Sunday, October 25, 2009

Landlady Emails; A Collection

Now for some lighthearted sharing. (All in good fun.)


Goog evening,
I have some important information for you from Mrs. Krčmová.

The waste was blocked again. The reparation cost 1000 CZK, because had to come two servicemen with the special machine. It wasn´t possible to repair the waste by hand as last time. You will give me this money with the next hire. You must never pour out the rest of coffee nor tea or oil from pan to the sink. The rest of coffee or tea have to be discharged into water closet or given to the basket. The oil is neccessary wipe out with the paper from the pan and not wash the pan before.
You disobeid my prohibition - temporary not use the sink because of the waste disorder. Doing that you have been caused the repeated flowing out of the water into the kitchen forniture, which was considerably damaged.

The flat wasn´t locked. You should lock it, somebody could pilfer you.

So that´s all.


Good afternoon,

regarding to the complaint of your neighbours I want to ask you for observance of contract terms, where´s mentioned the behaving liability according to house order where the night calm begins at 22:00 hours!!!!
Thank you for performance of it.


Good evening to all,
I have again a message for you:

I hope, that the heating heats. Please don't let open the windows and close the door to the hall. In the case of that the consumtion will be higher, I have to heighten advancemets.

Best regards

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cultural Sensitivity

Everyday I try to be as culturally sensitive as possible, which mainly involves me trying not to be noticed as a foreigner. I don't want to step on toes and offend anyone, because this isn't my country and I have no more entitlement to live here than any other foreigner. And I already feel that I am asking too much, to have people speak English to me or to demand this service in my everyday life.
But there are obvious places where and when I will be questioned about my intentions here. Yesterday I was at the playground with the primary school children and the Czech teachers were there as well. Through a translator, my assistant teacher, the other teachers questioned what I was doing in the Czech Republic, and why, if I don't speak the language, am I here. I tried to articulate as best I could, what I don't know. They curtly thanked me for my information.
My friend Radek who I help with English, wants to know why i won't learn Czech, and seems offended when i say that it's very hard, and therefore sort of insurmountable. But really, I could at least learn a little conversation and please some people, to show them that I am at least trying.
My landlady doesn't speak English and therefore we have to involve her daughter in our conversations... isn't that a lot to ask? To live in her apartment and to demand, through our lack of Czech, that she speaks or uses English with us? She may be crazy and disrespectful in her own way, however we are disrespecting her as well through our language barrier.

Everyday I feel a twinge of guilt about living in Prague and not knowing the language; I feel sometimes that I am an English language missionary, spreading the language of 'Merica, furthering the globalization of American culture.
Of course, living and working abroad is an absolutely amazing experience. However, I often question my own intentions, mainly brought on by the above mentioned situations and inquisitive stares of the Czech people who I unintentionally offend when i don't understand them, or when I cause a faux pas which I am only semi-aware of. Such as sniffling, which apparently is very offensive, but men blowing snot rockets on the street is not....
I try to live here without an eye of scrutiny, but rather one of observation and learning. I wanted to write a post about all of the insane cultural idiosyncrasies that I've noticed, but not today, or this week, when I'm wallowing in doubt about what exactly I'm doing here.
I think admitting that it's purely selfish would clear the air a little bit. I'm here because I love Europe, I loved the year I spent here in college and wanted to continue living here. I'm teaching because it's the most available job for native English speakers, and I also enjoy it.
Simply, I am happier in Europe, living the way Europeans do... Dad probably created this yearning and identification with the general way of life here; extreme frugality, reusing napkins and paper towels; homemade everything, bread, wine, beer (and on several unfortunate occasions, ginger ale); guilt about everything, a victimized, pessimistic view of life which I've found is the main view point in Eastern European literature, and thus culturally.
I'm here because I love traveling and learning about new cultures. I live here because I want to and am fortunate enough to be able to. I'm here because I want to grow as a person by being outside my element. I'm here because I'm avoiding what would potentially be my American life after college.
I think the guilt arises from my reasons for living here, selfish ones, and from the things I unintentionally demand of others through my unavoidable lack of knowledge.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Favorite Places

While living and exploring in Prague I've taken a lot of photos, but often times I find myself taking the same picture repeatedly... Here is a collection of pictures of places that I continually photograph because they are so beautiful and warrant not one, not two, but maybe ten or twenty pictures.

This is a view of the "Prague Castle" (with the cathedral in the middle and the palace complex around it) taken from Charles Bridge.

Na Kampa Island. It looks like a quaint little town square, and is so peaceful even though it's next to Charles Bridge, the most crowded and touristy part of Prague.

Yes, another castle picture! Isn't it beautiful?! It's pictures and moments like this that help me have what my friend Julian calls "adventure moments." It's easy to become accustomed to the city and have a routine, but this helps me to realize how amazing it is to be living and working in another country.

This is a view looking east across Charles Bridge. Some of us stayed up all night to watch the sunrise, many bars and clubs later we made it to 5:30am and the view was completely amazing!

A view of Prague from the "Eiffel Tower" on Petrin Hill.

Along the river. Four of my friends live right around the corner, lucky girls.

Old Town Square.

The John Lennon wall.