Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Staying in Charleston and Summerville was a life changing experience for me. First of all, I stayed in a stranger's home for three weeks. This was a scary thought at first, both for my family and me. However, things were easy after the first few days. 

I know I became more independent from this trip. Every morning, I got myself up and made my own lunch. I got ready separately from my host family each morning. I also thought through problems on my own more. My mom told me that she's noticed I don't seem as attached to my home anymore, and that I get everything done on my own. I think she's partially happy that she doesn't have to help me with many things anymore, but at the same time I think she's upset too. Her little baby is growing up! 

With school, this experience made me appreciate Maumee Valley so much more. I loved Pinewood, but the classes didn't challenge me nearly as much as MV does. Also, I noticed more cliques in my host school. There were many more rules there. I'm grateful that MV goes on the trust system so much more. A few times in my first days, I would get up and go to the restroom without asking, like here, but the teachers informed me that I should ask. 

Having a younger sister was a new and strange experience too. She was so excited to be around me all the time and would ask me to tell her stories and play with her a lot. Since I'm the youngest child in my family, I had to think about what is and isn't appropriate to discuss with or around a 9 year old. Throughout the trip, she asked me about some topics that I didn't know how her parents would want me to explain. She asked me about drugs and alcohol once because she heard someone talking about it. Since I didn't know what to say, I told her we could all talk about it when her mother got home. I didn't want to expose her to something that her parents didn't want to expose.

The culture was a little different too. People spoke a little differently and some people said that Midwestern people had accents too. They had more chicken places I noticed, and everyone loved grits. I hate them. I dislike the texture. There were many less vegetarians too. There were more conservative people in the south and some people made fun of northerns, saying. They thought we all did drugs. 

All in all, I loved it. I made so many friends there and want to go back in future. This trip made me mature more and my mom said she sees me more as a 'woman' than ever, which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing. I really miss my friends though. I'm glad I went to South Carolina. 

Monday, November 25, 2013


On Wednesday, I gave a speech to the entire school at Pinewood! It made me a little nervous standing in front of everyone, people I didn't know, but I think I did really well. Madison, the girl I spoke with, introduced the network and told everyone that I was from it. 

After that, I introduced myself to the school, telling them I was from the network. I told them I was from Toledo and that networking is a great option to all the students. Here's a general outline of my speech:

"If you do the Network of Complementary Schools Program, you will make so many lifelong friends and memories. It will be hard to leave, but hopefully some of my friends I've made will be able to come to Toledo. I go to a school called Maumee Valley in Northwest Ohio. I'm here for a Winterim program where we don't have traditional schooling for the month of November. Instead, we spend the time learning about things we usually wouldn't get the opportunity to. For example, three of my friends went to Africa to study the native tribes there. They live with them for three weeks, almost like what I'm doing here. I hope you consider the Network, and if any of you are interested, I strongly encourage you to speak to Mrs. Girgan about it."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Speech Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, I will be making a speech with a girl named Madison about Network of Complementary Schools! I'm very nervous because I'll have to go up in from of the entire upper school and I don't know some of them. I don't think I'll mess up TOO bad tomorrow though..

Today, Mrs. Girgan told me I can have a Pinewood Panthers t-shirt before I leave! I'll have to go pick it out tomorrow.

After choir today, Mr. Brice had meeting so I played on my iPad with Alexa. We were trying out different music apps and trying to play different songs.

After dinner, Mr. Brice had a church meeting so Mrs. Brice, Alexa, and I all played clue together. I had played before but not recently so they had to teach me how to play all over again! I won the first game, and Mrs. Brice won the second.

Today was a pretty good day, but I got upset when some people back home accused me of not wanting to come back. It was very hard to explain to them, especially if they'd never been in the same situation before. I DO miss home. I miss my dog, my family, and the laughs and good times with my friends. However, I know that I will never see some of these people ever again. Even if I come back to Pinewood next year, or even this spring, some students won't be here. My friends who are also exchange students from Chile are leaving the same day I am. I won't be able to come back to Pinewood and see them again. I'll probably never go to Chile to see them. What about my new friends who are seniors? If I come back next year, they will have graduated and moved on with their life, probably going to college or off on their own adventures.

I'm not afraid of never seeing Pinewood again, I'm afraid that all my pleasant memories will be left here. There is no time like now, and seeing three weeks go by so fast really makes me understand the saying "time flies when you're having fun."

Leaving will be bittersweet.

¡Señora Girgan es muy simpática!

On Monday, I got my algebra test back, and learned that I did pretty well! That made me happy because now when I come home, I'll already know some of what we are learning!

