Any exchange student knows that around this time of the year, we will have to say goodbye to everything. Some goodbyes are much harder than others, but we signed up for it. At the beginning of the year, I dreaded this time. Not only because I would be leaving this life behind, but also because I would be leaving the people that I became closest with. This past week was full of goodbyes. I went to my last meeting with my Rotary Club as well as the last Rotary event (Farewell Weekend).

Tuesday, Nick and I went with my host sister to Beroun. Our Rotary club organized a small grill at the camp in Beroun. We arrived and sat with our club. We ate and talked about our plans for the future. My YEO also got an update from my host sister about her exchange year in the USA. It was a very nice evening, and I am very thankful for everything that my Rotary Club has done for me this year.

Wednesday, we left for our Farewell Weekend in Valtice. Valtice is on the border between Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria. It was about four hours away from where we live by train. We arrived and ended up arriving at the same time as almost all of the other exchange students. We walked to our accommodation, which was a school for winemaking. We checked in, and waited while the rest of the students arrived. Then, we walked to a nearby gym. Here we were split into two groups and played some activities.

The next morning, the weather was around 31 degrees. We walked for the whole day. We walked around this “barefoot path” which walked us around the border area. At one point we didn’t know which country we were in…it was amazing. Throughout this path, there were a bunch of stops. At each stop, there was a small activity or something to read. For example, at one of the stops, there was a circle with a bunch of signs. At each sign there was a tree and based on when your birthday is, you could read about what kind of tree you are. It was a very long and hot walk, but it was great to spend time with everyone and walk. After this, we had more activities in the night.

We had a bike trip for the whole day on Friday. We biked around 50 km the whole day. This was actually one of the best days. We had a small group and we had to take photos at all the stops. We saw a lot of really cool and beautiful places on our trip and just had a lot of fun. The small group that I was in was full of wonderful people and we had a lot of laughs and good times. Although we were exhausted by the end, it was probably one of the best days of my exchange.

Saturday, we had “rafting”. We did use rafts, but we were on probably the most still river in the Czech Republic. Therefore, it required us to row. There were six of us in our boat. At the beginning, we were really lazy. We were not paddling that fast and were the second last group the whole time. We just talked and chilled out, but it took us a long time. We started around 9 am, then stopped for lunch at around 12. Then, after lunch we still weren’t going that quickly. We had another break then decided we would actually go a bit quicker so that we could catch the first boat to dinner. We arrived to the end then took our rafts to land. We then got onto a small ferry and were served dinner here. The ferry took us to another place where the busses waited for us. We arrived to this port, and I found a BC flag! It was so random and it was the only one. Then, when we walked into the café, there was a Canadian flag! Afterwards, we returned to the accommodation. In the night, it was time for the closing ceremony. We brought our flags and books to sign.

The closing ceremony was very nice. We all received certificates which showed that we completed our Rotary Youth Exchange in the Czech Republic. Afterwards, we had a lot of free time to sign each others flags and we could also dance if we wanted to. It was very overwhelming to sign everyones flags, but it was a very nice evening. Then, when it was near the end, we all stood in a circle and sang the songs that we sang at district conference. It was very emotional. We left at around 2 in the morning, heartbroken and tired. We left Sunday, after more hugs and goodbyes.

Following this, Nick had his last day yesterday. He left from Prague at 18:00 to take a bus to Luxembourg, then he will continue on to Bolivia. Nick was a huge part of my life this year. We spent time together every day, and I have never had a friend like him before. I think that my exchange year would have been extremely different without him in it, and I actually can’t even imagine it. He taught me so much this year, and I am so thankful that I got to share this experience with him. I know that he is going to do amazing things. I know for sure that our paths will cross again someday in the future!


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