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Morgan – Chile

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Morgan Himmelstein



Hometown: Powell, Ohio
School: Olentangy Liberty High School
Sponsor Club: Olentangy, Ohio
Host District: 4340
Host Club: The Rotary Club of La Reina

My Bio

¡Hola! I’m Morgan Himmelstein and I am very excited to say that I will be spending my senior year in Chile! I recently finished all of my classes at Olentangy Liberty High School and can now focus on my upcoming year abroad. At school, I enjoyed challenging myself acedemically, but also was involved in things I love such as drawing classes and chamber orchestra. I play the viola and ukulele as well as sing. You could say that I like to do anything that is classified as artistic. I love to dance and was on the dance team my freshman and sophomore years. Along with my hobbies, I am heavily involved with my church, participate in Interact Service Club, and recently had the opportunity to volunteer in Haiti for a week. For me, traveling means being placed outside of your comfort zone, meeting new people, and learning about the other culture and yourself as a result. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store and I am looking forward to all of the relationships that will be built!

Monthly letters to the Olentangy Rotary club (my sponsor club!)

February 1:

Hello Olentangy Rotary Club!

I hope you all are enjoying the spring-like winter! A few little birds told me that the weather has been really mild lately! I can’t say that I miss Ohio weather too much. However, I have been missing snow, so I made some fake snow with my new younger host brother, Rodrigo!
I changed families a couple weeks ago and have had an awesome time with them so far! They have taken me many places and given me many new experiences and overall treated me as their own daughter!
I don’t have too much to share about January other than how I spend many days in the family pool or out with friends at an amusement park or at the movies. I guess one interesting thing would be that I got to meet a woman who was a spy against the dictatorship that plagued Chile’s past not too long ago. She was very interesting to listen to and talk with and I learned about the US as a result as well.
I have 3 blog posts from January that you can read if you so please. The link is right here for when you get a chance to check it out!  ryechile.wordpress.com
I have already decided a return date which makes me feel really bittersweet about my time here. Bitter because it will come before I know it and sweet because now I am more motivated to make the most of my time here!
Thank you so much for all you do!
Morgan Himmelstein

January 1:

Happy New Year to all of you in the Olentangy Rotary Club!

I hope you all enjoyed ringing in the New Year! This year was the first time that I went to see fireworks! All thanks to the fact that it is summer here!
This month I had the opportunity of traveling to Patagonia with the other exchange students here! It was incredibly beautiful! I already want to go back and hike the mountains. I would recommend it to anyone any day as a great travel destination. We were so far south that it was snowing in the summer! It was great to feel the cold air because it made me feel like I was actually in the month of December not July!
It had been (and still is) a constant struggle to convince myself that it was Christmas or New Years because I am so used to relating these holidays with the weather, my family’s traditions, and the people that I spend it with. Needless to say, it was very different this year! For example, in Chile, they celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with a dinner, exchange of gifts, ect. So Christmas Day was actually like a day of rest.
I have been spending my summer vacation dying of heat, making art, getting together with friends, exploring the city, and learning a lot.
With the New Year, I will also be living with a new family here soon, so I am looking forward to that! I am not sure exactly what this year will hold, but nonetheless, I am excited to find out!
Thank you so much for sponsoring me as I live out this adventure here! Even though not every experience is sweet and happy, I am thankful for every day that I am here and for what it teaches me in the long run. What I have learned here – and about myself too – is not something I could have learned so profoundly had I stayed in the US this year. I hope this year brings you many blessings and joyful experiences!
Morgan Himmelstein
P.S. – Check out my blog for the specifics of my trip and how I spent Christmas! ryechile.wordpress.com

December 1:

Hello Olentangy Rotary Club!

