My name is Sydney Bednarski, and I will be doing a long-term exchange to Slovakia for my 2017-2018 school year! I am a junior now and will be gone during my senior year, and I am beyond excited! I have lived in Granville, Ohio my whole life, a small town just about 40 minutes East of Columbus. I love anything having to do with being outside, like hiking, swimming, and playing sports. I also like to travel and have been lucky enough to travel all across the country and to various parts out of the country. I am most excited to meet new people and create new memories while abroad, that I wouldn’t be able to have while staying home. I can’t wait to meet new people and experience a completely different culture than what I’m used to. I know I am going to have the time of my life and I owe all of it to my amazing Rotary Club and Rotary International, I truly have no words that can express my gratitude for this program! Can’t wait to share my experience with everyone!
I hope everything in Granville is going swell, I sure do miss my sweet little town. But I am also having an amazing time here in Slovakia..
But while I was traveling here I had some issues..
I had brought the wrong passport to the airport, (I know, I am an idiot!) and somehow it was scanned and cleared through security until I arrived in Chicago, when I finally realized that I had my sister’s passport. Tears were shed and it was hectic, but thankfully my parents were able to fly out to me (and i got to say goodbye one more time) and they stayed with me for a day until I could catch another flight to Slovakia, because I obviously missed mine. After the biggest traveling mess I have ever encountered, I made it to Kosice International Airport in Slovakia, and so began my journey abroad.
So far I have been lucky enough to travel to Israel, which was an amazing and incredible experience. I went with my host parents and my host brother, we stayed in Tel Aviv and also traveled to Jerusalem and Old Jaffa while there.
Speaking of my host family, I LOVE them!! I am one of the few kids on exchange to be so lucky to have nothing but a wonderful time in my new house. They have a son on exchange in Wyoming, and another son who studies in London, who we are going to visit soon, (yay!). I live in a village about 15 minutes away from the main town where I go to school. It is kind of a pain having to walk to the bus stop every morning at 6:50 AM, but it is all apart of the experience 🙂
In the one month that I have been here, I have been able to go hiking and sightseeing to just a few of Slovakia’s beautiful mountains and caves. One day, I kind of accidentally volunteered myself for a 12km hike at 5 am! (Language barriers are rough), but the views were all worth it in the end. If anyone wants to see pictures from my hiking/exchange, I post on Facebook often, “Sydney Bednarski”.
School is getting better too. Growing up in small little Granville my whole life, I am so used to knowing everyone and being able to spark up conversation quite easily. But it is quite different here! Not bad though! My classmates are so nice and I am sooo lucky to be with them all week. The school here is very different form Granville, much older facilities and a very different student teacher relationship. I must say if I had a choice I think I would prefer Granville’s style, but I am here to experience new things and so far I am loving my experiences.
Aside from that, language has been pretty tricky, but it is much easier to learn in this environment than in my room with flashcards! Slovak language is no joke, wow! But I can’t wait to become fluent and be able to speak more with peers and my host parents.
It has been a crazy month full of traveling and new experiences, and I am so excited for 10 more 🙂
December 1, 2017
I hope everything is going great back home! my parents have been sending me lots of pictures of home. Granville is just the prettiest during Fall/Christmas time!
Last month (November),
I was pretty busy because it felt like the whole month just passed before my eyes!
On tuesdays i have been going to yoga to relax a bit and also stay busy.
At the beginning of the month, me and my host family traveled to a famous, ginormous castle about an hour and half away from my house! it was so beautiful.
i also have been able to travel to see other exchange students in Košice! (second biggest city in slovakia).
Most fun was probably traveling to Poland twice in November!
It’s so cool for me because i have close Polish relative who i am hoping to meet sometime while i am here! First i went to a market in a town called “Nowy Targ”, i got some traditional polish candies and some booties for my little cousin at home!
then we went to (my favorite town) Zakupane! It resembles Granville in someways, it’s very quaint and is just beautiful during the winter time! (I will attach some pictures)
it was so cold!!
Second time i went to Poland was when we went to Krakow! Another favorite because it was so beautiful and historic. Poland is very cheap and most of the people are so kind!
I also got my senior pictures back! I got them done by my host families summer cabin in a beautiful little town!
(this one is my favorite because of the shirt)
I was pretty sad on thanksgiving, because it was so so weird being away from my entire family on such a family oriented holiday! But I was able to travel to a different city in Slovakia and participate in a Thanksgiving dinner/event that their club had organized for the Americans students, it was so awesome of Rotary to do that for us, we were all so grateful. I helped bake pies, and decorate the restaurant! Even the local news came to see us!
Then MY rotary club organized another Thanksgiving for me and the other 2 students in our city. It was also so wonderful, me and my host mom cooked everything but the turkey and mashed potatoes!! We made homemade pumpkin pie and apple pie (everyone’s asking me for the recipe now), we made green beans, gravy, cranberry sauce, and stuffing! It was so fun!
I celebrated my 100 days in Slovakia with some pudding too!!
Overall, it was a great month! Can’t believe time is flying by so quickly
January 1, 2018
Hello! Happy new year!
December for me was a really busy month and i’ve been traveling all week still!!
