After much prompting from my mother and various other sources, I have decided to start a blog documenting my stay here in Czech Republic. Forgive me if the posts are few and far between. I am anticipating a very busy year.
School had not started by the time I arrived in Czech Rep., so I spent the first week of my stay walking around Ceske Budejovice. My family and close friends know all too well that I am… “navigationally challenged”. Sadly, this quality has not developed in me overseas. In fact, I think that I am more confused now than I ever have been. For that simple reason, my first week was a challenge. I have tried to familiarize myself with Ceske Budejovice (with little success) just by walking and observing. My first task of my stay was to change some US cash for Czech money. Of course, it was hard enough for me to find the place where my host father, Pavel, had recommended that I change my money. Then I had to try to make myself understood. The first week passed without any troubles.
On Saturday morning, I attended choir practice in a nearby town. This one action proved to be the most beneficial of the whole week. I was fortunate enough to make friends before school began.
I started school on Monday, September 1. My friends from choir were there to guide me throughout the day. We talked to the headmaster that day so that I could be transferred into my friends’ class. That has made my life much easier. School is going pretty well, aside from not understanding much of anything that is going on. I get a little scared at the end of each class because I never know where the next class will be. The students move from classroom to classroom like we do in the States, but the teachers don’t stay in a specified room. They move, too. I’m still rather confused about the way that the classes are organized. I’m sure that I’ll figure it out eventually.
The classroom dynamics are very interesting. There are rows of small tables in each room, and two people sit at each table. In most cases, the boys sit on one side of the class and the girls sit on the other. There are some exceptions (I happen to be one of them – I sit with a boy at my table), but for the most part, the two genders are separate. I have no idea why. Everyone seems to get along pretty well in my class, which is nice – I can’t accidentally make enemies. Until very recently, the guys in my class almost refused to talk to me. I talked to one of my friends about it, and she said that it’s probably just because most of the guys don’t speak English very well, so they’re afraid to talk to me. I think that’s funny. They’re afraid to speak in a foreign language in their own country to a foreigner who should be adapting by speaking their language. Soon, I will be the self-conscious person speaking a language far out of my comfort zone.
I have three good friends at school right now; Mary, Věrka, and Barbara. Věrka and Mary are from choir. I met Barbara on the first day of school; she is one of Mary’s close friends. Mary was wonderful to begin classes with because she is so high-energy and speaks English like a pro. Barbara is slightly less outgoing, but knows English very well and is very helpful. Věrka and I have become closer during the course of the last week. She seems to find me after every class, whether or not we have the next class together. I think that she realizes how confused I am; Věrka is wonderful about pointing me in the right direction and showing me where I need to be every step of the way. I’m incredibly thankful for both of them. They have made the transition into school much easier on me. I couldn’t be happier with the way things are working out right now.
My family is wonderful. I am living with Pavel and Ivana Hanzlik. They have three children, Magda, Miša, and Petr, but all three are out of the house. Both Magda and Miša are adults and have their own homes and I have had the pleasure of meeting them both. Petr is on a Rotary Exchange in Oklahoma this year. Pavel and Ivana and I get along so well. It is honestly astonishing. Honestly, I anticipated a few conflicts – or at least one conflict! I have been pleasantly surprised. The other day, Pavel and Ivana said that they hope that I will be with them for Christmas. Tonight, as Ivana was making dinner, I gave her a hug and thanked her for doing so. She told me (in her wonderful broken English) that I was her fourth child. Then she said something to Pavel, which he translated for me: “Ivana said that she is already sad because you will be leaving us”. I feel so welcome and loved here. It’s like living with another part of my family. It all seems too good to be true sometimes…
I am incredibly pleased with the way that things are going. I hope that this positive trend continues as the year goes on. With the help of my wonderful friends and host parents, and with a little luck, it will.