Leanza, outbound to Czech Republic


At my orientations in Florida and here in Czech Republic I had to learn about culture shock. As I learned about it, I thought that there can't be one general pattern for everyone when people are so different. For me though, I have learned I am going through the exact same pattern I have learned about. When I first got here I was so fascinated with everything, I was still a tourist. I thought I could live here forever, and there really aren't that many differences. Then as time went on, I started to pick out all the differences between the U.S. and here. I became homesick, never wanting to actually go home, but I missed certain things about the U.S. Now I've grown to appreciate everything different here. For example, the windows in houses here just make more sense. There's a handle and if you turn it halfway it opens the window, if you turn it all the way it cracks the window at the top. It's more modern and it just makes more sense. I hated opening my bedroom window in the U.S., it was rather difficult to push up to open and push back down to shut.

Another thing I didn't think was very different was school. Except, the more time I spend in school, the more I realize it is different. So my school is the Gymnazium in Trutnov. Basically a Gymnazium is a school for students planning to go to University. There are other schools in Czech Republic dedicated to certain work forces, such as a nursing school. This prepares students who are planning to be nurses in the future. A Gymnazium requires students to be well-equipped in all core subjects. Students in my school enter at the equivalent to the 6th grade level I think, then others usually can enter at the 9th grade level. Your class, which is the group of students you are in classes with every year, depends on when you entered the school. I am considered the equivalent to a Junior in the U.S. but students here start school a year later, so the students I am with are 17 turning 18. The grade above, equivalent to Seniors, are students my age.

On my first day I was told I only need to take 3-4 classes every day. I thought that would be pointless because how can I make friends if I am not in school?

I am taking: Czech literature, Czech grammar, Czech composition, PE, 3 English classes, German, History, Geography, Social Sciences, Computer Programming, Art, Math. I also have lessons on Monday and Friday one-on-one with a teacher to improve my Czech. (The crazy thing is the other students also take Physics, Chemistry, and Biology… I decided to not take part in those classes, haha) In the Czech classes, my teacher brings me separate worksheets to help me practice reading and writing Czech. I am so thankful to use class time actually doing something. Honestly, most classes I have no idea what is going on.

German class is quite an interesting challenge.I was given a workbook in Czech to learn German, and every class my teacher gives me work to learn German… in Czech. Right now when I think of colors I think half in German and half in Czech, haha.

My art class is two classes long on Wednesdays and I'm with a different class for this subject. I am so bad at art, but I took it to do something.

Math is really funny because I just started taking this class recently. My worst subjects in school were math and science so initially I did not want to take any of these here if I didn't have to. Then, one of the math teachers started talking to me everyday and told me I should go to her math class because numbers are the same. Now Tuesdays and Fridays I have math. It's funny because she teaches the equivalent to 8th graders. I am in an 8th grade level math class. It's gets funnier, because I actually feel challenged in this class. These kids look at me and probably are thinking, "What is this 19 year old girl doing in our class and why can't she add?" Sorry U.S., I'm proving the stereotypes to be true, haha.

Classes change daily, you don't have the same schedule everyday. The teachers and the students change rooms. Instead of having a room, teachers share a cabinet of offices with other teachers teaching the same subject. They spend their time there usually if they don't have a class. You generally stay with your class of students in every class. There is 10 minutes between every class, and once a day there is a 20 minute break between classes. Lunch is 30 minutes but at different times everyday, and every class doesn't have lunch at the same time. My school starts at 8:00 am, and depending on the day it can go until 1:30-3:30.

Something different in school are the boards. These boards are either white boards or chalk boards. The boards are trifold, so there is a front and back to both sides. If it's a white board, there is a smart board in the middle and white boards on both sides. It's an efficient use of space. It takes up less room and covers the same amount of material the long white boards in the U.S. would. Also, all the boards in my school can move up and down. So the teacher can write at the very top of the boards then move it up for the class to see. It's a small difference but it makes so much more sense.

My favorite moment since my last entry was: I moved host families, and my first night in my new host family was amazing. I really feel at home here, and I could write a whole journal entry on my amazing family but I am going to wait until next time.

Something new I've learned about the Czech Republic: It is not inappropriate to blow your nose anywhere, anytime. People don't leave class to blow their nose. People blow their nose on the bus, during conversation, at the dinner table. It's just not rude or uncomfortable here.

Advice for future exchange students: the exchange 15 is real. You will gain weight, especially if you go to Czech Republic because the food is absolutely amazing. My advice is, you only have a year to enjoy all the food this country has to offer, so do it. Don't stress about the number increasing on the scale as long as you're comfortable. Just embrace the exchange 15.

To see my home page and some photos click HERE