Colette, outbound to Slovakia

The begining to an amazing journey

Traveling to Slovakia was terrible. My first flight was from Orlando to Chicago. In Chicago my flight was delayed and it made me miss my following flight. I spent an hour running to different sides of the airport trying to get a new ticket and catch up with my final flight from Vienna to Košice. After that, I had to run to my next three flights. Getting through German security was exhausting, they made me open my carry on (took their time going through it) and almost made me miss yet another flight.

Once I finally got to Slovakia, I found out my bags never made it (and they didn’t arrive for another two weeks). I had a raging headache since Chicago and to top it all off I got sick the very next day. Sounds terrible, right? I think it was a test to see if I was ready for the year ahead of me. If I had been told that all of this was going to happen before I left… I would have done it a million times. From what little I have already seen of Slovakia, It’s absolutely beautiful and it was all worth it!

I feel like my whole life has been turned around. I went from living in the suburbs with a big family and going to a huge school to living in an apartment in the second biggest city in Slovakia, being the only child in the house, and going to a small school with only 400 students. I’ve gone from never leaving the east coast of the US to traveling to three different countries (five if you count airports) within the past month.

The second weekend I was in Slovakia, my host parents took me to Vienna, Austria for the weekend. I got to go to Schönbrunn Palace, walk down the main part of the city, and eat at a restaurant on a mountain overlooking the whole city. On the way back from Vienna, we stopped in Budapest, Hungary and had lunch there. I go to Hungary a lot since the border is only 30 minutes from my city and only a couple feet from the village where my host parents have their second house. As well as visiting Austria and Hungary, this weekend I will be going to the Czech Republic for a Rotary camp. I’m finally getting to see the world.

When I’m not traveling I get to live in this wonderful city. Košice was the 2013 European Capital of Culture. There are about three huge shopping malls, a huge hockey stadium (hockey season just started here), Slovakia’s biggest cathedral (St. Elisabeth Cathedral/Dóm sv. Alžbety), and many historic buildings. There is even a bridge here that has locks on it where couples write their initials on it and dropping the key in a box (similar to Pont de l'Archevêché in Paris, France). The most popular part of Košice is Hlavna Street (the centrum). It is lined with old beautiful buildings where you can find everything from the best ice cream to the best coffee. There’s always something going on there, just this past weekend there was a huge concert and there were thousands of people gathered to watch different Slovak singers preform.

School here is a whole new adventure. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into the wrong classroom, or walked into an empty room where I thought my class was supposed to be, or going to school when I didn’t have class. I don’t know how a school can be so small yet be so easy to get lost in. The first time I looked at my class schedule, I couldn’t even read it. Luckily for me, everyone at my school is very friendly and they’ve helped me out every time I needed it.

On the first day of school, there was a huge assembly at the end of the day. The five other exchange students and I were introduced to the whole school. Basically, everyone knows us. And everyone is super friendly. From the first day of school, I’ve been invited to do things from going out for coffee to going to a sushi restaurant. Since it’s a smaller city, whenever I go out I run into at least one person I know.