Claire, outbound to Czech Republic

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On August 19th I blew out the candles on my 18th birthday cake, put on my blazer, and drove to the Jacksonville airport to leave for exchange. I wish I could say I had an easy time and that there were no hiccups, but that would be a lie. I had every issue imaginable with my flights, even though I had weighted my bags, they were too heavy, and my ticket was wrong so I was moved to a later flight, which was then diverted, and then I spent over 20 hours in the Dallas Airport waiting to leave the country, but finally I boarded a plane to London, which would connect me to Prague, and then my year would begin! 

I think it is safe to say that I got all the bad out on that first day, ever since then (except for when my bags didn't make it into Prague) I has been pretty smooth sailing.

The best attitude to have for exchange is to have no expectations, and I didn’t. So many people had told me that Czech people are closed off, many times will not be friendly, but usually once you get to know them they will be great. But when I walked out of customs I was greeted by my family with hugs and a banner. They were so loving and kind, it was overwhelming. If my flights hadn't been delayed we would have spent the night in Prague, but instead we settled for a drive around the city. 

The USA has nothing on European architecture. After a few minutes my neck was hurting from constantly looking up trying to memorize the city, and get used to the way europeans drive. It is hard to sum up those first moments, when everything starts to settle down. Everything is so overwhelming that you cant process anything, but you are trying to process everything, all of your language feels like its fallen out of your brain, English and your host language (maybe that was just because I had only slept 4 hours over about 48 hours). 

After Lunch and a quick stroll around a mall, we all packed into the car and started the journey across the country, I wish I could talk more about it, but after leaving Prague, the whole car was basically asleep. 

After a few hours though, I awoke and soon had my first taste of Kofola. At first it tasted like someone put cough medicine into coca-cola, but now I crave kofola, it grows on you so quickly! 

My life is just a whirlwind, so many little things, but this country has quickly begun to feel like a home. Some of my biggest fears were living with my host family, making friends, and other little things I can’t even remember. 

My family has accepted me into their family so completely! The first night my host grandmother (who lives next door) made me dinner, she said that since my flights were so bad she would try to fix it with food, dish after dish was laid in front of me, and after living off of random airport food, it was way to much, but much appreciated. My host grandparents speak no english, and were impressed with any czech word I spoke, which helped my confidence. My first night in my room was nice because I finally was sleeping in something that wasn't a chair! I want to write every detail about my exchange down, every breath I took, and every laugh I have had, but its too much! 

School started September 1st and was only an hour long, I was so panicked about making friends and understanding, but I was quickly invited to go out to a cafe with my classmates. Thats were I spent the following 3 hours! My classmates have been indescribably amazing, they include me in so much, and often invite me out! Teachers are a different story…I don't blame them though, what do you do with a kid who doesn't really understand, and can’t really communicate?

I urge anyone thinking about applying and reading these journals to contact us, or at least me, this is such an amazing opportunity, and I can not wait for the upcoming months!