I’ve been living in Slovakia for six months now, and there’s only about four months left until I return home. I thought that ten months away from everything I knew would feel like a lifetime, but half of a year has already flown by. Going on exchange is nothing like how I imagined it to be, and neither is Slovakia. I never could have guessed that for me here would mean: going hiking, wearing slippers, and eating cheese everyday.
Before going in exchange I didn’t realize just how different and difficult it would be. One thing I’ve had the hardest time adjusting to is the lack of sunshine. It’s a very drastic change coming to Central Europe when I’ve lived in Florida since the time I was born. So I’m used to it being summer all-year-round and going to the beach in my free time. It wasn’t even until a few months ago that I experienced snow for the first time. So you can imagine how many times I fell… a lot.
Another thing I have a hard time with is being away from my family. I expected to miss them because I knew I’d be gone for almost a year; but it doesn’t make it any less difficult. I can’t always call them because of the time difference so I try to keep myself busy. Having good schoolmates and a nice host family to spend time with makes it a whole lot easier. I look forward to the trips I have with rotary because that means I get to be with the other exchange students, especially the American ones. Speaking of trips, I get so many opportunities to travel (perks I guess, of being an exchange student). I’ve gotten to visit counties I thought I’d only ever see on a map, which makes being here worth it that much more.
One thing that I love about Slovakia is how nice everyone is here, and how willing/motivated people are. My friends have been so patient with the progress of my language skills, and are always happy to help me with anything I need. It’s sort of funny when we talk about how different our lives are, what is normal me never seems to be the normal for them. Like seeing an alligator or a giant lizard in my backyard, as opposed to seeing a wild pig in theirs. But I think sometimes it’s the differences that bring us even closer together; and I will certainly miss my life here in Slovakia, the people and especially the food. Bryndzové halušky is one of my favorite meals here (that, and duck with knedľa and purple cabbage). I’d better savor it now because in a few months it’s back to tacos and fast food for me. I won’t lie, I do miss it a bit. Most of the time it’s the things that I never paid much attention to, in the USA, are the things I’ve ended up missing the most. Coming here has made me realize how much I love my country, which I’m absolutely so grateful for. No matter how difficult it gets, I’ll never regret coming here (even with the corona virus spreading). Going on exchange has taught me so many things about not just other people but about myself. I have gotten the opportunity to see and learn so many new things. I can tell you, it’s truly a life-changing experience.