23.03.2017 11:52

Farm girl from Wisconsin discover Czech culture trough her annual exchange

Autor: Kateřina Paraiová | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

Forty countries. Twelve choices. One final destination. No, this is not a new reality show. It’s real story of seventeen years old Taylor Eilers, a farm girl from Waupaca, Wisconsin, currently studying in Czech Republic.  She is an exchange high school student, who is living with Czech family in Brno for 10 months.

Taylor got here through the community of Rotarians, which provides annual exchanges for teenage students in the world. It takes a whole year of preparation, before you are able to leave your home. “Well, I knew about the Rotary (t/n. organisation) for a long time, because my sister went for a year to Germany and when she came back I wanted to have the same experience,” says Taylor. It was a hard decision, for a couple of reasons. Not only because she is the youngest child, but she also lives on a huge farm only with her mom and sister. “I am super close with my mom, and I am baby of the family. My mom supports me wholeheartedly but deep down she did not want me to go,”she says. Czech Republic was not her first choice. Actually it was not even the second. “I hadn't known the country where I was going to stay. From 40 countries I could choose only 12, and one of them was supposed to be my destination. I knew, I wanted to go to Europe, so I picked almost all of the European countries.” When Taylor found out she was going to Czech Republic, she felt excited and shocked. “I knew where Czech Republic is located. I just had absolutely no idea, what language you guys speak,’’ Taylor added with laugh.

The arrival was also problematic. She had problem with the approval of the visas, so she flew a month later. “Adapting was pretty hard for me. From a small town of 4000 people, where I literally knew everybody, to this huge city with population of 400 000 people, where I knew no one.” said Taylor. But she was happy, she always wanted to see a big city and live in it. “In my hometown, people do not travel or move away. If you were born there, you are also going to live and die there.”

Because of not understanding the language and lack of friends in the first months, she got lost all the time. “For the first six months, I got lost at least twice a day. I usually ended up in a wrong trolley. Because I had no idea, they went the opposite direction, too. I thought it was just one way ride.”

Moreover, she got lost at school often, too. She had and still has a special schedule. Now she is attending some subjects such as English or chemistry. She also has special Czech language classes, but not in school. She admits that it is very hard to make friends. “I envy other Rotarians kids, because they have at least other exchange students in their city, but there is no one here in Brno. Also, in the beginning, I had a lot of problems to understand your mind-set. People here are a bit cold and detached. Additionally, there is a language barrier. Luckily for me, it was problem only in the beginning.” stated Taylor.

Taylor is convinced that this whole exchange thing is a for her a life experience. “Even now, I can tell I am stronger, not physically but in mind. I am also less judgemental when it comes to people.“ There is one thing she regrets a lot: traveling. “I love it but I can’t do it. I can’t go to Germany or Slovakia.” Unfortunately, she can explore only Brno and the places she might visit with her host family. She is turning 18 next month, but according to Rotary rules, she cannot travel alone.

Taylor definitely wants to come back in the future. Her plan is to get to college and maybe after that come to Europe again. “Well I am not sure if I will come back to Czech Republic. You know, I have seen it here already, so I might want to explore other countries like Spain. I love this country and I am studying Spanish, so I really want to go there.” Taylor is coming back home to Waupaca, Wisconsin in June. In the future, she wants to be a student of political science or international affairs.

Klíčová slova: exchange student, usa, czech republic, brno


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