Ashley Zerick

 Slovakia

Hometown: Lake Mary, Florida
School: Lake Mary High School
Sponsor District : District 6980
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Oviedo, Florida
Host District: 2240
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Banska Bystrica Classic


My Bio


Hello, My name is Ashley Zerick but all of my friends and family call me Ash. I was born in Colonial Williamsburg Virginia, but I currently live in Lake Mary Florida. I have 3 great parents that love me, My Mother is a RN, my Father is a boat engineer and my Stepfather is a water waste engineer. I have 2 sisters, 1 older (20) and 1 younger (15), so yes I am the middle child and love being a little and big sister. I am 17 years old, but will be turning 18 in April a month before I graduate this year. Currently I am a senior at Lake Mary High School where I have found a love and interest for Art and Art History. In my spare time I love to do yoga, spend time with family and friends, and hit the beach, but I can never go wrong with curling up on the couch or on my hammock and reading a great book. I am very optimistic about what I want to do with my life, I am bouncing around the ideas of either being a Physical Therapist or a hostel owner in a different country other than my own. With being an exchange student I really hope to be able to gain all the knowledge I can about the country I am being sent to, I am very excited about being given this opportunity to go to Slovakia and say I was able to spend a year in a completely different country and be submerged in their culture and to represent the US. This will be an experience I will carry on for the rest of my life.

Journals: Ashley-Slovakia Blog 2017-18

  • Ashley, Outbound to Slovakia

    Since I have first arrived in Slovakia I have learned that exchange is so much more than traveling to a different country and staying there for a while. At least for me, I have learned that exchange is about conforming to another culture, being submerged in a different language, tasting new (sometimes weird) foods, becoming friends with people from all over the world, and learning to be comfortable in someone else's home really fast. I have been in Slovakia for almost 5 months, which is already half of my exchange, and I can't imagine leaving. Although Slovakia wasn't my first choice and I wasn't even sure where the country was at first, being placed in this country has taught me to always appreciate your life because no matter where you are, there is ALWAYS going to be good people and extremely good views. Everyone involved in Rotary always say that the holidays are the hardest part on your exchange, which in some cases is true, but honestly the holidays were some of the most beautiful, loving, and exciting parts of my exchange so far. In Europe during Christmas time almost every town sets up Christmas markets that sell traditional foods, drinks, and handmade crafts. My town especially was filled with these markets, it was so comforting to be around a lot of people eating, drinking, and sharing conversation. Slovak Christmases are celebrated on the 24th at night and are very family oriented. Everyone spent all day in the kitchen preparing the dinner and at night we all sat down together and ate and talked about what we were thankful for and how happy we are to be able to be together and then we opened presents and played board games. I'm so grateful to have had a family that was able to include me and make me feel very comfortable and loved during this time because it made it a lot easier to not be home sick and be able to enjoy my time with them. I honestly couldn't thank Rotary enough for this experience, it is going by so fast but it is truly such a blessing to absorb a different culture at a young age in the way rotary has allowed me to. I did not at all expect exchange to be the way it is and have such a powerful effect on the way I see the world and the way I am as a person. Exchange has made me extremely open minded, loving, and positive; not just for traveling to a different country but to actually living in a different country. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone by forcing me to make new friends. Whether it's with other exchange students in my district, or my Slovak friends at school, I have seriously met some of the most all around perfect people that I will never forget and would like to keep in my life forever. Exchange isn't just fun and games, it is hard and challenging but I will never regret spending what would've been my freshman year in college, abroad learning so much that I would have never learned in a classroom.

    Click HERE to read more about Ashley and all her blogs

  • Ashley, Outbound to Slovakia

    AHOJ! My name is Ashley Zerick, I am from Orlando, Florida and I now life in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia!

    I never thought it would be so easy to fall in love with a country without knowing much about it before my arrival. Upon my arrival I have been treated and welcomed as if I was a part of the families I have been given to stay with. I've gotten to meet all 3 families I will be staying with while I am in Slovakia and adore all of them. My first impressions of Slovakia were quite tricky because I wasn't sure what to expect but each day here I love the country more and more. Slovakia is A LOT different from Florida; it is fall here but feels the an extremely cold winter in Florida. I feel l lucky to be able to experience real season because there isn't much of a difference between seasons in Florida. The food here is also very different as well, I eat more bread, cheese, and meat, than I ever thought I would... my exchange food baby is rapidly growing but all the hiking and dancing and exercise I am doing is making up for it. The school system is also very different, since I am here to learn the language and culture and not subjects in school, I spend a lot of time trying to learn the language and interacting with my classmates and other exchange students.Rotary has given me an exhausting schedule during the week and especially the weekends. Although it isn't more difficult than mine in Florida, constantly not knowing much of what anyone is saying or what they want you to do makes it a lot more tiring than you'd think. The language here is hard and is compared to learning Chinese. Having extra Slovak classes and constantly being encouraged to learn the language makes you WANT to learn the language so you are able to speak with the people who made it possible for you to be here and to make friends. They aren't kidding when they say language is freedom, having a language barrier between you and your classmates, you and your family, and you and Rotarians makes it really hard to know everyone on a personal level. Being the Extroverted person that I am it makes it a lot easier for people to ask you if you'd like to go somewhere or do something with them, and even if you aren't sure about it; always saying yes will make a good impression and help you in the long run. The first family I am staying with are probably the funniest and most caring people I know and I am happy that they are my first family because it helped me be more comfortable about staying in a house that is not mine and being told "act as if this is your house now, you can do, and use, and eat anything you'd like." but you still feel awkward to eat a small piece of bread. Slovakia is also known for its castles and hiking, since I've arrived in Slovakia I have been to 5 castles and hiked the tallest mountain in the Low Tatras. I've also visited Slovakia's neighboring country; Austria's capital city Vienna; which was so beautiful. And have gotten to spend a weekend in the capital city of Slovakia; Bratislava with Grace who is from Florida as well. I'm so lucky and thankful that I've gotten this opportunity to travel to a foreign country and to meet the amazing people I've gotten to meet so far and cannot wait to see where this year abroad takes me. DOVIDENIA

    Click HERE to read more about Ashley and all her blogs

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