Name: Jansen Stroh
Host Country: Chile
Sponsor Club: Westerville Sunrise
School: Westerville Central High School
Hola! My name is Jansen Stroh and I am from Westerville, Ohio. I am thrilled to report that I will be spending my junior year abroad in the city of Coquimbo, Chile, which is on a small peninsula about five hours north of the capital, Santiago! I will be living just a few blocks from the ocean, which will certainly be much different than Ohio. I currently attend Westerville Central High School where I am involved as a Football and Basketball Cheerleader, a class officer, softball outfielder, and Key Club member! Also, outside of school, I love playing my guitar and painting. After high school, I am interested in studying international business, which is one of several reasons why the Youth Exchange Program is perfect for me! I hope to become fluent in Spanish and be able to use it throughout my career. I feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity to experience life for a year as a Chilean! Thank you so much to District 6690 and Westerville Sunrise Rotary for making this possible!
Hello everyone! I’m excited to inform you all that I safely arrived in Coquimbo, Chile about a week ago. Coquimbo is filled with beautiful mountains, beaches, palm trees, street vendors, and crazy drivers everywhere you look. This city has so much to offer and many places to explore. The host family that Iam staying with is so much fun and a perfect match for me. My host mom and I have been spending around two hours a day working out on the beach because one of the biggest fears about going on exchange is gaining weight. My little sister, Amaya(7), likes to talk my ear off from the minute we wake up, until we go to bed, and copies everything that I do. My brother, Mirko(15), and I bond over food as he has become obsessed with my homemade pumpkin chocolate chip bread. And as for my host dad, it feelslike we are constantly playing a game of charades while communicating because I am still working on my Spanish. My host dad is an extremely happy guy who is full of energy and constantly making jokes about himself and how short he is. I like to think of him as the Chilean version of Rick Rano! I began school this week; it was my first time in private school, and it was BIG culture shock. I am just now beginning to get into the groove of things and create a routine in my different life style. I couldn’t be happier!
Thank you so much Rotary for literally giving me the world!
I have now been in the beautiful country of Chile for six weeks, and I have officially formed my daily routine for my new life. I have begun to face challenges just like every other exchange student on this journey, and have been extremely proud with how i have handled my bumps in the road. The past month has been full of countless experiences for me. On September 18th we celebrated Chile’s Independence day, and I was given the opportunity to perform a traditional dance from Easter Island with some of my class mates. I was given only three days to learn this dance, and decided to look at it as an opportunity to immerse myself even further into their culture. On top of only practicing this for three days, my teacher thought it would be funny to move me from the back corner where I was hidden to the front and center. So far this has been my favorite memory from my exchange. Couldn’t be happier thank you all so much for sponsoring me!
October has been an exciting month! The first news is that I now have a new host family! My new family consists of seven people, so the house is always crazy, but I love it! I have three sisters, a niece, and a mom and dad! My new host father, is the President of the Rotary Club of Coquimbo. This has provided many more opportunities for me to get involved with the local Rotary Club. I have been able to help deliver walkers to people who couldn’t afford them, repair a local school’s garden, and help speak with the future outbound exchange students.
I also got some wonderful opportunities to explore Chile more! One of the opportunities was a surprise when the RYE district from southern Chile took a trip to my region in northern Chile. Due to my connections with another 6690 Student, and my host dad, I was invited to join the southern district RYE students and participate in all of their fun trips! The biggest highlight of this trip for me was going to an observatory where I was able to have an amazing view of all the stars as well as Venus, Mars, and Saturn (with all its rings). A quick fact, northern Chile is home to 80% of the world’s astronomical observatories. Also, because of all the awesome southern district RYE students that I got to meet on this trip, my Rotary Blazer is now covered in new pins and memories!
As always, thanks for this awesome experience! I am really excited to see what else this year has in store for me. I am currently preparing to take a trip to Patagonia coming up in two weeks!
Best regards from Chile,
To think that I have been living in Chile for over 100 days not, and am already a third of the way done with my exchange year is mind-blowing!
