Posted on Dec 04, 2018
Well, team, it is hard to believe that your year abroad is in its final three months before you all return home to your expectant families.
As time is marching on, I suggest that you tick off your final goals on your bucket lists and make the most of the coming weeks. I’d also like to remind you to maintain your positive attitudes and behaviours even though it may be tempting to let standards slip with home just around the corner.
Now is a good time to plan how you are going to thank your host families and you should also be prepared to give a final speech at your last host club meeting.                 
Remember to try and keep your Rotary smile on even when faced with challenging times including goodbyes.
One last thing, please mark in your diaries our Debrief Day, held in Rotorua on Sunday 10 February 2019 – more information to follow.
Best wishes
Kevin and Dianne and all the committee.
Adam Van Klei          Chile
Hannah Van der Horst France
 The last three months have been crazy busy with trips and activities during my summer holidays, I finished school at the beginning of Juin while my class was in exams. My eurotour started not long into the school holidays and I can easily say that it was one of the best weeks of my life. We visited five countries over 11 days, starting in Paris and visiting Reims, Strasbourg (France), Munich (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic), Vienna (Austria), Lido de Jesolo, Venice, Milan (Italy), Chamonix (France), Geneva (Switzerland) and DIjon (France). There were 50 exchange students in total, very few of which were from my district, so I made lots of new friends.
I’ll be here all day if I go through everything I did during the holidays but some of the highlights include visiting Saint Brevin and Nantes for a week with friends, going to Mainsquare music festival with my host sister, catching up with Francois who went to my school on exchange in NZ, 14th of July fireworks display at the beach, France winning the Football World Cup; which was amazing, I was in Lille which is the big city in my district and the atmosphere after the match finished was insane.

I also went to an annual competition between the French and English Medieval associations, which was like a giant fair with knights on horses jousting and everybody walking around in full body armour. My host sister left for her exchange in Australia which was pretty sad but I enjoyed spending time with her before she left - we had more than a few laughs trying fit everything into her suitcases! After we dropped her off at the airport my host dad took me and my youngest host sister to visit Les Grandes ecuries de Chantilly in Paris which are massive stables, facilities and dressage shows.
I changed into my third family during the holidays and got to do a bunch of cool stuff before my oldest host siblings left for uni, including going metal detecting in the fields around the farm. We found a bunch of old bullets and exploded bomb casings in the fields and a couple of unexploded bombs around forts and trenches in the forest from the Germans in world war II.
I was lucky enough to be able to go to Germany for a week and visit Emma who lived with us for six months in NZ, and we had an awesome time. We went over to Denmark for ice cream and visited Flensburg and Hamburg. I caught up with a few other exchange students who used to go to my school in NZ as well as a Kiwi friend from Auckland who was living working in Germany for a month. The day I came back from Germany, I ran into my District Chairman and some Rotarians in the airport as I was leaving the terminal as they were there welcoming all the Newbies into our district; all 29 of them.
We had an orientation weekend at Dunkirk with all our newbies to meet them and it was super weird to realise how far through my exchange I am and that I’m now an oldie!
I can’t help but feel that the next four months are going to whizz by which is crazy! I’m so lucky to have had the opportunities i’ve had over the past 8 months and plan to continue to take every chance I get. Seeya in 4 months NZ!
Kalista Ellis            USA
In the previous report, I had just returned from my tour around America where I visited 24 states, that now brings me to a total of 29 states that I have been too over the last nine months. Out of all of the states that I have visited, I have concluded that my favourites are; Idaho, Washington and Hawaii.
In these last three months, I have restarted school going into my senior year first semester of the class of 2019, this is keeping things hectic and is a lot more enjoyable than my prior semester at Moscow High.
Over the last two weeks, I have moved into my third and final family, This has been a really great experience and I’m enjoying it tremendously. 
On the first day of school all of the seniors meet at the highest point in Moscow to watch the sunrise, this required a lot of effort to pull myself out of bed at four in the morning then go to a full day of school but was defiantly worth it.
