Just To Be Clear…

3 Mar

Oh my God. I am really sorry, but I really need to have a quick rant right now. Please read & honestly listen to what I have to say before you judge.

Dear Readers & critics of my decision to move to Prague,

Let me tell you something real quick about my time over here. Every time I meet someone, they ask me the same thing:

Are you a student here?

To which I respond, “No, I live here.” 

Live. As in I have a life here. I pay rent & refill metro cards & buy groceries & go to the gym & work all week & have a mundane routine just like everyone else. My only difference? It’s in Prague.

But let me break it down for you real quick. This is not:

-a vacation

-a study abroad experience 

-a non-stop partying tour

and it most certainly is not

-a ‘year off’ from real life

This is the realest life I have ever experienced. Realer than dealing with drama throughout high school, realer than moving away for college & 100x realer than my panic throughout the entire second semester of senior year right before graduation. Real.

Yeah there’s my crazy tales about nights out & pictures from places I go–but there’s always another side to the story. I constantly struggle. I constantly worry about money. I constantly get judged by locals & experience some form of ostracizing. & For a while I was constantly trying to become my own person instead of a clone of what I was supposed to be. 

I just don’t write cute posts about it. So you have no idea how much that part of my life over here even exists.

But it does.

My halfway point here was awful. All I wanted to do was run back home. I wanted to give up. Why? Because it wasn’t fun anymore. The ‘newness’ had worn off & life was starting to get real. 

Like it is for all of you back home.

Say what you want, think what you want, but let me tell you: real life is a lot harder overseas. Where you’re marginalized, mocked & targeted based on nationality. All your superficial American luxuries disappear right before your eyes. Good service? Forget it. Helpful official workers? Are you serious? You are constantly arching your back to make yourself look bigger. You are constantly standing your ground & hiding any sign of weakness.

 Because that’s what you do when you want to survive. 

I fought through it though. I adjusted. I adapted. I threw icy stares back & held my purse tight when someone approached me. I became skeptical & cynical. Superficial habits were long gone. My nails look awful, my back is in knots & my hair is all roots. Because pampering, & all the other extra things we take for granted, isn’t a necessity in real life. 

I know my blog is an escape for some of you. An escape from your boring mundane life. But I just want to come clean: our lives are exactly the same. I used to feel guilty or selfish for complaining about my problems while living here. Because no one at home understands. & They never will. They see my life over here as the built up, embellished fantasy that they picture in their own mind. But if we’re being real–it’s anything but that. 

In about 3 months, it ends. And lately I have been dreading that. I am dreading being sucked back into a world where everyone’s biggest concern is the gossip around them & everyone has an opinion about everything even if they are so uninformed. The widespread views I have been molding the past 7months are about to get painfully tunnel visioned into concerns about ‘Who wore it better’ & which relative has gained weight recently. 

Everyone who did not message me once while I was here will suddenly appear right out of the woodwork. But I don’t think I will be so ready to welcome them back into my life. I can already predict how many people I outgrew during this experience. It’s opened my eyes to who my true friends are & who I just can no longer relate to. 

I will be back in a world where things like this are okay…

Image(Above: As a journalist…& just an American…this is HUMILIATING. Shame on you, MSNBC) 

..& where the people who are relying on such broadcasts will begin sentences with “I heard…” or “They say…”. I can already predict all upcoming family functions where people are going to ask me: 

HOW was it?!

How do I even answer a question like that? I just can’t. Because it won’t be the answer they were expecting or want to hear. So I will just answer it with a simple: It was great” because no one wants to hear about me skipping meals because I can’t afford them, feeling sick when I can’t go to the doctors, having my best friend/mentor move away for an unknown amount of time & dealing with a psychotic boss who plays mind games daily. That just doesn’t make for good conversation.

So my last few months here, I am just soaking it all in. Because as soon as I get home, I know I will be wanting to leave again. & It’s not because it was like studying abroad where I miss traveling every weekend, splurging on exotic food or shopping sprees. It’s because I’m adjusted to a different kind of life now. One that doesn’t include maps made in 2014 with “Czechoslovakia” or people messaging me asking if I’m okay because ‘The Ukraine civil war (aka: a war between two parts within a single country…) could spread to where I live”.

I guess my mindset is just a little different now.

End rant.

-JG 

 

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13 Responses to “Just To Be Clear…”

  1. lafemmet March 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    Brilliant post. You are a super smart little lady! I am coming up on my first year and a half mark in a few months in Serbia. It is amazing the things you learn and the strength you acquire just grocery shopping and doing the normal everyday things away from the normal Walmart! I found your blog at the start of the journey. Amazing transformation!