In Spanish class, Mrs. Girgan gave me one of the extra powder puff shirts and said she wished I could have played. It was very kind of her and I will treasure that shirt forever! I was thinking of what I could do that would make it more memorable and I thought of asking all my friends here to sign their name on the back! It would make the shirt mean that much more to me! I'll have to dig around in my bag to see if I brought any sharpies or fabric markers...


When I got home, I made dinner for my host family! I told Mr. and Mrs. Brice that I would make my family's eggplant pizza recipe. It's pretty much peeling and cutting an eggplant, and making it the crust of a pizza. I was worried that it wouldn't turn out how it does at home, but I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out well. However, it tasted like there was a spice missing that we use at home, but I couldn't remember what it was. 

Alexa lost a tooth! It had started to get loose when I first got here, but it finally came out last night! Then, she put it in a big plastic bag. While I was cooking, I thought it was an empty bag and threw it away. Later, Alexa wondered where it was and thankfully we didnt throw it away! I felt terrible abut it!

Before bedtime, I braided Alexa's hair into two pigtail-like braids, and tried teaching her mom. It went pretty well, and this morning she decided to keep the braids in for school! Here is what they looked like:

I will upload them tonight from the computer!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Exploring and Shopping in Charleston!

Today, we spent our entire afternoon in Charleston! 

First, we went to the park and learned about the history of Charleston. Alexa and Mr. Brice were climbing on different canons and cannonballs. 

Mr. Brice and Alexa look like they're having a heart to heart..

I love my little host sissy! She was pretending to be a dog.

My host family.

Mrs. Brice told me to take a photo with a Citadel.

Mr. Brice tried on a cowboy hat and is looking very Southern!

We went to a shopping area where the slaves used to buy groceries for their masters and their families! It was so unique to think that a few hundred years ago, there were slaves here! I bought a few presents for my friends and family too!

Partyin' on Saturday Night!

After the plantation visit Saturday morning, I went to the neighborhood block picnic with my host family. I got to meet all of our neighbors and talked to a girl named Taylor that lived on the block for over an hour. It was fun to know who everyone was. 

After this, Mrs. Brice kindly took me to go ice skating with Jennifer and Caroline! 

Our ice skates

Caroline got to hold a "sugar bear"

Taking photos with Jennifer!

After ice skating, we went to the mall and got something to eat. When I asked for no meat in my food, the woman was very nice and gave me a discount! After this, we went to a spa Caroline goes to and I got my first ever manicure! 

I chose a royal blue type color. The woman had me soak my hands in very hot water first, then she cleaned them and took off all the dead skin surrounding the nails. After painting them, I had to sit under the dryer for awhile. It was fun and nice to get pampered for awhile!

After this, we took Jennifer and Caroline home. When we got home, I went to Anna's house and we played pool and watched Austin Powers in the theater in her house!

All in all, it was a wonderful day and a great way to spend my last Saturday in Sumerville. 

Middleton Place

Saturday was a very busy day for us! In the morning, Mrs. Brice took me to Middleton Rice Plantation in Summerville. The property was huge! I learned a lot of history on the tour. First, I learned that the plantation had been given as a dowry. I thought that this must have been a pretty good dowry! 


One of the first things I noticed inside the place were the gates. If you look closely, you can see a chain with a weight on it. When you opened the gate, you didn't have to worry about closing it because there was a closing mechanism. It was just a weight that closed the gate for you! I realize it's not really that's significant to the entire Middleton Place, but I thought that was really unique. 

This was a parasite that grew with the trees. I don't recall the name, but I thought it was beautiful and almost looked like a willow tree.
A view from what used to be the house of the river. It was so beautiful!
After some New Yorkers burned the main house down during the civil war, the roof and everything inside was practically in shambles. However, the walls were still intact. Then, there was an earthquake. This is all that was left of the main house.
Another photo of the beautiful estate
Some of these trees were probably over 300 years old!
My host mom was snapping shots too.
Taking photos with my host mom!

These two photos were of the sundial. Can you tell it was 11:59 when this was taken?

There were many gardens at Middleton Place. We could have spent hours just exploring them!

The cat at the stables!

I got to talk to a man about wood carving. I'm holding on to an old wheel that when spun would create the ability to make a perfectly round piece of wood!
For some reason, there was a peacock on the grounds. 
Some of the food that would have been prepared and eaten.
These men were making leather! What he's holding in the picture is a deer hide. 
The man at this station was making homemade molasses, which would require 8-10 hours of boiling. 

