I’m getting close to three months of living far away from everything I’ve known. It feels like yesterday when I left home to find a second home across the ocean, yet so much has happened since then.
Unlike Saturday, which I spent doing nothing exciting, I had plans for Sunday. There was a Czechfest taking place in York, something I could not have missed. I was curious to see Americans portray a culture as foreign as Czech, and this was an event for that exactly. We could not go as a whole family, so it was just my host dad, as a personal driver, who accompanied me. However, he wasn’t the only person of all attendants who I knew. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t the only one wondering what Americans’ view of our country was, for I met six of my fellow Czech exchange students there. While filling each other in on our lives here, surrounded by people in folk dresses, we also tried some of the fares supposedly based on traditional Czech recipes. None of them awed us since we’re all used to our grandmothers’ culinary, but we appreciate the effort! Not even some sweet brass band dazzled us, but we might simply be too young for that. We found one (1) person who spoke our language among all the other Americans with a few Czech genes in their blood. As soon as we got acknowledged by one of the festival organizers, we were peacefully forced to perform on stage. We didn’t have to do more than merely introduce ourselves as probably the only seven non-Americanized individuals present. However, it felt strange to be standing in front of all the people to us unknown.
Meanwhile, they took photos and recorded videos of us as if we were celebrities. Even after we got off the stage, people kept coming up to us and asking to take pictures with them or their kids. To shake off the stressful awkwardness, we altogether danced some polka as the music was playing. We were also quite excited to experience a Czech language lesson, though I didn’t get to it in the end. I had to leave earlier due to my host dad’s favorite team’s football game, which we had to go home to watch. All in all, the event, full of either very old or very young people, was fun, despite not being unduly accurate to what Czech culture is like.
Not much overly interesting occurred at school the whole week. Everyone seemed quite weary and absolutely ready for a break, which was, in fact, coming. Nevertheless, we had yet to finish the fall sports season first. Our JV football team had their last game on Monday, and because I have not yet seen my host brother play much, this was my last opportunity to watch him properly in action. So I decided to skip volleyball practice to be able to watch him and other football boys, including one of my exchange fellas on the opponent team, run back and forth across the field. Except that’s not, in fact, how football works, and because it wasn’t even a regular game, it wasn’t as entertaining as it might seem. And the chilly soon-to-be-winter weather didn’t make the time more enjoyable either. Nevertheless, I’m glad I was there to support them during playtime and talk to my friends afterward.
On Tuesday, we not only got the once-in-a-year opportunity to play in our pink volleyball jerseys in honor of cancer awareness month, but it was also one of the few games we didn’t thoroughly lose! Wednesday school time, we could call unordinary since we went on a field trip with a textile design class. We took an hour-long drive to Stromsburg to visit a small business factory. The owner, a friendly lady, gave us a tour of all the machines and the process of turning fleece into yarn. None of us understood the necessity of the trip, but it was relatively fascinating after all, and we were glad to not go to school. It was an early out day, ending at 1:30, so by the time we got back to school after stopping for coffee on our way, it was almost over, and we’d barely missed anything. In fact, all I managed to attend at school that day was lunch. I was hoping my friends and I could do something in the afternoon while parent-teacher conferences took place, but I ended up spending the time alone instead. Later in the evening, my host dad decided to teach me to play video games (spoiler alert: I’m a great apprentice and learned to love it).
Thursday arrived, and the end of my first sports season came along. Our last volleyball game transpired in Ord. Not only did I get to stand on the court among the rest of the reserve team, but also I got to play against a person I know. The Ord High School’s volleyball team contains a Czech exchange student too. So although we weren’t the ones who won (unsurprisingly), I could celebrate with my friend on the other team. 😀
There was no school on Friday due to the parent-teacher conferences, and since the State Cross Country meet was taking place in Kearney, and I didn’t have any other plans for the day, my friend took me there with him. It was the first XC meet I’d ever gone to, and it happened to be the most important one of the season. I had no idea what was happening, and I would most likely get lost among the immense crowds if there wasn’t anyone to help me. Fortunately, Czechs are all over Nebraska, so I had one of my exchange friends there (again), and she, a cross-country runner, guided me through it. She explained how the meets worked while we cheered for her and my school’s team. Although we weren’t racing, we had to run across the course quite a few times to follow along and encourage the runners, so we ended up tired as if we competed. We stayed to watch the first half of the races and the awards afterward but soon had to leave for the football game later that night, the last one of the year, closing up the season. It was nothing new; we lost just like almost every game heretofore. Yet, the night was remarkable. I discovered my current favorite activity to do with friends here. They took me cruising through Hastings. For hours, we just drove around listening to music and talking about life. First, we only planned to go get ice cream and head back home, but we somehow ended up offering leftover chicken nuggets to people in adjoining cars at red lights. And it was delightful.