Week Twenty-Nine: Czech Adolescent Culture (Part 1)

While studying abroad in a different country, there are many challenges that I have been faced with. While adapting to a different culture, there are many aspects of life that made me uncomfortable, surprised me, and that I really fell in love with. The reality is, culture is very complex. While living here in the Czech Republic, I have chosen to appreciate and learn from every little thing. I did come here with the mindset of being present and to absorb everything that I could in my short time. As an exchange student, I go to school everyday and spend the majority of my free time with my classmates and friends. Czech Teenagers are very unique and interesting in many ways. Of course, it is impossible to generalize with an entire group of teenagers, but I wanted to write a little bit about what I have observed as a foreigner. Czech adolescent culture is something that I found the most difficult to adapt to, mostly because of my own lifestyle before I arrived. What do Czech teenagers do in their free time? What is the most important to them in their group of friends? What do Czech teenagers think about their own country and their own culture? Well, I spoke to a lot of my friends to get their point of view, and I would also like to add in what I do with my friends in my free time here. This will likely be a longer post, I hope to dive into many different aspects of life as a teenager in the Czech Republic!

Just like anywhere in the world, teenagers are busy with their own hobbies and other activities. Among my friends in my town, dance aerobic, skateboarding, soccer (football), music, being with other friends, partying, and studying are the most popular ways to spend free time. School takes up the majority of life everyday. It starts very early and usually ends late, the latest being at 3:45. For most of my classmates, school is very important and they will spend a lot of time studying. On the bus in the morning, I have observed many students studying from their textbooks. This is something that I did last year…but I was always the only one. There is a lot of pressure on good marks, several of my classmates have cried in class throughout the year when they don’t do as well on a test as they had hoped. Once again, something that I did last year that people thought was crazy! Sports are also very popular. Although not as popular as sports teams in Canada, my friends play floorball, soccer, and dance. Because there are no school teams, they will join a community team. Often during the week, they will have two to three practices. Unlike in Canada, sometimes you don’t even know when someone plays a sport. I feel like in Canada people are very proud of their sports team. They will wear their jersey to school or invite people to see their games. Here, it is almost unknown whether or not someone is playing a sport, unless you are on their team. There was a survey done (forgive me for not having citation…) for 15-23 year olds in the Czech Republic. Results showed that most of the youth spent their free time watching TV, listening to music, chatting with friends, reading magazines, relaxing, dating, going to pubs and cafes, playing computer games, and travelling. I completely agree with this! In comparison with Canada, I found that with any free time, students usually had a part-time job to go to. I also find that there is definitely less time spent with friends on a daily basis… Or maybe that was just my life (haha…).

Based on my observations, friend groups are mainly formed by boys who share common activities whereas girl groups are less common. This is surprising and almost the opposite to Canada. I remember in elementary school we had to watch educational video clips on what “cliques” were. These cliques were always exclusive to girls. Other girls prefer to have close relationships with only a few other girls. I have definitely experienced this here as well. I have very close relationships with just a few girls. But I often spend time with more of my friends that happen to be a group of guy friends. Friend groups of course are different depending on the people within; it is like this anywhere you go. Personally, I have friends all throughout the school. Many of my friends are very academic, but I also have a group of friends that like to skateboard and enjoy fashion and having a good time.

This week, I went to several of my friends and other teenagers in my school. I asked them a series of questions. The hardest one was when I asked them what they think about their culture and about their country. I got a wide variety of answers, but many revolved around the same thing. Many people appreciate the tolerance for alcohol in this country. The drinking age is eighteen years old, but it is common to be offered a drink by your parents when you turn fourteen or fifteen. They would describe their culture as being very liberal amongst the younger generation, but far more traditional in the older one. Many people commented that Czech people sometimes “show-off” in every way and pretend that they are more than they are. I was surprised at how negative some of my classmates described their culture. They mentioned that many people are lying about themselves and complaining about anything that they can find. Also that people tend to talk about each other behind each other’s backs a lot. One of my favourite quotes from one of my friends I interviewed went something like this:

“How would you describe Czech culture?”

“Alcohol, eating, and bitching about everything.”

When I asked them what they would change about their culture, almost everyone wanted to change the negative attitude and the negative view from Czech people about their own country. I found that was very interesting.

I didn’t exactly receive any very positive descriptions from my friends about their own culture. It is very different because if I were asked to describe Canadian culture, I would probably speak about how multicultural, progressive, diverse, and open-minded we are! I think that the history of the Czech Republic really plays a role in the thinking of its citizens. Also, as young people are growing up in a world full of globalization and influence from the Western world, there are several sub-cultures that are starting to emerge. Of course, not all of them are political such as the skin-heads, but they are definitely growing up with their own opinions and want for change! As for my own personal opinion, I think that Czech culture is very interesting and different. Since most of the Czech Republic wasn’t damaged by any wars, there are some of the most beautiful buildings and cities that I have ever seen. Its history and traditions are very unique and I hope that they will be preserved as time goes on. The people are definitely a lot more tolerant to a lot of things. I do agree that a lot of things are very negative. For example the news is very often negative. As for the teenagers, I haven’t noticed too much complaining about everything in their lives. Our conversations never tend to be negative and whiny.

