After spending the last 12 months living in the Czech Republic on a Rotary Youth Exchange Port Macquarie's Cate Lindeman is a changed lady.
Cate was one of 12 students from Rotary District 9650 who took part in a year long youth exchange travelling to the other side of the world in order to experience another way of life.
The group departed Australia on January 19, 2019 and returned this week.
"It was so great and I got to experience so many different things while I was over there," Cate said.
"Lots of things were very different but it was so amazing to meet lots of people and travel.
"I tried hard to learn the language and by the end I could hold a good conversation which I was proud of."
She said culturally things were very different from holidays to the obvious language barrier but that did not stop her having a great time.
"There weren't any other exchange students in my town so I quickly made friends with people in different towns and travelled to see them quite regularly," Cate said.
"And holidays were very different. At Easter the men made these sticks and the women painted eggs and then the men would go to different houses and hit the ladies and in return she would give him eggs.
"Then at Christmas they celebrate it on December 24 we had a very traditional meal of carp and potato salad but they buy alive carp and most families keep the fish alive for a few weeks beforehand. A friend was staying with a family who kept the fish in the bath for a few weeks so that was strange as well."
Cate said her favourite part of the trip was getting to explore lots of different places.
"The Euro trip was absolutely amazing. I went to Barcelona, Paris and then lots of different places in Italy including Venice, Rome, Pompeii and Florence but Barcelona was probably my favourite.
"The people were so friendly and happy all the time which made everyone so happy.
"On the weekends I also visited friends in Prague a lot which was great. The public transport system is so amazing over there and as a student we got a really big discount. There was free coffee on the busses and televisions in the back of the seats.
"I don't really use public transport at home but it made getting around a lot easier and quicker so I was always able to explore.
"I definitely gained a lot of independence on this trip travelling so much on my own and having to work out things by myself and I would absolutely encourage everyone to sign up and go on exchange."
What is next now that she is back in Port Macquarie? Your typical teenager things of course.
"Catching up with friends and because I turned 16 while over there I am going to get my licence as soon as I can."
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