Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I guess I should start learning Italian... ?

So I recently joined the AFS Italy 2012-2013 group on facebook and it seems like everyone knows at least a little bit of Italian, except for me... oops. I guess I should probably start learning the basics of the language soon! I mean I doubt I'll be able to survive with my current vocabulary of spaghetti and ciao.. haha hmm so what else is new? There's not a whole lot going on with Italy yet because I'm still in the early stages but I'll just fill you in on some of the little things(:

I'm legit OBSESSED with reading past AFSer's who went to Italy's blogs. Like as soon as I open my laptop I automatically start reading someones blog about Italy. It's so exciting to read about other people's crazy experiences in Italy as an exchange student! I seriously can't even believe that is going to be me in 160 days (I don't have a countdown or anything...)

I've been working on fundraising a lot more lately and I wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of my amazing friends and family who recently contributed to my "March Madness" fundraiser. We raised $640 towards my trip! It means the world to me that you guys donated because it's such a huge help!(: Thanks again!

The other night, I got the chance to talk to my returnee mentor, Jessica! Basically, a returnee mentor is an AFSer who went to Italy as an exchange student in the past. We talked on the phone for over an hour! It was so awesome to get to hear about all of her fun times and get some first-hand advice! The main thing I gained from our conversation is to always keep yourself open, outgoing and friendly when traveling as a foreign exchange student because you'll have the most fun if you're open to try new things.

However, there was one little thing that I kind of worried me during our conversation... When I asked Jessica if there was anything specific that I should pack, she said, "Pack loose-fighting clothes that can stretch." Umm.. to say the least I was pretty confused, "Why stretchy clothes..?" I asked her. She said, "Because you will gain weight." FML. Yeah.. so to anyone who knows me now, when I get back from Italy, expect to see a whole new chubby me! Yay. haha I mean I honestly don't really care that much but I just thought that was a funny story to tell you guys(: It really surprised me because Jessica said that everyone she knows who went to Italy gained weight, some up to 30 pounds! And I read a blog about someone who gained 30 KILOGRAMS! (That's like 65 pounds) All I'm saying is that I would probably be an unhappy camper if I gained 65 pounds... but it's just like whatever. I'm going to Italy, so hello, of course I'm going to stuff my face as much as I possibly can! Pasta... pizza... gelato... BRING IT ON!(: I can't wait.

Weelll that's about all that's going on with me!(:

P.S I changed my twitter & facebook so that they're in Italian, except whenever I try to use them it bugs me because I have no clue what I'm reading, so I'm constantly changing it back to English! I think I pretty much defeated the whole purpose... oh well

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I just made my blog, so I'm just going to fill you guys in on everything that's happened with me and AFS so far! (: This is the story of my decision to become an exchange student, honestly it was a totally spur-of-the-moment thing, I just randomly decided to do it!

In Ohio, on a lazy Sunday in the end of January, I was home alone and had absolutely nothing to do... it was such a boring day! I seriously felt like I was going to die of boredom. That's when I started wishing that I could live somewhere else. Simply out of curiosity, I started googling exchange student trips. I stumbled upon an organization called AFS. I got so caught up in the website that the next time I looked at the clock, an hour had already passed. Becoming an exchange student sounded like just the right type of excitement I was craving! After looking at the application due dates, I discovered that I still had about a month and half to apply. While I was examining the site, I found a page dedicated to scholarships. Well, I might as well check those out, I thought. Why not save my parents a few dollars? (Okay, maybe more like a few thousand dollars...)

Most of the scholarship application deadlines had already passed, except for one: Viaggio Italiano. Hmm... Italy. Never been there before, barely knew much about the country except that some of my Aunt's family lives there. That was good enough for me! Excitedly, I grabbed my phone and punched in my dad's cell phone number. After a few rings he answered, "Hey dad! Guess what? I was really bored so I looked up some exchange student programs but they're kind of expensive... can I apply??", I said. To my surprise he said, "I'm sure we could find a way to handle the money, we'll talk about it tonight when your mom and I get home!" 