I was speaking to a teacher at my school, and he described teenagers in the Czech Republic as “Not Czech, but European…multicultural.” About 90% of them can speak very good English and are very influenced by the Western world.

In the future, I will write more about some of the questions that I asked my friends. I think that being on exchange to the Czech Republic could be very challenging. It must be up to you how much of an effort you want to make to have a good experience. I would say that the stereotype that Czech people are cold at first is true (with some exceptions of course). If you are yourself and you are kind, then people will start to open up and will eventually become the best friends you could ever ask for. In my opinion, Czech teenagers are very important to their country and it is up to them to save their culture and their traditions.

I hope that you found this to be interesting, and if you have any questions about anything that I wrote about, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail or write me a message! Thanks for reading this far!





Week Twenty-Eight: Ples Season and Travelling in D2240

As you may have read in my previous blog post about Czech school system, you will remember I wrote about graduation. The Czech graduation system is very complicated and I must say…much more difficult than in Canada! In my school there are three classes that will be graduating this year. In Czech, they call this “Maturita”. There are many exams that each class will have to write. They also have a very intense English portion of the exam. I can’t imagine doing what they will do in a second language. They will have to talk about many difficult topics for five to seven minutes. For example, there are topics about Environment, Homelessness, Vacations and Holidays, how you can get arrested, and many more. There are topics about the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. Basically, there is a full page of topics that they should be prepared to speak about in English. Not to mention the written portion of the test! After they do the exams in the beginning of April, they will be done their schooling. Because of this, they have their proms starting in the beginning of the year. Each class gets their own prom, and they are called “Ples”. They can choose their own theme and advertise the Ples in whichever way they would like. Each class is approximately thirty people and they have been together each year. Because of this, the Pleses are a lot more intimate and focused towards each student.

Two of the three classes had already had their Ples this year. Unfortunately, Nick and I missed both. First, we were both at a Rotary event for one of them then at a camp for the second. We got tickets to go the final ples on Friday. This would be our first ples and we were both really looking forward to it. This class had chosen the theme “Oktoberfest”. The tickets were even shaped like cups of beer! I went to the ples with my best friend Marie. We got ready together and had dinner. It was definitely a big part of the fun! We arrived and got to take photos with all our friends. At the beginning the graduates “walked the stage”. They were in their prom dresses and suits. Instead of gowns and hats, they got to wear sashes. After their name was announced, a song of their choice played as they walked on the carpet. Confetti was shot at them and people threw money at them as they walked. After this, there were some more photos taken then there was a clean up. There was then the traditional teacher dance in which the students chose a teacher to dance with. Of course me not knowing that it was the teacher dance ended up also dancing in it… luckily I had the “I’m an exchange student” excuse! There was also a performance done by the class. They had some traditional German dress on and they did a dance. There were so many people so I didn’t get a chance to get a good look, but I’m sure it was great. After all of the rituals were finished, there was just music playing and everyone could dance. I also got to meet many other American Fulbright’s that came with Maeve. It was nice to talk to some native speakers and meet new people! It was a fun evening!

The next day, there was a second ples, and it was run by the company P&G. Nick’s new host family invited my host family and I to attend. This ples was a community event and Nick and I were the only young people there. It was a very nice evening. There was a Big Band that was playing and they were amazing. We got a table to sit at with our ticket. There was complementary snacks, orange juice, and champagne. It was definitely an evening for couples. There were people dancing the entire evening. Nick’s host parents are dancers and are actually in a dance group. Watching them dance was certainly a treat. They just moved in synch together all over the dance floor. There were many other couples that were obviously in dance courses together. Nick and I have no clue how to dance any traditional dances so we mainly just freestyled. I got to dance with my host dad and we were quite good…after he showed me how to do the dance. My host parents are also very good at dancing. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to go, as there are not many events like this in Canada. It felt like something out of a movie, with a big band and people dancing in ball gowns. That said, it was also quite boring because we didn’t know how to do any dances. Hopefully one day I will learn!

Another thing that I would like to talk about is the District 2240 (my host district). I haven’t written much about it, but I figured it could be interesting for people from D5060 to read about! As many of you know, the district includes two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are about ninety students in both countries. Travelling is very closely monitored, but luckily for us, we get the opportunity to travel with ease. The Czech Republic has amazing public transport, and it is very clean, safe, and easy to use. At several of our meetings, there were language tests. Based off of our language test results, the district will either allow us to travel or won’t. There is a website that is specific to inbounds of our district. Here, there are several travelling permission request forms that are mandatory to fill out if you would like to leave your host city. They are very simple forms and you must fill them out ten days before you travel. Depending on the type of travel that you wish to do, you may require the permission of your parents at home, your host club, and your host parents. Even in cases of one day trips, you must fill out a travel form that includes permission from your host family as well as your host club. If you wish to visit another exchange student somewhere within the district, you require approval from the other student’s club as well as their host family. You are obviously not allowed to travel outside of the city alone, but you can travel with your host parents or a Rotarian from your club. You are also allowed to travel with your school without a travel form. In cases where you will stay overnight you’re your school somewhere, you are required to fill out the form. There are even opportunities for you to request permission to travel outside of the District. Although the rules may seem complicated, we are lucky that we have these opportunities to travel at all. As long as the travel request is made ten days before you would like to go, it is almost certain that you will get permission. There are also rules that you must fill out the travel form if you are going with your host family on a trip outside of your city for more than three days. Also you must fill out the form if you are going outside of the country with your host family for more than five days. I thought that I would write about this because just recently in my district, we got another reminder of the travel rules. There is a new rule now that there can’t be more than four students travelling to meet up in one city. If there are more, then it is considered to be an event that is organized separately from Rotary. Therefore, they can’t exactly be responsible if twenty of us meet up in another city. There was a planned event like this, and of course the requests got denied. Several students were very upset about this, but several Rotex stated that in their districts on exchange, they weren’t even aloud to travel at all! I thought it might be interesting for you to see the difference between here and my home district!

