friends around the world.
    This time when I get on that plane, I will be leaving a family and return to a family. I will leave best friends, but go home to best friends. 
  • Go home to one place I love, but have to leave the place I have grown to love without knowing for sure when I can return. 
  • Knowing that the goodbyes I will say won’t be until 10 months when I will return again. 
  • They could be indefinite. Undetermined. But, I have decided, not forever. 
    Because these friends I now have, these people in my life, no matter how far away I go from the place where we met, they will forever be a part of me.
January 2012 Hola from Bolivia!

                My father told me to write my club about a paragraph or so, possibly half english/spanish.  But to be honest, I don't want to send you something in spanish, not because I'm afriad I'll be wrong, which I've stopped caring if I sounds stupid in spanish.  But that I would just /hate/ it, if someone were to read it wrong.  I don't mind bad spanish grammer, because I can't tell, but spanish things that I can tell are wrong, a huuuge pet pev.  you all will have to just wait until I get back for me to read it for you :)  And as for the "one paragraph" thing, I couldn't help myself.  I had to make it an essay :) With lots of pictures.

                To every Rotarian out there, I would just like to say thank you.  Thank you for this wonderful experiance that I am on, and thank you for choosing me to go.  To my host club, who's meetings I miss, but am super happy about my reason for skipping, haha :)  And here is a thank you to every person in the world who is, or ever was a rotarian, from all the exchange students.  Past, present, and future.  This is undoubtedly the best year of my life, and I think all other exchangies would agree with me.  Now enough with my 'thank you's.  Because honestly, I could never thank you enough.


                I am going to talk about my exchange now, and pretend that everyone who is reading this is just super excited to hear all I've done because I am just that awesome.


                I don't know how many of you rotarians know of the graph of the emotions of a student on exchange, but it looks something like this:

                                                More or less.     But for me, this is my exchange:

                As you can tell, I have been having a wonderful time :)  My lack of knowledge of the language before I came, did stunt me at first.  But I never even thought of going home.  And it might not make my parents happy to hear this, but I didn't really miss them.  There are times that I do, because they are my real parents, and we have our own special bond.  But I have a family here now.  Not perfect, but makes me love them more . I feel like they could be my real parents.  And my host sisters, I feel like they've been mine forever.  And ever since I got here, they have made me a part of the family.  Bar-b-que and pool days at my mom's sister's house with my cousins, days on the river with my dad and his brother and children, family lunch everyday.  Durring summer vaction, we went to my grandma's house for christmas, and on a different occasion.

                In school, well at the begining of my exchange, school was ending here and we were all going into summer vacation.  And people here, well anywhere, expecially in high school.  Have most of their friends all figured out.  No need to have more, and everyone knows everyone.  (Expecially here in Santa Cruz, people treat it just like a small town.) I had friends though, poeple who had known my host brother that went away, who just kind of adopted me into their group.  Also other people in the class that I talked to.  But none were really my friends, they hadn't known me forever, and I didn't know that much spanish.  We couldn't comunicate very well, and when you can't comunicate well with people, you just don't become great freinds.  There were some though, that we're great friends to me, and I saw them a couple times over the summer, but most times I would be with my exchange friends.  It made me feel like such a styreotype, but I couln't help it.  Some of the people I had met, I had no real want to want to be with them.  And with the other exchangies, we got along so well because we knew exactly what each other was going through, and we all just clicked.  Best feeling in the world, having someone that comes from the same culture of you, and being to explain how you feel, without really knowing yourself, and having them understand just exactly how it is different.


                Now though that school has started back up this last Monday, I realize so many things. The other day I was sitting in class, sitting there just thinking off in my own world, and I thought to myself 'be a part of this world, Aimee!'.  And I pulled myself out of it, started listening, and I realized something.  I could understand them!  The teacher, the students, the words on the board!  Not everything of course, and not perfectly, but a lot more then I ever realized I did.  And now in school, with my new and improved spanish ability, it is helping me make more friends, and old ones from the year before, I'm getting better with.  But this year now, all the teachers are making me work.  Haha.  What is enjoyable though is that work in math and quimica are basically the same.  But having to do physics for the first time ever in spanish, is hard. 

                And recently I have just uploaded about 200 photos from my trip around Bolivia.  I do hope my club is facebook stalking me and enjoying my amazing photagraphy skills.  I would love to explain more, but I feel I have told you most everything that is important and has happened thus far.  S far I have been here for about 6 months now.  And I can't believe it.  At all.  It really does feel like I got here just a month or two ago.  That my spanish class ended last month and not 3 ago.  And what is even more hard to believe, que es mas deficil para creer, es yo volver a Alaska en seis, SEIS, meses!  I return to Alaska in six, SIX, months.  Time sure flys.  Hey I don't know how many of you are country fans, but writing this makes me think of the song "Days Go By" by Keith Urban.
                "Days go by,

                                I can feel 'em flying,

                                                 Like a hand out the window in the wind as the cars go by,

                                                                It's all we've been given,

                                                                                 So you better start livin' right now,

                                                                                                'Cause days go by,"

'We think about tomorrow then it slips away.  We talk about forever but we've only got today'


                I plan on having the time of my life in these last months of my exchange.  Because I don't ever want this to end.  So thank you again.  For giving me this chance.  This chance to come to a different country, to meet new people, to try new things and new food, and thank you for choosing me to represent Alaska and distrit 5010.  So far, everyone I've talked to has always wanted to visit Alaska once I was down talking about it to them.  And I've explained Thanksgiving, christmas, school and classes, cities, and all other things. 


With love and good wishes
Con amor y deseos