Culture Shock

February 21, 2010

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I’m coping with living in a different country.

I’m happy to say that since residing in the CZ going onto my 4th week now, I’m adapting quite well. It hasn’t been very shocking (we’ve talked a lot about culture shock since we’ve been here with my program) to me at all to go from living on the West Coast of the USA to a Central European country. I credit this largely to my well-traveled past, as I’ve been to Europe many times and have experienced its culture and lifestyle before my move here this semester. I know a lot of my friends here in Prague are struggling with homesickness and possibly even minor forms of culture shock, but for the most part I’ve been doing really well and have largely been excited about experiencing EVERYTHING I can.

Of course I’m homesick in some ways, but as I go to school 1800 miles away from San Diego anyway, this is relatively normal to me, which may seem bizarre to some of you. This isn’t to say that I’m not experiencing any homesickness. I miss my family (and my puppy! I miss you, Misty!) but it’s even weirder for me in some ways, honestly, to be away from my Puget Sound friends. They’ve been my new family for almost 3 years now, some of them, and I really don’t even sleep very well when I’m not around people I feel safe with. It’s sort of random, but that’s how I can really gauge my comfort level.

I miss waking up in my house in Tacoma on Saturdays and going to the SUB at 11am with my housemates and eating waffles while watching all the hungover students exchange stories about the night before. I miss going to the Met and getting tiger chais with Laura, Marissa, Natasha, and Serwaah. I miss going to the Rosewood and Alpha Phi. This weekend was especially hard because I just became a Grandbig to the lovely Monica, and I haven’t even met her yet!

But honestly, the hardest thing is dealing with the fact that life is going on in both San Diego and Tacoma without me. My friends’ lives are changing while I’m away. I’m trying really hard to stay caught up on all the “gossip” and what’s been going on so when I come back to Tacoma in the summer, I won’t be shocked. But I still wish that I could somehow put my friends’ lives on “pause” while I’m off romping around Europe.

On a lighter note, what little things do I miss the most other than people?
Oreos, Kraft mac’n’cheese, an oven, cheeseburgers, Mexican food and California burritos (oh my godddd I miss them so much), Misty May, all my clothes that I didn’t bring with me, the Pacific Ocean, listening to NPR, restaurants and stores that stay open 24 hours, Hulu, high customer service standards, no-smoking rules (I have one pair of leggings I ONLY wear when I’m going out to clubs since they smell so awful of wet smoke), and DRIVING!!

I know that I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to study in a different country. I have an amazing program, AIFS, that supports me in nearly every way that I can imagine while I’m abroad. I’ve made some fantastic friends that I can’t possibly fathom living without once these four months are over. I’m constantly excited about exploring this city and finding new nooks and crannies every day. I’ve already fallen in love with Praha, and count living here as “home”. I’m in nearly constant contact with my family and closest friends (except Becca, but she has a legit excuse of a broken computer) thanks to my obsession with Skype. I’m determined to make the most of these 4 months, and those who know me well know that I won’t let anything hold me back.

But now it’s almost 3am, and I’m going to get into my bed in my kolej, and get a good night’s sleep, because I’m surrounded by good friends, and tomorrow I have a busy day of adventuring in Prague. 🙂

listening to:  “horchata”, vampire weekend


half of my heart’s got you

February 14, 2010

Yo yo yo.

First, happy Valentine’s Day!
I know most of you aren’t as lucky as I am to have a really sexual Valentine. Who, you may ask, has stolen my heart? Who has claimed possession of my attentions on this very momentous holiday? Who makes my world turn and gives me reason to wake up every morning?

Why, none other than my BFFizzle / muse Walt!

This is Walt:

I would also like to add that my Valentine is the best Valentine ever. Way better than certain roomates’ Valentines… my Valentine has written me a song to be performed on his own accordian. BEAT THAT!

So clearly I’ve decided late to start a blog. So rather than rehashing everything I’ve been doing in the last 3 weeks (which includes over 6 cities, like that’ll happen!) I’ll just be starting from where I am now. Additionally, I apologize for the haphazard-ness of this entry.

I am unfortunately rather sick right now. We all know that I have a superhuman immune system and every germ fears me, but somehow – SOMEHOW – I caught what every student in AIFS Prague had, which is some form of cold/cough/unnecessary nasal congestion. I call it the “Prague Plague”. And since we all know how I deal with illness, of course I have it worse than everyone else had it (except maybe Kacy, whose cough sounds like she’s smoked a pack a day for the last twenty years). But you know that I of course handle every illness with grace, and never ever complain or remind anyone of my trials or explain exactly why my face is so puffy.

But we all know that being sick will not stop me from having fun.
(this is me drinking the “free” bottle of wine they gave us in the wine cellar in Moravia)

On Friday night, we went to this epic club called Lucerna which plays 80s/90s music. All I know is that when I heard Nena singing “99 Luftballoon” I knew that this was going to be my favorite club in the entire world. Indeed, three hours, two Grease songs (it is unclear to me why the Czech people worship Grease so much, but I hear a Grease song at least once a week in restaurants here), Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, and “I’m a Barbie Girl” later, I knew that this club is where I will be taking anyone who visits me.

Last night, pretending I was not in fact ill, we decided to go to U Sudu, an “underground labyrinth” of a wine bar, where they ingeniously serve PITCHERS OF WINE. I just don’t understand why the United States doesn’t catch on certain aspects of European culture, like that and the fact that in the basement of my kolej (dorm) there is a pub, and that pivo is in fact cheaper than water. Brilliant.

And since some of you have inquired, here is proof of my new bomb dot com friends –
Here are two wonderful girls who I am beyond pleased to introduce to you guys as my good friends here, Celia and Jenny.

Becca is hilarious and is from Texas and on the right is Paulos, my ever-awesome roommate.

We are all partners in crime and are all equally determined to experience every aspect of Czech culture (minus going to the live sex shows, we are not at all interested in that).

and I know you guys are like, “my god, all they do is party!”

FALSE. Proof that we do more:

See? We totally go on trips to museums (we’re at the Gregory Mendel, father of genetics, Museum who did all the experiments with the peas) and freeze inside and outside the many churches we visit.

Academics-wise, I’m halfway done with my godawful Czech class. It’s hard and boring. And 4.5 hours of it every day makes me want to scream. I don’t get any academic credit for it at UPS, either, so it’s frustrating. I have learned a lot like numbers and adjectives but it’s really not all that helpful except for ordering food. But my professor takes us out on field trips all the time so it’s not as bad as it was last week!

Clearly I am having a generally AMAZING time here! I love the people and places I’ve been. Exploring the city is really satisfying and it’s getting harder and harder for me to GET lost since I’m learning the city so well.

Okay, it’s starting to get dark and I need to go to Billa so Paulos and I can prepare for the extravagant Valentine’s Day dinner we are making our respective Valentines for tonight. Let me just say it is NOT EASY to make extravagant dinners on finnicky hot plates.

Also, if anyone wants to send me some Mac’n’Cheese, I’d love that. Also, send me Misty because she needs me right now. I scratch her tummy like no one else in her world.

I’ll update more soon! Keep checking back!