From Banská Bystrica, a city of 80,000 laying in a wide valley surrounded by three mountain ranges in central Slovakia, to the rolling hills and pristine lakes of Nechako country, Barbora Krušpánová, 17, has travelled a long way – physically and culturally – to spend the next academic school year at the Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS).
Krušpánová’s year in Burns Lake was arranged through the International Rotary Youth Exchange program. She’ll split her year between two Burns Lake families.
“I picked Canada as my number one choice out of 10 countries,” she said. “They let me know in March I would being going to Canada, and then by June that I would be going to Burns Lake.”
After looking up Burns Lake online, Krušpánová was pleased with what she discovered.
“It was very happy because I’ve never lived in a small town and it looks nice.”
Since arriving in the area, she went on a week-long camping trip into Tweedsmuir Park with a group of other foreign exchange students, local students, and two rotarians.
“It was raining a lot, and it was cold,” she said. “But we had such a blast.”
With winter just around the corner you might wonder how Krušpánová will deal with the long, cold season that settles in sometimes by the end of October. She’ll be okay.
“I’m very lucky to be this far north because we will have a lot of snow,” she said.
An alpine skier at heart – Krušpánová has been skiing since she was two years old – the LDSS ski and snowboard team my have a ringer for their roster. She’s been encouraged to try out for the local ski team by LDSS snowboarder and mountain-biker, Elise Dubé.
After this year, she’ll have one more year of high school in Slovakia. This year will count towards her graduation requirements, as long as she passes the required Slovak exams.
“I hope to make some friendships that will last, and to experience an entire Canadian year,” Krušpánová said. “I’m so lucky to have the experience and to be here in Canada because so many people don’t get to have that experience.”
School starts for Krušpánová, and everyone else at LDSS, on Sept. 4, 2013.