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:
Viaggio Italiano Merit Scholarship (Viaggio Italiano Merit Scholarship)
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
"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!(: