Hello, my name is Leonel Leyva Ortiz; I have 17 years old and I´m from Mexico.
First of all when I had to choose one country, in my head was Germany, France, Norway. All of those weren’t available, so I was going to go to Hungary. In 2 week I received a phone call from AFS Mexico that they have Czech Republic available, I didn’t know anything about Czech Republic, so I did my research and agreed.
When I arrived to the Czech Republic, I was felling nervous, we saw AFS volunteers with posters, balloons, etc. then we met everyone from all countries and I felt like we where a big family, because everyone was in the same situation as me.
When my host family came to pick me up I was so nervous that I didn’t even recognize them.
When they present me to them I wanted to hug them, and I tried but they denied, at the beginning it was kind of awkward and sad for me but then I understand that they don’t really give much affection to each other, it is normal and I needed to understand it.
The first months were so many different feelings. The first day of school when I arrived in class and the teacher present me to the everyone, nobody talked to me. I remember the AFS camps back in Mexico “they will not come and talk to you. You need to take the initiative, otherwise they will be interested in you but they will not show it”. It was so difficult for me because back in Mexico we are very social, kind and talkative. So the first 2 hours nobody talk to me and then I decided to get up and talk. They were so kind and nice, I didn’t notice it but I realized all Vrchlabí (my town) knew who I was “the Mexičan”. And from that day till now all kids, girls, boys from all ages said at least “AHOJ”.
With my Czech family it was a little more difficult, I had problems at the beginning but with help of my contact person and my family back in Mexico, we figured all things out, and now we have a very good relationship, even though most of the time you miss your biological family.
Live here is so different, from my normal life, here I live in a very small town, that make me appreciate all the thing I don’t have back in Mexico, the nature, the sports,etc.
And the most amazing things are the little details, those details that makes your year the best and they are the most simple things, such as walking from home to school and watching a beautiful sunrise or watching the snow falling in your face… things that I could never have in Mexico.
I wish I could tell you all my experiences here, but I need to fill up only one page.
If you are planning to go in a exchange year THINK NO MORE AND GO. You will realize that the world is huge, filled with different kind of people, you will grow emotionally, you will be more mature, and you will know that life isn’t about mom and dad helping you always, you will be self-dependent.
Yes the language is an extra, but I think that the real goal of an exchange year, is to find yourself, learn about other culture, experience the life of others, with different family and appreciate everything you have back in home. Now I can’t imagine my life in another place, Czech Republic was the best decision I ever made.
Always live to a 100% because those experience are once in a life time and always live the moment, because the moment is what matters, not the past, not the future…NOW!
Leonel Leyva Ortiz, Mexiko