This horse was absolutely giant!
All in all, I'm very happy we went to Middleton Place. I got to learn a lot about the history of South Carolina.

Letter From California

On Friday, I received a postcard from California featuring a painting of the bridge and the land surrounding it. On the other side, there was a note that stated: 

Pebblies, Pebblies, Pebblies!!! Love youuuuuu! Miss you! I'm sending you a hug from 2,800 miles and three time zones away. I'm sure you're having the time of your life in SC, but I have to admit that part of me will be glad when we're both back in Toledo. Give your host family a hug from me! P.S. Forgot to mention, I'm moving to Cali after I graduate and going to college at Berkley. Wanna come? 

...Now call me crazy, but I think that the letter might have been from Kassie. It truly made my day when I saw someone had sent me something in the mail! It was the best part of my day, since I had been missing Kassie a lot. This made me have a slight hatred for texting and iPhones and the ability to get in contact with someone instantly. The anxious feeling of waiting to know if someone received your letter, and the small feeling of Christmas inside when you're tearing the card open, but being careful not to ruin the return address because you may want to reply to them. This made me wish that we still commonly sent letters to people casually, not just for birthdays or some other special occasion. ALL I'm saying is that we need to send more letters.

PowderPuff Football

On Thursday at school, I learned that there was a powderpuff football game. I'd been to a few at my old school, but we don't have any at Maumee Valley I think, so I figured I would go. After asking Mr. Brice for permission, I stayed after school to go to the game. 

However it was only 4 and the game started at 5:30. Hattie, Mrs. Girgan's daughter, said she hadn't been to the new frozen yogurt place, called Sweet Frog. So Hattie, Seth, and I all went together. Once we got there, we saw lots of other people from Pinewood. Most of the people I knew, but I few I didn't, so Hattie and Seth introduced me and we just ate ice cream together. 

Once we got back,  Seth showed me where the field was and I grabbed my jacket and went. However, my camera died when I got there, so I didn't get any good pictures! :( 

The way they played was the freshmen first played the juniors, the freshmen lost. Then the sophomores played the seniors. Everyone could tell that the seniors tied their belts so they couldn't be taken off. This made the sophomores angry, but the coaches didn't say much. After the seniors "beat" the sophomores, the juniors and seniors played each other, which the seniors won again. Then the faculty played seniors. The faculty and seniors were tied! 6 to 6! I was surprised that they didn't do overtime or sudden death. Oh well.

Once Mr. Brice picked me up and took me home, I called Kassie in California and talked about our day, and talked to my mom since it was her birthday! Near bed time, I braided Alexa's hair, then fell asleep. 

It was a really great day :) 

A Letter?

On Wednesday, I was overjoyed to learn that my letters had arrived! I sent one to my parents, Sophie, and Kassie! My parents's letter was a general letter, Sophie' letter I wrote in Chinese, and I sent Kassie a ransom style note! 

Everyone one that I sent one too said that it made them happy and that they missed me. With Kassie's letter, I didn't know what to say because we talk everyday. How do I update her on my life here if. She already knows? So I just got creative because I still wanted to send her something!

Other than this, Wednesday was pretty normal. I had regular classes at school, and we took Alexa to tap dancing class. Afterward, I did a little Christmas shopping with Mrs. Brice for her family.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


On Tuesday, school was pretty normal, but I needed to buy a few things at the store! So Mrs. Brice took me to Palmetto Moon, where she, Mr. Brice, and Alexa had gotten me a gift card and necklace from for my birthday. So I figured I should spend the gift card before I leave, since the girl card is to a South Carolina shop! I bought a pretty bracelet! It has sailboats, anchors, lighthouses, and helms on it! 

It's very pretty and I haven't taken it off! Mrs. Brice also gave me a phone case with the South Carolina flag! It was very kind of her!

After this, we went to Target because I needed a new pencil pouch and I wanted to buy her a birthday card, since her birthday is on the fourteenth! 

That was our adventure of the day :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pinewood Star?

Monday -

Today, was pretty typical, however Mrs. Girgan told me that before I leave, she would like me to make a speech with another girl, promoting Network of Complementary Schools! This is a little nerve wracking because I'll have to speak in front of a lot of people I don't know about my experiences here, some of which mean a lot to me. This will make it a little difficult sharing, but I told Mrs. Girgan I'd do it because she really wants more people at Pinewood to know about the Network. I'm going to brainstorm a few ideas over the next few days. I have to think of a few differences between Maumee Valley and Pinewood, wish me luck!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Olympic Villiage

Sunday we went to where the 1996 Olympics were held, which was in Atlanta, Georgia. We saw before and after photos of the park, they were amazing! Before I leave, I will upload all my photos onto my blog from my camera at once. It will take less time this way. There was a very big fountain in particular. It was the Olympic Rings and they would occasionally shoot out water. Alexa and I ran around playing tag in them for over twenty minutes! 

