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Jan Doubrava
Photo: Jan Doubrava
I am from Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, which has a population of about 1.5 million. I'm currently staying on a farm close to the town of Flandreau, South Dakota, where I go to school.

It's Different in South Dakota

Jan Doubrava from The Czech Republic

My name is Jan Doubrava, and I am an exchange student in the U.S. from the Czech Republic. I am from Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, which has a population of about 1.5 million. I'm currently staying on a farm close to the town of Flandreau, South Dakota, where I go to school.

One of the major differences I found here in the United States is in the school system. The days are always the same here. The order of subjects doesn't change from day to day.

In my school in Prague, we have different classes every day based on a weekly schedule. The number of class periods also varies. One day we might have five hours, the other one, eight.

In Czech schools, children also have all of the subjects every year. They can't say which subject they want to take or which they will take next semester.

There is also a big difference in driving. Here in South Dakota, kids can drive at fourteen years of age; in the Czech Republic we can't drive until eighteen. Here in the U.S. It is not rare when a family has two, three, or even four cars, but families in Prague usually have only one car, and their children get their own cars by around the age of twenty. It's because the cars are more expensive, and also we don't depend on driving as much. You can get everywhere, at any time by bus, tram, train, or subway.

Flandreau High School
Photo: Thomas Peters
Flandreau High School, Flandreau, South Dakota

Finally, a large difference is generally in the style of living and entertainment. Teenagers here cruise around the town in cars, go to movies, go bowling, visit their friends at home….

My friends and I at home usually go to the downtown of Prague and hang around the parks, stores, and music clubs.


People in South Dakota spend a lot of time hunting, snow mobiling, and horseback riding, but these activities are not very popular in the Czech Republic. Instead, people over there often go to sports centers to play tennis or squash, or at the weekends they just go with their families outside Prague to spend their time in motels, cottages, or summer houses.

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