Weeks Thirty-Eight and Thirty-Nine (I think…?): Could Time Please Slow Down?

I only have fifty days left on my exchange! Since Eurotour, time has really been flying. Right when I returned from my Eurotour, I’ve been extremely busy with school, school activities, and Rotary.

The day after I returned from Eurotour, Nick and I went to Beroun to do another presentation about Rotary Youth Exchange to Gymnazium students. We did two before we left for a different school. Our YEO started the presentation, then Nick and I talked about our experiences (in Czech) then took questions. After speaking English for fifteen days, my Czech was a bit shaky at the beginning, but then it all came back. I’m very proud of myself and of Nick for being able to do an entire presentation in Czech without anything written down. We’ve definitely improved A LOT.

The next activity we had was a trip to Brno with our counsellor. Our counsellor has family by Brno, and she planned to bring Nick and I to come and meet her family and see some nature. We left on Friday night and drove about two or three hours to Brno. We spent the night in a hotel. The next day, we went to visit our counsellor’s grandmother. She lived in a very small house that was built in World War One! It was in a very remote area and had a small stream running in the front as well as great biking/walking trails around. Our counsellor’s other family arrived, and we all went on a walk. We arrived to some rocks and a small cave. We then returned and ate lunch. Afterwards, we went into Brno. Here, we had some time with the other exchange students in Brno. We walked around the city center and went to some markets. It was a very fun day with beautiful weather. Sunday, we went to the coolest cave I’ve ever been to. Inside this cave, it was only about eight degrees. We got to see a lot of interesting rock structures, but the best part was definitely a boat ride inside the cave! Once we finished the tour, we took a gondola up to the top of a mountain and saw a beautiful view of an entrance of the cave. It was really nice seeing the nature in the Brno (Moravia) area!

After returning from Brno, we went to school like normal. Tuesday, we had a Rotary meeting, and planned the rest of the year…including our last meeting. Then, we departed Thursday morning to our District Conference in Brezno, Slovakia. It was about ten and a half hours in total of travelling. The purpose of this meeting was mainly to practice our performances for the conference which would take place on Saturday. We had prepared two English songs, one Czech song (only for the Czech inbounds to sing), and one Slovak song (for the Slovak inbounds). There would also be individual performances as well as country performances. We rehearsed every night and during the day. The Canadian group decided that we would sing “I Believe” which was the Vancouver 2010 Olympics official song. We had never practiced it before this meeting, so it took a lot of work. Other country groups were doing traditional dances. Some individual performances were playing instruments, singing, and reading poetry. Everyone is so talented, and it was a pleasure to watch every time! We stayed up very late each night practicing, and were all very tired by the end.

One of the activities on the program was a hike up Dumbier mountain on Friday. It was a very steep hike and it was raining and windy. The nature was absolutely beautiful though. It was so green and lush, and the views were absolutely stunning! We made it up to the top and had a very small lunch. On the way down, I fell so many times because it was extremely muddy. After this, we got to go to the hotel where we would actually perform the performance. We only rehearsed the group songs, then went back to our hotel to practice again. Saturday would be the actual performance. Everyone did so well, and it was a very emotional day. Afterwards, we had lunch, then went back to our hotel to prepare for the Gala night. We got to dress up in formal wear. We got put at separate tables with Rotarians. We got the opportunity to talk to them all night! We spoke Czech with our Rotarians and they were all very friendly. The night was very long, but it was still a very fun experience. We then left, and departed Sunday morning.

During my entire exchange, I had never really been close with any of the other inbounds. This was because the Czech and Slovak meetings were separate. At our inbound meetings, we wouldn’t have much time to spend with each other, and we would always be writing a test or listening to presentations. Therefore, I never got the opportunity to talk to many of the other inbounds. Then, I didn’t go to ski week, so once again, I didn’t see any of them. Then, on Eurotour, I got to know everyone a lot better. I have to say, that saying goodbye to everyone will be extremely hard. Especially knowing that I will probably never see any of them again. This weekend, we had to say goodbye to some of the Slovak inbounds that we’ll never see again because some aren’t going to Farewell weekend. These types of goodbyes are always very difficult. I know for sure that I will see my Czech friends again, because I know that I will return. But saying goodbye to other exchange students is significantly tough.

