Lizzie with other interns atop Ostrava's city hall.

Terracotta roofs, compact cars, and unbelievable memories. These are just a few of the wonderful ingredients of my Czech experience last summer in Ostrava, Czech Republic. I decided to minor in Czech Language, Literature, and Culture my first year of college, and I've never looked back. The culture and language are what made me so entranced by the country.

I started my experience abroad in a hostel with ten other students, all of whom are from different countries. I was the only American, and looking back, that was the most important part of my travels. Not only was I immersed in the culture I chose, but I was also taught how to cook Thai peanut noodles, how to play rugby by a Filipino, and how to savor authentic French cheese during a meal by a Frenchman. After two weeks, I was placed with a host family. 

Lizzie (bottom left) enjoying dinner with her host family.

We taught three sessions at an English summer camp in Ostrava. I also assisted with light translation and the editing of documents sent to students/parents before and during the program. The camp was perfect because I was able to speak with younger kids who had no qualm with correcting my Czech. My Czech was also improved through vocabulary testing from my host family. During dinner every evening, my utensil and food vocabulary was improved tenfold. My host parents would ask me what food we were eating and with what utensil; they were bilingual in Czech and English as they had spent two summers in America when they were younger.

I travelled to the Czech Republic to be surrounded by a culture I thought I liked. I returned to the States with tons of incredible new friends, interesting knowledge of eleven different countries in addition to the Czech Republic, and most importantly, confidence in knowing that I don’t just like Czech language and culture; I love it.