Friday! The first week of School is coming to an end and I’ve started to get settled in with my schedule, dorm and school! I’m taking 6 courses : English 3, French 3 Honors, US history, Environmental Science, Algebra II and Newsroom (the school’s newspaper). I’m doing well in the classes so far but it’s of course a big adjustment to read everything in English.
I’ve decided to join the Cross Country Team so I am practicing with them every day from 4 PM- 6PM after school. Then from 7.30-9.30 pm we have study hall, where all of the boarding students have to study, do homework etc.
This weekend will be my first at campus, but it also indicates me being here for one week! There will be soccer games at the school and a football game at another school if you want to watch it, and shuttles going to dinner or shopping!
After almost 20 hours of travel the Swedish ASSIST group finally made it to Pomfret School - as one of the last ones out of all the other countries. The next day started with breakfast at 07:00 followed by an assembly in the Pomfret chapel. We spent the rest of the day in smaller groups, mixed with all scholars, where we talked about what we are going to expect at our different schools and what will be expected of us. Later this week we are going to have a show called Traditions of Our Cultures where each country has 2 minutes to represent themselves on stage, and the whole Swedish group is doing something together!
Tomorrow, we're headed for Boston over the day and on Friday we're going to learn more about the life at Boarding School before everybody leaves to their assigned schools. It feels really weird to be here, and it doesn't feel like we are all going to be away for a year - but I'm really excited to attend to Darlington in a few days!
After almost 6 months of preparations, paper signings and documents I am (almost) all ready to go! Tomorrow will be my last whole day in Sweden for over 10 months and it will be spent with my family, but also, it will be spent packing the last things. On Tuesday me and one other ASSIST scholarship student will be flying from Copenhagen to Reykjavik where we will meet up the rest of the ASSIST scholars from Sweden, Belgium and Norway! Thereafter we will travel together to Boston, where ASSIST will be organizing five days of orientation. We are going to be about 170 ASSIST scholars from all around the world, meeting up in Boston for the orientation camp where we are going to get to know each other and learn about different cultures. After the camp in Boston, all of the student will be making their way to the schools they will be spending the rest of the year at, and I will be traveling to Darlington School!
F-1 Visa - In order to receive your F1 (student and educational) visa during a year abroad in the US, you'll need to gather a good deal of documents and pass through an interview at the embassy. My whole visit at the embassy took about 1,5 hours, where 1,4 hours consisted of waiting. The Interview went smoothly and was not as intimidating as I thought it would be and it took me about 3-5 minutes with questions such as where I will be studying, for how long I will be staying and who would pay for me during my year. The important thing is to bring all of the documents and papers required, and it is better to have to many than to not receive your visa! Also, the queue at the embassy can get really long and in order to not spend your whole day there I would recommend to be in place as early as possible regardless your scheduled time. My interview was scheduled for 9.45 am, but I was in place at 7.30, and done at 9.00 am, when a left the queue consisted of about 100 people..
F1 Visa Checklist:
1. I-20 Documents, sent to you from your school
2. SEVIS charge evidence and SEVIS - ID
3. DS-160 Document with a 5x5 personal photo and a bar-code
4. Admin notification fee, the receipt
5. Schedule an interview at the embassy (the waiting list could be a couple of weeks long so do it in time)
The Interview, supporting documents
1. Passport + your old passports
2. The SEVIS receipt
3. Confirmation of the scheduled interview
4. Non immigrant VISA document
5. Current and old grades, Letter of admission from your school in the U.S, Documents from your current school
I am spending my 47 days left (counting down) in Sweden celebrating summer the best way we know - Swedish Midsummer's Eve! According to me, one of Sweden's best and happiest traditions to be celebrated with friends, family or both. The menu is of course already established with meatballs, salmon, herring, potatoes, egg, strawberries and more!
Activities? Tie flower wreaths, eat, or just dance "the frog dance" around the maypole, xoxo
After almost 2 months, I today received the email from ASSIST concerning which school I will be attending this fall and it is with great pleasure to announce that I will attend the Darlington Boarding School later this year!
Darlingon is located in Rome, Georgia and offers a tremendous amount of sports, activities and a very high academic education. I am leaving in the beginning of August, Copenhagen to Reykjavik, where all of the scandinavian Assist scholars will be meeting up and then together take off for Boston! Before my departure, there will be a "pre departure meeting" with my country coordiantor and some of the other scholars from Sweden where we can get to know each other and be aware of possible tips and what to expect. Even though it is about three months until August, me and my family have a lot of tings do to, such as medical papers, booking the flight (one way), and getting a visa in Stockholm.
Looks like we're headed to the National Championships in May!
As I wrote before, I have been accepted and offered an ASSIST Scholarship for the 2018/19 Academic year in the USA. ASSIST is a nonprofit organization "that matches academically talented, multi-lingual international students with American independent secondary schools." (ASSISTs words). So, this means that I cannot choose which high school I will attend, or where in the US I will be going. About 15% of those who apply are offered a scholarship, and during the academic year 17/18, 160 scholarships were distributed to people from all over the worlds.
It's difficult to "choose" ASSIST as the organization that you want to travel with during your exchange year since you can't really count on that you'll be accepted - they choose you. That's why it's smart to have a backup plan in case you're turned down. I wanted to be accepted by ASSIST because I believed (and still do) that they can provide me with an extraordinary experience that would be hard to beat. I would have been just as satisfied traveling with another organization such as EF, STS or Rotary, but it would have been another experience. With ASSIST I know that the people i will be surrounding myself with will be having the same intentions and interests as myself.
The Application Process
I started to prepare my application in September/ October 2017 and handed it in in December. The application consisted of personal facts such as information about your family, home, grades, nonacademic achievements and a personal essay. After I handed in my application I was called for the interviews in Lund, Sweden. The interviews was an all day event, starting with a listening, reading and writing test. Thereafter the group of 7 who had been called for interview were divided in two groups in which we later were interviewed in.
Since I don't have any impact on which school I will be attending, I must admit that I'm still quite nervous. There are about 80 different schools around the whole US - large, small, day- and boarding schools and I'll just have to wait until a school chooses me.
This years sports break was spent in Italy, Sestriere, 2035 m.a.s.l! The trip was organized by our school council, and together with one other school we were about 200 students in which traveled for Sestriere by bus. 22 long hours later we arrived and were welcomed by sun, -10°C and of course, skiing opportunities!
rFebruary 12 2018, I received the message from ASSIST that I had been waiting for. Ever since the interviews, about a month before in January I had felt very stressed and worried about what answer I would receive. Although I was quite pleased with my contribution at the interview and with the tests, I worried that it still wouldn't be enough and I was not sure on what ASSIST based their choices on.
Today I got an email offering me a full scholarship from ASSIST! I must admit that predominantly I felt shocked (and of course happy and excited) by the news. It is not that I didn't think that I would get the scholarship, but rather that I hadn't really thought about what it meant until now. It means, that in 6 months I will leave my friends and family for a year and continue my life in the USA. The thought is almost unreal. And maybe this is why I still haven't told that many of my friends about these news.
Right now I'm waiting for the message I will receive in May, which school I will be attending and where in the USA I will be spending my year.