Archive | November, 2013

Boys, Boys, Boys

30 Nov

Disclaimer: So if you are reading this & are a boy then chances are you may be offended at some point. But if you are reading this & are a man–you’ll be jussst fine. The opinions in this post are strictly based on my own personal experiences, which if you have been reading this blog for a while, know that my experiences are usually interestingly bizarre & never boring. 

So dear readers, let me discuss a favorite topic of mine with you: the male species. 

Growing up in a small town with even smaller schools doesn’t really expose you to that many boys. You have the same group who you have seen pick their noses in 2nd Grade, pummel you with dodgeballs in 5th Grade & now you’re supposed to magically choose one in 8th Grade? All the favorable puberty in the world couldn’t help me there. 

Image(Above: The tiny Catholic school I went to from 2nd-8th grade. Surrounded by the same 10 boys in ties & button down shirts…pickings were beyond slim) 

So like most, I didn’t really have a chance to become acquainted with boys until high school. This is when I had my first boyfriends & learned the most coveted part of a young ( or just any?) American relationship: status. Aka: things are not official until they’re Facebook official, everyone & their brother can have an opinion about who you date & you need to be careful who you select in the fist place. Do we look cute together? Will my friends like him? Will my parents like him? Such relationships cause us to seek outward approval so much that you almost forget to ask yourself the most important question of all: do I even like him?

Image(Above: 17-year-old me, with my pre-Invisalign teeth + no make up = total catch)

3 Short lived relationships in a row & it’s clear I wasn’t asking myself this question. But then college came & I discovered the ‘L’ word. Love. As in a relationship with someone who I really cared about & who really cared about me. But more important than that he proved it. & I don’t mean paying for dinner or buying me flowers, no anyone can do that, if you really love me, in my opinion, you are willing to compromise. I will admit, I am not always the easiest person to date, but I am willing to work through differences if you are too. You don’t walk away after one disagreement & instead fight to make things work. This is love. Our love lasted one full year, but then it was back to the drawing boards of singledom. 

American boys, now I know I cannot generalize you all, but a lot of you make it quite easy to. You all seem to rock this means to an end mentality. & We all know what ‘the end’ is. This can be said for most boys, regardless of nationality, but you are different. You want to cut corners. Corners called romance & chivalry. The worst part? As American girls we usually feel obliged to comply. He bought you a drink? Oh, so you totally have to go home with him tonight. Um, excuse me?! Since when did an overpriced mixed drink become equal exchange for my vajayjay? It isn’t & I will never treat it as such. 

Ladies: it’s about quality, not quantity. If all you want is quantity than, by all means, live your life. Ignore our country’s obsession with slut-shaming & make your own decisions. But one thing I have learned is that if you keep going after quantity when you really want quality, you will just constantly be disappointed. Patience is a virtue, my friends. 

So here I was, basically single a whole 1.5years after me & my ex broke up & I thought I had things all figured out. But then came the game changer, the wrench that was thrown into my careful calculations & caused everything to go haywire. A whole species I complete forgot to account for: European boys.

Image(Above: Is there a better place in the world to find love? Answer: non.)

Or not just European boys, but boys from anywhere but America. Boys who believe in some foreign concept called passion. Something that I had only had slight glimpses of in previous relationships. My semester abroad in Paris was just what I needed to re-assure me that I was beautiful. & Desireable, just how I was. I didn’t have to change anything about myself in order to be more appealing for others. It was a nice change coming from a country where I daily feel inadequate to others. 

I mean having blonde hair helped. It really helped. Do you know how many natural blondes there are in Paris? Not many. Therefore everywhere I went, everything I did, every move I made was watched. At first being stared down every day on the metro, on the street, in restaurants, etc. was nerve-wrecking. But then I realized how powerful it was being a blonde in Paris 😉 

During my 5months living in Paris, I had the closest French thing that would be considered a relationship. One great thing about European boys is they don’t seem to be so status obsessed, I have also yet to meet one that loved to play games as much as an American. It’s nice to just hang out with someone, go on dates with them, be romantic & not freak out about ‘what we are’. Are we boyfriend/girlfriend? Are we just dating? Are we just hanging out? Are we friends? Ladies, stop obsessing! It’s exhausting. Men are simple & blunt. If they like you, they will hang out with you. If they really like you they will go on dates with you. If they don’t like you/something is up, they will ignore you. There you go. 