I hope you have all enjoyed your Thanksgiving with family, friends, or both!
I can’t believe that it is already December! I have an advent calendar in my room with the cheap little chocolates to remind myself that we are nearing Christmas. I say this because it is starting to get pretty hot here. It already feels like summer and it is still only spring!
I would like to share with you an overview of my month here. It is to the theme of the 6 B’s which are things that we are encouraged to do that were taught to us exchange students before leaving. This is opposed to the 4 D’s, which are four things we are told not to do. I like to think that it helps us to focus on thriving, not just surviving.
So here you go!
1. Be First:
  • The upper grade levels of my school went on an excursion one day to different locations such as the farmer’s market, stoplights, subway station, etc. to brighten people’s day by talking to them, taking pictures, and handing out different things. I was in a small group, and was the one to suggest multiple times that we go up to specific people and ask how they are doing. I got to meet a lady who was on the verge of crying because she had lost her job and got to cheer her up. I also met a family from the United States which was also very exciting!
2. Be On Purpose:
  • When it comes to friends at school, I definitely have to be on purpose. Sometimes I find myself super tired and not wanting to talk to anyone. I do not have an extroverted personality, so I have to encourage myself to seek out stronger relationships with my classmates such as asking them questions, encouraging them, and so on.
3. Be Here Now:
  • I feel like homesickness has a lot to do with being present. When I find myself missing my home or family, especially when they all get together for Thanksgiving, I have to remind myself that my time here is very limited. I will usually explore the town or go to the supermarket if I have nothing to do so that I can be occupied and enjoy the city and view of the mountains that I won’t always get to see.
4. Be Grateful
  • I practice this every day. If not, I turn into a pessimist. The other exchange student in my area and I are going to change families, but we might not be able to change families until late February, which makes the time spent with each family very uneven and I was a bit disappointed about this. I realized that I was thinking negatively about this situation, so I made a list of all of the good things about being with this family now. Now, I feel a lot better about our family-changing situation.
5. Be of Service
  • I have been able to go with people from my school to make lunch for the poor/homeless in a part of Santiago. This has been a great experience for me. But it makes me realize that I have a lot of listening practice to do because some of the people have missing teeth or poor speech and all want to talk to the “gringa” and it is super hard to converse because I can hardly understand anything some of them say!
6. Be Curious
  • There was an advertisement for a yoga class in my neighborhood so one day, I decided to look into it. Since it was my first time going, it was free! It was really enjoyable and fun to meet the small group of women that are in the class. (It is pretty expensive, so I don’t know if I will continue)
Also, I have made a couple of blog posts from this month!
I want to thank the Olentangy Rotary club for sponsoring me in order to have this incredible time here – the ups and the downs – because all of this time spent in Chile has taught me so much, helped me to develop character, and built relationships that I couldn’t have made anywhere else!
Morgan Himmelstein

November 1: I hope you all are enjoying the fall and the beautiful colors of the trees! As for me, I have been enjoying the fantastic spring weather here! Here is a quick summary of October here in Chile:

I find myself looking at my calendar wondering how it is already November and trying to remember what events happened in October or September! I have had a pretty full month as you might have seen from a few posts on my blog (ryechile.wordpress.com). I have also learned a lot not just about the culture or language, but also about myself and what I am capable of.

In the beginning of October, I was either living out of a suitcase or backpack. I got to go on the Rotary Easter Island trip, Pichilemu (a beach town), and I went on a camping trip with some of my classmates! If I only had to share one highlight, it would be the moment when I reached the destination of our hike in the mountains when I went camping. It was amazing to be at eye-level with the mountaintops and just below the flying condors.

The second half of the month slowed down a bit, so I used that time to apply to college. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, but thanks to the Common App, I got it done! I also got to attend the confirmation ceremony of my grade level (since I go to an all-girls Catholic school) and participate in other school events such as teacher appreciation day, a clap-out for the senior class (since school is almost finished here), and cooking lunch for the poor.

I have also been able to attend a few events put on by my Rotary Club here. They recently just gifted science labs to 4 schools and recognized the top students and teachers. Also, my district had an outing one day to the executive building, La Moneda and museum among other things such as going to a craft fair/market.

All in all, October went by really quickly and it seems like every day there is something new to do or learn. As of now, the doorbell is ringing every once in a while as kids in the area are trick-or-treating. However, it isn’t as big of a deal like in the US so this is the first year that I didn’t make a costume or carve a pumpkin. Even so, what I don’t get to do in regards to American traditions is made up for with everything that I do get to experience here!

I can’t thank you all enough for sponsoring my exchange in Chile! It has only been a bit over two months and I have already grown and learned so much! I hope you enjoyed the quick update and get a chance to see what I am up to via my blog!

October 1: I thought I might give you and the Olentangy Rotary Club a bit of an update on how I am doing!

This month has been filled with fondas (patriotic festivals), asados (barbeques), and meeting lots of people! I don’t even know where to start! First of all, I feel really well assimilated in my family here. I have really enjoyed getting to know my grandpa, Julio, after school when I have some down time! I have also made a ton of friends at school. My teachers are also very accommodating and make sure that I am up to date and feel comfortable in class. I have gone two two exchange student get-togethers so far, so I have met a lot of interesting people through those!

This week, I will be traveling with Rotary to Easter Island with about 40 other exchange students! I will be sure to take tons of pictures! Speaking of, if you haven’t checked out my blog (ryechile.wordpress.com), do so soon! I have been trying to update it about once or twice per week, so there is already a lot of content!

Successes: taking the bus from downtown to my house by myself, learning how to make empanadas, making buckeye desserts for my family (first, finding peanut butter!), and of course finally being able to understand what people are saying!

Difficulties: there was a strike when I tried to get my Chilean ID card in downtown Santiago, not being able to drive and having to be a spectator of the… interesting… driving here, my brain is a soup of Spanish and English.

Even though I listed a few difficulties, the reality is that they have taught me a lot and I have been able to maintain a positive attitude about all of it! My Spanish is coming along a lot faster than I expected and I have formed so many relationships already! I can’t believe that it is nearly October! I hope that you enjoyed this brief update and get a chance to check out my blog!