It has been awhile since I have done a question and answer blog. Therefore, if you would like to ask me a question about my exchange, or have a suggestion for a blog, please leave a comment, email me, or message me on Facebook! I have all of my contact information listed here on my blog.

Until next time



Week Twenty-Seven: Fun in the Snow!!

I’ve learned a lot of things about being sick in the Czech Republic. I’m on my second cold of the month and am trying to remember what it feels like to breathe through my nose… let’s just say that being sick on exchange officially sucks! I’m not sure about other Czech families, but my host family really takes care of you when you’re sick. The first time I had a cold, I was drinking onion juice with honey, was wearing a scarf with some pig grease around my neck all day, was drinking twenty POTS of tea a day, and was always in bed. I was constantly being given spoonfuls of syrups with different vitamins… and there was no question of going to school! I luckily got better, but unfortunately for me, I’m sick again. Seeing as I won’t be aloud out of bed anytime soon, I think this blog post may be a bit longer. This past week, I was in Austria with my host Dad (Vojta), host sister (Hana), and Nick!

Our Rotary District does a ski week every year for the exchange students in the Tatras in Slovakia. Nick and I didn’t go, mainly because of the price but also because my host family (which was also Nick’s last host family) was planning a ski trip for us, which would be a lot cheaper. During this week, it is “Spring Break”. Almost every person I know went to some ski resort either in Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, or Slovakia during this time. Our plan was to leave on Sunday, and come back home Thursday. Luckily for me, I could borrow everything I needed from Nick’s current host family, and so could he. We packed everything Sunday morning and headed to Flachau Austria! It was approximately five hours by car, and we went through Salzburg. Once we arrived in Austria, it was a very beautiful drive. There were huge mountains everywhere (alps) and some lakes. It reminded me of the drive to Vancouver on the Coquihala. It was refreshing for me to see mountains again, as where I live in the CZ is pretty flat. The way to our accommodation was certainly a challenging drive. It felt like it was pretty much straight up the mountain side with many curves. Regardless, everything below was so beautiful. There was a hill with a castle on top of it in the distance and the village below was small and cute. It almost seemed magical! The house we were staying in was approximately 35 minutes away from the mountain. We settled in, ate, relaxed, then prepared for the next day!

We arrived to Flachau early in the morning, about 9 I believe, and bought a ski pass for everyone until 1 PM. Instead of getting a pass that you attach to your jacket’s zipper, everyone got a card (which I lost the first day:( ). To enter into each ski lift, you had to tap your card onto a sensor then go through. In Flachau, there are several ski lifts… maybe about eight or more. We started at the bottom in the lift called “Space Jet 1”. Here, the lines were very long because it was the first lift. We went to the top, then we immediately went to the bottom of “Space Jet 2”. What surprised me was that there are no levels of difficulty for each run. There are only numbers you can follow to get to the bottom of the next lift you want to go on. Therefore, you could basically choose the length of the run you wanted. If you went to the top (Space Jet 3) then you could choose to go to Space Jet 2 for a shorter run or all the way to the bottom to Space Jet 1 for a very long run. There was also the “Star Jet” lifts and some gondolas. The weather was amazing this first day! There were no clouds and there was very bright sun. Because of this, we could see all of the mountains around us and it was a very beautiful sight! The views were breathtaking. Unfortunately, for the rest of the days we were stuck in cloud, but I ‘m very thankful that we got one clear day.

This was only Nick’s third or fourth time skiing in his life, so he found it pretty challenging at first. This first day, he skied mainly with my host Dad to learn some more of the basics. He fell a lot, but by the end of the weekend he improved drastically!!

After we finished up, we headed to the grocery store, then to an Aqua park. Aqua Parks are very common here, and no they aren’t pools. It was some building that had a sauna and other pools of water that you could sit and relax in. I stayed with my host sister while Vojta and Nick went to the sauna. You had to be sixteen to get into the sauna, so Hana couldn’t go. I went to look for Nick and Vojta in the sauna and very quickly found out that indeed, the sauna was a nude zone. You definitely couldn’t’ go in there with a bathing suit. I got out of there pretty quickly and Hana and I just chilled in some other pools. What was neat about this place was that you had the option to go outside in the pool. It wasn’t like hot tub or hot spring water either, it was maybe 33 degree water. But when you were outside these huge mountains surrounded you and it was very beautiful. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos, but I wish I could have!

