For six months, juniors Tessa Krskova and Lucie Horakova will exchange the comforts of home and school in the Czech Republic to live in the United States to study and immerse themselves in American culture.
“It’s a really good experience for your future life and it creates a lot of good memories,” Horakova said. “It really depends on what type of person you are, but if you are already thinking about [taking part in an exchange student program] you should do it.”
Exchange students live with host families and attend school in a country other than their own to further their education and become involved in the cultural experiences of that country. While the task of packing up and moving to a foreign place with a different language can seem daunting to some, Horakova and Krskova expressed their excitement regarding the new experience.
“Everyone here is so nice and trying to help me with everything,” Horakova said. “I don’t even realize I’m in a foreign country. Of course I miss my friends and family, but we call each other often.” They both agreed that one surprising aspect of the United States was how interactive the people are by nature.
“All the people here are so nice. You can stop and talk to anyone on the street and they will talk to you,” Krskova said. “People don’t like to stop and talk to each other [in the Czech Republic].” Similarly, they have noticed that the teachers at McNicholas pursue a deeper relationship with each of the students than the teachers in their home country.
“Our school is more strict, and it’s a really big deal if you don’t bring homework. It’s more free here. I really like the teachers here; they’re really open and you can talk to them,” Krskova said. A major difference between the United States and the Czech Republic is the school system.
“The school, our school, is completely different,” Krskova said. “The biggest difference is that we have classes as a group of people and it doesn’t change.” Every day they have all of their classes with the same people, having either 7 or 8 bells depending on the day. Other differences can be found in general sizes of household items.
“Everything is bigger in the US,” Horakova said. “For example, different windows, different bread, and big weather changes.” Krskova agreed adding, “Bigger buildings, streets, cars, shops.”
“It’s different than I thought. I was really scared and excited and imagining what it would be like. When I got here I thought, ‘Is this real?’ or ‘Am I really here?’ The first drive in a car felt like a movie,” Krskova said.