Here’s my life:
I don’t understand the vast majority of what people say. I try to control middle school boys that learn words such as big onions and use the phrase when describing women’s breasts in class, who don’t speak my language. I am eternally labeled as “Američanka” by all people that see me on a regular basis in the stores, our building, and the schools. I do have to say, though, that life is good here. I love this place and these people. No, it’s not Nevada, and it will never replace America in my heart, but the Czech Republic and the land of Western Bohemia has certainly captured a part of me. God definitely knew what He was doing when he put me here. Although I feel like I have moved through many stages of culture shock, from the honeymoon phase to dislike and discontentness with the land to acceptance of this place. One thing I will never accept about Czech culture, however, is sádlo: slices of bread with a good old shmearing of bacon grease (chunks and all) with salt. MMMMM, what a delightful way to KILL YOURSELF! Seriously? I managed to smile and thank the individual that gave it to me, but inside I was trying my hardest not to gag.
I experienced my first moment of reverse culture shock this weekend as well… Cody and I went to Prague (Praha to the locals) to celebrate birthdays of friends that live all throughout Central Europe. Hearing people speaking in English casually in restaurants and on the tram was insane to me. I automatically would start speaking in Czech, like when I would order my food, only to find out that the waiter was a fluent English speaker. Then we decided to take a nightly stroll through the city, which I have decided is truly the most beautiful city in all of the world. People aren’t joking when they say that. There is such a charm that no other city can brag. A friend of mine that lives in Bratislava, Meredith, and I decided to walk ahead of the group on Charles Bridge (the world renowned bridge that connects the city and has statues of saints on either side the whole way down). It was there that I saw a large crowd of American men very much enjoying large quantities of Czech beer. They were loud and drunk, being as pathetically American as possible. I was probably standing about five feet away from them, talking about how shameful they are. I live here and have to deal with the stereotype of the “stupid American” because of people like them. It was then that I realized that one of the men in this group was very intently listening to my rant. They speak English, right? They’re American. They understood every word I said! Ah! After being in a city where no one speaks my language, I have gotten into the habit of saying things about people that I would never say if they could hear me and understand. I naturally slipped into that assumption while I was in Prague, only a large percentage of people DO speak my language! Whooooooooops. Ha. Insert awkward laughter.