Kayla, outbound to Czech Republic

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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!