The second day, we decided that we would have a bit of a sleep in. We started to ski at eleven and went until four. This time, we took a different route up. We went up a gondola. It brought us up near the top of Space Jet and Star Jet 3, so almost at the very top. We continued to ski and enjoy the day. I found that there were a lot of people. Of course there are a lot of people at every mountain, but here especially since there wasn’t a very big selection of runs to go on. By the end of the day, you had to watch out for ice and it was like moguls had been created! But of course, despite that, the snow was very good in the beginning and we found some runs were quieter than others. After this, we went on the gondola back down at four then went for dinner. We went to a pizza restaurant and built our own pizzas! It was very good then we went back home.

The last day, we decided to go again in the morning. We once again went up the gondola. Today was the day that Nick improved so much! So much, that he decided it would be a good idea to try some tricks. It was very good entertainment and I’m just glad he didn’t break a bone!! The trip overall was amazing and I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to travel to this beautiful country. It was also a lot of fun because I hadn’t gone snowboarding for a long time, and I couldn’t believe I was snowboarding in AUSTRIAN ALPS! Anyways, I took a lot of photos because I know my dad will be a bit jealous ;).

On another note, I’ve been here for half a year. This means I have less time ahead of me. Six months always sounded like such a long time to me, but only this year I discovered that it definitely isn’t. I’m living such an amazing life. I hope you enjoy the photos from my trip, I hope to have a new video out soon!


IMG_8439IMG_8441IMG_8455IMG_8462IMG_8466IMG_8468IMG_8473IMG_8475Processed with VSCO with a5 presetIMG_8486IMG_8498IMG_8505IMG_8518IMG_8519IMG_8522IMG_8523IMG_8524IMG_8530IMG_8532IMG_8531IMG_8546IMG_8555IMG_8564

Weeks Twenty Five and Twenty Six

I’ve been here for 181 days… almost six months! These past two weeks haven’t been all that eventful. Last week, I went on a trip with my class to Prague. We visited a Franz Kafka exhibition. It was a trip for German class and it included an interactive game and a simulation of Metamorphosis. Although I didn’t understand anything in German (even after four German classes a week) it was very interesting. When I returned home I did a lot of research about Kafka’s life and about his work. It was all very interesting and very sad. If you are familiar with Kafka’s book Metamorphosis, you know that it involves Gergor (the main character) waking up to find himself transformed into a giant insect. He notices that he is late for work and really only thinks about the consequences of being late for work. At the exhibition, we all got to enter into this dark room and we had to put on shoes, gloves and virtual reality glasses that had a headband over your head. I got mine in English. We felt like we were in Gregor’s room and the gloves and headband moved. It felt like I had antennae and I felt very uncomfortable. Our goal in the room was to find the key to unlock the door to our room. Throughout the whole time, we heard people outside the door begging Gregor to come out of his room. There was a mirror in the room and it was very creepy to see yourself as a giant insect. It felt like I was living a nightmare…which was exactly what Kafka wanted us to feel. Throughout the week during German classes they learned a bit more about Kafka. Overall, it was very interesting!

This week, our YEO Petra invited us to come to Beroun. She started a Montessori Kindergarten as well as another school. She invited us to come and meet the kids and see a different style of learning. We got to wear our blazers and a lot of little kids came up to us and asked us about them. We first went to the school and it was children aged 7-12 I believe. It is a very small environment with very open and beautiful classrooms. There were only a few teachers and everyone seemed very close. Nick and I sat in front of the one class and they all asked us questions about where we are from and about our favourite numbers. Afterwards, we went with the younger children and we played some English games and sang some basic songs. It looked like a very positive place for children to go to school. We then went downstairs to the Montessori Kindergarten. All of the objects were special instruments for learning, it was all very interesting!

The rest of the week has just been normal. Sunday, I am leaving to go snowboarding in the Austrian Alps and I am looking forward to my next adventure 🙂

Week Twenty Four: Klášterec nad Orlicí and Religion in the Czech Republic

This past week, I have been adjusting to my new host family and recovering from a cold. I am very happy with how accepting and kind they have been. My host family has been involved in a camp (Tabor) that is situated near the border between the Czech Republic and Poland. They informed me last week that we would be going to a camp, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. This weekend, I went to this camp with my host brother, and host sister, my host sister’s best friend, and Nick. This blog post will be a bit longer and separated into two parts. The first will be about my experience at the camp, and the second will be about Religion in the Czech Republic.

Our journey began on Thursday. We left from Rynholec by bus to Prague. The journey ahead would be very long because we had to travel by bus. Once we arrived to Prague in Zličín, we took the metro until the end to catch our second bus. The bus ride was around three hours. We had one minute when we arrived to our stop then we caught another bus. We stayed on for one stop then we had to walk about 40 minutes. This walk was certainly a tough one! It was very dark outside with snow and a lot of potholes in the road. We had to walk all uphill and we were slipping and falling all over the place! We finally arrived at around 18:00 and waited for the rest of the people to arrive. We settled into our rooms and got to see around the camp. We were staying in a very big house that had separate rooms with bunk beds. You can imagine, it is just like any typical camp. During the summer, they stay in smaller cabins outside, but we would only sleep inside this time. I stayed in a room with my host sister and about six of her friends. They were the sweetest girls ever and I got to speak Czech with them, it was fun! There was a main room called “Amerika” and this would be the common meeting area. Downstairs there was the kitchen and the eating area. It wasn’t too big, but it was decently sized for the amount of people there. Upstairs, there was also a chapel, which at first surprised me. I didn’t know that it was a bible camp until I arrived… and didn’t realize it was a Catholic camp until the second day. This would be my first experience being in a bible camp, because I had only ever gone to do outdoor activities in one in Canada. After everyone arrived, we got to eat dinner. Before eating, everyone stood up and sang a song. It is the same song that my host family sings before every meal. After eating, we stood up and sang again. Afterwards, we went upstairs to play a game. Everyone was very shy and for this first day, no one really spoke to Nick or me. Nobody explained what we were doing and we were pretty confused just for a little bit. I should mention, the camp is for children from 11-16, but there were older people that were “leaders”… Nick and I got to be leaders and help as much as we could. It was a bit stressful because it was hard for us to understand everything that was going on, a lot of people spoke abnormally fast! We sat and watched while everyone played a rock, paper, and scissors game.

