Привет! My name is Taylor Grinnen and I am 16 years old. I am currently enrolled as a senior at University High School. I am graduating a year early because I have sufficient credits for graduation. This upcoming year, I will be a 2012-2013 Rotary Youth Exchange Outbound Student to Russia! I live in Orange City, Florida, located in between Daytona Beach and Orlando. I live with both of my parents, my younger sister, and our Golden Retriever named Kenzie. I have lived in Florida my whole life, but I often travel throughout the United States. I have only been out of the country twice on a cruise; we went to the Bahamas, Mexico and the Cayman Islands. At school I enjoy art, science and foreign languages. I am currently in my fourth year of Spanish, and my first year of French, and I cant wait to start learning Russian. I also enjoy Biology and Marine Science. In school I am in the Spanish Club and the Literacy Club.
I am rarely ever bored; even the simplest activities will spark my interest. In my spare time, I really enjoy baking cookies, being with friends, fishing, going the movies, and traveling. Thank you Rotary for giving me this incredible opportunity to be a foreign exchange student! I am thrilled to go to Russia and I cant wait to experience the culture and begin a new adventure.
Taylor- Outbound to Russia
February 18, 2013
I am now living with my second host family in a duplex house in the city
centre. My family is really kind and welcoming to me, always treating me
like family. My host mother and I get along really well. Just the two of us
went for a trip to St. Petersburg for two days, and we are going again
tomorrow for 4 days.
Already I have traveled around Finland, Southern Russia, and Moscow region.
In March my family and I are going to Prague and Vienna!
I have 3 host siblings: Sasha who is 17 and lives in Petersburg, Vlad and
Nastia are twins in the 7th grade. Since being with this family, I have
joined art school which I go to on the weekdays. On the weekends, Sasha
comes home and we do some activity and have a lunch on Sundays.
I attend a small private school with about 200 students. School is for 6
days a week from 9:00 until usually 2:10, each class lasts 40 minutes with
20 minute breaks in between. At this time students can do homework, talk
with friends, walk around, play outside, or eat in the cafeteria.
The weather is very predictable here: cold with grey skies.
When I first arrived here in September, I was wearing shorts for two weeks,
and one day I woke up to discover that winter had begun with a foot of snow
on the ground. Now, winter is long, and most days cold. Anything above 10 F
is considered warm. Most days are with grey skies, and only 8 hours of day
light. Despite this, the occasional days of sun and frost are some of the
most beautiful days I have ever seen!
When entering the house, you must immediately remove your shoes (there is
usually a special hallway for this) and put on house slippers
Russians drink hot tea called chai. This was hard to get adjusted to (I
was told that is traditionally 5 times a day), but now I always enjoy green
tea with milk!
They use the metric system. Although I now feel temperature in Celsius
rather than Fahrenheit, I still can't understand distance.
People are really reserved and prefer to keep to themselves, and to the
people they already know.
People don't have sleepovers. Friends are for in school, and for after
school walks around town/going to cafes. In my 2 months with my second host
family, not once have they had friends over at the house.
The food here is very different in a very small way. Everything is
heavier, but soup (which is eaten everyday, usually for lunch, or directly
after school) is very watery, with a few vegetables.
Juice here is delicious! You can find it in any flavor of any fruit! My
favorites are Peach, Mango, and Apple with Pumpkin.
Smetana is the sour cream of Russia. Russians love it and are proud of it
and believe that it only exists in Russia. They put this on everything!
Soup, cake, meat, sweets, bread, and just by the spoonful!
'Salad' to a Russian means something entirely different from my idea of
salad. There are countless various kinds of salads, all consisting of small
diced vegetables, small diced meat or fish, mixed together with mayonnaise
or smetana. Similar to a potato salad, with more vegetables.
School goes up to 11th grade and there is school on Saturday
In school, they use notebooks of graph paper, rather than lined paper
People dress more formally for school, girls often wear high heels
In USA it is expected that you be on time, you should be 15 minutes early.
Here being on time is being 15 minutes late.
Roads are in very poor conditions, often there are holes, cracks, and
uneven or unflattened sections of the road.
Almost everybody lives in apartment buildings which most often look plain
and run down on the outside, but clean, small and modern on the inside
Probably the first thing I noticed, is that almost always, the stairs
start out tall, and gradually decrease in size as you ascend up a stairwell.
Or vice versa. I have still not adjusted to this, and I frequently fall up
and down the stairs!
Houses have colored, scented toilet paper
A public bathroom you may have to pay 10-20 rubles to use. You'll be lucky
if the public (or school!) bathroom has a toilet seat, you'll be even
luckier if they have toilet paper!
There are larek at every bus stop and corner. Lareks are little huts that
sell pirozhki, or individual baked pies of meat, vegetable or sweet.
Clothes dryers don't exist, everyone hangs their clothes on a clothes rack
in the house which can can many days to dry.
Rotary did I really great job of preparing us for exchange! I am so grateful
to Rotary to have given me this opportunity to live my dreams and explore