Kayla Alexander

Czech Republic

Hometown: Fernandina Beach, Florida
School: Fernandina Beach
Sponsor District: 6970
Sponsor Club: Fernandina Beach
Host District: 2240
Host Club

 

My Bio


Merhaba! My name is Kayla, I am sixteen years old and I have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity, in the year of 2016-2017 I will be spending my junior year of high school as an exchange student in Turkey! I'm currently living in Florida, on a small island called Fernandina Beach, along with: my mom, dad, three sisters, and my dog. Right now I am in 10th grade attending Fernandina Beach High school, there I take part in volleyball, winter guard, and culinary arts. I am was on my school's winter guard team last year, winter guard is an indoor color guard sport derived from military ceremonies or veterans organizations ceremonies. However, unlike color guard, winter guard is performed indoors. In my spare time I LOVE to hang out with my friends, read, ride my bike, go shopping, play piano (I've taken classes off and on for years), travel (I have been to Mexico many times, and to Nassau, Bahamas), and I really enjoy making YouTube videos! As an exchange student I will accomplish big things, I will learn about different cultures, make new friends, learn a new language, and have a second family, my first family is pretty great, but being able to have a second family would be even greater! I knew I wanted to be an exchange student the moment my friend Karla from Denmark, an exchange student at my school told me she was an exchange student, and told me about the program. I came home and immediately told my dad about the program! I’m so excited, and SO thankful for this opportunity thank you Rotary for making this possible, this will truly be the best year of my life!


Skilift

Skilift

Castle

Castle

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Icecream

Icecream

Crocs

Crocs

Hb_tour

Hb_tour

Leaving US

Leaving US

Family

Family

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

Florida beach...

Florida beach...

Presents

Presents

  • Kayla, outbound to Czech Republic

    Read more about Kayla and all her blogs

    Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, if any its is the best. I was really sad I was not going to be celebrating holidays back with my REAL family, On Friday night of last week I went out to buy Christmas presents for my family members here in Czech, I was in the mall trying to find the perfect gifts for hours, and was so stressed and sad because I didn’t think I was going to be able to find the perfect gifts for my family. I am a perfekcionista or I at least strive to be when it comes to Christmas presents, and shopping. After all they have done so much for me, from welcoming me into their home early with open arms, and completely changing my exchange, to better than I could ever be.. I called my mom and dad for help but no answer, and then it hit me this is something I must do on my own. Luckily I was able to find my idea of perfect gifts after hours of walking in and out of the stores countless times. (I will post the list of gifts below) 

    Christmas Day

    I woke up, got dressed everything was the same except for no breakfast, and I wrapped my presents I bought the previous day. Everything was fine and the sadness of no spending Christmas with my blood family didn’t kick in or “hit me” until hours after.

    I remember being in the car with my host family on the way to my host sisters house to celebrate Christmas, and the reality of me spending Christmas away from my family hit me for the first time. Maybe because on the inside I was crying and sad because I was away from my family for Christmas for the first time in my life. So many people have asked me way before Christmas “Will you go home to celebrate Christmas” Nope, I will say, I will be here. I was completely fine with it, I didn’t think it would be bad, you know? I’ve missed birthdays, yeah I was sad I couldn’t be there to celebrate with them, but missing one of the most family orientated holidays is a feeling of sadness I cannot put into words.

    As the day went on, and we arrived at my host sisters house I started to feel more and more happier and the sadness quickly started to fade away, and I began to enjoy everything as I learned and experienced THEIR Christmas. Usually Czechs fast for the entire Christmas day and eat when it gets dark, no food until maybe 5 or 6 o’clock when it is completely dark. Luckily my family is pretty amazing so they adjusted things a little bit, we were only able to eat food that does not contain any meat, so we ate a lot of sweets.

    To pass time until the darkness came and we could eat real food, we went on a hike with my host sister, my family, uncle, and my host sisters husband, we walked for a little over an hour. We came across this “Florida beach” (it was a lake with sand) I will add the photo into this post. πŸ™‚ About an hour or so after we returned home from the walk, it was dark and dinner was prepared, we had: Fried carp, schnitzel, and potato salad. (I usually HATE potato salad, never ever eat it, but I ate it just to try it and it was the most amazing potato salad I have ever had in my life, sorry mom. )

    After dinner we went outside with sparklers and we lit them so the Jesus baby could deliver presents… We have Santa Claus in the US, and here they have Jesus, or in Czech “JeΕΎíš”, here they believe he delivers the Christmas presents. I didn’t fully understand the rules so I wrote

    To:_____ From: Kayla, on the gifts, I was only supposed to write who it was from …. Oopss.

