Archive | June, 2014

My First Week Back Home

19 Jun

So, it has been officially one week since I moved from beautiful, exciting Prague, Czech Republic back to boring old Sutton, Massachusetts. Much like when you first move abroad, when you move back home after being away for a while you experience a form of culture shock. ‘Reverse Culture Shock’ to be more precise. So, how have my adjustments been so far? Well, read on to find out!

1. Food is so sad tasting & hurts my stomach all the time

All my life I have had an extremely sensitive stomach. I was diagnosed as Lactose Intolerant at a young age & doctor’s always suspected I had some Gluten & Thyroid issues. Although my Lactose Intolerance eventually subsided, usually at home I had to be careful of what I ate or tummy aches were sure to ensue. 

Not in Europe. In Europe I found I could eat almost anything (even extreme no-nos like ice cream or the whipped cream atop my beloved Svichkova) & be perfectly fine. I think my entire time in Prague, my stomach didn’t hurt once after eating like it does at home. Even when my friend Alex, who is on a strict no-dairy no-gluten diet, came to visit, she drank beer & ate dumplings. & She was fine. 

It’s no secret that most food in America is pumped with chemicals, fillers & preservatives. Things that are actually banned in the rest of the world. So I’m not surprised that my stomach has been hurting since I came back. Food just tastes so bland to me now. Most of what I’m eating comes from a box or was frozen. & Food at restaurants taste generic. Like it was just sitting back there in the kitchen waiting to be ordered. I really miss how fresh food tasted in Europe. & How it didn’t kill my stomach every time I ate it 😦 

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2. Being Broke: Works in Europe not In USA

As of right now I have $5 to my name on a credit card. Yup, that’s it. And I have no idea when I will be getting money next. In Prague, this was such a normal occurrence, I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash. $5 is actually a lot of money in Prague. If you know how to use it. You can still go out to get a few beers, buy a few groceries & have a good night. 

In Sutton $5 will do nothing. It will barely put a gallon of gas in my poor car that is sitting in the driveway with its gaslight on ‘E’. $5 will barely get my a sandwich at Panera Bread or whatever place my friends want to meet up & talk. $5 Means I have no social life right now. So if you want to hang out with me, sorry, you’re going to have to come to me. 

& Unlike Prague there’s no cool parks for us to walk to & drink a few beers.

3. Job Hunting Is Not That Scary

I’m sure it really would have been 1 year ago when I was fresh out of college. Because I had none of this coveted ‘experience’ that most job applications request. However, upon coming home I realized just how much of an asset I would be to ANY company. I have certainly been through a lot my past year in Prague, maybe even more than applicants much older than me, & in an interview I’m not afraid to tell you that.

So far I have applied to 7 jobs or so. And I really had to hunt around. Because I do not want something that will make me completely unhappy, bored or unfulfilled. If you recall older posts were I firmly fight for the belief that I can choose happiness over money or, both. I firmly believe I am qualified for everything I’m applying for & trying to articulate that my age is not synonymous with inexperienced.

(ps: I have a phone interview with one position in 1hr & should hear back from another one later today!)

4. No One Has Changed

When you think about it, it really has only been 1 year & people usually don’t change much in that amount of time. So yup, as expected, everyone is still doing what they were doing a year ago & probably what they will still be doing in one year.

Everyone’s on a different path, I guess. 

5. Except Me

While I am much more worldly, calmer & open-minded after living in Prague, I have to admit I am most proud of myself for how low maintenance I’ve become. 

I barely wear makeup, have not done anything with my hair, & really only dress up when I have somewhere to go. Plus I have no phone, no iPod & didn’t freak out when I had no computer for a few days. This shows personal growth. I am a lot less self-conscious of my appearance & could really care less if I have a phone at all. I love being disconnected. It’s like going to live in the woods or something, I feel free. 

I am not like everyone else in my generation with my eyes permanently glued to my phone. I would much rather look at what is around me. I don’t want to text or call people, I would rather speak to them in person. 

