I wish that I spoke Czech.  I really do.  I’m tired already of going into stores and nodding and smiling as the cashier chats away, until the inevitable awkward moment when they say something that is clearly a question and I have to mumble, “Um…Nemluvím česky.”  Sorry, I don’t speak Czech. CIMG0727

After that, everyone is still nice to me, but it’s not quite the same.  There’s a deep-seated pride and nationalism that comes along with being Czech, and if you’re not Czech then…well, you’re just not.

I’ve been in the city for two weeks now, and I’m only just beginning to find my way around.  And really, by “find my way around” I mean “be able to get from my office to the grocery store/metro stop/falafel stand.”  Which is a lie anyway, because even though I’ve seen the falafel stand on numerous occasions, I’m incapable of finding it when I actually want to eat.  The streets here are all cobblestone, and there are still dozens of fearless Czech women who walk everywhere in heels.  I twisted my ankle this morning wearing my sandals.  You can get lost down the streets and walk in circles before you realize what you’re doing.

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The part of Prague where I live, Vinohrady, is beautiful.  The closest thing I can think of to compare it to (not in terms of looks, but in terms of atmosphere) is Lincoln Park in Chicago.  There are tons of restaurants and cafes around, and a large number of expats.  The apartment buildings are all huge and grand, with balconies and plaster embellishments on the outside.  I live directly across the street from a big park, and at the top of the hill you can see over the entire city, all the way to the castle on the other side of the river.  Every evening, the west side of the park fills up with people who just sit on the grass to watch the sun set over the city.  They read or talk or play with their dogs, but everyone is happy just to be outside.HPIM2069

My roommate has a dog, Aatu, who I use as an excuse to spend more time in the park.  He and I go for long walks so that I can get more familiar with my new neighborhood.  The thing about being here is that despite the language barrier and the sudden loss of a support system (that being college), I haven’t been lonely here yet.  Not like I was when I lived in New York, anyway.  I’m actually looking forward to being here for a year, when I thought that I would have to resign myself to it.  Despite not speaking Czech, and constantly getting lost, and accidentally buying sour cream instead of yogurt, I don’t think about the time passing here at all.  Hopefully that’s a good thing.

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