six months (!!!)

This is all so bittersweet. It’s been half a year and now I’m really starting to feel like I am running out of time.

This month has been challenging like all the rest, just in different ways. The main issue has been dealing with loneliness and exponentially increased independence (some of which I don’t want). It’s ironic that I say this as I am sitting alone at the train station (again) waiting to go home. At the end of the day I spend slightly over two hours going to and from school, and that is usually time spent alone. I don’t have my big host sister anymore to talk to and follow around all the time. When I go home to my host family, I kind of have to fend for myself. My friends have all of the responsibilities that come with being good students in school, so my free time is often up to me.

All of this alone time makes me feel independent, more so than usual, but there is an extent where I am just a 16 year-old girl who isn’t always sure of what she’s doing/going. I go through phases now where I really just miss having someone constantly worrying and checking in on me. My host family trusts me to be safe, which is nice. Yet, sometimes when I’m walking home by myself when it’s dark I wish someone took a bit of time to drive the two minutes to get me.

So yes, this month has been hard(er).

BUT

These past few weeks have really pushed me out of my normal comfort zone and have made me adapt more. I have pushed myself to speak more Czech so that I can talk to more of my classmates and relate to more people. I have tried to ask more people to hang out with me. This has resulted in new friendships and me finding people who share the same interests as me. I have learned a lot about being self-dependent and trying to work with people even when I am tired and my patience is running out. I think you could say that I have grown up a lot.

I can tell that these past six months have really changed me as a collective whole. I honestly didn’t think I would make it this long. Before I left my home, I always imagined something happening that made me go home, or need to be home. Despite the harsh ups and downs of this month, I have managed to focus and appreciate the ups more than dwell on the downs.

So month seven is officially here and it’s something that makes me feel happy, sad, proud, and everything in between. It has been one hell of a time in the Czech Republic so far, and as always, I can’t wait to see what this next month has in store.

pooh truth

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američanka

I went into this sixth month of my exchange feeling confident. I felt more at home here, like I was doing a lot of things right. Yet I’m only a week into this month and that confidence is fading quickly.

For most of my time here I have been referred to as the “američanka.” This is funny for a while but at this point it frustrates me and irritates me. I am very proud to come from the country that I do. Yet being from the United States and being a native English-speaker does not define me. It doesn’t even hit the surface and I am sooo very tired of that being all people see in me here.

Every month I send an e-mail update to some Rotarians back in the U.S. and Canada about what I’ve been doing, how I am, etc. This past month one of them gave me some advice that I didn’t realize I needed…

“Do something to make them remember you as Allie and not the American they had for a year.”

This has been hitting home a lot lately. A lot of people message me and I know it’s just to talk to “the američanka.” I’m tired of that. I’m tired of feeling guilty for not responding to people who don’t actually want to get to know me.

I don’t want my class here to tell other kids they know that they have an američanka in their class. I want them to say that they have Allie in their class. I want my nationality and language to be mere aspects of my personality and not what ultimately defines me.

I am very independent, honest, opinionated, sensitive, caring, loyal, ambitious, etc. I like to think I am kind and fun to be around. This is how people should describe me. I am not merely an American.

So from now on I am going to work harder to be Allie and not the američanka. I don’t really owe anyone here anything. This exchange is ultimately my experience and my journey. I want to finish this time being myself and not rushing around trying to fulfill everyone’s expectations of me. I can only be who I am, nothing more.

-Allie