Currently conflicted between my ‘New Jessi’ hippie self with grown out dark roots & getting my hair highlighted & trimmed to go back to ‘Old Jessi’…we will see. 

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6. I Am Not In A State Of Constant Depression…Yet

The first stage of culture shock is excitement. You are excited to go to the new place & this lasts about 2 weeks. But my reverse culture shock hasn’t really been typical. I experienced no jet lag (I know right!), & was never really super excited to come back.

Yeah, it’s been cool seeing everyone, it’s been nice sleeping in a comfy bed & swimming in the pool. But I mean, I think I would have been perfectly fine staying in Prague. 

Because I didn’t have any huge exciting expectations for my return home, I guess I haven’t been too disappointed with sitting at home doing nothing for the past week. Although, I know how I am. I crave routine.

So, in order to prevent a post move depression I will throw myself into my job (once I get hired) & also, the gym, a healthy & constructive way to channel all this emotion. I got this covered. 

So that’s what’s been happening in my life these days. Sadly not as exciting of a read as previous posts. But I’m sure as time goes on & I find my place here, you will hear some more of my crazy adventures!

JG 🙂 

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Returning to The Homeland!

14 Jun

So I have only been back home for 2 days. On my way home I had a 22 hour layover in Dublin, Ireland, which let me tell you dear readers, was one of the BEST 22 hours of my life. Immediately upon stepping on Irish soil I fell in love with the Irish & their personalities. 

Never have a experienced such friendliness!

It was a little overwhelming. Like the TSA guys at the airport patting me on the back while handing back my passport & saying, “Cheers, love!”, people I didn’t know coming up to buy me Guinness in a non-creepy way, everyone offering to help me with my overweight giant broken wheeled suitcase that I was dragging behind me, & the man driving the airport shuttle bus actually waiting making sure I had secured my bag & was sitting down before he sped off. I mean do people even DO things like this anymore? Czechs–most likely definitely not. & If you meet an American as kind as an Irish person than you remember them & tell others about them. 

Image(Above: THIS is what you see flying over Ireland. Green & beautiful!)

Basically, while I thought the overall city that I saw wasn’t as breath-takingly beautiful as some of the other places I’d been (although I almost cried when I realized the river was actually a seaport going to an ACTUAL OCEAN which was nice considering I’d been landlocked for all this time), I would literally moved to Ireland just for the people. 

It might sound silly because no one ever moves anywhere for that sole reason. They move for scenery & culture. But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned both from my studying abroad for 5 months in Paris & living abroad for 11 months in Prague–the people around you really affect your lifestyle…& ultimately your happiness. After all they’re the ones you’re trying to become. 

Think about it: part of moving to any new place is learning to acculturate & blend in with the locals. When you move to Paris you learn to turn your nose up to the flower men, mini Eiffel Tower men & those ones at Sacre Coeur who try to tie things around your wrist. In Prague you learn to be silent on all public transport, but immediately offer to give up your seat for someone who needs it. But you also learn to be quiet, reserved & frown a whole lot (which socially doesn’t convey meaning like it does in USA, it’s smiling that conveys more meaning–& sometimes it’s a bad thing!). 

While in Italy & especially Ireland it was really fun to blend in aka: talk my usual (loud) volume, small talk with the people around me (something a Parisian or Czech would probably NEVER do), & just have a great time!

I knew I was only there for a short while so I wanted to make it last! I asked my hostel (complete with adorable HILARIOUS Irish men) where to go for dinner & eventually stumbled in this little pub called The Celt. Walking into the dimly lit room filled with older men in suits yelling & laughing was a little intimidating, I almost left! But then the bartender, who was so so cool, greeted me before I had time to go.

Image(Above: The Celt in Dublin. Great food, great music, great people! I totally recommend it!)

I sat right at the bar & proceeded to order my very first Guinness (which, to my disappointment, tasted almost NOTHING like my beloved Kozel Cerny) & some Fish N Chips. Before my food even came, I had officially met both the bartenders & had struck up a conversation with the kid behind me who was from Kentucky but LIVED IN BOSTON. Small world! 

