Monday, July 30, 2012


    The past couple days have been ridiculously busy for the past couple days. We had guests from Canada staying at our house, which resulted in beach trips, mall trips, and staying up until 3 am and then having to get up at 8. Oh the joys of busy summers! Yesterday was the busiest day of all though.
Alex in blue, me in purple, Betty in green
    I was up early to help out with the Rotary Pancake Breakfast at the Old Fashioned Festival in Newberg. I had no idea so many people loved blueberry pancakes! At the Pancake Breakfast, I saw a few people I knew, however, many of my friends probably didn't want to get up early for pancakes. But then I had to leave early for our very last conference call with Skye, Luljeta, and Sarah about packing lists, our tickets, what's going to happen the first few weeks in Bosnia, and then she brought up... HOST FAMILIES. Anna was the fortunate one, who got her host family last week. Ever since then Savannah, Helena, Emma and myself have been twiddling our thumbs waiting for our families. I then logged on to Facebook and noticed a friend request from a woman named Medina living in Sarajevo. I asked Luljeta if she was in my family. She was =D. Skye then told us that she would be creating a profile for each of our families that day and hopefully send them to us today (Sunday). More waiting! But I accepted Medina's friend request and instantly went searching for my soon to be home. Sadly, there were only a few pictures to work with at that time. But it gave me an idea of who she was and just by a few pictures, I could tell this will be great.
    After the final conference call, I returned to the Old Fashioned Festival to be in the parade. I jumped in a little late because of the conference call, but soon found the Rotary float and held the banner with my fellow exchange students - Betty, Alex, and Paolita - who are going to France and Thailand, and Paolita is heading home to Ecuador. The parade was where I saw many of my friends, and even people from my work. The sun was a hot though and it made me regret wearing jeans. At one point, I scratched my arm on a wooden car that you were able to wear. It didn't feel like much, just a small scrape. WELL. The parade is finished and I'm calling my mom to come pick me up. When I lifted the phone, Betty gapes at my arm and exclaims, "KATIE. WHAT DID YOU DO!?" I look at my arm and this is what I see:
Now you are probably thinking, "That is big enough for stitches. It looks like she's crying! How on earth did it make that big of a gash?" Well, to calm any worries you have, the blood is just what dripped. My cut is no wider than a pinkie nail, it just looks gory in this picture with all the dried blood. It didn't and doesn't hurt, and it really is not as bad as it looks. But the effect of this picture was priceless on Facebook.

    When the parade was over, I headed home to go to work which turned out to be a long, hot slot, because people came late who we had to serve and it was just a mess.
    As soon as my work uniform was off, I headed to go paint for our churches VBS (Vacation Bible School) and cut out things with my sister, Anna, and my friends Ashley, Grace and Sophie. By this point, I was dead exhausted and in need of a nap. But that wasn't going to happen because when we were done, we headed to my place to get cleaned up and nice for the fair. Funny thing about going to the fair, we didn't go on one ride. We managed to look around the entire fair grounds looking for two other girls who were supposed to meet up with us while running into many school friends who though I had already left. I'm guessing they never look at my Facebook when it says that I don't leave for two more weeks.
     Then dark came and the fireworks started! Now, despite everyone loving Fourth of July fireworks, so far all the ones I've been to haven't been the best. Old Fashioned Days fireworks are amazing! They set them off rapid fire and make a shower of shimmer, light, and loud booms fill the night sky. I could watch fireworks all night if it was possible. Once they were over, we packed up and headed home. Finally, after a long day and night. It was time for a much needed sleep.

l-r Medina, Mugdim, Irfan, Esad, Nizama
    Then today, at around noon, I opened my e-mail to find an unread message labled: Placement Info. I opened it eagerly to find my host family information. I have a father named Esad, a mother named Nizama, two older brothers (Mugdim and Irfan), and Mugdim is married to Medina. They all live in one house, which I'm guessing is large because they all live together and now, they are welcoming me into my home. I am just excited and I feel so blessed that this is happening. Two more weeks (well. and two days) until I meet these people. GAH, words can't describe my excitement.

    Anyway, I am now burdened with last minute shopping, packing, apostilles and notaries, criminal records, goodbyes, and gutting my room because my mom is turning it into a bedroom for a college student.

    Until my host family e-mails me back,


Monday, July 23, 2012

Ticking Clock... Time for a Countdown!

    I realize I've been a lazy blogger, but I was in Canada for the past two weeks and before that I had no other confirmation. WELL. Times change!