For several of the past weekend I have visited the fairs in Moscow, Idaho and in Lewiston, we went on plenty of rides that absolutely terrified me, this was a first for me on my exchange I, however, do think I picked up the fair fever all the locals talk about.
Whilst down in the Lewiston fair I went to an hoco (homecoming) football game with my friends this was really exciting as well, the hoco kings and queens for each grade rode out on golf carts and performed a dance in the center of the football field while the cheerleaders performed their routine dances.
I had one weekend where I went up to a camp called Luther haven up near Spokane, Washington this was held by my Rotary cross-border district that was for all of the inbound students that were coming into the district, I loved having the opportunity that is provided as a result of our January to January calendar to meet and form friendships with two lots of exchange students throughout my exchange.
All of my families’ love going camping so it has become a regular occurrence that I go camping all over the place. Since my last report, I have gone on three camping trips, two with my second family and one with my first and third families.
On the trips with my second family we went down to the hells canyon, and onto the salmon river. We camped right on the edge of the river on a sandbank on both of these trips my host parents had us go rafting. On one of the trips it was only me and my host family and then on the second trip it was with my host families running group, so this was really large with over 20 people. We spent 13 hours on the river in big rafts and small inflatable rafts for only one person however I took my friend Beza on this
Kalista Ellis            USA
Kathryn Knipe                 Netherlands
Wow! I’ve made it eight months and can I just say how fast that has gone! I only have four months left and I’m as emotional and confused as ever. No part of me wants to leave my friends here and this beautiful place I am honoured to be able to call home, But on the other hand, I would love nothing more than to be home with my family and friends.
Since the last update on my life here in the Netherlands, I have been enjoying my summer vacation. Which has allowed me to sit back and enjoy where I am instead of being too busy to be able to fully take in my new surroundings as I also moved families.
During the summer, my Rotary was invited to the Den Helder club. On this excursion, we were taken to go and see the bunkers that were used by the Germans in WW2 which was super interesting.
In the middle of the summer vacation, before my group of ‘newbies’ became oldies, we decided to plan a day trip to Amsterdam to do all the touristy things some of us hadn’t done yet as we were scared that we were almost oldies and we still had not conquered all of the touristy things yet. On this day we all arrived and met in our usual spot in Amsterdam central and began our day of not being natives.
First stop; Sex m useum. Although I had already been here none of the other exchange students had and they thought it was definitely something they must do before leaving and what better time than on our tourist adventures. Can definitely say that even on my second time, knowing what was in there and the things I was going to be seeing, I am still scared for life. It's not a museum for the heavy-hearted.
After that we continue to be tourists by heading to vondelpark, even though we always go here as an exchange group, before heading to the museum square to go to the “I AMsterdam” sign and some of the museums. After this, we head to our favourite dinner spot before heading back o the station to then go home as ‘Oldies’.
As summer came to an end and autumn was kicking in my little village was getting ready to hold their annual five-day festival, “Flora en visserijdagen.” This festival was from Thursday 23rd to Monday the 30th of August. I was lucky enough to be able to go every day although I skipped Sunday as I was overly tired and the party wasn’t very big or energetic that night either. During this festival, I was able to get all the exchange students from my group to come for one 
night as well as the other nights meeting my host sisters friends and going with them.
I'm super excited to see what the last four months has in store and I will see everyone in New Zealand in the early hours of January 9th 2019.
Catriona Gunn                        France
The summer holidays have been very busy. They started off with my euro tour, where I spent two weeks travelling around Europe. We did six countries, nine cities, in 12 days. It was the most amazing trip of my life. I meet so many great people and saw so many amazing sites.
We started off in the north of France in Paris and Strasbourg, then to Munich Germany, Two days in Prague, Vienna, Venice, Milan Italy, then Chamonix France, and back up to Geneva Switzerland. My favourite place was definitely Prague. We spent two days there, had a couple of guided tours, visited the John Lennon wall and ate some great food.
After those two exciting weeks, me and Hannah Van der Horst went to a town near Nantes to visit one of our friends, Shannon Sim who’s also an exchange student from NZ. We had a great time just hanging out and went to Puy du Fou, which is sort of like a theme park but with shows instead of rides. It was really fun and it was great catching up with friends again.