After the game, we did our first prayer session. I’ve never been to Catholic Church or really know much about it. Of course, everything was in Czech, so it was even harder to understand. Once entering the chapel, we had to dip our fingers in this water then do the cross with our hands and most people went down on one knee. Afterwards, there were a series of prayers said either standing or sitting. Then, there would be many songs sang. Sometimes during the chapel, someone would play guitar and the rest would sing. I was surprised at how many different songs everyone knew as well as all of the prayers. When leaving the chapel, once again, we had to dip our fingers in the water, turn towards the front and do the cross. Every day before breakfast, before lunch, and before dinner, we went to the chapel to pray. Also, before and after every meal there would be prayers.

Friday, we once again prayed in the morning then ate breakfast. We went outside to play a game and we got to know more people. There was soccer, volleyball, and some other game that we could play. I played volleyball and we basically just threw the ball back and forth over the net. Afterwards, we had chapel, and then ate lunch. After lunch, and after a small break, we played Parliament. It was a fun game and we could participate. We then played another fun game! At this point, we got to know some more of the leaders as well as the kids. They weren’t so shy anymore and we felt a lot better. During the night, we played a very fun game. Nick and I got to be leaders during this activity so it was even better. Each leader had to write down a nickname and the name had to correspond with the initials. We then dressed in a disguise and went to the forest. There were bowls with lights in them that had the nicknames. All the kids had to memorize the nicknames they found. We leaders got to chase them then ask them if they knew our name. When they guessed wrong, they were sent back to the home base. Once they could guess the names, they got to collect some tokens, which would determine their team’s rank in the end. After this game we had chapel then went to bed!

Saturday, it was the last official day. In the morning, there was a game outside. There were groups of kids and they had tasks that they needed to complete at different stations with different leaders. My job was to stop the group between stations and ask them questions. When they got it wrong, they had to do some physical activity. I decided to ask them what Czech words were in English. I tried to use the hardest words I knew in Czech and a lot of people were doing squats! After this, we had chapel then lunch. After a small break, we went outside to go sledding and it turned into a snow fight. It was also Nick’s first time sledding and it was a great time. Since this was the last night, a pastor came into the chapel. This session was very long and included bread and wine. Afterwards, we had dinner then went outside to play one last game. In this game, we each had five flags and the kids had to steal them from us. When we were done the game, we went inside and had free time. Everyone ended up playing music. Someone played guitar and the rest sang. There was also someone who ended up playing the violin and the trumpet. All of the songs were in Czech and I believe that they were all traditional songs. Afterwards, there was a small dance party, and then we had to have chapel again.

Sunday, it was time to clean up the house and head home. We had to leave a bit earlier than everyone else because we had to drop off my host brother for his weeklong ski trip. Overall, it was a fun time; I met a lot of new people and got to see a lot of improvement in my Czech.

Here are some photos of the weekend, as well as some photos of the place we stayed. I will also include a map so you can see where exactly the camp is situated in the Czech Republic. If you would like to continue reading, you can read the second part, which will be about religion in the Czech Republic.






I will just briefly write about what Religion is like in the Czech Repbulic. Before I came here, one of the main things that I knew about the Czech Republic was that it is an atheist country. The Czech Republic is known as one of the oldest atheist countries in the world. Until the early 20th century, Christianity was the dominant religion. Since the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, there has been a large anti-Catholic sentiment and Christianity has been declined since the early 20th century. After World War One, a decline in Catholicism began. The government confiscated properties of Church during Czechoslovak unification under communist regime. During this regime, religion was virtually outlawed and churchgoing was strongly discouraged. After the communist regime fell, 39% were found to be Catholic in 1991. This faith would rapidly decline and in 2011 census, only 10.5% of Czechs considered themselves to be Catholic. Although this is true, modern Czechs are known to be “tolerant and indifferent to religion”. The Czech Republic is currently a member of an international organisation of atheists (Atheist Alliance International). There is also an organized group of atheists within the country, which is the Civic Association of Atheists. I’ve noticed that religion isn’t really spoken about at all.

  • 5% No religion
  • 7% Undeclared
  • 5% Catholic
  • 0% Protestant
  • 1% Other Christian Churches
  • 8% Believers, not members of religion
  • 7% Other/Unknown

For those of you reading my blog from the Czech Republic, I thought it might be interesting to include what religion is like in Canada, to see the difference. Canada encompasses a wide range of groups and beliefs. In fact, in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom the monarch carries the title “Defender of the faith”. Support for religious pluralism and freedom of religion is a very important part of Canada’s political culture.