Image(Tu me manques, Leo 😉

Before coming to Prague, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t just a little excited to be surrounded by European boys again. Of course everyone is different, but all the ones I’ve encountered just understand women…in more than one way. Since being here, the best way I have met guys was, where else, working the Pub Crawl. Nightly I am introduced to herds of foreign men, & more than that, I have actually met so many cool people. This is what I love about traveling & meeting so many different people from all over: hearing their experiences & stories. And finding that even if you’re so different, you have a connection in some way. It’s pretty cool.

So, dear readers, based on my experiences I have decided I would give the men I have met while living abroad (& in the US) some superlatives based on my impressions of them:

Best for committed relationships: Americans. cheating/infidelity are one of the most frowned upon things in our society, whereas ‘open relationships’ are a thing in Europe. If you want to have a boyfriend who is least likely to cheat on you/will feel awful if he ever does, stick with Americans.

Most Charming: French. It helps that I am so in love with Paris itself but French men just understand romance. They understand how to dress, smell nice, they can cook amazing food. They treat their women likes works of art. Je l’aime.

Most Welcoming: Italians. Besides France, the second most likely place for me to cat-called on the street/get my booty smacked. My time in Italy was awesome because I felt so welcomed, family values & a love for food are prime here. Plus I didn’t pay for most things for being ‘bella’.

Best Drinking Buddies: Czechs. They just understand beer & pub life. It’s so casual here. No one judges you, & you usually stay out for hours. If you want to have a good time + a good conversation (because they can all hold their alch quite well) go drinking with Czechs.

Funniest: English. Most of the time you cannot even understand wtf they say due to the accent/slang but every English boy I have met is an extra for the cast of Jackass. They love to party, drink & have fun but at the same time will keep you laughing all night long.

Best Dancers: Brazilians. No surprise here, these people understand rhythm & tempo like no other. Too bad I am an awful dancer & cannot follow along. But if you wanna tear up the dancefloor with a little salsa or tango, Brazilians will do it in the most sensual way possible.

Most Polite: Canadians. I feel bad that Americans tease these people so much because all the ones I have met are nothing but friendly & kind. True gentlemen to a fault & very humble. Canadians would also make excellent long-term boyfriends.

Most Punctual: Germans. Americans (or basically New Englanders) place high importance of being on time, but that is nothing compared to the Germans. If they say they will meet you at 7pm, then they will meet you at 7pm. All the Germans I have met are also (at times brutally) honest, which can be nice if you want to hear the actual truth.

Most Direct/Blunt: Dutch. But German honesty is nothing compared to the Dutch. While they claim they are just being ‘honest’, & they very well may be, brace yourself. The truth hurts. Don’t expect anything to be sugarcoated. I can be very sensitive at times, so this is a fiery combo. 

Most Likely to Break Your Heart: Irish. I am half Irish, so this makes sense? Haha jussst kidding. But expect to have the best day/night of your life & then never hear from them again. This exact pattern has also happened to 2 co-workers, so maybe it’s a little more common than anyone would like to admit.

Most Loyal Friends: Indians. Another culture where family & friendship is big. All the people I have met from India impressed me with their unwavering loyalty to friends. Even if their friends were passed out on the couch inside the club. They leave no one behind. 

Most All-Around Perfection: Australians. Friendly, tan, beautiful, those accents & chances are they probably know how to surf. What more could a girl ever want in life?

So, there you go, those are my impressions so far from all the European boys (& beyond) I have met while living here in Prague. It’s nice to meet so many different men on a Sociological aspect because male & female relationships differs so much from every country. & While you may think that your country is the best, you should never be closed off from both experiencing new things & also trying to understand these cultural differences.

