Mikayla, outbound to Slovakia

Slovakia is not a popular choice for any exchange student to put on their top five, and I must admit at first I was a little skeptical, but after being here for a month it would have knocked out all the clique tourist countries I wrote down and been my number one choice. This small country has so much to offer and a lot of hidden beauty. Fun Fact: Slovakia is the “heart” of Europe, it’s in the exact center.

First Host Family:
All year I will be living in Bratislava, the capital city.
I am currently staying with a single host mom who only speaks Slovak not English, while her daughter is on exchange in the United States. Before I arrived, my biggest worry was we would have a major language barrier and never be able to form a close relationship. Now I’ve realized I was worrying for nothing. I’m actually learning Slovak faster and we are closer than ever. The other day she introduced me as her daughter, not her exchange student and it made me feel really special. It’s just us and Kola, a dog. She was named after Kofola, a Slovak beverage brand that is sort of like a version of Coke.

First Few Weeks
By the time I arrived, I had 2 weeks of summer left but my host mom still had work so sometimes she would bring me with her to her job. She introduced me to her collogues who had kids my age, who introduced me to their friends, now we’re one big group of friends. One in which owned a lake house where we went to spend the day and go swimming. During other times, her brother spent a lot of time showing me around the city. He showed me all the major land marks and castles, took me to see his sons hockey game, get coffee or ice cream. Bratislava is a beautiful city within itself, but there is a lot of graffiti everywhere.

Public Transportation
In the states I am so use to driving everywhere by car, but here in the city they use trams, trolleybuses, buses, and their own two feet to get from place to place. At first it was a little intimidating.. using the 24 hour system to determine when my form of transportation would arrive or depart and also figuring out how to plan out my way, but now I’ve got the hang of it.

First Day of School
I am currently attending Gymnazium Jura Hronca.
Since I graduated in the states, I do not receive grades here. However, I’m required to attend school every day. This school is a bilingual school, so some of my classes are in English but mostly Slovak. The exchange students at this school are very lucky because we have a teacher teaching us Slovak. The schedule is very confusing. Each day of the week is different. We have a main classroom where most of our classes are held and switch classes sometimes. When the teacher enters the room, all the students stand and wait to be told to take a seat. I’m with the same group of students all day, which is great because it’s pushed us all to become so closer.

Food
The national dish is Bryndzové Halušky, potato dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon. Slovak food is great, but they serve really large portions and most Slovaks eat really fast… so I’m always the last one eating. Almost everyone here in Slovakia owns their own garden, something you don’t normally see in Florida with having sand instead of dirt. When Slovaks are finished eating, they place their eating utensils on the right side of the plate to signify that the food was good; if it was bad they place the fork and knife in a form of an X. Another thing, they don’t refrigerate milk until they open the box it comes in.

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