In November, I have had some of the best months of my life! This month I got to travel with a group of around 30 other exchange students from my district to Patagonia! We spent the first two days in El Calafate, Argentina, where I got to see endless gorgeous landscapes and see wild flamingos! A huge highlight for me was being able to visit Glacier National Park. We were able to spend a day on a boat, and walking the trails above to experiences different views of the glacier! From there, we traveled farther south to Torres Del Paine where the mountains were breathtaking. In Torres Del Paine, we got to climb a few mountains to look over Patagonia from above, a view that I never will forget. Also here I took a selfie with a wild alpaca, which I got way too excited about! After this, we traveled to Punta Arenas where we woke up early, hopped on a boat for 45 minutes, and traveled to Penguin Island! Of course,… I also got a selfie with a wild penguin! Penguin Island is a place where very few people are able to visit, and I feel extremely lucky to have been given this opportunity! Not only was this the week where I got to explore one of the prettiest places on earth, but for me, this also was the time that I noticed the most change within myself personally.
Exchange is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I couldn’t be more grateful!
Happy late Thanksgiving to everyone!
I am proud to say that I officially feel Chilean! This past month has been a clear turning point for me in me exchange! I am conversationally fluent in Spanish, and I’m rapidly heading towards becoming completely fluent! Over the summer I have made amazing friendships with people from my school, which has also helped to improve my language skills. My class mates and I took our senior year trip, and we got to visit the south of Chile along with Bariloche, Argentina! Another exciting thing is that I am now trusted to navigate my way, using public transportation alone (a huge accomplishment for me)! I no longer take the wrong bus! I have discovered my favorite restaurants and am slowly falling in love with the Chilean food! Going out and trying different flavors of paletas( ice-cream in the form of a popsicle) has become a new hobby of mine! Along with that the pizza guy down the street has come to know me as I am a frequent costumer. I finally caved in and went out to buy my first pair of Chilean platform shoes, and have become obsessed with them. The month I celebrated my seventeenth birthday, and the half way completion mark of my exchange. Time has flown by so fast, and I wish that I could slow it down!
March coming to an end has been a real wakeup call that I only have two months left on exchange. It’s time to start crossing off things on my bucket list, and it feels bitter sweet. Once summer was officially over here in Chile within a week or so every market, festival, and beach hut in the city had been torn down. There are now very few people in the city and the crowds seem to have left too with the season. The weather has changed drastically. It is always cold and windy. Usually it is around 50-60 degrees during the day, but the wind from the ocean makes it feel a lot less. I have been back in school for a while now, and I am considered a senior. It feels weird and too early to start calling me that! Once again this year I spend a portion of my time teaching english to younger students. My students’ comments and constantly being called Miss. Hansen keeps me laughing. I am thrilled because usually when I am in public, grocery stores, restaurants, cabs ect. people ask me what state I’m from assuming I’m american. The accent bad grammar and “blonde” hair is a dead gives away. However, over the past two months more and more people now ask me what part of Argentina I am from. Argentinians typically have lighter hair like mine, but I like to take it as a sign that my Spanish has significantly improved! I know that grammar is where I tend to struggle, so have been studying my Spanish flash cards everyday to perfect the language before I come back to the U.S. Gracias por todos nos vemos pronto!
A little over thirty days until I will be back in the U.S….Wow! Over the past month there has been a lot more independence in my exchange. Starting off the month I asked a few of my teachers if they would mind teaching me how to make a couple of traditional Chilean dishes. They were thrilled, and we stayed after school one day with a few of my friends and I got to learn how to make Churrascos. Churrascos are a type of homemade flat breads grilled, and topped with a tomato and onion mixture. Also coming up my teachers promised to next teach me how to make empanadas! My U.S. parents this month sent me a mini Easter Basket in the mail, and some Easter Eggs, which made my week! On Easter my host family wouldn’t celebrate the holiday. So, on Easter Sunday I ended up making pasta, homemade sauce, and a chocolate cake for one as I watched a church sermon on youtube! My friends have been a big help over the past few weeks, getting me out of the house and wanting to spending time with me over my next few weeks here. A big highlight for me was that I got to participate in dia de los libros with my friends. Dia de los libros is an event held by my school where the older students put on a book fair, bake sale, and activities for the younger students. Each class is asked to pick a theme and have everyone dress up. My class chose Disney, so I was able to embrace my inner five year-old and dress like Queen Elsa from the movie Frozen for a day at school with all of my friends. As the days count down I am getting more and more excited to come home, but also sadder to be leaving Chile. A bittersweet ending to an amazing year!