One surefire thing is that blonde hair & my super exotic American accent always seems to help 😉

-JG 

 

 

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Reflections

23 Nov

To all my lovely readers:

Some of you I know. You’re my family members who scour the internet searching for my elusive URL no matter how many times I copy/paste it verbatim via FB chat or e-mail.

You’re my friends who know firsthand my interesting sense of humor, crazy alter-egos & unwavering belief in kindness.

You’re my acquaintances who I may have only spoken to once or just only politely added on FB because I was a friend of a friend yet you keep clicking on the links every time I post them anyway.

Or some of you are strangers who are either co-workers Mama G has riled up to live vicariously through me or just other fellow bloggers who have blogs far more interesting & exciting than mine.

I want to thank you all.

You are the reason I keep writing. If you have been following Czech It Out Blog for a while now, you know that I usually try to narrate my time abroad laced with sarcastic humor intertwined with life lessons. But you also know that there’s some pretty personal things on here. I want to thank you for allowing me to feel comfortable to talk about those things. While I am lucky to be surrounded by so much love over here in Prague, sometimes, true to my Journalism major form, writing is the only thing that keeps me sane.  

I truly appreciate it every time someone tells me they love my blog. It’s a form of acceptance that only writing can have. This experience would have been much more difficult if I wasn’t able to keep an open dialogue about it.

When I first started Czech It Out, I wanted to keep things real. I didn’t want to merely make it a diary just narrating all my mundane activities, I also didn’t want to make it a ton of photos or travel-based (although I have nothing against such blogs!), I wanted to make it something you could relate to as well, dear readers. 

I wanted to write my blog about a 22-year-old recent college grad who decided to pack up her life & move to Prague alone but have every single post forcing you to say “I know how she feels”. 

This blog is not about me, it’s about us. 

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Because we are all scared. Scared of change, scared of failure. We are all worried. Worried about money, worried about health, worried about love. We are all unsure & feel so alone sometimes. But we get through it. There are times when I have no food, no money & feel awful but then I just think to myself look where I am.

Look at how far I’ve come.

Look at what I did.

A lot of people always tell me that they could have never done what I did, & to this I say: have you ever tried? Have you ever followed your dreams? It’s not an easy thing to do. You have to work hard for dreams to become reality. But if it’s something that you honestly want with all your heart then I believe you’re willing to do anything. You are willing to sacrifice, to compromise & go the extra mile.

It’s all about perspective. One year ago I was a nervous college senior who called Mama G crying because I was so worried about the future. It’s funny how things work out, huh? 

Where were you one year ago? Where are you now? If you’re still in the same place & still unhappy about it do something. Don’t allow yourself to still be in the same exact place one year from now. Life is too short & the world is a big place. 

I am now approaching my 4 month marker living in Prague & have 7 more months to go. I have managed to survive TEFL courses, culture shock, apartment hunting, job searching & Visa applications.

Up next? My first Thanksgiving, Christmas & Birthday not at home. 

Some days I want to just quit, I want to book a plane ticket, run back home to sleep in my bed forever, only eat Mama G prepared feasts, cuddle my cat & hug my grandparents. But I can’t. I’m not finished over here yet. All the amazing experiences & people I have encountered tell me that this all happened for a reason. I said I would live here a year & I’m not the kind of girl who goes back on her word.

Plus you wouldn’t have a blog to read anymore 🙂

So thank you, thank you, thank you, whoever you all are. I appreciate all the support more than ever. Keep reading & I will keep on posting!

Love,

Jessi Graves 

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My Crazy Double Life

17 Nov

So for the past few weeks, I have met a lot of people. Like more people than I’ve met in YEARS. And they all seem to ask me the same line of questioning in the same order.

Random person: “Where you from, gurllll?”

Me: “USA, mofo!”

Random Person: “Obv, like where in the USA?”

Me: “Boston!”

Random Person: “Oh Bahhhstannn?! Like Affleck/Damon/Whalberg Boston? Do you like [insert championship sports team here]?”

Me: “Heck yes I do!”

Random Person: “Whoa! So what are you doing in Prague?”

