From Prague to D.C.: Alena’s Journey

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AlenaI have been learning English for almost my entire life. One of the most important parts of learning a foreign language is exposure to the culture. My mother is an English teacher and in her process of learning spent a considerable time abroad in the U.K. I have dreamed of having a similar experience. In the past few years, while I’ve been attending Charles University in Prague studying English language and literature, I too have been exposed more and more to the English speaking world through new academics, new friendships and vacations to the closest English-speaking country, the U.K. I have felt a strong draw to American culture and when presented with the chance to study for a semester in the nation’s capital, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Now that I have been accepted and going through the application process, there has been so much going on on my mind that I feel it almost impossible to sum up my expectations. At this point it is a mixture of positive and negative anxiety. For a while I had been merely mirroring the excitement of the people around me. However, as I was handed the flight tickets, the reality of this trip struck me. I am still fond of repeating what I believe deep down, that the opportunity awaiting me is going to be an excellent and formative one, but with the date of the departure getting closer with each day, my feeling towards the study abroad experience has been fluctuating between phrases like “I cannot wait!” and “What am I going to do?” My time in Washington will be the first time that I am away from home for an extended period of time. My first time away from my tightly knit circle of friends, family, familiar environment and native language will be an excellent learning experience however, in the time leading up to the actual event, it it causing a bit of stress and anxiety. I guess I really fear a bitter experience similar to Mr. Smith, that begins with “I don’t think I’ve ever been so thrilled in my whole life, and that Lincoln Memorial! Gee Whiz!” However, I don’t think that when the story of how Alena goes to Washington will end in the same way that Mr. Smith’s does. I am extremely hopeful and fondly looking forward to the moment when I step off the airplane and begin my semester abroad. Judging from the help and guidance I’ve already received from the George Washington study abroad office, I expect that the transition into the new culture, of both the country and the school, to be a smooth one, allowing me to fully take in the experience.

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