settling in

I have found the way people respond to the fact that I am an American exchange student interesting. Many kids my age feel bad for me that I got sent to their country and their city. Others wonder why I want to learn Czech. Personally, I think that it is a beautiful country, that Ostrava is a beautiful city, that Czech is an interesting language, and that I am very happy to be here. But I understand where they are coming from. I would feel the same way towards anyone who ended up where I live.

Update: My luggage did come on Wednesday which was nice. I got my room all sorted out and it kind of helps this place feel more like home.

So far, I have gotten to do several really cool things. On Thursday, I got to go to the center of Ostrava with my host sister and her boyfriend. First, I am very lucky that they are both such kind and helpful people with really good English. Also, they know their way around. We ended up getting to go to the top of the tower on City Hall in Ostrava. You can see the entire city up there. It’s amazing.

View(s) from the top of the City Hall tower.

View(s) from the top of the City Hall tower.

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I have also gotten to go shopping with my host sister. We went to a Czech shopping center (mall) in Ostrava to go to Zara. It was so much cleaner than the malls that I am used to. It’s difficult trying to figure out how many dollars things cost compared to crowns but at least I have a calculator on my phone. I’ve also gone grocery shopping with her at Globus. It’s similar to Walmart except larger and again, cleaner.

Friday night I got to visit Stodolni Street in Ostrava. Stodolni is a street lined with bars and clubs. It was very popular last night because it is the last Friday before school starts. Now you might be thinking, “Way to go Allie you got drunk during your first week.” But I did not. I am not supposed to drink on my exchange and I am not legally allowed to in the Czech Republic anyway, so that did not happen. All I had was a Sprite.

While clubbing is fun and exciting, it may not be entirely for me. I really enjoy personal space, people who smell nice, and not having to dance (because I am a terrible dancer.) Whether or not I will return to Stodolni Street in the future? I don’t know.

Stodolni Street (not my photo)

Stodolni Street (not my photo)

Finally, my host family and I went to a village festival this afternoon. It was really cool to see the way that the entire community got together and had fun. It felt like a distinct contrast between suburban American life (even though I don’t live in the suburbs in America.)

All in all, I have really enjoyed every moment that I have spent in the Czech Republic. I am grateful to my family, host family, and Rotary for giving me this opportunity. I can’t wait to see what the Czech Republic has in store for me next.

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arrival

I am officially in the Czech Republic!

Today is my first full day here and has been pretty chilled out (which I am thankful for.) My host sister speaks very good English and is also a good cook. I think we are going to get along really well!

The rest of my host family has been very kind and welcoming. While they don’t speak as much English as my host sister does, I think that it is a good thing. I really want to learn the language as much as I can, so that should help challenge me.

I am really tired not only because of traveling but also because of the time difference. The Czech Republic is six hours ahead of where I live, so it is going to take a while for me to be able to wake at a normal time and go to bed at a normal time.

My luggage did not make it all the way to the airport in Prague with me, but it should be arriving in the next hour or so! I’ll soon be unpacked in my room and getting everything that I need. School starts September 1st, and once I start I guess I’ll settle into a routine in my new home.

It’s crazy to think that I am finally here after a year of preparation. It can be a bit overwhelming to think that I am here until July, but I am confident that I can make it. I have so much support from my host family, my family, friends, and Rotary. I greatly appreciate and thank anyone and everyone who helped get me here, and who is going to help me while I stay. I’m so excited and a little nervous about all that is ahead. More updates soon!

pins pins and more pins

If you need to know one thing about Rotary Youth Exchange it’s that they love their pins. A bit more than what I’m comfortable with.

Whenever I see the decked out blazers (google it if you aren’t aware) I just think of Jennifer Aniston in “Office Space” with her mandatory flair (37 mandatory pieces I think???)

Poor Stan just wanted her to express herself.

Poor Stan just wanted her to express herself.

Rotary has me right where they want me though. And they know that. I need to have pins to give people I meet when I hop across an ocean and half a continent and so here I am. Making pins.

If you want to be like me and suddenly make about 200 pins in a few days you’re going to need a few things.

1-Ribbon that reflects you or your country or just counts as something you can make a pin out of.  2-Scissors 3-Modpodge or some sort of adhesive 4-Safety pins 5-Brush 6-More ribbon because after making 16 you'll realize you need a hell of a lot more than what you bought. (written from experience)

1-Ribbon that reflects you or your country or just counts as something you can make a pin out of.
2-Scissors
3-Modpodge or some sort of adhesive
4-Safety pins
5-Brush
6-More ribbon because after making 16 you’ll realize you need a hell of a lot more than what you bought. (written from experience)

Then it’s time to get crafty (woo). The easiest thing to do is make a ribbon out of the ribbon (picture will explain). Use the glue to help hold the ribbon together and then let dry. Finally stick a pin in it (wow that was the worst attempt at a pun ever) and prepare to distribute.

LOOK HOW CUTE

LOOK HOW CUTE

The first one you make may be too big so stick it on your own Rotary blazer. And then you’re done. FLAIR FOR EVERYONE!

Not too shabby.

Not too shabby.

waiting game

Today marks the first day that I could potentially have left for the Czech Republic. Although I did not necessarily think that I was going to get to leave as soon as I could, I did at least think that I would have a departure date by now. But I do not.

As you could imagine this is frustrating. Not only because I want to know so that I can start pulling some things together like clothing, a camera, a webcam, any medicines, and starting to say goodbye to people, it’s also frustrating simply because I want to know. People keep asking me, “When are you leaving???” They then become confused when I say, “I dunno. Hopefully the end of this month.”

I guess this is one of the many hard things about being an exchange student. You have to be willing to be patient and pull some things together at what seems to be the last minute. Although many students who are going to the Czech Republic are leaving in two days, me not knowing when I depart now does not mean that I will not get to go.

Hopefully I get a date within the next few days so that I can begin to make final preparations. I am starting to become more nervous, now that this massive experience is starting to stare me down. It should be fun though.