Me: “Well, I moved here alone 2 months after graduating from college. I didn’t know anyone here. I don’t speak Czech. But now I teach preschoolers English during the day & lead the pub crawls at night.”

Random Person: [pauses] “…Wow. You live the most awesome life.”

It only took me having this conversation 20something times in order to realize just how true their words were I do live the most awesome life. I made my dream of living in Europe a reality. Instead of just talking & hoping ‘someday’, I got on that plane & made a huge change in my life. I spend all day enriching the impressionable young minds of the future, & spend the night broadening the cultural horizons of all those who venture to Prague.

Just kidding!

I actually get my hair pulled all day & deal with temper tantrums then at night I get harassed by drunk tourists & puked on.Image(Above: In an ideal world the society one would be me at school, but yes, the final one is accurate as well)

 But it’s really not as bad as it sounds. I equally love both my jobs. Neither one is necessarily ‘easy’, I mean they definitely have their cons, but they are both awesome in different ways. & They are actually curiously similar in many ways too such as…

1. NO ONE LISTENS TO ME

Whether you are a 4-year-old child who knows -1% of the English language or a herd of Brazilians who just drank their weight in Absinthe, the last thing you want to do is have some blonde American girl sternly instructing you. I know it’s overwhelming. Because you either have no idea what I’m saying, or you have just drank so much you don’t know what anyone is saying. So you try to reason with me & extend the olive branch of communication. If you’re the 4-year-old you will do this in Czech, you will give me a 5minute animated dialogue full of questions, which will never be answered because YOU ARE HERE TO LEARN ENGLISH. If you’re the Brazilians you will try & shhhs your friends chanting Ole Ole Ole in the streets upon making eye contact with me, but chances are our temporary pact will be broken again in 5minutes once someone begins a new chant. Once the olive branch has been rejected all hell breaks loose. 

Moral of story: screaming at children to stop running/screaming at pub crawlers to stop yelling seems to only get me sore throats & a strong urge to accidentally push someone into moving traffic.

Image(Above: Why yes, yes it is…if you’re not stupid enough to f it all up within the first hour…)

2. Simple Tasks Become Grand Feats

Have you ever tried to catch a chicken? Like you chase it around & back & forth until you finally might be able to pounce on it. Well I have never tried to catch a chicken, but I assume that trying to get a class of super rambunctious 5-year-olds to all sit in a circle is like this. x 7. Because all they want to do is run…& flip over tables…& throw things at my head. Ohhh teaching. Seriously, kids, this is not rocket science. JUST. SIT. DOWN. & shut up. & repeat things I say to you in English! Pub crawlers, aka my giant group of drunk children also seem to have trouble with simple tasks. My favorite exchange is the free welcome shot they all get upon arriving to the bars.

Me: “Guys, please take your shot & then throw it in the trash right here”

Pub crawler: “What is this?”

Me: “Um, I don’t know…I think vodka”

Pub crawler: “ewww…vodka? as in alcohol? you’re making me drink alcohol on this pub crawl?! I don’t want this. That first shot we had at the first place, yeah that was good…but this…tell your manager we should have something different…like maybe tequila or something really expensive to feed in bulk to 200+ people…yeah”

Me: “Come on, please take the shot or go, there’s people behind you…”

Pub crawler: “Whoa, fiesty…what’s your name? Where are you from?…will you take this shot with me…? come on…”

Me: “No.”

Then the pub crawler takes the shot, makes a face at the Burnett’s/Rubinoff hybrid liquid, then walks away defeated, making sad eyes at me. It’s actually hilarious. I see this exchange so many times a night & am always amazed at how difficult it is for someone people to just follow directions. 

Image(Above: I promise I am actually an awesome teacher)

3. Your skin gets real thick real fast

After living in Paris for a while I was used to/anticipated that European coldness. The Czech Republic was no different. I soon learned that rudeness is just a daily thing & you can’t take things so personally. My normal approach to rudeness in the United States is the back down mode, I avoid the confrontation & apologize. In Europe that doesn’t work. In Europe you need to serve that ish right back. Luckily I have plenty of practice with both my jobs. At the preschool I am used to children misbehaving & parents constantly disapproving of me. But I soon learned it’s not the end of the world. Because kids forget about it in 5 seconds & the parents keep sending the kids so I guess my classes aren’t so bad after all.

