I wrote my last blog thinking that I had so long left before my leaving day that it didn’t even merit thinking about and now here I am, in Prague and feeling quite at home.
I arrived at Prague airport, collected my luggage and headed off to find my buddy, Lenka, who was easily identifiable thanks to the large piece of paper with my name on it. Lenka was an absolute god send! Granted, communication was limited at times, however, she gave me a bowl and a spoon and for that I will be eternally grateful.
My initial thoughts on the buddy system were “Oh, how nice” I thought it was a delightful idea that they give you a friend and a guide for the city. How thoughtful. I soon cam to realise that this was not merely a nice idea, but a necessity for getting anything important and official done. I needed Lenka in order to register at halls and get my key. She had to come with me to register at school and get my ID card. I will need her help to set up a bank account tomorrow. At first I felt completely dependent on her. Before I left home I was nervous about a lot of things, but the language barrier was always last on my list. “They speak English” I was told. Who does? That’s what I would like to know!? The shop assistants? The dorm staff? The waiters? The bank tellers? I have news for you… no they don’t! If you want to buy a McDonalds or take a guided tour of the city, no problem. If you want to ask someone in a shop how much the milk is… different kettle of fish. A helpful tip I have found in these situations where communication is difficult is – don’t be afraid to look like a complete idiot!
The language barrier has been the most difficult adjustment for me, even with the other international students. ‘Cause it turns out, my English ain’t too hot… I spent at least 5 minutes on the train repeating the word mirror in every way I could think possible before I was eventually understood.
I am really looking forward to starting my Czech lessons. Firstly, it will be nice to be able to read the labels on things and therefore actually know if what I’m buying is face moisturiser or yoghurt. Also, I feel a little guilty for speaking English, maybe in part because my roommate speaks every European language I know of… and some I didn’t.
Anyway, I have spent the week so far mainly sight seeing, and shopping. I have now just about accumulated all of the necessities after a very productive trip to a Tesco extra (never in my life have I been so happy to see a Tesco.) The city is absolutely beautiful and when walking through the centre I feel like I am walking in a fairytale… (Wow, that sounded really cheesy!)
On Wednesday there was a welcome meeting with traditional Czech music and dancing and the later the nation2nation welcome party. This is notoriously the “best party of the year” and consisted of a lot of very drunk people and a lot of sweating. I shall say no more. If I am brave enough to attend this Tuesday’s nation 2 nation then I shall report on all the sordid details.
On thursday night my flat mates and I went to Old Town square where there was a concert. Goran Bregovic, a famous Balkan musician, was playing and there was a huge crowd and brilliant atmosphere. My roommate showed us how to dance to this type of music and it gave us an insight in to her culture and traditions.
I am now looking forward to classes starting tomorrow. I am anxious to discover what the lectures and lecturers are like and will be happy to settle into more of a routine. I also intend on doing my laundry… this will no doubt lead to some amusing anecdotes for next week’s blog.
Until then… x