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on September 25, 2014 on 9/25/14 from ,

Week 3: How Many Hours Are in a Czech Week? Never Enough

The more I learn about how I am different from people of other nationalities, the more I learn that we are the same.

There. Is. So. Much. Going. On.

It’s driving me AWESOME.

As usual: here’s a summary of my week, some reflections, and excitements for the future.

What I did: Literally

I might be able to volunteer with the Prague Shakespeare Company! Renata, our assistant resident director, told me that they are looking for volunteers to be production assistants during their production periods and since I only have class on Mondays and Tuesdays, they thought I might be a good fit! It would mean running around for most of the day trying to put together the odds and ends of getting the play ready to go for maybe four or five days per week. I couldn’t be happier if I got the position! It may be an English-speaking theater company, but it would be an awesome opportunity to meet incredible artistic people of many different nationalities. I hope to go in for an interview some time next week.

I made an awesome Czech friend yesterday. Sometime all it really takes to win me over is a smile and an intelligent comment. Jirka is studying IT at Czech Technical University and I met him in line for internet in our dorm. The first thing he said to me when he got in line behind me was that it would probably take us twenty minutes for us to get to the front of the line. He calculated this by noticing that it had taken a girl about ten minutes to get halfway down the hallway; we were at its end, two of these lengths from the front. In reality, it took us 45 minutes, although it felt like ten. We had an awesome conversation about everything in the world (of course) and his English was particularly good (which I’m starting to think might be a necessity for me to really connect with people here—maybe I’m just not being brave enough). Later we went down to the pub, but when a group of Americans got a little rowdy, we decided to head out to a venue for artists a bit farther away called Cross Club, which is a restaurant/brewery/bar that is decorated largely out of LEDs and old car parts. They are a nonprofit that puts most of their revenue into helping other people (I think they gave a few million Czech crowns to the Prague Zoo this past year). I couldn’t begin to communicate what it was like to sense the history and artistic culture emanating out of every gold-painted piece of rebar or car door frame ornamenting the place. Truly the best venue I’ve ever been to.

I went to a brilliant Romeo and Juliet ballet at the Estates Theatre, watched the Israeli Philharmonic on a big screen outside of the Rudolfinum concert hall, and then subsequently signed up for tons of other ballets/operas/plays/etc. They include the Ballet Krebat, a Swan Lake ballet, W.A. Mozart Opera Don Giovanni and La Nozze di Figaro (all at either the Estates Theatre, Prague National Theatre, or Rudolfinum—some of the best venues for plays, operas, and classical music in the country), a weekly improv night, two weekly movie nights (one in a local beer garden and another in Charles University’s International Student Club), a band called Tycho playing at a local venue Roxy in October, and so much more. I’m really trying to soak up as much of Czech culture as I can. And it is a DREAM to be here! It is rare that any of these events cost more than ten USD (or FREE with AIFS)!

I got an A in my Czech intensive class! When I got my grade from my teacher today, she said that she had worried about me, but was impressed that I’d made such a huge improvements. I’ve discovered that I’m much better with written tests than actually speaking (which matters the most. Bydlim ÄŒeský jen trochu. *frown* ). I’m excited to be starting classes next Monday. I’m eager to see what my teachers and coursework are like.

What I Learned: Big Lesson of the Week

The more I learn about how I am different from people of other nationalities, the more I learn that we are the same. Many of the stereotypes I have heard about people from other countries are proving themselves to not be true at all. I keep seeing so much of myself in other people and think: “We’re all human. We all have similar needs.” It’s a great feeling because it makes me feel more connected to the people around me, but at the same time, it makes me wonder how much more I’m “supposed” to learn about humans by talking to foreigners compared to how much I learn by talking to people back home. How big of a difference is it? I’m sure it’s a similar education, but also different. Then again, I am still just speaking from my American-going-to-Westernized-Prague experiences—this would be waaaaaay different if I were in a rain forest in the Amazon or a small village in rural China (or would it?).

Oftentimes I try to piece together conversations with locals by using my little Czech and Charades experience, but it never really goes farther than smiles and small talk (and I have little patience for small talk). Sure, it’s interesting to hear about what people are studying, but really, what are your parents like? When was the last time you cried really hard? What are you waiting for? It’s much harder to do this through the thick language barrier and so I find myself drawn to locals who speak better English. All of this aside, I really hope to find ways to connect with someone without using language. I’m open to this.

Dobrý den, z Prahy!

Nick