I have a lot more activities planned for the remaining days of my exchange. I will be returning home July 9th! In the next week, I will have a little bit more free time to recover from the Eurotour and everything. Tomorrow, my grandparents are going to be in Prague. I will meet with them and I am very excited! Then, another exchange student is coming to visit Nick and I on Thursday until Monday.

I hope to write more regularly to keep everyone updated!




Okay Cassie… all you have to do is write about the past two weeks of your exchange, it shouldn’t be this hard! After procrastinating writing my blog for maybe the past three weeks, here I am, back again! I’ve been on my Eurotour, a great adventure, which I still, can’t believe really happened. It went by so quickly, and was yet another thing coming to an end. Since the beginning of my exchange, Eurotour has been something that I had been really looking forward to and have seen as something at the end of my exchange. It was such an amazing experience, and I made many memories and made so many friends! Since our days were very long, I won’t go into too many details about our day… only the most important parts!


Day 1: Our first stop of the entire Eurotour was Paris. There would be two busses taking about 80 of us from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. One bus went to Bratislava, and the other went from Brno to Prague. Nick and I got picked up in Prague in the afternoon along with many other students. We then embarked on one of the longest bus rides that I had ever been on! Both busses travelled together and made several stops. We went through Germany and arrived to Paris in the early morning.

Day 2: This would be our first official day. We arrived to Paris to a gas station at about 5:30 in the morning. We all got changed into different clothing in the gas station bathrooms then continued on the way to the hotel to drop off our luggage. We were going to be staying just outside of Paris in a hotel that was still accessible by metro. We dropped off our luggage in a very small room then started on our way to the city. We started with a walking guided tour of Paris and learned a lot about the history and different parts of Paris. We walked through some very beautiful parks and got to see the Notre Dame. We then went to the Louvre. This was an amazing experience for me, because I have a very large appreciation for art. I went with a group of girls and we saw a lot of exhibits. We saw a lot of “must-see” pieces, then went to see Islam, Greek, African and American art.


Day 3: On this day, we got to see how the Sun King lived. We arrived to the Versailles palace. We spent an hour or two in the gardens. It was amazing how much space there was. The garden was so green and so clean cut. We got to enter into the palace and it was crazy to see how the palace was decorated. I was in awe in almost every room. I also tried my first ever macaroon. After this, we went to Pigalle and saw the Moulin Rouge. We then had another walking tour of this area. We learned about the Moulin Rouge then continued up the streets. We saw where Vincent Van Gogh used to live. We saw some street art and learned more about the history of this area. Finally, at the top of the hill, we saw the Saint-Pierre de Montmartre church. Here, we had such a beautiful view of Paris. Also, it was interesting to learn how the church is made out of a specific type of stone that cleans itself when it rains. Where the rain doesn’t hit, there were black patches.

Day 4: We got to see the Eiffel Tower! This was a place that we had all been very excited to see. We took the metro to the Eiffel Tower and we all cheered when we turned around the corner which revealed the Tower. It was probably frightening for the other people to see a group of 80 students screaming after turning around the corner. After seeing it, we took a group photo, and then we went to go wait in line to go to the top. We waited in a long time in a line to take the stairs up to the second floor. It was amazing to be on top of the Eiffel Tower and see all of Paris. Afterwards, we had some free time to buy food and to relax before heading on the bus overnight to Barcelona. In my free time, me and a group of my friends went to go buy some ice cream. Then, we sat in front of the Eiffel tower on the grass. It felt almost surreal, like I was in a movie. Then, we got onto the bus and departed for Barcelona. During this bus ride, I actually got a bit of sleep so it didn’t feel as long. Then, I woke up and it was my birthday!

Day 5: We arrived to Barcelona in the early morning and once again had to get ready in a gas station. It was my birthday and Nick made everyone sing happy birthday to me in the gas station. It was a good start to my day! We arrived to the city and put our bags into the hotel. The weather was supposed to be bad for our days in Barcelona except for this day, so we prepared for a day at the beach. We went on a very short sightseeing tour of the center, then walked a long way to the beach. We walked past a park and saw an extremely beautiful fountain. We didn’t get much information on what exactly it was, but it was one of the most beautiful fountains I had ever seen! We then arrived to the beach and had some free time. It was nice weather and we got to just relax. I loved being near the water. So far, I was loving Barcelona!


Day 6: At this point, I was convinced that I was meant to live in Barcelona! Everyone that we encountered were so happy and kind. In the morning, we were split into three groups. We had free time in the morning, so we sat in a café for a bit, then walked to the beach. The weather was pretty rainy, so we ended up having a bus tour. We had the funniest tour guide that I ever had. She was an older woman, but had a lot of interesting things to say. I would say that she was pretty loopy. She even put on different shoes in the morning! We went on the bus tour up to this palace and the Jardins de Joan Maragall. We had a very nice view of Barcelona from here. Afterwards, we went to lunch, then to the Sagrada Familia. This was such an amazing experience. It was so open and colourful. I was just in awe! Afterwards, we had some free time on La Rambla. I walked with one of my friends and we went back to the beach.

Day 7: This day was a bit interesting and definitely the longest day of the entire trip. In the morning, I woke up and was feeling a bit off. I went to the bathroom to do my makeup. There were a few other girls in the bathroom, but only one that standing beside me. I was doing my makeup when I started to have some really bad pain in my abdomen. I ended up fainting and luckily the girl standing beside me caught me before I fell and hit my head on the bathroom stalls. I was having the worst pain in my lower stomach and I wasn’t sure what was going on. They brought me to the hospital and they did a lot of tests. They also gave me a few bottles of painkillers as well as sugars through an IV. It was a terrifying experience. I’m so thankful for the Rotarian that stayed with me, and for the care of the hospital. They were very good and very efficient. They found out that I had an infection and they prescribed me some antibiotics and painkillers. I would take two painkillers together three times a day and one antibiotic for seven days. I started to feel a lot better and luckily didn’t miss much in the morning. We then went to the Park Güell and spent some time here. This was our last day in Barcelona, so we then got some free time in the center to get some food. It was a crazy coincidence because when we arrived by the center there were a lot of people holding the Football Club Barcelona flags. I’m pretty sure the entire city was lining the streets. We were confused what was happening, and it turns out that the FCB was going to come through the town on a bus to celebrate a victory. (I think). There was a lot of music and a lot of people waiting to see the team. We waited and got to see the bus go by. Even though I am not a big football (soccer) fan, it was a crazy experience. When the bus passed, all the fans walked beside the bus. After this, we escaped the crowd and went to get food. We then met, and loaded the ferry. We were going to take a ferry from Barcelona to Rome. We arrived and this ferry was huge and very luxurious. In the previous years, there had been various different group that had been on the ferry with the exchange students. Last year, half the boat was empty. This year, there was a HUGE group (maybe 4-5 busloads) of 20-30 year old Serbian men and women. They were ready to party during the night that we would sleep. In fact, they started their partying right away when we got onto the boat. We just had to be a bit more careful, because there were a lot of really loud and rowdy people on our boat. We were allowed to have a lot of free time, then go to a “club” at 12:30 and stay until about 2. The Rotarians were all supervising us, and luckily the Serbians were partying on the roof, so we got the club to ourselves. It was a very fun night, but I had to go to bed earlier because I was very tired from my day at the hospital. It was a very long day, but everything turned out to be okay!

Day 8: This was such a relaxing day, and just the day that I needed after the day before. We got to just relax because the boat would arrive about 19:00 to Rome. We just hung out, ate, then left the boat. We arrived to Rome, and just checked into our hotel.


Day 9: Today we got to see the coliseum and learned a lot about the history. It was again, surreal being there. We then got to go on a four hour walking tour of the area. We saw a lot of famous places then got some free time in the center. In the center, we arrived to a group of men singing very loudly in two pubs. They were the Liverpool football team fans. Travelling through Europe during football season was very interesting. It was around lunchtime and in the pub the men were just singing a lot of songs and being very loud. They were singing for HOURS. We then finished the day by going to the Spanish stairs.

Day 10: We travelled to Vatican city. We had a lot of free time here to see whatever we wanted. I went with a group of friends and we went straight to the Sicilian Chapel. On our way there, we stopped in a lot different museums and buildings. Everything was so breathtaking and I was just freaking out because of all of the beauty around me. I believe we had almost five hours to explore whatever we wanted. When we were actually there, to see the Michelangelo ceiling, it was very modest. We weren’t aloud to take any photos and we had to be very silent. I think out of all the rooms, my favourite was the room of maps. It was hard to imagine all the artist creating these huge pieces of art and even more so the art on the ceiling! After this, we went to get some lunch. We then went to the meeting point, which was in the square by the basilica. When we were there, we had a “dance battle” with a group of German students. Just exchange student things haha. Then we got on a bus ride to our next destination: Naples. We arrived to our hostel which was actually just outside of Naples center. We got to have a dance party in the evening and it was probably the best hostel we stayed in!

Day 11: On this day, we experienced the worst luck! We had a hike up the Vesuvius volcano planned, but the weather was terrible. We arrived and were in a cloud. It was very rainy and windy. We still got to walk up and learn about the history, but unfortunately we couldn’t see the volcano. After going back to the hotel to dry off, we went to Pompeii. We learned a lot about how life was. It was interesting to think about how people lived and how it would have felt. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel.

Day 12: We went into the Naples center to have a short walking tour. We didn’t get to see too much of Naples, and I wish that we could have stayed longer. We were in the center then got a bit of free time to buy some food and to explore before a bus ride to Florence. I went with one of my friends and we walked down some of the streets and of course, bought gelato! Naples is the best place to get pizza, so of course I had to try some as well! After our free time, we boarded a bus to Florence! We arrived to our hostel. This hostel was actually very beautiful. We could climb up to the top and see a very nice view of the city. There were also a lot of plants, it was very cute. We had free time in the evening for a few hours. We decided to go into the city and explore a bit. We ended up in the center and saw the Dóm Santa Maria del Fiore!

Day 13: We had some options today. We got to either go to the Galleria Dell Academia (home of the original David statue and other Michael Angelo originals) or start with a walking tour. I decided to start at the Museum, then go on the walking tour. The gallery was actually quite small, but I was of course freaking out about all the pieces inside. Afterwards, we had a short walking tour of the center of Florence. We then had some free time. We then left for Venice. In the evening, we arrived to our last hotel which was right beside the beach. After dinner, we had some free time, so you can imagine how fast we ran to the beach. Of course, I also got thrown into the ocean…with all my clothes on. It was such an amazing last night on the tour.

Day 14: This was our last day, but also one of the best days! We went to Venice by boat in the morning. We had a “scavenger hunt”. We had to take photos in front of places as well as learn some facts about the places we saw. My group and I decided that we would just start by exploring on our own, then doing a few of the activities. We walked through a lot of the streets and the canals. We then got some food then we started to complete some of the scavenger hunt. We didn’t get close to finishing it, but we got to see every place we wanted to! We then got to go on a boat ride. It was very beautiful and something that I’ve always wanted to do. Afterwards, I believe we had some more free time, then we had to leave. We got onto our bus and headed to a supermarket. We had time to change, get food, and say goodbye. We would then go on a bus ride overnight. It was terribly long and we were all exhausted when we arrived to Brno in the morning.

Overall, the Eurotour was so fun. I got to travel with some of my best friends and see places that I’ve always wanted to see. I got to see a lot of art and learn a lot.

I hope you will enjoy some of these photos. Also, please watch the video that I posted on my Youtube channel about my trip.