I arrived at the pub around 8pm & left probably somewhere around 1am! I knew I had a flight the next day but I was just having so much fun! Everyone came up & chatted with me (although sometimes I could not understand A SINGLE WORD), there were 2 parakeets chirping away in a cage hanging above the bar, the Guinness & Bulmer’s was flowing & around 10pm the live music began! 

Image(Above: There’s live music every night! Like legit Irish music with fiddles & tin flutes!)

At one point when I told the bartender I was Irish (4th generation but still Irish!) he said, “Well welcome home little lady!” & I really did feel like I was. I looked around to everyone laughing & singing to the music, drinks in hand & just thought to myself, “God, I will miss Europe.” 

The next day I woke up at 9am with a massive hangover, missing the free walking tour at my hostel. But I was all recovered by the time I had to head to the airport at 1pm, so I had no regrets at all about the previous night! My 7 hour flight home was boring & long but it felt good to run into the arms of Mama G & Grampy who were waiting for me in the airport.

I am happy to see everyone & be back but also so sad to go.

Europe, I love you & cannot wait to come back. I had a great time these past 11 months. Solo trips to Vienna, eating my way around Italy, 2 times in Paris & of course learning to fall in love with my now 2nd home, Prague. It was a great time & I am so glad I ended the experience partying it up in Ireland. It was a celebration that right now this may be the end, but I will definitely be back soon!

JG 🙂 

The Final Curtain Call

6 Jun

So as my adventures in Prague come to a close, I have been experiencing more emotions than ever before. I still can’t believe I only have about 5 days left in this wonderful place.

I can remember getting on the plane at Logan Airport in Boston on July 30, 2013. Dragging my 2 giant suitcases behind me & slinging my 2 overstuffed carry-ons over my shoulders. I hoped I had everything I needed, but there comes a time at those moments when you realize it’s too late to turn back & if I really did forget something I would just have to deal. I said goodbye to my family & my pets & my room & my house. It was so weird, not knowing the next time I would be back there. I mean, I had a rough idea:

-Fly to Prague

-Get my TEFL Certification throughout the month of August at TEFL Worldwide Prague

-Find a job/apartment/new friends/new life immediately after 

-Stay for 1 year & then come back home

There’s a saying that goes “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And while there were certainly a few curve balls that were thrown at me along the way, mostly everything went according to plan. 

And now, here I am, with 5 days left, living out of my suitcases at Gillian & Filip’s houses, trying to take everything in. Trying to formulate goodbyes that I swear are not permanent but then again, you never know. I am down to my last $10, have quit my job & moved out of my apartment. It’s the final curtain call.

And everyone is asking me, “Oh you must be SO EXCITED to go back!” but for a long time, I didn’t know how I felt. & Still don’t.

I feel stuck. I feel afraid. I feel worried. I am stressed out about undergoing another culture shock. Where things are completely different. Where doors always have to be locked, prices are ridiculous, & everyone around me may not like the new Jessi. 

I have changed so much throughout this experience. I am more open-minded, I am more introverted & have learned to listen a little more than I speak. This is such a stretch for a girl who would never shut up & always craved human companionship to now be able to travel alone & at times go hours without speaking. 

This change is not a bad thing. I just had to adapt to my new climate. 

And now I am scared to have to adapt again to the climate of USA, where people panic over not having a wifi signal & are going to talk behind my back about my weight or long distance relationship. How upsetting. 

One of the most freeing things for me during all this was having a crappy pay-as-you-go phone & getting my iPod stolen in November. Why? Because I was disconnected. Instead of scrolling through newsfeeds over dinner I actually made eye contact with the person sitting across from me. Instead of instagramming all my food, I actually ate & savored it. Instead of Google Maps, I read real maps & if I got a little lost, asked real people. It was refreshing. 

And now, after all the progress I have made & all the lessons I’ve learned over here in Prague I am terrified of reverting back to the way I was. Because then this would have all been such a complete waste of time. It would have just been like the vacation/escape from responsibilities some assumed it was.

