Datum: 13. 1. 2020
Kacin is an Exchange student from the USA, spending his year abroad in the Czech Republic. His story is amazing. It wasn't always easy for Kacin, but he gained a lot from his vivid experience.
After finishing the school year in June, I was nervous about the summer holiday. I was able to fight off homesickness because of all the attention that I was forced to place on school, and I didn’t know how good it would be for my mental health. However, my host family had all sorts of ideas.
First we went to Estonia for a few days, just me and my host mother, which was amazing, despite me catching a small cold during the trip. I got better just in time for a trip to Italy once again just with my host mother. She has had two students previously from Italy and I got to meet them. This trip genuinely took a toll on my mental health, and I wasn’t sure if I was prepared for another six months of exchange. I think this was due to seeing the previous students being proficient in Czech, and generally just me eat way too much Italian food.
This trip might have been a total failure and general bad idea, but one big thing made up for it; the previous students. They spoke to me, telling me I was doing really well, sympathizing with me, and generally not intending to completely pull me out of a bad mindset, but succeeding to nonetheless.
Afterwards I decided I wanted to see some of Prague, because I live in Plzen and haven’t gotten many opportunities. I stayed there for about 4 days and did all sorts of touristy things. Prague Castle, Trdelnik, Charles Bridge, the works. Finally, I went to Switzerland for another 2 weeks, celebrated my birthday there, and had an amazing time.
All of the trips were amazing, and I learned a little more about how to deal with issues and problems. When I wasn’t traveling I was exercising around the town I live in, walking around the forests, and trying to see as much of where I live as I can.
This summer holiday has been insanely strange for me. It has been filled with us and downs, and overall really beneficial to me as a person, but I’ll be damned if there was never a moment when I questioned why I was doing it all. My mental health has been a little out of whack for the past few years, which I have mostly chalked up to teenage problems, hormones, etc. That was the reason I was originally apprehensive about staying here for a summer, doing nothing can lead to a shame spiral, or just take you to a place that is incredibly hard to pull out of. I was surprised at myself. I managed to stay out of that.
Practicing Czech has had such a huge impact on me, living in a new country has made me reconsider what I originally took for granted. I am amazed at how differently this year went from what I expected, but I would honestly have it no other way.
Other ways I have stayed busy is doing things I’m passionate about. I’ve finally sat down to watch and appreciate the shows that my friends have recommended (and tried to explain their plots in Czech). I’m reading the books that I’ve always wanted to (once again poorly explaining the plots of said books in Czech). I’m finally exercising consistently, and after all of that I think I can say that I am in a good place mentally. All it took was going to a completely different country and living there for half a year, but here I am. Like the most expensive therapy ever.
The one problem with all of this is that I’m in such a good routine I’m almost afraid to return to school. I want to see my friends, I want to be more productive, but the fear that comes with a new school year just haunts me. I know it won’t be nearly as much as a problem as my brain has made it out to be, but I still worry and overthink despite my better judgement.
I keep thinking back to something one of the people in Italy told me: “Recognizing a problem about yourself by yourself is difficult, but it shows and ability and willingness to address and fix the problem, meaning that seeing the problem is half the battle.”
I’m going on a bit, and I really have no idea what they would have me write about, so I ended up using this whole offer to write about my summer as an excuse to vent and scream about how much fun I’m having and how much I’ve learned. So in that regard, I apologize for selfishly writing such a self serving article, but I hope it shows how I’ve changed and what I learned. I understand it did tend to be a stream of consciousness type paper, but I sure did try to use what I learned in English class to my advantage on this paper.
So thank you for sitting through that, I hope that in a year or two, I’ll look back on all of this, trying to remember what it felt like to live here, what went through my head, all that. I hope I remember that I wrote this, find it, and just re read it all. I hope this selfish essay made some sense, and I hope it shed some light on me. Hello future me.