The Harsh Realities of Living out Your Fantasy

18 Jun

So, while I will try my absolute hardest to stay positive throughout this blog, I also want to be realistic. I am a practical person, not to mention ridiculously cautious. As I plan for my journey to Prague, I have had to make a list of both the pros & cons. While it’s pretty obvious what my pros would be (travel, adventure, food, fashion, men 😉 )I also want to address some of the boldfaced cons that I cannot ignore.

1. I am on my own

Although I had a blast studying abroad, one thing that really began to sink in a few months in was the feeling of isolation. I was lucky to have four great friends from RWU with me at school & just a metro ride away, but sometimes I was painfully lonely. I hate to admit it, but I am a country girl at heart. Paris was my first city experience. The first time I had to get used to the idea that each person I passed on the street could care less about my existence. It wasn’t like in Sutton where I’m surrounded by family friends or at RWU where we are all hawks. Cities are cold. Especially cities where the language, customs & culture are so different. It absolutely terrified me that if I was in trouble, no one would come to my rescue. Mama G was thousands of miles away. Yes, I had my friends, my French professors, & host family but, at the end of the day, I was on my own…completely. I know in Prague I will have this feeling of being an outsider again, but I realize it’s not thaaat big of a con. I will make new friends & connections. I will start fresh.

2. I do not speak Czech

This seems to be the cynical pessimistic remark I get from acquaintances after I tell them about this move (right after they ask me ‘Why would you ever want to go there?’), how can I move to a country when I don’t speak the language? To give myself some credit, I’m trying. Czech is a very difficult language (go Google it now), & is not at all related to French, a language I had become almost fluent in. So yeah, that’s kinda scary. I have taught myself the basics: hello, goodbye, good morning, good afternoon, thank you, please, how are you, I am American, my name is, etc. Something is better than nothing! I have also gotten various opinions from people who have been to Prague. Most say I will be able to get by with the bare minimal. But this makes me uncomfortable. In the past, before I traveled to a country, I learned the basics of the language. I wanted to seem polite & respectful, not just some obvious American blonde tourist butchering Dutch or Italian. In Paris, I learned that it’s the thought that counts! People will be much nicer to you if you genuinely try. So I’m going off this. Although I will get overwhelmed when I see these signs and have no clue what they mean…

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(Above: Yup…I am going to get lost many, many, many times)

3. I am going to be someone’s teacher?!

This is still something that makes me crack up a little bit. Like children/teenagers/adults (?) will be relying on my instruction in order to learn the English language! It’s a little scary. However, I feel like I have always been a leader, & it’s obvious I have no problem speaking in front of groups. It’s just…a weird thought. What kind of teacher will I be? A cool teacher? A strict teacher? A fantasy teacher with my hair up in pencil skirts? Um, can I be a little bit of all three? 😉 I know that the TEFL course will definitely prepare me for the job, it is just going to be a lot of work. Especially for my first real ‘big girl’ job. I don’t know exactly what age group I’ll be teaching just yet, but I secretly have my fingers crossed for little kids. Little kids & I just click. As strange as it sounds, when I was at RWU the two things I missed so much were children & animals. Why? I guess because I was just surrounded by adults who stressed me out & fellow classmates. Little kids remind you not to take life so seriously. So here’s to hoping my future students can keep me sane! & In return, I promise I will do my very best to explain all the non-nonsensical English grammar rules.

4. I am entering the adult world…in Europe

Graduating–scary. Finding a job–scarier. Finding a job & apartment in another country?! Oh God, help me. I know that the TEFL program will definitely help me with the job, & an apartment will be easy but the whole thing is stressful. I don’t know what questions to ask landlords, I don’t know what is the most beneficial work contract, heck, I don’t even know how I am going to set up my Czech bank account. Then there’s doctors, dentists, taxes, bills, work visas & all those other adult things you call your parents up for help with. Only I can’t. I can just Skype them the next day late at night & complain about it. But once again, I have to figure it out. I felt bad, because I know mothers really look forward to their daughter’s first apartment. They want to help decorated & give you housekeeping advice. I’m really sad that Mama G won’t be there to help me :/ This is coming from a girl who still needs to get reminded to make her bed & learned how to do laundry at age 18. I am not an adult yet, but I have no choice but to act like one. However, Mama G was the one who pushed me to do this. She told me I could go & that I would be just fine…but on one condition: that my future Czech husband would agree to move back to Mass so we can raise our children in America. Ohhhh, Mama G.

5. Acculturating in the Capital of Bohemia

 So, I’m not sure how much you know about Prague or the Czech Republic (not very much probably, since 85% of people I talk to call it ‘Czechoslovakia’, 10% think it’s still a communist country, & an unnamed 5% thought it was in Germany…), but it is a very colorful nation. Of course it is beautiful with castles, churches, art & just an overall Disney World architectural scheme, but first world country aside, there are some pretty weird things I need to keep in mind. First off, the Czechs are very polite & reserved. I need to take off my shoes when entering someone’s house, & understand that being trustworthy is the most important quality. Also, Czechs seem to be whimsically superstitious. There are several folklore beliefs dealing with witchcraft & pagan traditions. Christmas will be celebrated with fried carp (aka a giant fish that will be swimming freely in the host’s bathtub the night before it is eaten), & on Easter men get to beat women with willow branches in order to keep them fertile! Can’t wait! This is the exciting/bizarre part about traveling to other countries–all the different traditions. As long as I latch on to some fellow Americans to wear costumes on Halloween with & feast on turkey for Thanksgiving–I’ll be jussst fine.

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(Above: fresh carp for a tradition Czech Christmas dinner)

6. Life goes on

This is, by far, the most difficult con for me to deal with. So much, in fact, that it made me consider putting this whole adventure on hold for a bit. Before I went to Paris, Mama G & I debated a few things that I am still not sure about. She told me that while I was gone…if something happened…she wouldn’t tell me. She didn’t want me to stress out, become depressed & fly home. But I argued, saying that I wanted her to tell me. However, to this day, I am still not sure. While I was in Paris, the usually headstrong Manchild (aka my 18-year-old brother, Adam, if you’re new to my lingo) had an accident. While skating on a pond alone near our house, he fell through the ice. After screaming for help (useless, Sutton is like space–no one can hear you scream), he managed to pull himself out of the pond, limp home & pass out. My mom rushed home, but he was already going into hypothermic shock, & had a concussion from hitting his head so hard. The next day, I get a Skype call to be informed of the whole event with him giggling like an idiot. I burst into tears. My brother had almost died & here I was thousands of miles away drinking wine & eating baguettes. I felt selfish. I do not know how long I will be in Prague, but I do believe that fate decides. I made the decision that yes, this is my dream, but if something happens–I am going back home as soon as possible. While you should never live for someone else, family is all you have in life. & If something happens to mine while I am in Europe, I need to be there for them. We stick together. I could never forgive myself if I was across the Atlantic & someone I love needed me.

Sorry to be a tad pessimistic! But I guess I just needed to talk/write about some of my fears going into this whole thing. But I am an optimist & the good always outweighs the bad!

Na zdraví!

-JG

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One Response to “The Harsh Realities of Living out Your Fantasy”

  1. Michael June 18, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    Bold move! Kudos for the dare!

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