    It's official. I leave the PDX soil ridiculously early on August 13. After two layovers and 15 hours later, I arrive in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. And by getting my plane ticket I realized that I leave in twenty-one days from tomorrow. I still have to get official papers filled out and pack up my room and sign up for online classes so I can graduate. Note to future exchange students: DON'T YOU DARE SLACK. I haven't been slacking... I've just been busy. Skye also e-mailed us saying that our host families have been chosen, all that needs to happen are the background checks! I could have my host family within the week! *so much happiness*

    This is a short entry, I know. All I'll leave you with is that if you are to be a future exchange student, be prepared for paperwork and stuff to get done in a short amount of time. I'm not even going to bore you with every single detail. Just realize that I am excited. Very, very excited :)

    Anyway, I'm off to bed. I just spent eight hours in a car driving from Canada and I'm exhausted. I leave you with a picture of me and my friend in Canada:

   Until I get my host family! *please be this week!*


Sunday, July 1, 2012


   Tuesday felt like the true beginning of my exchange. Why? Because it was the national Pre-Departure Orientation in Washington DC!

    The three and a half days spent there were incredibly useful. We spent probably 24 or more hours in a beige, windowless room, discussing how our exchange could be the most successful exchange ever. True, at times it was long and you felt the already light tan slipping away, but looking back at my notes, I know this will help me indefinitely. All things discussed were the simple basics of how to communicate to health, safety, and rough times. At one point, capital punishment was brought up! Ok, that was just a minor mixup from one of the program coordinators, Allen, who was warning us about the possibility of seeing CORPORAL punishment out in the streets... yeah, he accidentally said capital. The room fell even more silent than before as we gaped at him with horror. Capital punishment means death. We'd see people die in the streets!? Then one of the girls in my group (I think it was Emma?) said, "Do you mean corporal?" Allen instantly realized what he said making him bury his face into his hand, laughing, causing the entire room of 53 future exchange students plus staff fall into a fit of hysterical laughter.
    Another somewhat funny story was that Allen mentioned this was a competition. I then decided to announce (well. Just say loudly. I only meant for the SHAKE girls to hear it.) that the Bosnian girls already won. I mean, we look like sisters, we dressed in Bosnian colors the first day, AND we are the guinea pigs. Meaning, we are the first people to go to Bosnia with YES Abroad. Win.
Emma, Savannah, and Helena in their Bosnian garb 
    Not to mention that SHAKE was probably the most obnoxious group there... and our name acronym could also be KESHA which Savannah and I figured out when we were trying to see if we only had a group of four, what could our acronym be.
    PLUS! Lots of people brought stickers which made me extremely happy because at IPSE, only Olivia and I did, meaning we only saw dinosaurs and Disney. This time we had animals, jewels, Toy Story, travel, dinos, flowers, Pokemon, and tons of other ones resulting in a very fun to look at handbook. And a little embarrassing when we visited the Department of State, American Councils, and the Embassy.
    Speaking of which, the Bosnian Embassy served us a wonderful Bosnian meal, complete with cevapcici (pronounced che-vap-chee-chee) and baklava! I think I made the Bosnian ambassador very happy when I got excited they were serving baklava. Selena, who helped us a lot with our initial Bosnian language help (Hvala means thank you), told us we could grab some baklava and I was the first to jump up and act, I suppose, not very professional, when I said, "I love baklava!" like some giddy 12 year old. But the two Bosnian men and Selena seemed excited that I was already in love with their food, so perhaps it was alright.
    After the American Councils, Embassy, and State Department visits we headed for the Lincoln Memorial where this lovely picture of all the YES Abroad Students was taken:
YES Abroad 2012-2013
    On the way walking to the memorial, Emma, myself, and others began singing random songs as loudly as we could because we some how ended up leading the group to the memorial. Pretty much, we were just acting like dorks, but it was so entertaining. We were able to chill for a moment and just hang out in the shade of the Lincoln Memorial which led to some awesome photos, courtesy of Sara. But I'll leave those on my Facebook. In short, Thursday was full of information and hanging out, and getting away from the Windowless Room. And we also got to witness Allen's bright blue argyle socks that he wore to the State Department.

     On Friday, when we said goodbye to Skye, our group leader because there was no alumni, she said, "I'll see you in six weeks!" Believe you me, I totally didn't realize this. All this time I had just been excited and being like, "I am ready to go!" But when Skye announced that we were six weeks away from going, the nervousness hit me. My lack of knowledge of the language, the uncertainty of my unknown host family, everything. I'm still excited, but it is mixed with so many other emotions, I don't even know what's going on. Six weeks though and I'm off to Bosnia with Savannah, Helena, Emma, and Anna. I am so happy that we all got along really well at the PDO. I might have died if we didn't.

    But now, I leave you with my thanks to YES Abroad once again for putting on an excellent event. I enjoyed getting to know my table group and I loved seeing all the other countries for one last time. You are all truly amazing and I will miss you. This is the beginning of all of our adventures and even if I'm only sharing it with you on Facebook and blogs, I am so happy to be a part of this.
SHOCK looking classy (l-r, Sara, Olivia, Carly, myself, and Hannah)
SHAKE (l-r Helena, myself, Savannah, Emma, Anna, and Selena)
    Anyway, I better be off to bed. It's way too late and I'm still on DC time which is three hours ahead.

    Until I have more information which will hopefully be soon.