Oh, & then there’s that huge elephant in the room everyone interrogates me about next: where will you work? 

Hey, guess what, I have no idea! And I am not worried about it at all. 

It is unfortunate how much your job is a form of social status. It must be, because it’s something we are all either ashamed of or bragging about these days. Personally, I think work ethic & happiness is more important. Yeah happiness won’t pay the bills & blah, blah, blah…but I just paid my bills for the past 10 months while being relatively happy over here, so what’s your point?

Chill everyone, I will find a job. Happiness though, I am a little more worried about finding that.

Image(Above: One of my favorites in the cemetery)

While in Paris, since it was my 4th visit & favorite city, I wanted to just basically chill & explore some things that I had never seen before. Somehow I had never been to Pere Lachaise. Pere Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris & a tourist attraction because of some of the famous people who are buried there. Musicians like Jim Morrison, singers like Edith Piaf & writers like Oscar Wilde all rest in Pere Lachaise. 

Since Zach was off exploring the Louvre, I basically had this huge window of time to explore Pere Lachaise alone on my second to last day in Paris. And I’m so glad I did. It sounds odd to say but wandering aimlessly around a giant cemetery for a few hours is eerily therapeutic. I walked right in, not even bothering to grab a map, I just didn’t care. I wasn’t there to go take a few quick selfies with the graves of people who had never affected me. I was there to find something else.

Having been to a few cemeteries near my hometown, I can honestly say that Pere Lachaise is magnificent & unlike any place I’d ever been before. The graves were not just simple headstones but intricate tombs, old stone supulchres & breathe-taking murals. I walked alone, away from the tourists. Trees shrouded the cemetery in eerie shadows even though it was a fairly sunny day & the only sound were the birds chirping high above. I was in a trance.

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I scanned the hundreds of graves reading the names of the families buried there. The tombs were lined in little winding paths that lead you deeper into the cemetery. I came across sculptures of famous deceased play-writes, actors & writers who I had never heard of. I felt a power & energy coming from Pere Lachaise. It was indescribable. All those lives intertwined, some recently departed & others long forgotten.

And this was the thing that shook me the most.

Some tombs were carefully preserved. Clean, manicured & covered with flowers, plaques & other offerings. But others were mossy & crumbling, either from age or lack of preservation. It made me so sad. Who were these people buried here? Did anyone care about them? What were their stories? Unfortunately, no one would ever know, because now the only object dedicated to this soul’s existence was rotting away just like the skeleton buried deep below.

I was so humbled.

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I really respected how most of the plaques, statues or monuments dedicated to the deceased were in no way joyous. They were honest. Death is painful, death is sad, but death is inevitable. Most of the marble plaques etched in French read things along the lines of “Farewell, Mama” or “Until we shall meet again”. My favorite was, morbidly enough, sculptures of grim reapers hovering above. A fearful creature, but in fact, one that will catch up to all of us eventually.

But why do we fear death? Personally I think it’s because we will not make enough of an impact in the world before we go. That way, just like the old warning in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, we will be buried at an empty funeral & our name or legacy will go right along with us.

But as sad as I was seeing the crumbling old no-name graves, I was amazed by the very preserved ones. 

Although it was true that most of these graves were of those whose deaths were much more recent, some were really not. Some spanned generations. Men & women who passed away decades ago who still had brightly colored fresh flowers resting on top of their tombs. & These names were ones I had never heard of before. 

I wondered why at first but then I realized it’s because even if they possibly died too soon, their time on the Earth made enough of an impact that it was not only not forgotten, passed down. Parents told their children & their children told their grandchildren. The story lived on until it because a legacy & this is a rare occasion when one experiences life after death. 

& Who knows, maybe some of these mossy overgrown tombs were once great people too. They just reached a generation where their light could no longer shine & it was distinguished. From ashes to ashes & dust to dust, is what they say after all.

