This is probably the most bittersweet moment of my exchange so far. I am officially halfway through my time here. The days are going to go by so quickly now, and before I know it, I will be going back home.
This past month has been a time of great change and growth. I switched host families right after Christmas and before the new year. I now live with people that I do not know very well. I have two very young host brothers. It takes me nearly an hour to get to school each morning. There are added challenges to adjusting to different people and trying to continue on with the normal ebb and flow of life. I have learned a lot about being patient and finding the positives in things this month (I know I say that every month but still…)
I have done so many presentations this month it’s uncanny. I have spent multiple (possibly a dozen?) hours standing in front of people and telling them about where I’m from. The topics of presentations tend to be broad, the U.S. political system and American literature being two examples. This past Friday I spent four hours talking about myself and where I’m from in an elementary school. People seem to enjoy these which I find particularly interesting. At the elementary school, I took pictures with the kids after each presentation and one girl said “I touched an American!”
Last weekend I went to a city called Třebíč with Rotary. It was a very relaxed weekend and I had a blast with all of my exchange friends. I am fairly comfortable with my results on my language test this time around. I think I have made a lot of progress with Czech. Although I am not anywhere close to fluent I know that I have learned a ton since I have been here.
This past language test is the last one before we find out who gets to go on EuroTour. I really hope that I get to go, as I have raised nearly all of the money for the trip (actually it looks like I have raised all of it as long as the exchange rate stays in my favor!!!) I am super excited about getting this experience as long as everything works out.
One of the things that I noticed while in Třebíč is that everyone seems to be adjusting greatly to the changing of host families. It is a massive adjustment, and it can be a hard one to make for some people. I will change families again around the end of March, and it will again be a time when I will have to exercise great amounts of patience. Yet I think all exchange students will tell you that things will get better over time.
This month has really been a turning point in not feeling so obviously foreign here. I’ve been able to communicate with people in Czech at the post office and the train station and other places. All of those interactions ended with everyone getting what they needed. When I think about returning home I get really weirded out. Living with my mom instead of a Czech family seems odd. Going back to my high school is bizarre. Not seeing my friends here every day makes me very sad. I don’t look forward to leaving. I’d much rather my family move over here and hang out with me.
I missed some stuff this past month and I will miss some more things this coming one. I missed getting to see my extraordinarily talented brother play guitar with another man who is apparently very good as well. I am going to miss my brother’s twentieth birthday (when did he get so old???) I’ll miss time with everyone in my family, seeing all the horrible couples on Valentine’s Day, etc. Yet, I continue to trust that this next month will continue to be filled with amazing days and opportunities.
Month five has been a good one. It has had its ups and downs just like all the others. I’m halfway gone now. I hope I make the most of it.