After a busy few weeks, the fun continued. I met up with my sister in Paris and we travelled back to the south of France together. She stayed with me for just over a week and we travelled around a bit. We visited Avignon, Aix en Provence and Marseille which are some of the big cities in my Rotary district. It was really hot but we had a great time and did lots of touristy things.
 It was Bastille day while we were in Marseille, so we went to the military parade and then to the fireworks display at night. It was really nice to hang out with my sister after being apart for six months and it was sad to say goodbye again.
After that, I was hosted by the rotary club of Marmande in district 1690, for a week-long summer camp.  I was hosted by a family for the week, and each day we met up with the other eight students and did fun activities such as a high ropes course, visiting castles, canoeing, visited a wine factory, Lascaux caves and learning about the history of the area. Then each night everyone would be hosted by a different family for dinner, and we’d swim and play cards and have a great time.
While on this trip, unfortunately, I was in a car accident. Luckily nobody was hurt, we did go to the hospital to get checked out, but everything was okay. However, I did end up with a big bruise on my face. Other than the accident, this week was the best of my summer and of my exchange. I made amazing friends and had the best time.
After all of these fun activities, I had nothing else planned for the last month of the holidays. I had changed to my new host family when I got back from the summer camp so just spent this time with them and getting to know the family. They have two young kids and live within walking distance of the town/school, which is great. We’ve done a few activities because they like to do little outings and be active with the children. We went to a big lake, saw the glacier and an ice cave, and popped over to Italy and did a little walk in the mountains and had a picnic.
Also just this week, the new exchange students arrived in my district. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the picnic hosted by the district this weekend because it was four hours away. However I did meet the American exchange student in my town and who will be attending the same school, which was really nice. School is starting this week and I have lots of activities planned for the next few months, which will make the last months of my exchange go super fast and I’ll be on the plane home before I know it.
Kyle Odendaal          Brazil
I can’t believe I am already in the third quarter of my exchange, already completed seven months here in Brazil. So crazy!
July was school holidays for me, which lasted the entire month. I did so many amazing things during that month! Firstly, at the beginning of the month, I had a Festa Julinha with my Rotary club. Festa Julinha is a typical festival here in Brazil, in which you dress up as farmers and we have typical food such as corn, popcorn and a lot of meat, and it also has a typical dance for the festival. It was such a fun experience to be part of the traditional festival.
Middle of July,
I was invited by my first host family to travel with them to São Paulo city as they were picking up their daughter, who was coming back from her exchange. It took us 12 hours to drive to São Paulo! We then spent five days travelling around different parts of São Paulo, we visited a famous church here in Brazil, called Aparecida do Norte, and it was so beautiful! Then we travelled to the coast of São Paulo, and we spent three days at the beach. It had been six months of not seeing the beach, so I was definitely excited!

At the end of July, I had two 15’th birthday parties, one of a family friend, and the other of a school friend. Here in Brazil, when a girl turns 15, they are considered to be a ‘young lady’ now. So they go all out with the birthday celebration, and I’m talking about up to $25,000 Reias ($10,000NZD) It seems almost like a wedding, all the men are in suits and well groomed, and the women are in fancy dresses and heels. They hire a DJ, lots of lights to seem like a nightclub, have waiters serving food and drinks and so much more!
I started back at school in August, and I am enjoying being back after a great holiday. It was also nice to go back and everyone was surprised at how much my Portuguese had improved and how much me, as a person, had changed just in one month. Now everyone speaks to me in Portuguese and I love it! At the end of August, I had my District conference at a water park, with the 43 new inbound exchange students. There was lots of information about the exchange, lots of food provided and a lot of free time which I spent swimming and getting to talk to and know each new student. We all swapped pins and now my blazer is full and so heavy! I had a great time a the conference representing New Zealand, where I sang the National anthem, and introduced myself to everyone.