    My Christmas presents were amazing,

    I received:

    Super warm neck scarf and ear muffs
    necklace
    2 bracelets
    watch
    black sparkly sequin sweater
    recorder
    body wash and perfume

    For my host family:

    Host Dad: Wallet, and a film
    Host mom: Picture in a frame, necklace, and my favorite movie “Big Eyes”
    Host brother: Shaun the sheep movie, (his reaction opening it made me really happy), tec deck
    Host Uncle: Tea (I have another gift for him soon)
    Host sister: Bath-bomb, socks, and something else I cant remember πŸ™
    Over all Christmas was sooo great.

  • Kayla, outbound to Czech Republic

    Read more about Kayla and all her blogs

    Well as of today, 1 week ago I said goodbye to my friends, family, and my dog 😞. And I left Florida to begin the biggest, most exciting adventure in my life.

    The start of my adventure began with my first plane ride (on 2 planes for 14 hours, I was scared, I didn’t know what go do at first, I thought I was going to get lost, miss my plane or get on the wrong plane, but here I am in Czech, so I did just fine.) My first time out of the country, my first time out on my own and having my first taste of independence.

    CZECH!

    Everything here is different, from the way the the way the air feels (it's softer), down to the way people dress, Crocs for example... everyone has them and if you don't well, you better go get some, and power outlets. It's cooler here and not very humid, in comparison to Florida... people ride their bikes pretty much EVERY WHERE! 

    People stare at me, quite hard and I'm still trying to get used to that (they stare because I'm different, I'm African American and everyone here pretty much is Caucasian with blonde hair and blue eyes, or brown hair with brown eyes.) 

    The cars here are also different, maybe much older? The car brands are different (with the exception of Volkswagen, Ford, Audi, and Mercedes) even the license plates.... one in the front and another in the back.

    Czech is very challenging, much harder than I had originally anticipated, but I still love it here, and try my best to expand my language and communication with my family and their friends. My host family had friends over, they all (except one) spoke only Czech and it was very awkward, sitting there trying to understand what in the world they were saying. Especially when it was about me, not knowing what they were saying I couldn't do much but smile and look. But that's my motivation to keep going and keep studying... I want to be able to understand conversations, eavesdrop, and understand everything around me like how I would understand English.

    The food here is amazing, I also made my host family and their friends Mac-n-cheese, they seemed to love it, my host mom and brother had two plates.

    The way they start their meals here is also very different "to your health" they say in Czech before eating. Also, here everyone eats with a knife in their right hand, and fork in the left. There's no switching hands, or putting down the knife. To make it known you're finished with your food you put your fork and knife together parallel on your plate.

    I am also not used to having something on my feet all day, I'm not used to house shoes. I know sometimes I'd wear my shoes in my house in America, but here we have outside and inside shoes. As soon as you come inside, your outside shoes go off and you put on your inside shoes.

    The sun here seems to rise very early as well... I woke up this morning at about 6 or 7 AM thinking it was about 12PM. But then again... I don't know if it actually does, or if I am just used to having my blanket covering my window to block out the sun, back home. Haha 

    But, Overall I love this country, and I can't wait to see more of it!

    Culture shock, and how its effect my exchange and built me as a person:

    I remember at Lake Yale orientation in Florida, the very first orientation went over culture shock, and things we WILL experience while on our exchanges. We all experience it, and if you don’t, I guess it’s safe to say you’re lucky! So, congratulations!

    My first few days here were the “Honeymoon stage” — everything was great, no homesickness, no culture shock… just the language barrier. I started to think what we were told at language camp about culture shock I wasn’t going to experience. Because it seemed so easy!

    Now I am 7 days in on my exchange and I am now starting to get over the “frustration stage” and learning to accept the fact that I can’t understand things just yet. And it was frustrating, it was frustrating because I couldn’t understand much or almost everything. When people are laughing I don’t know what’s funny, they’re talking about me I don’t know what it’s about, I don’t know what’s funny. is it the news? is it me? is there are new movie? All I can do is smile, and keep working to understand. It’s hard to understand, my head hurts from trying to think or translate what’s around me, because it’s SO much. But I keep studying and trying and it’s getting easier, because that’s all I can do. I know my Czech is getting better and better. slowly, but it is.

    On Friday I started my first day of school and let me just say it was amazing and SO DIFFERENT, and fun! No dress code, lunch whenever you want, 10 minute breaks between classes, a class period where you can have a snack and talk with friends for 20 minutes! It’s indescribably amazing and different here and I just love it!

    I’m so happy to be here, and I love it here, it’s beautiful, it’s hard, and it’s different. I love all of the things that make my exchange my exchange – homesickness, culture shock, adaptation, school, & language because it motivates me to keep trying.

    The food is great, my host family is amazing, my friends, and everything.

    I am so happy to be here!! I also will be traveling to Austria next week as well for two days, I am super excited about that!

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