I have always believed that experiences can be the keys to open different doors in life. Both good and bad experiences can teach us more about ourselves and the surrounding world. We learn to look at life from different views, and see new beauty in our lives that we may have over looked before. Having my fair share of both good and bad experiences, I can say with confidence that I feel I have a good grasp of who I am. Yet, I am not naïve, and I know that I have room for change. I believe that every new experience will give me a new understanding about myself and the goals I want to achieve in life. That is why I feel so blessed that Rotary has given me this opportunity and I am so excited to embark on this journey.
My name is Kaitlynn Elizabeth Fisher and I have been given the opportunity to study a year in Slovakia. I am from Clearwater Florida, and I am anticipating an environmental shock, ha ha.
Ever since I received the e-mail stating that I was selected to be an outbound student for 2012-2013 year, so many different thoughts have been racing through my head. All these different questions and emotions have been building up. I have to say though, that the strongest emotion to shine through is excitement. I do my best to take my mind off the upcoming adventure and focus on more important matters at hand, like graduation. I am currently 17 years of age and a senior in high school. Because of the school that I have chosen to go to, it has allowed me to dual enroll with St. Petersburg College. Therefore, when I graduate in May, I will graduate with a High School Diploma and an A.A. degree. I have found this difficult to explain on paper, but I do my best to explain it clearly.
My life is incredible! I have an amazing, loving and supportive family consisting of my Dad, Mom, and baby brother Ian (I call him “baby” brother, but he actually 13 years old). We all have many differences, but our similarities and love for one another is what makes us such a close. I find it hard to find the right words to describe my family that would do them justice. Our family has recently adopted two cats into our home, and they both have 2 very different personalities. They are character to say the least. Most of my close friends are viewed just like family. This is probably because my close friends are just as important to me as my family. In my free time I love to hang-out with family and friends. Being with imperfect people in this imperfect world is what makes everything perfect. I love to write, and it is my passion. My hope for the future is that I will become a published fiction author. I want to share my passion with the world and tell stories that will mean something to someone. My friends say that they always see me with my journal in one hand, pen in the other, and feverishly trying to record a new story idea or my thoughts. I’m not always writing, but I do spend a fair amount of time writing, ha ha.
I love language, culture, and meeting new friends; that’s why I want to be an exchange student. By living in a different country and learning about the culture and traditions of this new home, I hope to learn more about myself. All that I hope to accomplish is that I will have a successful year; full of new experiences, beauty, good-times, and the understanding of a new culture and the people that breathe live and heart into it..
January 13, 2013
Sometime in Late September, Section from my
I was the person who never showed who she really was completely. One day, I
sat and thought, ‘why was that? Did I want people to like me, or was I
afraid that they would judge me. Or was it the one thing I thought I had
control over.’ I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that I was a
minor control freak, and I needed to feel like I was in control of my life.
I never realized that until I thought back to my little breakdown.
(And by little breakdown I mean- I guess everything really hit me. I moved
to a new country, knew none of the language, left behind my family and
friends, and now I have to live in a different, and at times uncomfortable
environment. It all sounds good a paper and you feel like you can handle
anything. The truth is you can, but it’s okay to breakdown and it is ok to
be scared. You have a choice, to allow that fear to consume you, or find
courage and allow this fear to build you.)
I was upset not because I missed home, not because I missed my family, and
friends, or that I was frustrated with the language. It was because I
couldn't control who I was and where I was going. I wasn’t in complete
control of my life. But the truth is; that should have been a joyous moment.
Because I had displaced myself, I was able to break all control that I had
held over myself. Everything that just held me back was gone.
But old habits die hard, and the unknown is frightening. Realizing something
about yourself like this is never easy, and making those changes can be even
harder. After saying that, I have found it easy to let go of the control I
once had, and that I am slowly moving forward. As if I was ready to grow out
of this old habit before I left for Slovakia.
Who I am slowly becoming is the person that does what she wants not because
she wants people to see her in a certain light, or because she feels it will
gain some one’s approval.
I love my family and friends, writing, video games, movies of all genres,
music, and my art. I like what I like. And I have slowly come to realize
that that is the greatest power in the world, and the only control that you
need in life; is the need to control the control, if that makes any sense.
Being able to just like and do whatever, without thinking ‘how will someone
perceive me? What is the ultimate consequence of this single action?’ Not
worrying about what would happen if someone found out, whatever, about me.
(Granted, you need to have some very basic control in your life. You need to
still pay your bills, and you need to make decisions in life, control your
career path, but I guess that is a different type of control then what I am
Where do I go from here, you might ask?
I am taking the path of; what makes me, me? What makes me happy? My art,
music, my family, and friends, trying new things and keeping my blinders off
and my horizons clear; these things make me happy. I know these are the
basic elements of what I need to be happy in my life. There are other more
materialist things that make me happy, but they are things that I have come
to know that I can live without. (Even though I don’t really want to live
without them. :) ) Now I feel the rest of my exchange can help me to
discovering how these things fit it my life. I don’t want to be the one to
control their placement. I just want to observer where my life put them,
because they will always be there.