Thanks for reading!


Weeks Thirty Three and Thirty Four: Wizard of Oz, a Garden, Art Galleries, and a Trip to Brno!

These past two weeks haven’t been all that interesting, but of course, they passed by very quickly. I didn’t write two weeks ago because I didn’t think that an entire blog about the drastic weather change here would be all that interesting. Anyways, the weather here went from snow one week to 25 degrees the next. I’m glad that the weather got a lot nicer because it seemed like it would never warm up here! Last week I had a few more activities. I am helping to direct a play, I went to Prague on a short school trip, and I went with my host family (and Nick) to Brno!

As you may remember from my previous posts, I was participating in a theatre club run by the Fulbright teacher Maeve. At the beginning of the year, it was mainly just games and working on skills. As someone with absolutely no acting experience, it was fun because we were just playing around. Then, during the winter, not many people were showing up anymore. She decided that for the last two months, she would actually try to make a production. She received a budget to make an English play, and got more people to participate. Now, we are doing the Wizard of Oz and hopefully will have a show in the first week of June. Since I wanted to give the Czech students the opportunity to do a play in English, I decided that I would not act in the play. Instead, I am an “assistant director” with another friend. We’ve been working on organizing everything and working on the play.

Last week, I was invited by the English teacher Nick to go with him and his younger class to go to Prague. Since I live in a town that is pretty close to Prague (less than an hour), the school will often go on trips to Prague. This was a trip to go visit the Valdštějnská Zahrada–which is a garden. This garden is right underneath the castle. The entrance is right beside the metro station, and when we went there I was surprised that there weren’t actually many tourists. Sure, the weather was kinda gloomy, but it was pretty empty. There was a beautiful pond that had a lot of big fish. There was a statue in the middle of the pond of a man killing a big fish. There were also a few peacocks roaming around the pond. We then got to walk around the garden and it looked like something out of movie! I expected to see a princess or a prince walking around. It was like I was taking a step back in time. There were these hedges that were like a maze, but they didn’t have leaves yet. I will add some photos. At the opposite side of the garden, there was a photo gallery. It was outside, and beside a very spooky looking wall. The photos were all the most important photos from the Czech Republic. Underneath each of the photos, there was a description and a bit of history. I think that this garden is one of my favourite places in Prague!

After we went to the garden, we went to an art gallery. This art gallery was very small and it was a bit confusing. There were many light exhibitions and photos projected on screens. There was also a room full of photos of crushed butterflies. The best part of the exhibition was in the last room. Someone made something like a merry-go-round out of clay. There were people on a balcony and underneath the balcony. It was men trying to steal babies from women. They were holding whips and the people on the balcony were throwing the babies from the balcony. Each person (going around the merry-go-round) had a slightly different movement from the one beside it. I’m not sure how to explain it. The structure started to spin faster and faster. All of a sudden the lights changed and it was like watching a movie! It was very cool.

At the end of the week, I had another adventure! My host family regularly attends a Catholic camp (I also went at the beginning of February). My host dad helped to organize the first ball for the camp. The camp was in Brno (right outside the city center). We left on Saturday and would return Sunday morning. I was very excited because I could see some of the people that I met at the camp again. We arrived and everything ran very smoothly for the first ball. There were probably just over 100 people. A lot of the people were young as well. There was a band playing music, and they were amazing! Nick and I danced whenever they played an English song ;). There was also Tambola (raffle table) and I won a scarf! It was a beautiful evening and a lot of fun! In the morning, Nick and I went to McDonalds and I had my first “American” breakfast in over seven months!!

I have a lot to look forward to in the next few weeks. This week, my Rotary is having my birthday celebration on Tuesday. On Thursday, Nick and I will attend a presentation about exchange with our club. Then, I will celebrate my birthday with my friends on Friday then leave for Eurotour on Monday! Stay tuned for my Eurotour adventures in the next few weeks!



Week Thirty-Two: Travelling nightmare, Banská Bystrica, and Easter!

This past week has been very busy. The holidays for Easter started Thursday and ended on Tuesday. I had planned a trip to go visit my friend Ashley (another inbound) in Slovakia. She lives around the center of Slovakia in a town called Banská Bystrica. As my exchange year is coming to an end, I am getting to be busier and busier as the months go on. In fact, I only have about four free weekends left this year. I have many Rotary events and events organized by my club. Therefore, I thought that it would be a good idea to go see my friend and to go to Slovakia. I would return in time for my family’s Easter plans.

I left Wednesday and embarked on what would be the WORST travelling experience that I have ever had! Before going to Banská Bystrica, I had bought bus tickets ahead of time for my way there. This was because I would have to travel first from Prague to Bratislava and the seats would be full because it is a very popular route. I bought the first ticket from Prague to Bratislava, then the second I bought from Bratislava to Banska. I would arrive at approximately 2:20 and would then have a lot of time in the afternoon. The total amount of time to travel should have been about 8 hours…and ended up taking about 12!

First, I had to travel from Nové Strašecí (a town beside my village) to Prague. At first, I was going to travel to Zličín which is a bus station that is on the edge of Prague. My bus to Bratislava left from a bus station called Florenc. To get from Zličín to Florenc, I would be about 25 minutes in the metro. So we decided that I would go to Hradčánska. This is all the way through Prague, but only about 5 minutes by metro. The Hradčánska bus and the Zličín bus were supposed to get to Prague at the same time…the only difference was the metro. I left at about 6:50 and was supposed to arrive to Prague at around 7:23. I got on the bus and it was completely full so I had to stand all the way to Prague. Unfortunately, I forgot that in Prague there would be traffic at that time in the morning. A LOT of traffic. I started to get stressed because of how long the bus was taking to get to the station. My bus to Bratislava would leave at 8:00 and we were still in traffic at 7:45. I figured that it would be fine as long as I ran. I ended up running all across the metro. It was 7:55 and I was STILL inside the metro. I was so stressed and I ran to Florenc. At this particular station it is extremely difficult to cross the road to get from the metro opening to the bus station, so I had to run across the road and hope for the best. When I got to the bus station at 8 I thought that I saw my bus leaving and I was starting to freak out. But luckily the bus was still there and the people were just starting to close it. I’m so lucky I got onto the bus, and I was definitely out of breath. Once on the bus, we started to go and I started to calm down. Everything would be fine from here right? Nope. On the way, the bus pulled over. I thought that it was just a stop or a break, but they announced, “We will be here for a while because of technical problems”. Great. I had a bus to catch at 12:30 from Bratislava and we were supposed to arrive in Bratislava at 12:15. The bus was stopped for about 20 minutes. We arrived in Brno and we were notified that we had to change busses. That meant putting all the bags into the other bus and getting everyone organized and checking in the new people from Brno. Then, we had another announcement that we would be 50 minutes late to Bratislava. That means that I wouldn’t have a bus to catch and I just bought that ticket and wouldn’t be able to use it. I asked the man working on the bus and he told me that the next bus would be at 14:30… but it was full. The only way for me not to pay for another ticket would be just to wait and see if someone wouldn’t get on the bus. When I got to Bratislava I figured the best thing would just be to get on a train that would come in an hour. Well, I had to find the way to the train station. I started to freak out because the train station was super far away and I couldn’t seem to navigate myself with google maps. After talking to my host dad, I decided to find a taxi. Luckily there was one right there. I told him to take me to the train station. He was very nice, but at the end, he totally scammed me! He drove me about ten minutes and charged me over 15 euros. I had only brought 50 bills and he was saying that he “didn’t have change”. I had no time or language skills to argue with him. I was frustrated because I paid too much and now I had to figure out how to get onto a train. I bought the train ticket and somehow found my way to the train. Little did I know, but you have to buy train seats in Slovakia. In the Czech Republic you can just sit where you want. So, I sat on the ground on my bag for three hours. It was terrible. Then my train was late to Banksa so Ashley’s host dad was waiting for an extra half hour! Eventually I did arrive, but it was the worst luck I’d ever had!

Being in Slovakia was amazing. It reminded me of how much I love the mountains and nature. The first night, I tried some typical Slovak food (I forget the name). We made it too. It was some smaller dumplings (they looked like Cheetos) covered in sheep cheese then with smoked bacon on top. It was so good. Then the next day in the morning we went to a cave. It was the coolest thing. I’ll put some photos to show you what it looked like. There were amazing rock structures. It was amazing and it was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve seen on exchange. Then, we went into the city. We met up with another exchange student from the USA that lives there. They showed me the square and told me about the town. We got some food and just got to look around. Afterwards, we went back to the house. I left the next day and it was a smoother ride home. Even though it was only for a short time, it was a very amazing experience.

After my return, it was Easter time! As many of you may have heard (or haven’t) the Czech Republic has very unique Easter traditions. One of the most common ones was very shocking to me. On the morning of Easter Monday, men and boys will go to the square with these branches with colourful pieces of ribbon on the end. They will “whip” (more like lightly tap) the butts of women and girls. This isn’t meant to cause harm or suffering. They will say a traditional verse just wishing good luck, health, beauty, and fertility for the rest of the year. The girls then will give them something in return like chocolate, another ribbon, or maybe some alcohol. I didn’t go to the square, but my host parents went to Prague. Of course there are hand-painted or decorated eggs. Easter in the Czech Republic is one of the happiest times!

I hope you will enjoy these photos. Until next time!


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Week Thirty and Thirty-One: Pancakes, a Broomstick, and Transportation

As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, writing every week is getting harder and harder! Luckily my Mom came to the rescue with some good ideas, so hopefully now I will be good for the next few weeks 😉 … (thanks Mom). I haven’t written in two weeks, and surprisingly not a lot has happened. It is just normal life, except, you know, I’m in the CZECH REPUBLIC. Right now, my entire family is in Europe. Doug and Brennan are on a little tour of Europe right now… but unfortunately nowhere near me.

In this post, I will hopefully just give you a little update on the past two weeks. Also, I would like to write about transportation in the Czech Republic compared to Canada!

Two weekends ago I got the idea to cook pancakes for my classmates. I had noticed that pancakes here in the Czech Republic are very different from those that we eat in Canada. They are very thin and usually they put something sweet in them. They’re crêpes. I’m sure that people here have eaten the “normal” pancakes before, but they definitely hadn’t with Canadian Maple Syrup! Sunday night I cooked pancakes with my host dad and my host family got to eat some as well! The next day, everyone got to try them and really enjoyed them (to my relief!).

The rest of the week was just normal. Two of my classmates had their birthday celebration on Friday. Then on Sunday, my host Dad’s sister also had a birthday celebration. We went to a nearby village to meet with my host Dad’s side of the family. I had never met them before. They live in a city right on the German border (Děčín). We all met up in a steak house restaurant and had lunch. I got to speak to his family and they were all very kind. One of his sisters studied English and she plays music in Prague. His other sister (the one with the birthday) has an adorable daughter. His sister is very active, in fact her husband does cross-country cycling and biked about 60 km in the slush/snow/mud to the celebration!

Last week, it was a fairly normal week. My “grade” is split up into three classes: C3A (my class) C3B, and 07. (If you want to know the difference you could visit my previous post on the school system). C3B was away on a trip to Germany, but some of the students didn’t participate so we had some new people in our class. During English class, we watched a film. We watched it for three classes in the week. Also, the French teacher was gone, so during every French class I had, it was German instead. So I didn’t have much to do during those classes.

Here is something completely random: During the beginning of the week, I kept opening up my locker to find a broom in it. I don’t know why, but my classmates have this broom that is just going from locker to locker. Almost everyone has had it, but me more than most!!! I’ve had it about three weeks ago and it returned. (One time I opened my locker to find a bird in a glass case from the Biology class in my locker…no one really locks their lockers in the school, but I think I will start locking mine!) Of course, I put it into someone else’s locker. Then the next day I would open my locker and get hit in the face with the broom again!!! This week I am happy to see that the broom has finally disappeared. I know this is totally random, but it’s just something small that I want to remember.

As you might know, in our school there is an American (Maeve) who is a Fulbright. She is a “teaching assistant” but pretty much works as a full time teacher in our school. There are many of these Fulbrights around the world. In fact, Fulbright also sends professors over seas. Thursday, a professor Fulbright working at an Art school in Prague gave a presentation. He is a very famous photographer named Francois. He is from New York and has done a lot of amazing work in Africa, South America, rural parts of the States, as well as in Poland and now in the Czech Republic. His work is truly incredible. I will link his website down below. He is working on a project that he calls “Photo Rapide”. He has a twist on how he does photography. He does portraits of people, but he has a conversation with the person before, then lets them choose which photo they would like. He carries around a portable printer and prints off the original. Then, he lets the person choose their frame (which are made by him and specific to the culture) then finally takes another photograph of the person holding their portrait in the frame. It is truly unique because you can even get a sense of the way a person lives from their hands. I probably didn’t do him justice in explaining his work, but I hope you will visit his website and see his work. He is doing Photo Rapide in the Czech Republic and continued it in our school! The presentation was truly fascinating. To get the photos taken, you had to have filled out a form with your parents/guardians permission. I didn’t get the form, but he will return Tuesday, so hopefully I can be a part of his project!

Last week, I also started to plan a trip to Slovakia. I would like to visit another exchange student from the USA (Ashley). We met at the beginning of the year, but haven’t had the chance to meet again. This week is short because there is a break from Thursday-Monday for Easter. I’m still waiting for the District approval to go, and I hope that it comes soon! I hope when I go there I can see the town she lives in and hopefully go on a hike or see the surrounding area.

Speaking about travel, I thought it would be a good opportunity to tell you a little bit about what travel and transportation is like here. Before I came here, a lot of people would say that since I’m in central Europe, I could travel to whichever country I’d like to! Unfortunately, because of the travel rules that just isn’t really possible. Also, since I’ve been here, I’d like to spend as much time exploring the Czech Republic or being with my Czech friends. Of course, if the opportunity to go to one of the surrounding countries comes up, I’d say yes. Travelling with my host family is definitely alright with the District, but I’d never go alone (except to Slovakia which is part of the D2240). Nothing is as far away as it is in Canada for sure! You could drive for ten hours in BC and still be in the province. Here, if you drive for ten hours you’d make it across the country and even further. Also, there is amazing public transportation. As I’ve mentioned before, I can go for weeks without getting in a car. But in Canada (where we live) you couldn’t go a day without driving. Of course there is the greyhound, but it definitely isn’t as good as the transportation here. Here, there is IDOS. It is a website/application that tells you every bus/train/tram/metro that you need. It can show which transportation you would need to take to get to another country. You can also buy tickets on it and everything. Busses and trains run very regularly. They’re very clean, fast, and always on time. They also don’t cost a lot of money. For example, since I live in a village now, I must take a bus in the morning and in the afternoon. The bus ticket costs 25 crowns one way. If you have a student card it is even cheaper. 25 crowns is approximately $1.40. Train tickets are usually a little bit more expensive, but you need to take the train if you live in a very small village or a town that doesn’t have many bus connections. For example, our Rotary club is Rotary club Beroun. So for each meeting we attend, we must take a train. There are busses that go there but they aren’t very frequent. Therefore, you put the time that you want to arrive into IDOS and choose the method of transportation that will get you to your destination on time.

In Prague, there is the only metro and tram system in the Czech Republic. The metro is very easy to use. There are only three lines and the ticket is cheap. You choose how much time you will be underground and pay for the ticket. There is the green, yellow, and red line. The metro is very regular and very clean. I haven’t used a tram, but it is also very simple.

In general, I am very happy with the transportation system. It is very simple. I think when I return to Canada I will really see how far away everything is, and how big the country is!


Until next time



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!


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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!