Pub crawl also nightly forces me to stand up for myself. This job is not for quiet timid people. You need to be assertive & authoritative. Even when 6 foot tall drunk guys are slurring awful names at you because you’re telling them they can’t bring their drinks on the street. I deal with this nightly. Being fondled & called awful things. My response: “Hey, let me see you try that again…see how many fingers you leave here with tonight.” I am becoming very scrappy to say the least. My boss already told us, “Girls, you are in Europe, men will be disrespectful to you. If you need my help, I have your back, but I give you permission to handle things on your own too”. Talk about a solid employer relationship! So yes, I will party with you, drink with you, dance with you, but if you are impolite to me, I will stand up for myself.

4. Endless Drama: Meltdowns, fights & too many shots

I think pub crawls are a great thing. They promise you one wild night of partying in some of the best bars & clubs, while you get to meet people from all over the world. Our pub crawl is even more special: for the price of $25 you get one full hour of UNLIMITED beer, wine, vodka & absinthe shots. Do you know how much alcohol that is? too much. Follow that up with 2-3bars afterwards where you get a free shot at the door (which you will complain to me about/spill on me/demand I take with you), then free entry into a 5-story club, one of the BIGGEST in Europe. Sounds like a great night, right? If you can handle it. Here’s my advice to you pub crawlers: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. As in there is a special place in hell for the people who come to sign up for the pub crawl & are already drinking. WHY?! You do not need to pregame this night! Because if you’re a guy chances are I am going to be yelling at you to stop chanting/touching me later & if you’re a girl then I am going to have to physically help you walk on the cobblestones to the next bar since you so wisely chose to wear STILETTOS as you sob & confess wayyyy too many personal things to me about your life.

So everyone, do yourself a favor & pace yourself. It’s exciting & fun but you don’t want to go so hard that you don’t even get your moneys worth. I have seen people puke their brains out at the first bar, get into fist fights in the bar, & have ENDLESS drinks spilled all over me. It’s not fun. Oh, & this is all after I’ve spent the day breaking up/diffusing children crying & flipping out. Basically, everyone, just get it together & we will all be jussst fine.

Image(Above: what you see–wow, fun! what i see–which one of you will puke on me tonight?)

5. The ‘Aha!’ Moment

So right now you’re probably thinking ‘Wow Jessi you sound miserable, why don’t you just quit?!’ Well, that’s where you’re wrong, dear reader. As I said at the beginning, I equally love both my jobs.I really do. Sure the kids don’t listen sometimes but it’s an overwhelming experience for them, having some girl speak a language they barely know all day to them. I love kids. That’s why I chose to teach preschool & not adults. Because even when we have a rough day, they forget about it in 5 seconds & are hugging me goodbye at the end of class or drawing me pictures (which I have begun decorating my bedroom walls with). & it’s all worth it. 

Same with pub crawl. Yes, drunk people can be annoying, but then I think about Jessayyy (& omg MESSAYYY) & realize that most of them are doing a lot better than I would be if I was forced to drink that much. Pub crawl has a lot of perks too. My co-workers are awesome, I get free beer at all the bars & can dance all night in the club. Plus the people I have met are so cool. Some travel all over the world & have wonderful stories & life experiences. I love being social & nightly meeting so many new friends (& beautiful men) 😉 Overall it’s a great job & has actually both curbed my own partying & SAVED me money. If your job is to party all night/you get home between 2-4am, then trust me, on your nights off all you want to do is sleep.

So there you have it. That’s what I’ve been up to these days. I wake up, teach children all day then head off to my second job where I lead pub crawls all night. Different jobs exact same skill set. But I am having fun & happy, not to mention making decent money now. I never imagined that my life would be like this over here in Prague, but now I realize it really is, like everyone says, pretty freakin’ awesome!

-JG 🙂