So my month started with a Rotary Weekend in Bratislava/Vienna. Our Christmas meeting. We had our first official language test and i think things went very well! We were able to travel to Vienna to see the Christmas markets and it was my first time being in Vienna since i had flown into the airport on my way here.
We also went to Bratislava (capital of Slovakia) and saw those Christmas Markets. Unfortunately, i had my luggage with me the whole time and it was also pouring down rain and freezing! But! It was beautiful to see the Bratislava Castle and Old City.
Then it was Hanukkah for me! It was great because my parents sent me some stuff to open and it was very sweet of them! I was super happy to receive lots of letters and packages from friends and family at home for the holidays.
I also turned 18!! It was really awesome because I had a fun day at school where people were cooking different foods from different countries, so i obviously volunteer for America! I brought in some candies from the US and cooked some pancakes! Then some of exchange student friends came to visit me and we all went bowling and to get pizza! It was funny to me because I was turning 18, which is a big deal and some say that’s when you become an adult! But that day I was waiting for my mom to drive me around to go to my Bowling/Pizza party! Very nostalgic 😌
Then it was Christmas ….
Which was obviously sad for me. I went to stay in my families cabin with the rest of their extended family. it was nice, and the food was very interesting! The traditional Christmas food here is cold potato salad and fish (i did not enjoy it so much). But everyone was very nice to me, but honestly, nothing beats being home for the holidays. So next year me and my real family have big plans for lots of Christmas celebrations.
I am also trying to ski!! It’s not been good so far 🙁
Skiing is HUGE here in Slovakia, so it is definitely expected that me (and the other fellow exchange students) learn how to ski! My school has a ski week set up in a few weeks and then Rotary also has one set up for February! So i have got to learn soon..
New Year’s Eve:
On NYE i traveled back to Bratislava with another exchange student as i stayed with her family, and we all went to see the fireworks downtown! it was very cold so we didn’t last long!
2017 was an incredible year and i wouldn’t change a thing about it!! Thank you for helping me get here and i experience the trip of a lifetime!
Happy New year from Slovakia!!!
February 1, 2018
January seemed like it was a long month! time passed very slow, but that doesn’t bother me one bit because time has been flying by lately 🙁
It started as i was in Bratislava still for a few days after New Year’s eve. with my other friends who are from Florida but on exchange in Slovakia! It was really awesome just being able to relax and have no agenda for a few days.
Then when I went home I immediately packed my bags again and traveled to the High Tatras with my host family and another exchange student in my town. We relaxed and stayed in a spa hotel for a few days! The mountains were so beautiful!
Then a few days later, and some other exchange students met up to go on a little hike, celebrating one of our friends birthdays! It was really fun, as always, to be surrounded by all my friends!!
And then i moved to my second host family. Which i had mixed emotions about! Because my first host family was so so so lovely, but i’m just as happy here in my new house as before 🙂 I moved from a village to the city, which is a good change for me i think. it’s giving me more opportunities to spontaneously walk to the city square with friends!
(Look at how much stuff i have 😳)
Just a few days later, i had another Rotary Weekend with all the exchange students from Slovakia! So fun, but we were all very cold! We went on a hike to the same place where i went for my friends birthday, but this time is was 10° colder and snowing! Nevertheless, we made it a good time! We also had our last language test, and it went very well i think!
As soon as i got home, i left again! To go on a trip with my school! A week of skiing in the mountains!! Unfortunately… i don’t enjoy skiing! But i went so i could enjoy some time with my classmates (away from school) and get to know more people! I am really happy that i went, even though i didn’t enjoy the skiing part, i met lots of new people!
(This is a picture of a famous Manor House just a few kilometers from my new home, it’s so pretty in the winter!!)
And look at this beautiful sunrise from the view of my new apartment!
Definitely different from what i would be seeing in Granville! I’m going to miss it! 🙁
January was full of fun activities and great memories!! Happy 2018!!
February 1, 2018
February was a very good but short month for me! I had my second ski week, but this one was with Rotary and the other exchange students in district 2240- so tons of people!
I actually learned how to snowboard that week! And i LOVE it now!!! It’s crazy because after skiing i never thought that i would want to go on a hill again but then i started to learn snowboarding at the beginning of the week and i’m still hooked!
This picture is of me and my best friend from Florida! We learned how to snowboard together, it was so fun!
Also during ski week, we threw a mini “Carnaval Party” for the Brazilians because they were all missing Carnaval at home. It was a hoot really, i love south americans.
One night , we went night sledding! Which was very cold and not so out of the ordinary for me, but watching the kids sled who usually don’t have snow in their home countries is so cute!!
On the last day, we traveled up to the top mountain at our resort- Chopok! I actually hiked this mountain when i first arrived in Slovakia. So it was cool to see the mountain covered in snow this time. The views from the top of that mountain are crazy beautiful.
Overall it was an incredible week and i was so so sad to leave everyone! Our next trip is EuroTour!
That was practically an overview of my february! I’m headed to Prague this week with my host family for a few days!
And next week, my REAL mom and sister are coming to visit me! I’m beyond excited!! We’re going to tour all around Slovakia and take a quick day trip to Poland too 😊 I can’t wait
Also! I was featured in one of District 2240’s magazines! Haha caught off guard
190 days down! 124 to go!