Because I wanted to apply for the Viaggio Italiano scholarship, the due date for my application was a month earlier: February fifteenth. As soon as I decided to apply, my parents, my guidance counsellor and I frantically rushed to fill out the extensive application. Academic records... TB tests... Recommendation letter... Host family letter... Everything really piled up! I also had to write a one page essay for the Italy scholarship. I was basically given a fictional scenario kind of like this: Imagine you came home from school one day in Italy, you and your best Italian friend got in a fight, you have a bunch of complicated homework, you're having trouble with learning Italian, you miss your friends (Blah, blah, blah...). How would you handle this situation? I felt so pressured to fill out my application on time that I rushed through the essay, proofread it a few times and e-mailed it to the scholarship e-mail address. I finished the whole application on the exact day it was due! I just made it! After completing everything, I felt like such a boss pressing the "Submit Application" button (;

Fast forward fourteen days. It's Leap Day. My mom's picking me up from school. As soon as I get in the car she yells, "Did you get my text today!?" Just my luck, it was the one day that I forgot my phone at home because I woke up late. I asked my mom, "No.. what did the text say?" I assumed it was something little, like she bought me my favorite-est food ever, Chipotle, or something. Plus, the scholarship page said that we wouldn't hear any information until the first few weeks of March. My mom screams, "YOU GOT THE ITALY SCHOLARSHIP!" All I can do is scream and jump up and down in the passenger seat. I shriek, "OH MY GOSH! NO WAY!" I seriously could not even believe it! I thought my essay was kind of crappy... plus, I feel like there's so many other people applying! Why would they choose me out of everyone?

As soon as I got home, I rushed to my laptop and checked my e-mail. I had to check to make sure it was real because it felt like a dream! Sure enough, there was the acceptance letter:

Dear Jacqueline Knirnschild:

Congratulations!  You have been selected as a winner of the 2012 Viaggio Italiano Scholarship. The scholarship selection committee was very impressed with the strength of your application and would like to offer you the following award:

Sponsor/Scholarship Name
Viaggio Italiano Merit Scholarship (Viaggio Italiano Merit Scholarship)

Next Steps:
  • Review award: Review the scholarship acceptance form attached to this email.
  • Sign and return acceptance form: If you decide to accept the scholarship, sign the acceptance form and return it to as soon as possible but within one month of receiving this email. Include "I Accept" in the subject line.
As you're figuring out how to fund the remainder of your AFS program, take some time to check out the Covering The Tuition section of our website, where you can find tried-and-true fundraising ideas, sign up for a Fundraising Workshop, and more. Additionally, we are always looking for new fundraising ideas to share, so please keep us informed of your fundraising success!
If you have any questions, please contact the scholarships department at

Best wishes,

Scholarships Department

"If you decide to accept the scholarship..." Uhh hello, of course I'm going to accept it! That's a no brainer, why do they even ask?! I read the e-mail over and over again, pinching myself to check it wasn't a dream! Wow. Probably one of my most happiest moments ever! I just kept screaming and freaking out with my mom, then I called all my relatives and posted a status on Facebook! 

Yup, so now you're all caught up! In about 180 days from now, I'll be leaving for Italy. It's unbelievable but it's true and I'm soooooo excited!(:

Arrivederci (:

About me!

Heeeyy there! (: 

So before I even start talking about Italy or anything else, I just want to tell you a little about myself! Okay, so as you can tell I'm pretty much your typical blonde, American, teenage girl. I like skiing, volunteering, I'm on my school's cross country and lacrosse teams and I could not survive without my friends and family! But the most important thing about me is that I'm totally obsessed with traveling. My ultimate dream is to spend a year backpacking around the world. As a kid, my family moved from state to state. Before first grade, I had already moved five times, between four different states. Our biggest move was when I was in fifth grade. The summer before I went to middle school, my family and I moved across the country to Australia. Since then, I've caught a serious case of the adventurer bug! 

After spending two fun-filled years in Australia, we moved back to Ohio, where we had lived before the big move. Currently, I've spent about two years back home. I love my life here, don't get me wrong, my friends & family are amazing! But I think it's time for a change and a new experience. Going to Australia was my very first time overseas and my time spent there opened up my eyes to the whole world. Most people in the city I live in  have never been overseas and are content staying in Ohio. I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all, it's just not what I want. 

Well now you know a little more about me! (:
Arrivederci! (Yes, I did just use google translate because I know absolutely 0 Italian...)

Jacqueline (: