It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in the Czech Republic for just over one month now. Often, I find myself thinking about what I was doing this time last year. This definitely beats doing a double block of Physics everyday… 😉
This past week has been a typical week of school. During this post, I’d like to focus on my first orientation meeting in Trenčín, Slovakia this past weekend. As many of you know, my host district (2240) consists of both Czechia and Slovakia. This means that the district is very large. I believe at our orientation there were over 90 students as well as many Rotex. Needless to say, I was so excited to get to meet everyone.
Nicholas and I left on Friday for an approximate six-hour car ride to Slovakia. When we arrived, we were immediately immerged into a large room filled with exchange students! Before coming to the orientation, all of us in the district had already been in contact through several group chats so it was really great to see everyone in person. The first night we ate dinner then got to get into groups to play some name games and other activities. We also got an opening ceremony and were introduced to many Rotarians and Rotex from the district.
The weekend was filled with many informational presentations. There were presentations on both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. We learned a little bit about the history of each country, about the language, and a little bit about the food. There were also presentations about the Rotary events that we have this year to look forward to. We had some very important presentations about culture shock as well as sexual harassment. There was a lot of information that we went over in orientation in Canada already, but it was good to hear it again. Additionally, we did some activities to see the visual of the culture shock wave. Finally, we had presentations about the rules. Of course, these rules are very important to have a successful exchange. We went into more detail about the D rules and even got to do some skits about what you should do in a situation where one of the D’s could be broken. We learned more about the travelling rules as well as about the new inbound website and the RYE database. Overall, we learned a lot as a whole group and learned about how to have a successful exchange!
On Saturday, there was a language test. We will have to do three language tests in the whole year (each one getting harder of course). As EVERYONE knows, I get very stressed out when it comes to tests… I always like to do well! You bet I was studying very hard every day! In the morning we were all spread out and had to have alternating Czech and Slovak exchange students. They gave us the test and to be honest… it was not too difficult. There were the conjugations of four verbs in the present tense. Three out of the four we had to do the past tense of the first person then the imperative form of the verb. I had difficulties with the imperative form of some of the verbs, as I had not looked at them before. We had to look at a picture then write what it was in Czech. There were some numbers that we had to write in Czech. We translated four sentences into Czech then had a page where we could write as many Czech sentences as we could. I got a 1, which is the best mark you can get—it is equivalent to an A. We are expected to do well on the next two language tests as well, but I am sure my Czech will improve by the time we need to write another one.
During the weekend we also had the opportunity to visit the Trencin Castle. We got to take pictures in front of it and hear a little bit about its history. It is the third biggest castle in Slovkia and has a very beautiful view of the city and surrounding nature.
The entire weekend, I valued all the time that I had to meet the other exchange students. It is too bad that the Czech exchange students won’t get to see the Slovak exchange students until the end of the year (or at ski week 😉 ). We all shared our experiences on exchange and our funny stories. We got to have small dance parties and I definitely know a lot more Spanish music than before!! I am looking forward to the next time when we can all meet! I am very thankful for the Rotex and Rotarians that organized this weekend. I know it was not easy to control a huge group of exchange students the entire time, but in the end, we all emerged with new information and can’t wait to have the best year of our lives!