5,500 Miles From Home

Junior Shares Experience About Being Foreign Exchange Student


Photo Courtesy of Eliska Bujnochova

Posing for a photo, Junior Eliska Bujnochova holds her head up for her friend. Among other activities, Bujnochova is a camp counselor in the Czech Republic where she works with kids. “I love working at the camp with those kids,” Bujnochova said.

Ty Cathey, Reporter

Dealing with new faces and a new language, junior Eliska Bujnochova, a foreign exchange student, starts experiencing life as an American teen. Bujnochova, who goes by Jay, has been in the United States for four weeks and plans to stay throughout the year until her visa expires.

The culture in the United States is different than her experiences at home, and she gets to experience new activities that she couldn’t in the Czech Republic, according to Bujnochova. For instance, she went to a rodeo and involves herself in new extracurriculars, like theatre, which she could not do in the Czech Republic.

“I like the [American] system, we [Czech Republic] have a different system,” Junior Jay Bujnochova said. “You can choose your classes here, [but at home] we don’t choose, and it sucks cause we are stuck with the same 30 people.”

Bujnochova’s schooling in the Czech Republic isn’t a choice-based system, instead, they’re assigned classes. Another big difference is the length of the courses or the number of classes she can now choose from.

“You have Chemistry or Physics for one year, and we have one class for six years,” Bujnochova said. “You have floral design, welding and engineering, which is all creative, what we have is really boring.”

Bujnochova shifted from two completely different environments, and now has to speak a completely different language. However, speaking a different language is something Bujnochova is good at. She speaks English, Czech, Slovak, Spanish and a little Japanese. Even though Bujnochova speaks many languages, she said she sometimes worries about people not understanding her, which is her biggest challenge.

“Sometimes people don’t understand me and I don’t know how to say things,” Bujnochova said. “It’s just kind of hard to explain what I mean.”

Although Bujnochova may have a hard time speaking English, she said she feels everyone at school is very kind. She said she thinks her host family is especially kind people.

“You’re so nice, you all are just so nice,” Bujnochova said. “Most people are nice and don’t judge me when I speak bad English.”

Bujnochova had previously tried to be an exchange student, but COVID-19 delayed her experience. It also made her travels here more difficult than expected.

“I was supposed to come here last year, but COVID-19 literally said no,” Bujnochova said. “I had a lot of papers for the airports, and I missed a flight because of it and had to book a new one.”

This incident at the airport made Bujnochova cry, and she was so upset that her host family was going to see her in a negative light in their first interaction. Although she was upset, the Evans family was still compassionate. Bujnochova said she is looking forward to spending time with the Evans family due to their friendliness and compassion.

“The first time I met the Evans family I had tears in my eyes and I just looked dead,”  Bujnochova said. “They were still very nice and they still said ‘Hi’ to me.”