With one month gone, I know more is to come. This place will teach me the
life lessons that I need to learn. This place will accept me on any day,
both the good and bad. Living each day as an adventure, and making every
breath, and every moment count.
Whether I am bounding with friends, writing my adventures and stories, or
just listening to music while reflecting on the day… Each second of this
exchange has meaning. Each holds a piece of the puzzle that is my life, and
with each passing day, I discover more and more about where life wants to
take me. Not where I think I should go. I am looking forward to seeing where
I will be lead next..
Sometime in Late November, A message to a Friend on Facebook…
My exchange life is wonderful, new, and challenging. I find it hard to
sometimes take it all in. Some days are more over whelming then others, but
it is a challenge that I have gladly accepted. I have found that because I
have displaced myself from my usually, and sometimes dreadfully habitual
life in the US, that there were things in my life that were, in a way,
holding me back. Things that I so disparately believed I could never live
without, so-long-and-behold, I am living without them. And things that I
never even realized about myself, until I was forced to live a new life.
This sense of control that I had in the states was doing nothing but
limiting me. For whatever reason, I felt the need to be 20 different people;
a different 'face' for each group of friends. It isn't like I was completely
lying about who I was to some of these people I surrounded myself with, but
I did what I felt like I had to do, to feel a part of the group. Therefore I
wasn't b eing completely honest either.
Realizing this also made me realize how much work and effort I put into
caring about what other people think and being a part of a group; that I
knew it was something that I couldn't keep up. There are the few people that
I was truly myself with, because these were the people that it toke no
effort at all to be with. I didn't have to worry about what I said, or how I
acted; because I feel secure with these people.
So with a new and fresh outlook on myself I figure to let my control go
completely and rejoice in that joy-est of moments. I have come to realize
that I need to let life guide me to where I am supposed to go, instead of
fighting who I am and where I believe I should to be. And so far I have been
rewarded gratefully. I have come to find that what I want out of life is to
be happy. And through this exchange, I have found what makes me happy in any
As for the language, well that’s a different story. I know that I have only
been here for about 2 months, and that the language is incredible difficult,
but I feel like I should be farther along with it. I guess I must be
patience and just keep studying.
P.S. The food is Wonderful!!! I’ll be gaining some weight over here!!
December (almost January), Email to a friend…
The holiday's were wonderful and just a touch rough at the same time. But a
thanks to whoever's up there for gifting me such a wonderful family and
beautiful friends to help me get through the minor road bump of not being
home for Christmas. Yes I was not with my family, but I got to see a new
culture and a new Christmas. For that I feel so blessed and I hope that
there are more Christmases to come where I will be able to see new
traditions and people.
All of the exchange students from Slovakia met and went to Bratislava, and
all the Czech kids went to Praha. I had such an amazing time bonding with my
fellow exchange students. And I am looking forward to seeing them in
February, although I am not wishing the time away. I want to spend each
glorious moment in slow motion. I want as many experiences and lessons to
pass through me as possible before my journey home. But I fear with so much
ahead, once February comes, these moments will slip through my fingers as
quickly and rapidly as water would.
Just giving you a quick glance at what’s to come: The weekend in Košice, 2
ski trips, the Eurotrip, my mother coming for a visit, an Outbound
Orientation, a trip to Auschwitz, a farewell trip, and end of the school
year trip, and then a family trip to Italy when my host sister returns. That
also doesn't include all of the trips me and my host mother plan to take
together. That's a lot to fit into 5 months. I think I will only spend my
half of that time in school, haha.
My host family is wonderful. Just last night, we all had wine, turned the
radio on, and then proceeded to dance like lunatics. My host father falling
all over the place and my host mother and I danced. I taught her how to
Salsa last night. My language has improved greatly thanks to them.
What have I been up to lately? Well, what haven't I been up to! My life is
going this way and that, and I am just along for the ride.
I do find it funny though. I think back to that meeting in January, and the
room was abuzz with talk of 'Change' and the cycle of the 'Exchange
Student'. And although I have felt a few moments of home sickness, I have
not gone through the tradition cycle. And to be honest, I don't feel much
different than I did when I left; just more honest, un-controlling and more
confident than before, but no real overwhelming change. I have just come to
say an exchange is what you make of it, and this exchange has showed me
things that without it, I would have never noticed; about myself and about
the world that surrounds me. I was young in the states, a slightly naive. I
also would take things out of perspective, but by separating myself from my
usual habitat, it has allowed me to see what is important, what really
matters and has given me a kind of wisdom. I guess it's kind of hard to
explain, but it's the only changes that I really noticed.
Maybe I am too soon into my exchange to expect anything. Maybe I’m not the
person to notice how I myself have changed. All I know, is I am surrounded
by great family, great friends, culture, food, and great support. I wouldn’t
be here without Rotary and their support. I want to thank them for
everything they have done for me and to my 3 Rotary clubs for sponsoring me,
paying for trips, and paying for my installments. I wouldn’t be here without
all the generosity you showed me. All I can say, is thank you.