Shortly after being hired on at our company, my co-worker (I will refer to her as "C") and I got a phone call from our work in the midst of the 2 week training we were doing in Austin, Texas. We figured it was just to check in on us and see how things were going. Actually, it was a call to find out if we would like to go for an additional 3 weeks of training in the Czech Republic. We were so incredibly excited! We muted our conference call, jumped up and down, and hugged each other. This. Was. Happening. Good thing I hadn't sent my passport in for renewal just yet! Also, the Czech Republic...I knew almost nothing about it. Being the ignorant geographer I am, I ran to my computer and googled where it was. I had some serious research to do, and less than a week to do it. The kicker was that I would have only 1 full day home, and then I would be jumping on a plane yet again in a week to leave for 3 more weeks. Whew--that's a long time away from home, I thought. But this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I jumped at the chance. Literally.
The next few days were a blur, as we arranged our flights from afar. I did my laundry so that it would be packed and ready to go immediately when I returned home. There were details still unclear, but I knew it would all work out somehow. I immediately downloaded a book about Prague, to learn about the customs, culture, food, travel, etc. I learned helpful phrases like hello, where is the bathroom, please, thank you, how much, and goodbye. I didn't want to be that ignorant American who can't say a word in the language of the country I was visiting. This was my version of cramming for a test. I had no time to exchange my money since I arrived home on the weekend. Although I was physically home, I was mentally checked out. I felt badly, because my time home with my family was so rushed, but I had no other choice.
I left Sunday night for the Czech Republic. I had layovers in Minneapolis and Amsterdam. My flight from Amsterdam to Prague was delayed by 3 hours, so it made for an extremely long trip. I arrived in Prague, and a driver drove me 2 hours from Prague to Brno, where I would be staying for the next 3 weeks. I was excited, exhausted, and anxious all at the same time. Imagine being in another country alone, in which you don't speak the language. Even the words on the signs are not able to be understood, because they don't even closely resemble any languages you know. I had always thought that I could get by in most of the world knowing English, French, and Spanish, and mostly that has been true so far. I might as well have been on another planet, because that's kinda what I felt like when I stepped off the plane and into Prague. Instead of being my usual curious, chatty self, I fell silent in the back seat of the taxi. It made for a very long car ride all the way to Brno. The driver turned on the radio, and it was American pop music. C would be joining me 2 days later, and already I couldn't wait for her to be here.
|Arriving at Prague's airport|
|Panoramic view of Brno|
|Only in Europe. $ = "you're-a-peein'"|
|This is where the "magic" happens. Well, not so much.|
|Yeah...3 knobs with random pictures?|
|Cheeky! No undies here!|
|She's got a wedgie and a halloween skeleton shirt Martha Stewart can make. And no bra--good side boob action!|
My phone doesn't get service here, but I can get on wi-fi at my apartment and wherever else it is available. It's my only communication with the outside world--so crazy! Sometimes I use the wi-fi at McDonald's. I rather like the though of being unreachable--at least temporarily. Netflix doesn't work here--the message I got when I tried it was "We are sorry that we haven't reached your part of the world yet!" I try to keep busy and not think of home too much, because it does get quite lonely at times. Call me American, but I truly miss the little comforts of home and things I tend to take for granted: driving my car, having a dryer, eating food I like whenever I like, watching Netflix, having carpet on the floor, finding what I need and want at the store, people speaking English, having cell phone reception...and the list goes on. I am so glad I have C--I honestly don't know what I would do without her. We talk about the things we miss back home and what we are going to do when we get back. Mostly, we laugh a lot also about things that are strange, new, and different. We will have many good stories and jokes that we will remember forever. We have been working really hard every day, so that makes the days go really fast and is distracting from thinking about home. Our mentor took us around the city center a bit, and that was nice. He is a great tour guide, knew quite a bit about the history, and has so kindly answered our countless questions, both in class and outside of it. He will be coming to Milwaukee for a few weeks and we are excited to return the favor of showing him around and exposing him to American culture. It's certainly been an experience so far! Stay tuned for more adventures! :)