Ana, Outbound to Czech Republic

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Dobrý den!

I have been here for a little over three weeks now, and I can say that I’m having the time of my life. So much has happened in the past 24 days that I can’t possibly fit it all in one journal post, but here are some of the highlights and challenges I’ve faced so far.

The beginning of my exchange was a little overwhelming, as I was constantly being introduced to new people and was bombarded with questions. I am a pretty shy person, and one of the reasons I went on exchange was to step out of my comfort zone and open up more. Living in a new home, being surrounded by new things and hearing a different language was strange and it took some time for me to settle in. However, I can say that I’m comfortable now and I appreciate everything that my host family and Rotary club are doing for me.

I live in a village called Jarohnevice, that has a population of about 300 people. It is only a few minute's drive away from a larger town called Kroměříž, with a population of about 30,000 people. This is a quite a difference for me, being from a much bigger city. Kroměříž is filled with beautiful historic buildings and small cobblestone streets. My host mom and sister took me to the famous gardens in our town, which had mazes, statues, and interesting architecture. The area surrounding my village is filled with nature…it’s so peaceful and relaxing here. I could for sure see why someone would prefer it rather than a big city. My family’s backyard is filled with fruit trees, such as apples and pears. They even have a farm with sheep, chickens and pigs.

During my second week here, my host dad took me to Croatia for five days. This news made me SO excited since my family is Croatian and I’ve barely spent any time at the Adriatic Sea. My host family has a yacht in a fisherman’s town called Tribunj. Unfortunately, I did experience some seasickness that caused headaches and tiredness both on and off the boat. However, the trip was something I will never forget. We slept on the yacht and spent time riding the boat through neighboring islands. One of the most memorable parts was gaining the courage to jump in the icy cold water. Being a Floridian I’m a complete wuss when it comes to anything cold, but after pacing around the boat in fear for twenty minutes I managed to do it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in my life.

Before exchange, I promised myself I would say yes to any opportunity that came my way. So when I was told that all four of the exchange students in my town would take ballroom dance lessons, my initial reaction was to run and hide. There are two things I don’t do: wear dresses and dance. I was taken to a dress shop against my will and it was obvious that I was uncomfortable. When it came time to go to the lessons, all four of us exchange students were nervous. None of us were thrilled at the idea of dancing. Surprisingly, we ended up having a great time and were laughing throughout the entire class. I am genuinely excited for the next lesson, and it goes to show that trying new things is important. I have seen and done so many new things due to just saying YES when opportunities reveal themselves.

To end this journal, I just want to say thank you to RYE Florida and all the volunteers that helped us outbounds. All the preparation we did has made a big difference in my exchange.