Exchange student interested in journalism

Tereza Safrankova, from the Czech Republic, is thinking of a future in journalism.Posted Jan. 31, 2014


 Tereza and her sisters under the North Dakota sign.
Tereza and her sisters under the North Dakota sign.



Record Editor


Tereza Safrankova, from the Czech Republic, is thinking of a future in journalism.

Tereza is an exchange student in Scranton, spending a year learning about another part of the world.

“I am from the Czech Republic, a small country in the middle of Europe. I live in suburb to the capital, Prague. My school is in Prague and I spend all the time in the city,” she said.

It’s quite a change to come to North Dakota. One change being, she said, they are not as communicative as we are here.

“We usually do not chat with people we do not know. Here, for example, you come to a store and the shop assistant is talking to you like you know each other for ages,” said Tereza.

She applied for the program last January, waiting seven months to get a host family somewhere in the United states.

“You do not get to pick a place where you want to stay. It all depends on a family that wants to host a student. I was so happy when they finally called me that there is a family in North Dakota who would like to host a foreign student,” she said, though se was shocked when se was told how small the town was where she would be staying.

“But when I came to Scranton I felt very welcomed, and my lifestyle changed a lot,” she said. “I live with the Wilsons. I have two younger brothers and two younger sisters. I call them brothers and sisters because we act like we are. We have fun together but sometimes we also annoy each other as real siblings do. I feel extremely lucky for my host family. I know that I can talk to them about anything. I feel a big support from them.


Big city, small town

Tereza said she spent a lot of time going out with friends, but not cruising the drag since they can’t get drivers licenses until age 18. But the city has the advantages of mass travel – buses, trams, the subway or just walking.

She said, “Prague is a beautiful place and I love to walk around. I also love to go to gigs and concerts, or theaters. On the other hand, I also love to go for a long walk with my dog to a forest near to our house.”

While she misses doing these things, she has been introduced to other things, such as horse riding, pheasant Hunting and ice fishing. “You can ride a far away and you do not meet anyone. You are in real nature.”


Why the U.S.?

Tereza has a 15-year old younger sister, Johana whom she misses very much.

“At first there was so much to do I didn’t have time to be homesick,” she said. “These days, when I call with them, I feel that I miss them more and more. I miss my sister the most. We have become really close last years. She is my buddy. She understands me.”

Her mother is a teacher, working with handicapped children, and her father works for an American company, and has been going back and forth between the Czech Republic and South Africa.

“Both my parents speak good English. We all think it is important to know at least one foreign language nowadays. That’s why I came to the USA. Many students from Europe have gone through this program. It is a great opportunity to learn language and meet American culture,” said Tereza.


Things she will take home

“Our family is into recycling and we avoid buying plastic bags and bottles,” she said. “I have to say I suffer when I go to the grocery store here and they give me a plastic bag for every single item.”

This is the one thing she doesn’t like about America.

“I see so much wasting. Also, I have feeling that you like to have and own lot stuff and you keep buying stuff even if you do not need them,” she said. ON the up side, she likes American food.

“I already said that I like the communication between people here. We need to learn that from you. In my opinion, Americans are really cheerful and like to have fun,” she added.

The biggest difference between the city and prairie would be opportunities. “In Prague, there are so many places to go. Prague is a town with a history. It has hundreds of castles and old beautiful houses. If you want to go to movie, you go to cinema where they play new movies in many movie rooms every day. There are thousands of restaurants and cafes where you can go. There is anything you can think of. You have so many opportunities if you live in big city. There are many kinds of schools and jobs. I like that there are so many people and they are all different,” she said.

However, she said she isn’t the typical city person, as she loves nature and spending time camping, hiking riding a bike or horseback.



Named Homecoming Queen this year was a surprise to her, and something they don’t have back home.

“We also do not have sport activities in our schools. If you want to play any sport you have to find a sport club on your own. You can do any sport you want and do it all year long. Again, there would be hundreds of teams is Prague and it depends on you if you want to compete in the sport or do it just for fun and than you find a place that you like the most and do it,” she said.

The school system itself is different in several ways. They don’t have the same schedule every day, and have more classes than here.

“I have to study everything and in the end of high school I will pick four subjects and I will take big exams from them. There are many people who fail every year and they have to repeat the exams. We also have to take exams when we want to go to college and only the students with the best results are accepted. On the other hand, we do not pay for colleges,” she said.


Going home

“I will always think of the time I spent with my host family. It means a lot to me. I will always remember that the most important was always to have fun. I do not want to imagine leaving them. I will always remember that my stay in US was different than I thought it would be and it was much harder for me that I thought it was going to be,” she said

In the Czech Republic there is lots of American influence, but Tereza said the mentality is very different.

And will the newspaper draw her in?

“I am not decided yet what I want to do when I grow up. I am interested in writing into newspapers. I was glad to have the opportunity to go job shadowing to the newspapers and ask many questions about this job. I am still not sure about my future job. I have another two years at high school when I come back home. I am glad I have some time to think about future yet. The only think I know I want to do is traveling, and if there is a job that enables me to see new places then I will give it a try,” she said.