I recently met a couple milestones in my exchange. Firstly, I have now lived in the Czech Republic for over 5 months, which makes me about halfway through my exchange!

While I am a little sad about how quickly it has gone by, I am also quite proud of how far I have come. I feel more confident in my day-to-day life, and while I still view myself as the somewhat touristy foreign exchange student, I don’t think I stick out as much as I did in September and October.

Secondly, this post marks a year since my initial acceptance into Rotary Youth Exchange, as well as my country reveal! I remember being so excited in January of last year, when I received the phone call saying I was going to go somewhere, and I was even more excited in February, when I found out I would be going to the Czech Republic.

If 12 (or even 15) year old me was asked what my life would be like by time I turn 17, he would not believe a single word. I have really enjoyed my stay here so far, and although time seems to go by faster and faster the longer I stay here, I am trying to live in the moment and not take this great experience for granted.

Winter meeting in Třebíč

The first thing that happened since my last post was a meeting with the other exchange students in Třebíč, which happens to be the location of my host club. We spent some time touring the town, and while I had been there before for my club meetings, I had never spent time to check out the basilica, which was really cool. We also went to the Jewish Quarter, which I had briefly visited once before (our most recent meeting was held in a pub there), but I still learned a lot about it.

Another photo, this time in the Jewish Quarter.

RYE photo at the basilica. I am helping Yannick, the German exchange student, with his flag.

Salerno, Italy

My host family and I went to Salerno, Italy the next weekend. My host dad has business associates there, so he figured he would takes the rest of us with him when he had to attend a meeting there. It was hot for unprepared Alaskan body (around 65F), but everyone else wore big puffy coats. Fortunately, this meant we had the beach to ourselves when we decided to go swimming. We also went on several walks in and around town, and though some places were closed or under renovation due to it being the off-season for tourism, it meant there were no tourists in sight! Apart from us, of course. We had some authentic mozzarella cheese (I didn’t know that it is made with water buffalo milk), as well as some pretty good pizza and seafood.

We returned home and Alan and I returned to school for the rest of the week, but it seemed to go by very quickly, as spring break was right around the corner! Since swimming classes ended recently, we have since switched to the more typical PE activities. I played floorball for the second time, and I was no longer a benchwarmer. We did lose every game, and I did miss some of the easiest goals, but that’s beside the point. I’ll get better. Hopefully.

Us on a hike just outside of Salerno. I’m in a T-shirt and shorts and yet I still sweat.

I valiantly defend my coat from the fiendish feral bovine.

Alan and looking at the boats at the end of the seawall in Salerno.

Spring break in Cyprus

We spent the week of spring break in Cyprus, which was even warmer than Italy. I was sweating in summer clothes in February, so I have no idea how people manage to live there in June or July. Maybe they migrate north like birds do. Speaking of birds, I did a lot of birdwatching there. Birdwatching in general has been a lot more interesting since I left Alaska, mostly because the appearances and the calls of the birds are unfamiliar to me. In total I saw 41 species in Cyprus, 33 of which I had were new to me. My favorites were the Chukar, the Yellow-browed Warbler, and the Greater Flamingo. We visited several ruins, as well as many beaches, which could be found along most of the island’s coast.

A lot of the island has cool caves like this near the coast.

Family photo!

A really nice view from one of our hikes.


I will lastly talk about orienteering. We haven’t had any races recently, but we just finished setting up the permanent course nearby, and the opening ceremony was earlier today! There are about a dozen or so marked wooden posts in the woods, and a big map standing in the parking lot. I am really happy with how it turned out and am glad I got to help out throughout the entire process, from helping in the sawmill to cut the posts, to running out into the woods to place them, to erecting the map stand.

Future plans

Next week my class will go north to the mountains for a skiing trip. It’s in the low 50s in Jihlava right now, but it is supposed to be cooler where we will stay, so hopefully there will be enough snow. I will try to remember to take more photos, as that is something I frequently forget to do.


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