My name is Aaron Helms, and in the upcoming weeks I will begin my journey to Bolivia as a Rotary International Youth Exchange student. I’ll be living with several different families throughout my 10 month stay there, and participating in school and Rotary activities. The club that is hosting me is in the town Santa Cruz de la Sierra, which is one of the major cities in Bolivia with a population of 1.5 million. Coming from the small town of Bellingham, I’m sure this will be an interesting change of pace. The city of Santa Cruz is almost 6,000 miles away from my hometown, and situated in the tropics (Meaning the weather is going to be in the 80-90 degrees range most of the time.) Although I’ve done some research into the town, in all honesty I’m not really sure what to expect, making the upcoming trip all the more exciting. Even though the days are ticking down to the requested arrival date by my host club in Bolivia, which is August 21st, I still have not received an airplane ticket yet. My family is using a program called It’s Your World Travel which helps you to get a visa, insurance, and a flight. The person working on my paperwork says she expects to have my itinerary by tomorrow, so I will know the exact day that I will leave very soon. Regardless, within the next two weeks I should be beginning the adventure of a lifetime!
Its almost impossible to put into words the whirlwind of emotions that I am experiencing right now. First and foremost is excitement. Excitement to travel to a new culture and live with a new family. Excitement to finally see a world beyond the US, Canada and Mexico. Excitement to meet other youth exchange students from all over the world, and excitement for a million other reasons as well. But at the same time there is a small degree of apprehension. Its like waiting in line to get onto a roller coaster. You know that you are going to have a great time and be fine, yet you can’t quite seem to stop your heart from beating out of your chest. I’m a little stressed about pulling all of the little details together before I leave like dentist appointments and gifts, but I know it will all work out. Somehow I feel like I won’t end up packing until the night before leaving, but being on a time crunch is the best kind of motivation there is, right? All in all, the overriding thought in my head is “oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is really happening!”
My goal once I get to Bolivia is to try and write on here about once a week and include some pictures too, so hopefully you guys will continue to check it out and follow my experiences. I’ll keep you posted!!