Anyway, that’s all from me. I could go on for hours about the amazing experience, and my life here in Brazil. I have so many things to look forward to in my
last quarter of exchange! Time is slipping by so fast, and before I know it I’ll be packing my bags to leave back to New Zealand! Thank you to everyone who has helped in getting me to where I am today, this would all not be possible without every single one of you putting in the work to get me here. The experiences I am having are priceless!
Sophie Jones  Belgium 2170
Really crazy that this is the last report I’ll be doing. Pretty scary in fact! Of course, there are still moments when I miss home or family, but now the idea of saying goodbye to everyone here seems a lot more painful. I have about four months left now and am just coming to the end of my summer holidays. They’ve been so incredible;  I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been. Right after school finished, I changed host families for the third and last time, before going to Poland with them.
We stayed in Krakow and I learnt a lot about European history, especially during WW2; we visited Auschwitz as well - a tough but important experience. After Poland, I went to Denmark for a week to visit Emil - an ex-exchange student who lived in NZ with my family for 4 months. It was so special getting to live a bit of his life and meet all his family and friends.
Next, I had a week staying with my counsellor and his family, then a 10-day scouts camp being an intendant (making the food etc). Both were really cool, but I wasn’t expecting 37 degree days in my European summer! My last holiday was two weeks in France with my current host family which was amazing - we went to Normandy, Brittany and the chateau of the Loire. These last few weeks have been spent adventuring Belgium a bit more and catching up with everyone. I’m trying to make the most of every second as I’m sure before I know it I’ll be back with you all again. I find it pretty amazing when I look back on how far I’ve come this year. I’ve never been shy but being the new (and non-French-speaking) girl at school, or living with families I’d never met before was certainly big challenges for me. I find that now it’s easy to be myself with my host families, and I have lots of close school friends.  Plus I can actually understand almost everything! The talking is getting there haha.. But I’m glad that I kept pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone, I can see what a difference it made now. Thank you all again for all the support, I am super grateful and will always be! See you soon :)
Carmel Scott (Katy)       Austria.
Just before the school holidays, I went to a beautiful lakeside resort for a week-long sports camp with my year group at school. Every morning, I did kayaking for two hours, and every afternoon I played sports activities with my class. The camp was very different from the school camps that I’m used to in NZ, but it was a lot of fun and I had a great time. The resort also included a mini-golf course, many swimming areas, a playground, a volleyball net, and much more, all open to the students!
At the beginning of the school holidays, I was lucky enough to be invited to be a counsellor at a Rotaract Kids Camp in Austria. There were around 50 kids at the camp, aged 6-13, and I spent the week playing games, making T-Shirts, going swimming, and much more. It was an interesting experience to be one of the ‘adults’ at the camp and to see what goes on behind the scenes. Also, none of the kids spoke any English, so my German improved a lot over the course of the week.
Throughout the holidays, I spent a lot of time travelling around Austria, which was great as I got to see a lot of this beautiful country. Every city has its own charm and every place I went was more beautiful than the last. There are still a few places that I would like to visit before I go, and I hope I can fit them in!
Just before school started, I changed to my third and final host family. This is my first host family to have children my age, and it’s really nice. I really enjoy living here and I’m looking forward to the next four months with this family.
I started school at a new school last week. The school I went to for the first six months of my exchange was a business school, and I struggled to stay involved in the subjects. My new school is a music school, which is much better suited to me, as I’ve already started guitar lessons, and dancing classes, both of which I’m really enjoying. Everyone in my class is super nice and makes sure that I’m always included in everything.
Last week I went to Oktoberfest with my host sisters and another girl from my class. I had a great time and I really enjoyed the Austrian culture shown in the dirndls and Lederhosen everyone was wearing (including me!), and the loud and proud singing while standing on table tops as a band played Austrian songs on a giant stage.
Last weekend was the first Rotary camp since the newbies arrived in August, and it was really great being able to meet everyone. We hiked to the top of an incredibly beautiful mountain with an amazing view during the day and in the evening we carried fire torches along a road near where we were staying and ended the night with a big campfire and a ukulele sing along.
The last three months has gone so incredibly fast but it’s been absolutely amazing. I’m excited to see what my final four months in Austria will bring.