These last 7 months have absolutely flown by. Seems like I was just getting to Prague, but that was in the middle of January. Unbelieveable.
This final move closes a pretty big chapter, with the finishing of my finance program after working for 2 full years. It really has been a good experience since I’ve learned a lot, got to travel and see many new places, earned some money, paid off my debt, and met a lot of great people. In over 2 years, I haven’t lived in one place for more than 7 months at a time. Moving has become the norm, and staying a place any longer than 7 months would seem weird to me now.
The last 7 moths in Prague have been an especially good experience. Between just living in a city like Prague, meeting so many people, traveling to new placs in Europe, and trying many new things, I’ve had a great time and feel like I’ve grown from the experience. I went through a pretty big culture shock from late Febrauary to late March where I was absolutely miserable about work and the new environment. I was able to get through it and use this experience to figure out what the next steps should be in my future. I realized I needed to better align my actions with my goals, so this is why I am taking a leave to volunteer in Peru.
I think (or at least I hope) that I have become more laid back. I think this is partly from just being in Europe and partly from traveling. People in Europe are generally more relaxed, not as hurried, and value their work/life balance. And from traveling, you learn to be relaxed or you will drive yourself mad. With all the changes between flights, bus arrivals, hostels, couchsurfers, etc, there is a lot out of your control. If you miss a bus and won’t catch another one for 3 more hours, you can either complain about it or make the most of it. When I first got to Prague, my friends and I would set a time to meet. I would always be there a few minutes early, and if I was a couple minutes late I’d become very stressed. I found that I was always the first one there no matter what. I realized that there shouldn’t be a need to hurry and there is no reason to get stressed, so at the end I would be the one getting to events 10 or 15 miniutes late.
Probably most of all is what I’ve learned from the people I met. Meeting people from all over Europe and other parts of the world is a great opportunity to learn something new. Even if it’s a 10 minute conversation. I’ve learned a lot about what people think of the US and Americans in general, and these things are good to know for the future when I am traveling and meeting other people. In the Czech Republic I’ve learned that it’s important to be humble and that there is no reason to talk loudly in public and on public trsnsportation (because nobody wants to hear what you’re talking about). Americans are known for being very very self-confident, arrogant, overly optimistic, and loud, and compared to Czechs this is very true. Czechs are generaly quiet, cynical, and not as self confident (their words, not mine). It’s good to know this to be able to adapt to other cultures.
I really like being able to know small things about countries, for example to know that Magyar means Hungarian in their native language, that Polish girls often drink beer out of a straw, that the nickname for the Czech name “Jan” is “Honza”, that Swedish love to fika (have a coffee/tea and something to eat with a friend), and that an Italian will never drink a cappuccino in the evening since it’s mostly a breakfast thing. Knowing these types of things about a country usually creates more of a connection with someone you’ll meet from the country. If you know a little bit about their culture, you’ll definitely have a better conversation. Most of my best friends in Europe have been to the US before. I don’t think this is coincidence, nor is it intentional, but you just have a better connection when you can discuss the others’ countries and cultures.
I truly value these experiences and the people I’ve met. I really love these types of opportunities to live as a foreigner in a new culture, to make new friends from many different places,try new things, and to just generally to live a different way and to learn from others. It’s something I want to keep doing, as shown by my decision to go to Peru. I think there is a lot ot learn from the Peruvian way of life and also especially from the indigenous people I’ll be working with. I imagine their living style is very different from anywhere else I’ve seen so I’m looking forward to learning from it.
Since I did the same thing with Italians, I want to talk about what it is to be a Czech. Of course these are generalizations, so it doesn’t apply to everyone of course. But this is how I would describe it. So being Czech is…
Loving the national hockey team
Going to a pub to complain about something but don’t do anything to fix it
Loving the outdoors like biking, rock climbing, hiking
Being so humble to the point where it’s rude to answer the question “How are you?” with “Good”
Having a pessimistic sense of humor…for example, whenever someone has beef saying that you never know where the beef comes from in the Czech Republic…and making fun of every neighboring country for various reasons
Saying “Dobrou Chut” before each meal…the Czech version of Bon Appetit
Eating a huge lunch but smaller dinner…and eating soup before most main dishes
Going to their family cottage in the mountains for the weekend
Going to Crotia’s beaches for the summer holidays
Attending their balls in the winter (formal dances)
Loving their dog and letting it roam about freely without a leash
And going to more pubs (if I can mention pubs again)
So that ends my time in Prague. It’s been a great experience, and thanks for reading along. Hopefully my posts haven’t been too much boring rambling but that you’re able to at least get my view of the whole experience. Now it’s 2.5 weeks in the US before heading to Peru!