    • jgravesss March 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

      Thank you so much! That really means a lot to me 🙂 If I don’t transform or change at all as a person than what was the point? Congrats on your milestone in Serbia!

  2. Sluníčko March 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    No need to be sorry for that post, I like it! And I’m really shocked about the map-picture… o.O This is just embarrassing and shocking and I really don’t know what to say… I can’t believe that people still haven’t realized that Europe has changed a lot during the past decades… :-O

    • jgravesss March 3, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

      Yeah me either. And that is ON A NEWS STATION. I have a journalism degree & know that the #1 rule is FACT CHECK. How pathetic & idiotic. I hope someone got fired for that image because it’s so insensitive.

  3. 3arrington March 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    Hi, I too live in Prague, and have found how rude the people can be, but that is true in all major cities of the world. Leave Prague and visit the smaller towns, and see the real hospitality the Czechs offer. It would be great for everyone to live part of their life where they feel uncomfortable. Where they have to change and adapt. It would bring some big changes to people’s outlook on life. One piece of advice, if you don’t mind me saying; don’t be too hard getting rid of your friends, your life has gone on, and so has theirs, If your friendship is strong enough, you shouldn’t need to be in contact with them all the time. I have friends who I haven’t spoken to in years, but I know if I need them, the will be there for me. I hope you find the same when you return home. I have travelled a fair bit and seen some amazing places. But don’t forget the people you meet on your travels. Remember, people make places. If all the souls you met in Prague offered you easy service or helped you in every way, you wouldn’t have grown, so thank them for their ignorance, for their failure and for their unknown guidance.

    • jgravesss March 3, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

      Wow, very insightful comment. It is true. Although I know the difference between friends who care & those who don’t. I guess it hurts more because I live in an age where communication between long distances is so simple therefore there is truly no excuse for losing touch. I went to Cesky Krumlov & enjoyed it. I feel like the language barrier has driven a huge wedge between my growth in Prague, although my Czech is very basic & I always try to communicate. I have met a lot of great people & can’t wait to see what lies ahead!

      • 3arrington March 10, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

        I hope you have fun wherever you go and keep on posting so we can follow you.

  4. Ron March 3, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    Wait until you have to live the real life for another 20 years then you can really comment on it That’s okay I still think your my little princess.

    • jgravesss March 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

      Grampy, I am your little princess forever, don’t worry! And yeah someday I can be like you, 103years old & then I will have a lot to talk about 🙂

  5. Lisa Pastor March 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    Hi jesse,

    Mama Pastor here. First, thank you so much for having Alex as your guest. I was concerned at first but after reading your blog i felt much better. Got to know you a little through it. You write beautifully. I really admire your determination and spirit! I would love to meet you and hope when you get “home” you will come visit the “fabulous Hamptons” and be our guest.

    • jgravesss March 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      Thank you so much Mrs. Pastor! It was so great seeing Alex! And thank you so much for supporting my blog 🙂 I would LOVE to come visit the Hamptons this summer, that sounds amazing 🙂

  6. Katie Perkowski April 2, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    My friend Kevin (I think he must have met you during your time in Paris?) told me about your blog, because I’ve been in Slovakia for two years (and I’m also a journalist–I think I just read that you are too), but kinda sorta (don’t want to commit) moving to New York in August. I really enjoyed your latest post about purchasing your ticket (because I am going to delay that action as long as possible, and I’m still not sure I’m going to do it), but this post is spot on. WOW. Especially the part about “OMG how was it?!” (OK, so I added the OMG and exclamation point, because let’s face it, that’s how the girls at home are going to phrase it). I’ve made two trips home since being here, and I was so sick of that question, because immediately after you start answering it, they stop listening and want to gossip about the Kardashians or some other stupid show Americans in our generation pay way too much attention to. I also received several emails making sure I was “OK” because of what was going on in Ukraine. I wanted to tell them to Google a map.

    I also completely agree with people at home thinking “your life is amazing” (I constantly get that from friends), because yes, it is and I love this simpler lifestyle with less superficial crap, but it’s also REALLY hard, and things are so much more complicated here (especially medical services, visa processes and paying taxes). And I definitely know who I have outgrown while over here, and it includes a lot of people who haven’t even bothered to ask me about my time here or to check in at all.

    Ah, sorry, now I’ve gone on a rant. But I really, really appreciated this post. Enjoy your last couple of months in beautiful Praha (I’ve been a few times, and I still have to go back once more before I maybe move home), and good luck with your transition back in the US.

    • jgravesss April 2, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      Thanks, Katie! I really appreciate you reading my blog! I am glad you were able to identify with this post so much. I am just being honest with my rants because I need to express my feelings. Enjoy your time in Slovakia!

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