Kaitlynn Fisher 
2012-13 Outbound to Slovakia
Hometown: Clearwater, FL
School: St. Petersburg Collegiate High School
Sponsor: District 6950, FL
Host: District 2240, Slovakia
The Rotary Club of Košice Country

January 13, 2013

Sometime in Late September, Section from my Journal… 

I was the person who never showed who she really was completely. One day, I sat and thought, ‘why was that? Did I want people to like me, or was I afraid that they would judge me. Or was it the one thing I thought I had control over.’ I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that I was a minor control freak, and I needed to feel like I was in control of my life. I never realized that until I thought back to my little breakdown. 

(And by little breakdown I mean- I guess everything really hit me. I moved to a new country, knew none of the language, left behind my family and friends, and now I have to live in a different, and at times uncomfortable environment. It all sounds good a paper and you feel like you can handle anything. The truth is you can, but it’s okay to breakdown and it is ok to be scared. You have a choice, to allow that fear to consume you, or find courage and allow this fear to build you.)

Anyways…

I was upset not because I missed home, not because I missed my family, and friends, or that I was frustrated with the language. It was because I couldn't control who I was and where I was going. I wasn’t in complete control of my life. But the truth is; that should have been a joyous moment. Because I had displaced myself, I was able to break all control that I had held over myself. Everything that just held me back was gone.

But old habits die hard, and the unknown is frightening. Realizing something about yourself like this is never easy, and making those changes can be even harder. After saying that, I have found it easy to let go of the control I once had, and that I am slowly moving forward. As if I was ready to grow out of this old habit before I left for Slovakia. 

Who I am slowly becoming is the person that does what she wants not because she wants people to see her in a certain light, or because she feels it will gain some one’s approval. 
I love my family and friends, writing, video games, movies of all genres, music, and my art. I like what I like. And I have slowly come to realize that that is the greatest power in the world, and the only control that you need in life; is the need to control the control, if that makes any sense. Being able to just like and do whatever, without thinking ‘how will someone perceive me? What is the ultimate consequence of this single action?’ Not worrying about what would happen if someone found out, whatever, about me.

(Granted, you need to have some very basic control in your life. You need to still pay your bills, and you need to make decisions in life, control your career path, but I guess that is a different type of control then what I am talking about.)

Where do I go from here, you might ask?

I am taking the path of; what makes me, me? What makes me happy? My art, music, my family, and friends, trying new things and keeping my blinders off and my horizons clear; these things make me happy. I know these are the basic elements of what I need to be happy in my life. There are other more materialist things that make me happy, but they are things that I have come to know that I can live without. (Even though I don’t really want to live without them. :) ) Now I feel the rest of my exchange can help me to discovering how these things fit it my life. I don’t want to be the one to control their placement. I just want to observer where my life put them, because they will always be there.

With one month gone, I know more is to come. This place will teach me the life lessons that I need to learn. This place will accept me on any day, both the good and bad. Living each day as an adventure, and making every breath, and every moment count. 

Whether I am bounding with friends, writing my adventures and stories, or just listening to music while reflecting on the day… Each second of this exchange has meaning. Each holds a piece of the puzzle that is my life, and with each passing day, I discover more and more about where life wants to take me. Not where I think I should go. I am looking forward to seeing where I will be lead next..

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Sometime in Late November, A message to a Friend on Facebook…

My exchange life is wonderful, new, and challenging. I find it hard to sometimes take it all in. Some days are more over whelming then others, but it is a challenge that I have gladly accepted. I have found that because I have displaced myself from my usually, and sometimes dreadfully habitual life in the US, that there were things in my life that were, in a way, holding me back. Things that I so disparately believed I could never live without, so-long-and-behold, I am living without them. And things that I never even realized about myself, until I was forced to live a new life. This sense of control that I had in the states was doing nothing but limiting me. For whatever reason, I felt the need to be 20 different people; a different 'face' for each group of friends. It isn't like I was completely lying about who I was to some of these people I surrounded myself with, but I did what I felt like I had to do, to feel a part of the group. Therefore I wasn't b eing completely honest either.

Realizing this also made me realize how much work and effort I put into caring about what other people think and being a part of a group; that I knew it was something that I couldn't keep up. There are the few people that I was truly myself with, because these were the people that it toke no effort at all to be with. I didn't have to worry about what I said, or how I acted; because I feel secure with these people. 

So with a new and fresh outlook on myself I figure to let my control go completely and rejoice in that joy-est of moments. I have come to realize that I need to let life guide me to where I am supposed to go, instead of fighting who I am and where I believe I should to be. And so far I have been rewarded gratefully. I have come to find that what I want out of life is to be happy. And through this exchange, I have found what makes me happy in any country. 

As for the language, well that’s a different story. I know that I have only been here for about 2 months, and that the language is incredible difficult, but I feel like I should be farther along with it. I guess I must be patience and just keep studying.

P.S. The food is Wonderful!!! I’ll be gaining some weight over here!!

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December (almost January), Email to a friend…

The holiday's were wonderful and just a touch rough at the same time. But a thanks to whoever's up there for gifting me such a wonderful family and beautiful friends to help me get through the minor road bump of not being home for Christmas. Yes I was not with my family, but I got to see a new culture and a new Christmas. For that I feel so blessed and I hope that there are more Christmases to come where I will be able to see new traditions and people. 

All of the exchange students from Slovakia met and went to Bratislava, and all the Czech kids went to Praha. I had such an amazing time bonding with my fellow exchange students. And I am looking forward to seeing them in February, although I am not wishing the time away. I want to spend each glorious moment in slow motion. I want as many experiences and lessons to pass through me as possible before my journey home. But I fear with so much ahead, once February comes, these moments will slip through my fingers as quickly and rapidly as water would. 

Just giving you a quick glance at what’s to come: The weekend in Košice, 2 ski trips, the Eurotrip, my mother coming for a visit, an Outbound Orientation, a trip to Auschwitz, a farewell trip, and end of the school year trip, and then a family trip to Italy when my host sister returns. That also doesn't include all of the trips me and my host mother plan to take together. That's a lot to fit into 5 months. I think I will only spend my half of that time in school, haha.

My host family is wonderful. Just last night, we all had wine, turned the radio on, and then proceeded to dance like lunatics. My host father falling all over the place and my host mother and I danced. I taught her how to Salsa last night. My language has improved greatly thanks to them. 
What have I been up to lately? Well, what haven't I been up to! My life is going this way and that, and I am just along for the ride. 

I do find it funny though. I think back to that meeting in January, and the room was abuzz with talk of 'Change' and the cycle of the 'Exchange Student'. And although I have felt a few moments of home sickness, I have not gone through the tradition cycle. And to be honest, I don't feel much different than I did when I left; just more honest, un-controlling and more confident than before, but no real overwhelming change. I have just come to say an exchange is what you make of it, and this exchange has showed me things that without it, I would have never noticed; about myself and about the world that surrounds me. I was young in the states, a slightly naive. I also would take things out of perspective, but by separating myself from my usual habitat, it has allowed me to see what is important, what really matters and has given me a kind of wisdom. I guess it's kind of hard to explain, but it's the only changes that I really noticed. 

Maybe I am too soon into my exchange to expect anything. Maybe I’m not the person to notice how I myself have changed. All I know, is I am surrounded by great family, great friends, culture, food, and great support. I wouldn’t be here without Rotary and their support. I want to thank them for everything they have done for me and to my 3 Rotary clubs for sponsoring me, paying for trips, and paying for my installments. I wouldn’t be here without all the generosity you showed me. All I can say, is thank you.