  • 0% Roman Catholicism
  • 3% Other Christian
  • 9% Non-Religious
  • 2% Islam
  • 5% Hinduism
  • 4% Sikhism
  • 1% Buddhism
  • 8% Other religions

I’m sorry for the late post. I hope you enjoyed!


Week Twenty-Three:The Move

I’ve been here officially for five months now! I can’t believe how quickly it went, and it won’t slow down anytime soon. For the rest of the year, I have many exciting trips and events to look forward to! This weekend, I moved host families. This year, I only have two host families so I won’t have to move again. As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, my host family lives outside of Rakovnik. They live in a small village—Rynolec. The connection to Rakovnik is pretty good, but the latest bus returns just after 8 pm. Therefore, I won’t be able to go out with my friends as frequently as I did while living in Rakovnik. Although this is a pity, there will be opportunities for me to sleep in Rakovnik once in awhile! Luckily for me, I’d already met this family because Nick was living with them before me. They are lovely people and I am looking forward to the rest of the year with them. Currently in the house, I have a younger host sister and an older host brother. They have a third child, but she is on exchange to the US right now.

This week has been an odd one for me. Since I have changed my school schedule, I have some classes with a class that isn’t my class (confusing I know). This class was on a ski trip for the entire week, so each class I had with them was cancelled. Therefore, some of my days ended shorter than usual or started later than usual (which I didn’t mind!). Thursday I had a free day because my class went to Prague to see some presentation about universities. I took this day to pack everything from my first family. I definitely have a lot more items now than I had before! I’m thinking that before I leave, I won’t have as much because books and schoolbooks took up the majority of space. Thursday ended up being my last night sleeping in my first home. It was definitely an odd feeling, and I reflected on all the memories that I had with this family!

Also on Thursday, Nick and I travelled to Beroun to our Rotary club. The Governor of Rotary had come to meet our club. We got to introduce ourselves in Czech and talk to him! Friday night, Nick and I were invited by his host family to go to a ball in Nove Straseci (a ‘town’ maybe 35 minutes out of Rakovnik). During this night, I learned the typical Czech dance (polka) and tried to learn other traditional dances. It was difficult and I learned that I should have paid more attention in grade 8 and grade 9 dance during PE!! It was fun to watch everyone throughout the night and meet some new people.

There were not very many people (or young people) at this dance, but we were promised a “disco” (some dance party) after the official part was over. There were maybe fifteen people and the music was not so great, but we tried to make the most of it! We ended up arriving home around 1:30-2:00 in the morning. We went to sleep then in the morning I took a bus back to Rakovnik. Once I arrived, it was time for the sad departure. I finished cleaning out and vacuuming my room. Then, we had our last lunch together and talked. I played a game with Kuba and then it was time for me to leave. I know that this won’t be the last time that I’ll see them, but it was sad that this part of my exchange had come to an end! I was definitely very sad, but I am very thankful for the time I got to spend with them. We had so many great adventures and went on many fun trips! I definitely did many things with them that I would never have done in Canada. I learned so much and had some of the best days of my exchange with them. I left, then we made sure that Nick was settled into his family which is just down the street.

Unfortunately I am sick, so my first few days haven’t been the greatest. I am very thankful because this family has been taking very good care of me! They are giving me some natural medicine that I’ve never tried before and making sure that I am warm at all times! I am looking forward to the rest of the year with them and all the adventures to come!


Week Twenty-Two:Weekend in Třebíč


This weekend was our third inbound meeting, this time in Třebíč. It was only with Czech Inbounds. On Friday, Nick and I left for Prague in the morning and arrived in Florenc. We then met with the other Prague exchange students who were taking the same bus as well as our counsellor. We travelled approximately three hours on the bus and arrived in Třebíč. Throughout the entire weekend we were all staying at the Hotel Grand. It was very exciting for me because Lukáš was one of the Rotex (rebounds) for this weekend. For those who don’t know, he was an exchange student in District 5060 for the year 16/17 and is a very good friend of mine. It was nice to see him again, and it was the first time in about six months! Once everyone had arrived and we settled into our rooms, we ate dinner. Afterwards, we went downstairs to prepare for our language test. This would be one of our last language tests and we were all pretty nervous. There were three parts to this test. The written, listening, and oral. We started with the written part and it was honestly a lot easier than I expected. The last test in Prague was very challenging for me, but I felt very good after this one. The listening was more difficult for all of us, and we had to answer true or false questions. We then reviewed some traveling rules. It was 8:25 when our oral test started. They chose random people to do their test and I unfortunately was chosen first. I stood up and they told me what I had to talk about. I had to speak about my Christmas, New Years, school, and any food that I like. Of course since I was going first I had to just start speaking without having much time to prepare. I didn’t feel so great about it, but I know that I spoke well about everything that I had to. Everyone else got time to prepare what they wanted to say, but I am glad that I could get it over with in the beginning. It was great to see so much improvement from everyone since the last test. The test took so long and we didn’t finish until around 12:40.

