That’s right, we’re (over) halfway there! One hundred and sixty-five days ago, I entered the Czech Republic, and in one hundred and twenty-five days, I will return to the United States. I can’t believe that it’s passing so quickly. In my last post, I was asking for support on my GoFundMe, and I am so happy to be able to say that I ended up raising exactly the amount of money that I needed. Thank you so so much to everyone who donated. Without all of you, I wouldn’t be able to be here at all, and now because of all of you, I’ll be able to tour Europe and expand my horizons even more.

Since my last post, I have done a lot! On the 11th of January, my host mom and host sister took me to see the Czech version of the Nutcracker. It was really interesting because the story was different than when I saw it in Pennsylvania. It seemed to be a combination of the classic Nutcracker and the story of A Christmas Carol. I love being in the theatre and watching performances of any kind. The music and visuals always capture me and let me dive into the story. This time it was the same experience, and because it was a ballet, I didn’t have to worry about not being able to understand the story. It was really fun.

A little over a week later, I went on a ski weekend in Slovakia with my host brother, host dad, and some of my classmates from my younger Spanish class. The Slovak language is very similar to Czech, but it was still pretty hard for me to understand because my Czech is far from perfect. The ski place was pretty small, with just one slope, but it was perfect for me to remember what I was doing after not skiing for about a year. I was able to learn a lot of new skills and now I feel a lot more confident in my skiing. I’ll be ready for the ski week with Rotary coming up soon!

The next weekend I got to do one of my favorite things here: go see the other exchange students! I went to Třebíč with most of the other exchange students (some of them were sick) and we got to tour the city and do lots of fun activities. I practiced my Spanish with the help of my exchange student friends from Spanish-speaking countries (See if you can find me behind the Mexican flag in the group photo 😂), met the new Australian exchange students (they come halfway through the year because their school year is different), participated in a talent show (check out the videos of my favorite performances, plus one of me singing in Czech!), and just enjoyed spending time with my friends.

During the meeting, we also had another language test, which went both better and worse than I expected. There was a written part and a speaking part, and I did pretty well on the written part! But the speaking part was a lot harder. The way that they did it was they put all of us exchange students together, and then one by one we would stand up and answer questions. As I was listening to the other students go, I was feeling pretty prepared. The questions weren’t that hard; they were mostly about school or Christmas. I was excited about my turn because I had just learned how to use past tense while speaking in Czech, so I was hoping that they would ask me about Christmas and I would be able to show that off. But then they called my name and as I stood up, they asked me about the piano! I had never spoken about piano or music in Czech before, and there wasn’t much that I knew how to say describing that topic. I kind of froze and tried to speak as well as I could until they changed the subject. Once they switched the topic to my host siblings, it was easy. I was hoping that they would ask me a couple more questions after that so that I could prove myself, but then the test was over. Luckily, I passed, but hopefully next time I can be a little bit more prepared.

I didn’t get much rest the week after the Rotary meeting; two days after I got home from Třebíč I had another concert with my band. We messed up a few times, but it was honestly my favorite concert out of the three we had. I felt a lot more comfortable on stage and didn’t feel like I was overthinking everything that I was doing. I was able to enjoy the music, and even though we made some mistakes, I think we recovered well and next time will only be better!

January ended with my host father’s birthday. My host sister made him a cake and we all chipped in some money to buy him a gift card to the local pub by our house.

February started great when I found out that we were going up a “mountain” for the weekend with my host family and some other kids from my school. They camped from Thursday to Sunday, but I arrived with my host brother on Saturday. Hikes here are still pretty hard-core for me. Usually after each hike, my hips hurt pretty bad, I think because of my scoliosis. But it ended up being worth it and I was proud of myself for committing to the trip.

That’s all for the past month (and some extra, sorry for the late post!). I have a lot to look forward to in this next month, like a trip to Spain with my host family and the ski week with Rotary. I’ll keep you guys updated!

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