Emily Hatcher
2011-12 Outbound to Slovakia

Hometown: Fleming Island, Florida
School: Ridgeview High School
Sponsor: Orange Park Sunrise Rotary Club, District 6970, Florida
Host: Rotary Club of Žilina, District 2240, Slovakia

Emily's Bio

Hi ! My name is Emily and I'm 17 years old. I am a junior in high school and I have a part-time job. I live in an apartment with my mom and our two cats. Sometimes I stay with my dad, his wife and his two step daughters. In school, I participate in a lot of activities including my school's Interact Club. Some of my hobbies include watching baseball, shopping, and visiting new places. I also like hanging out with friends and watching scary movies. I  L O V E to dance, and have been dancing since I was very young.

Fortunately I have received the opportunity to go to SLOVAKIA next year and I couldn't be more excited! This is a once in a lifetime experience that only a few students get to have, and I am lucky enough to one of them!

At this point, there are no words that can express the gratitude that I have for Rotary. I cannot thank everyone enough because without all of the people involved, this wonderful program would not exist!

Emily's Journals

Ahoj! So this is my first official journal on my exchange to Slovakia. Pretty exciting! I have been here in Žilina for about two and a half weeks and they could not have gone any better. I arrived to the Žilina airport on August 25th at about 10:30 at night. I was greeted by my host mom, Eva, and a girl who was an exchange student to the US last year. They were both very nice. The girl would translate for me and my host mom because my host mom can’t speak English. I look at that as a good thing though, because I am now forced to learn Slovak! We took our wonderful translator home and then we went home. It is just my host mom and me living in a nice little flat and I love it :) She is so nice and pretty! There are two other exchange students in my city and we all go to the same school.

Since I have arrived I have done the following things:

-    Visited Strečno Castle

-    Went hiking in Terchová

-    Been to 2 swimming pools

-    Been shopping in 2 malls

-    Started school

-    Went to Orientation Meeting in Strečno

My host mom took me to a castle that is relatively close to our city and it was beautiful! We went on a tour of it and although I didn’t understand anything that the tour guide was saying, it was still really nice :)

We also went hiking in some mountains that had rivers going through them which were really nice.

My host mom is a very good swimmer so we have gone to some swimming pools and I almost got a tan! Woot!

School started last week and it has been good so far. Although the kids in my class are a few years younger than me, they are all SO nice! They help me whenever I ask for it and try to translate stuff for me if I am confused. They also helped me study for my test at the Orientation weekend…Which was a blast! This is the weekend where all of the exchange students from District 2240 (Czech Republic and Slovakia) get to meet up. It was held in Strečno, so it wasn’t very far from where I live. Everyone arrived on Friday and we had some activities for getting to know everyone. We also had a few seminars on the rules of 2240.

Saturday we had a few more things to listen to and then we were off to Strečno Castle. It was the second time that I was there, but it was just as fun and amazing as the first. Sunday we listened to a few more things and then it was time to go home. Some people had a very long way to travel. It was a great weekend and I met so many awesome people :) I also got to see the only other Floridian in District 2240- Jennings Brower !

Things so far have exceeded my expectations, and I am so happy that Rotary has given me this opportunity!

April 18, 2012

So it has been a really long time since I've written a journal. I've been really busy ! And so much amazing stuff has happened.

To give an update on where I am now;

I'm currently in my 3rd host family and they are so nice! I have a host brother now who is 11 and he's alright :) In a week we are leaving to go on our Eurotour. I can't believe it's already that time. When I first read about it, it seemed so far away and now it's in 3 days! We are going to Spain, Italy, and Monaco. It will be really great to see all of the exchange students again, too. We just had our Rotary Skiweek a few weeks ago also, and that was great. I learned how to snowboard (kind of)! It's crazy how this year is almost over. I have about 2 1/2 months left here in Žilina and I don't want it to end :( I have learned so much so far this year and I can't wait to see what these next few months have for me.

So on the language:

Slovak language is... hard to describe. In some ways its easy, you just have to learn and study. But it other ways... its incredible challenging. I think it's come along quite nicely for me. I can have conversations and I understand when people are talking (even if they aren't talking to me). It's kind of funny, how even though you learn, and you get better, people still think you don't understand anything. It's funny because you can surprise them and talk back. But it also gets frustrating at times. When no matter how many times you tell people that you speak their language, they still think you don't get it. But it's okay. I'm sure it happens to a lot of people.

I have some close friends that are amazing! Exchange students and Slovaks. I'm not sure where I'd be with out them. They've helped with everything possible.

I still have a lot of cool experiences coming up so I will post more journals soon !

And Of course, none of this would be possible if it wasn't for Rotary. They make this opportunity possible for everyone and I am grateful for it.