We woke up for breakfast at 7 then we left to go to the Synagogue. We had a tour guide and she brought us inside to see the actual church as well as a museum. Inside, there were original prayers that were done free hand when the building was built. We went upstairs to see a model of the town when it was first built as well. Our guide told us a lot about the history of the town and about the history of Jewish people. Then, we went into a re-creation of a typical Jewish house. The guide told us about Jewish traditions, how they prepare their meals, and various other aspects of their religion. It was very interesting for me because I really don’t know much about it. Afterwards, we walked through a street and she showed us some houses of some famous historical people. There were also stones in front of the houses of Jewish people that died in concentration camps. At the end of the tour, we had to go back to the hotel to prepare for our next activity. We were separated into groups to do a scavenger hunt on the square. We had to do tasks like finding how many banks were on the square, how many gold shops there are, and the colour of buildings. We also had to take photos in front of statues and the tower. It was a very fun activity! Afterwards, we ate lunch. We then went to the Basilica of Saint Procopius. We had a tour and heard of the history as well. It was a very beautiful and old Basilica. We also had the opportunity to go underneath into what used to a be a beer cellar. Afterwards, we went outside and there was a great view of the entire town. We took photos together and had snow fights the entire time! It was a very fun trip. Afterwards, we went to a badminton tournament. We walked to the Badminton club and we were put into partners. I was with Esmerelda from Mexico. It was her first time playing badminton and she was quite good! We only got to play two games then we were just talking to the other Rotex and exchange students. After this, we returned back to the hotel for dinner. After dinner, we went to do a talent show.

Each country group should have prepared a group talent that we would be performing at the District conference. We also were supposed to learn one Czech song and two English songs. We started by rehearsing these songs. They weren’t as bad as I expected, but the Czech song is very challenging for us all. We began the talent show. It was interesting to see the different countries perform some traditional songs and dances. Some groups did some more fun performances. The individual performances were good as well. I wasn’t sure how to sign up to do it, but I hope to be able to perform something at the District Conference. After the talent show, we had some time, then we heard the results of the various competitions over the weekend. We also got to see our test results. I got a 1 on both the test and the oral, so I was very happy! Afterwards, we went to bed once again very late. In the morning, everyone left and we left on our bus around 1:30.

It was a very fun weekend and it was nice to get to know the other inbounds better than the previous meetings. I will just put some photos of my weekend and all the places that we went! Enjoy.



Week Twenty-One: Blind Exhibition

This week nothing too out of the ordinary occurred. Tuesday, I filmed my “Day in the Life” video. It felt so unnatural to carry a camera around with me, but I wanted to share with you what my everyday looks like. If you have a chance, you can watch the video (if you haven’t) on my Youtube channel. I have a link to my channel Friday, I had the opportunity to go to Prague on a school trip to a Blind Exhibition. I went with the youngest class in our school, and it was a great day! We went to the exhibition and we got to spend one hour in the dark. In small groups, we went into a dark room. It was created so that you wouldn’t be able to see anything, not even some shadows. We had a guide that spoke English. We found out that she also speaks Spanish! She did the tour completely in English because Maeve, Nick, and I were in the group. We went to several rooms in a “house” in the dark. We had small tasks like finding the fridge or just feeling for other objects. We had to hold onto the wall and have our other hand in front of us. After the house, we went out to the street. It was very difficult because the ground was so uneven and we didn’t really have any idea where we were. There were some small shops on the side and we had to guess what they were. One was a vegetable/fruit stand. The other was something like an information center. After, we had the challenge of crossing the street. There was a car that we were able to feel and if you touched it in honked very loudly. In this exhibition we could hear the sounds of the street and it felt very realistic. At this part, it was actually very eye-opening to experience being blind at an intersection. Afterwards, we went outside and we were in a forest. In the forest, it was slightly cooler and we could hear the sounds of birds and other animals. There was also a stream with real water. Our task was to find the bridge and then cross it. After crossing the bridge, we arrived to a pub. In the pub, our tour guide offered to make us some drinks. She could get us Fanta or Cola, Hot Chocolate, Energy Drinks, and Coffee. Nick and I both ordered Hot Chocolate and it was very good. We then had some time to ask our guide questions. She was born blind and has been working at this location for maybe seven years. She studied Czech Literature in University and can speak three languages. I was very impressed with her patience because we had to travel through the exhibition very very slowly. Also, it was frustrating because it was easy to get lost! I noticed that when I couldn’t see anything, I could hear and feel a lot better. The ground felt uneven in many places, which was something I hadn’t noticed before. We also learned to follow certain sounds to where we needed to be. It was truly a mind opening experience! Of course, I couldn’t begin to understand the daily struggles of being blind, but it was a very interesting experience for me. I certainly learned a lot!


In other aspects of my life, I have organized everything for University next year. Although I had planned to go to McGill, I had to defer for a year to come on exchange. I recently received confirmation that my deferral was completed and I have acceptance for Fall 2018! My Mom has also helped me to get a place to live next year. We found a very nice place that is close to the campus, and I am looking forward to it! I’m very glad that I have everything for University figured out and completed.


I’m sorry for the lack of content this week. I hope the next week will be more interesting and I will have more to say!



Week Twenty: A Look Into Rakovník (Part II)

During this past week, nothing too interesting has happened since school has just started up again. I only have two more weeks living in my current host family. I will be moving to Rynholec to live with my second and final family. While I am still living here, I thought it would be a good idea to complete my series of “A Look Into Rakovnik”. On Week Ten, I did my first blog post like this. Yesterday, my host brother and I went on a two hour walk to take some more photos of the town. It was certainly a great adventure, and sometimes I forgot to take photos… but I hope you will enjoy seeing some places in my new home. In this post, I took some photos of places that I haven’t really been to, yesterday was a great exploring adventure! For some more photos, you can check out my “Week Ten” post to see the main attractions of Rakovnik.