After this, we went to a famous restaurant called The Varsity. Apparently, it's a big thing in Atlanta! They had mostly different kinds of hamburgers and hot dogs, so I just got a grilled cheese. My host dad, however, got a slaw dog, which is cole slaw on top of the hotdog. He said it was good! 

After this, we drove for about a hour and a half to Mr. Brice's parents! I only got to meet his mother, but she was very sweet and asked lots of questions about Ohio. Then, we got in the car and drove for another five hours. At this point, we were all very tired. I did my laundry and fell asleep immediately after! 

My first full weekend was very fun here, and I'm glad that I decided to go with my host family. I made quick friends with Mr. Brice's old roommate, Mr. Lance. He was very nice, which made my more relaxed to be in his home. The family was also very accommodating to my vegetarianism. I felt a little bad but they insisted that I shouldn't worry! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Today we woke up very early to go hiking! We hiked Mt. Kennesaw, which was some of the most fun I've had! It was definitely a workout getting up there, but it was well worth the view! 

I'm happy we went, we hiked over four miles! I got lots of shots of the girls. We went hiking with my host family's old college roommates. There were two girls, Ava and Meredith, along with their parents Stephen and Lorie. Both were very nice and they allowed me to stay in their home with them, which I made sure to thank them for because they weren't planning in my coming until two weeks ago. 

It was really great to be able to see the cannons at the top of the mountain. I hadn't thought about it, but when Alexa asked, "how did those big heavy cannons get here?" I wondered. Mr. Brice told me it was probably animals, but that would still be a great feat!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pinewood Cheerleaders Are Going to States!

My day started with the usual algebra class. I had my first Comparative Religion course today with the headmaster. We discussed Islamic art and what it means. We researched an artist and shared what we knew about them. I learned about a women who was born in Pakistan and moved to the states. Her art all consists of lots of birds, deserts, and forests. It had a lot of symbolism. In one piece, there was a bird in a forest, which symbolized having so much freedom but being so lost. 

In guitar class, Mr. Klixbull paired me with a girl from Chile. She knows how to play guitar, but can't read notes. I know how to read music from playing french horn, but I can't play guitar. So I think he's hoping that we can teach each other how to do the other. It's very difficult because I can't even remember where I began with reading notes. It has been a challenge but I think since both of us are trying it will work out! 

Later we took Alex to dance after watching Tarzan together. I'm really enjoying being Alexa's "big sister". She's very sweet and it will be so hard to leave because even after three days, we are already practically attached at the hip outside school. She introduced my to some of her friends as her big sister which made me excited!!! 

We saw the cheerleaders practice their performance for states! It was over three minutes long!!! I'll try to put the video up later! They were doing so many flips and tumbling all over the place. It made me nervous! Afterward, I gave Anna a hug and told her she did so well! I'm really proud of her. I'm so blessed that she is my buddy because she has been so understanding with showing me her classes and everything.

Well, it's past Alexa's bedtime and I promised a bedtime story, so goodnight :)

The curious cat :) 

Ice Cream and School?!

This was also supposed to be shared on Monday, but I didn't Internet at the time...

Last night, Mr. Brice, my host dad, took me to the play practice. There I helped with putting everything away, then I went to a frozen yogurt place with Emily and Anna. They both showed me the school and told me about different people that go there. We had a good time and I went home to Skype with my parents. 

My dog kept getting confused because he heard my voice in the room but couldn't find me. I spoke with them for about twenty minutes before they went to bed. Then I tucked Alexa in and went to bed myself. It was hard to sleep because I was so excited about going to school the next day. 

Day One

I meant to post this on Sunday but it was in the drafts folder..

Today I left for Pinewood! I had a late night packing and an early morning driving to the airport. After getting the Charleston airport, my host family had balloons, flowers, and a sign welcoming me to South Carolina! It was a very warm welcome. Afterward, we went to eat some lunch. When I got to the house, they showed me my room and gave me birthday gifts! We had cookie cake and they gave me a necklace with South Carolina's flag on it and a gift card to a local store! This made me feel very welcomed and I think I am going have a lot of fun with my host family. I went on a bike ride with my host sister and father so they could show me the neighborhood. I really like Charlestown so far!! Tonight I am having some frozen yogurt with a girl from the school. I have no doubt she is helpful with school. I hope all goes well!