These photos are taken a few streets above where I live. There is a great walking/cycling/running path that goes into a forest. There is also a view of Rakovnik (that I couldn’t capture because the sun was shining directly facing us) and a dog park!


Next, we headed downtown towards another path that goes right beside a small creek. This creek runs through Rakovnik. The other half of the creek is featured in my first blog post.


Hospital helicopter landing patch.



There are many areas for sport.


In this town there is a school focusing on Trades such as Electrical work, Mechanics, and more as well as Engineering, IT,  and other Computer Sciences.


In this part of town, we continued to go uphill to show you some of the streets and buildings. I currently live on the opposite side of this part of Rakovnik.


We then returned to the square and headed home.



This completes the journey!! Unfortunately some of the photos turned out really dark, so I apologize if you can’t see everything! Although I didn’t take photos of absolutely everything, this completes the series for now.

I hope you enjoyed…

Until next time!


Week Nineteen: Harrachov and New Years!

I’m writing this post on December 31st, which means that it is New Year’s Eve… and tomorrow we will be in 2018! After New Years, we will go back to school on January 3rd. Definitely a shorter holiday than we’re used to in Canada! During this holiday, my host family planned a three-day trip for us to go to the mountain. We went to Harrachov—a small town that is approximately two hours away from where I live. Here, there is a ski resort and great cross-country skiing trails. It is also a very popular destination to go skiing for people from Germany and Poland. Currently in Rakovnik, there is no snow and the temperature is fairly high; therefore, the idea was to be around some snow and explore Harrachov and the surrounding area!


On the first day, we left the house around 9:30 in the morning. We then stopped to get some lunch then continued to a small village: Malá Skála. This is a very small yet beautiful village with a river flowing through it. Where we stopped, there is a very popular pizzeria, pub, and café. We parked then began to hike up to the top of a steep rock that overlooked the highway, river, and village. It was very beautiful and the weather was perfect for our hike. Afterwards, we wanted to see a very popular castle that is in that area, but unfortunately it was closed for the winter season. This didn’t stop us! We then walked for maybe 1.5 km to Frýdštejn castle. This castle was built in the first half of the 14th century and is the main attraction of the village. We returned from our journey (a snowless one I should mention) and continued our drive to Harrachov. As we continued upwards, we observed a lot more snow around us. We arrived to the town and to our hotel. Because dinner started at 6 pm, we decided to go for a short walk around the town. The entire town looked similar to any ski resort that we have in Canada… There were people walking with their ski and snowboard gear and children sledding everywhere. It really felt like home for me to be around this atmosphere. There was a lot of snow, but it was really wet. We ate dinner then went to bed. On the second day, we were woken up to the sound of rain. Because of this, we decided to save our walk for the second half of the day. In the morning, we went to a glass museum and glass factory. I learned that the Czech Republic is very famous for its glass production and in fact, this is one of their biggest exports. We started by going to the museum and looking at beautiful glass art. It was truly amazing to think about how someone could blow and create glass of such beautiful colours and with such intricate designs. Afterwards, we had a tour of an actual factory with workers. We got to see up close how the glass was made. At this time, people were creating wine glasses. They do this all day in a team of 5-6 people. It was very hot in the factory and I was surprised to see that none of the workers were wearing any sort of protective shoes or glasses! After this, we went for lunch and prepared for our walk. The weather had certainly improved and there was just a light snow. We began our walk and it was on a cross-country ski trail. It was really nice and we had snow-fights on the way up! We walked to a waterfall and it was so beautiful. My host mom told me that she has seen this waterfall when it has been completely frozen! We proceeded to walk another two kilometers up, next to the river. On the way back, my host brother and I took turns pulling each other on the sled downhill! On the last day, we had to prepare to leave in the morning. We then went on another walk through Harrachov and we stopped to watch some skiiers go off very large jumps. Overall, the trip was a really great time for me and it felt nice to see some snow again!



Since we are going into the New Year, I’ve reflected on 2017. This year has definitely been one of the hardest years that I’ve had, but also one of the best! I’ve travelled to many different places, graduated high school, and started my exchange year in the Czech Republic. I’m so grateful for all of the experiences I’ve had, and I have definitely seen myself grow and change! Although I’ve had so many great experiences, it has been one of the most stressful years. Finishing high school early, stressing about school way too much, working, applying for a second passport (my mom can tell you all about that…), university applications, learning Czech… I won’t get into more stressful times. But if you know me, you would know that I was very high-paced this year. Although this is true, there have been some of the best times. Travelling to Mexico, Ecuador, Arizona, and finally here to the Czech Republic. I can’t believe all of the experiences I’ve had. I think that each one has allowed me to grow and has really prepared me for the future. I really feel like I made an impact on my school with a lot of the events that I organized and programs I started. I also feel like on a global level, I had the chance to make a difference. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my exchange year adventures will be and I know for sure that I’m stepping into 2018 with a positive mindset and hope! I wish all of you a Happy New Year!