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During my solo walk around Pere Lachaise while contemplating all this meaning of life, I realized just how lost I felt with my own life at the moment. I had no permanent address & was unsure about my future. I felt like my heart was about to be stretched across to two places. I was about to reunite with the people I have always loved, but in order to do that I had to leave behind all the new people I have since fallen in love with. It’s a tough feeling. 

So it was there, that I asked for a sign. For an indication of where to turn & what to do.

Immediately, a ray of sunlight poked through the trees & illuminated a single grave. I walked over to it & saw it was one of the cutest couples I have ever seen. They were born just a year apart & died a year apart too. Portraits from their youth were presented right above their dates. I instantly felt tears welling up in my eyes. This was it.

The answer was love.

This couple was born around the same time & probably got married at a young age (just like my own grandparents). They survived decades of wars, changes & hardships. But they survived them together. And then, when the woman died in 1997 at the ripe age of 89, her husband soon followed one year after. He could have gone due to complications the body experiences at this age, but I honestly believe it was because of a broken heart. 

How do you go on living without someone who has been your other half for so long? Someone who you grew up with & survived with for so many years. Most of these couples couldn’t. I soon noticed a pattern of most of the couples who were buried side-by-side in Pere Lachaise–they all died within 3 years of each other. Say what you want about medical complications, but like in The Notebook I think it was divine intervention. True love is eternal. 

Since coming to Prague, I thought I knew true love with another. I thought it was fairly one dimensional & something that would eventually fade. I was skeptical & logical & always felt I would just grow out of the other person. 

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But then I met Filip.

I have never experienced emotions so powerful with someone else. And as foolish as anyone may think I sound for feeling this way about someone I have been with since January, then please, tell me about your own love story? Are you settling, sometimes unhappy & think in the back of your head you could probably do better? Sorry, dear readers, but that isn’t true love. 

True love is my grandparents celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary & still holding hands & acting like teenagers. True love is all these beautiful couples in Pere Lachaise buried next to each other to be together for all eternity. 

And regardless of who knows what will happen, I feel like I have found something so real right now. Something that time or distance cannot alter. It was destiny. Because I am a huge believer in fate & when the universe sends you someone who makes you feel like I feel right now it’s a sin to just throw that all away. 

Before I left for Prague my mom joked that I could go on one condition:

“When you fall in love with a Czech boy, you have to promise me you will come back home.”

I laughed because I always thought Europeans were players & I just wanted to be single & enjoy the experience.

But isn’t it funny how life works out?

So now, Mom, here I am, I am head over heels in love, but I am getting on a plane in 5 days to come back to you. We will do the long-distance thing for 4 months & then Filip will come visit me in USA. But who knows about afterwards. 

They say that, “Home is where the heart is”, & my heart/home is about to be in 2 locations. But planes will always exist & I will always be welcome back…

…& You would always be willing to read Czech It Out Blog Pt 2, right? 😉

-JG 

 

Euro Trip 2014

5 Jun

Just got back from my European vacation yesterday &, let me tell you dear readers, what an adventure it was!

It was my friend Zach’s very first time being in Europe, so I was very excited to show him this wonderful lifestyle. During his 2 week visit we traveled around Prague, Rome, Firenze, Pisa & Paris! There’s no way I could possibly tell you about every single one of our adventures, but I will try & name some highlights!

Prague

-Zach tried every strange Czech delicacy I threw at home & actually enjoyed them! Normally a dedicated wine drinker, he tried the top 3 most famous (& in my opinion best) Czech beers: Kozel Cerny, Gambrinus & Pilsner Urquell. After trying to convert him to my obsession Kozel Cerny or a dark bitter beer (that is said to make certain female body parts grow bigger…), he crowned the light colored Gambrinus (Filip’s favorite) as the beer he liked best. 

-We also made Zach try some of the bizarre Czech cuisine. He left Prague having sampled Smažený sýr (FRIED CHEESE), beef Gulas, & my beloved Svíčková aka: steak with vegetable gravy topped with cranberries, whipped cream, lemon & served with a side of bread dumplings! Although most Czech food can sound scary, I was proud of Zach for keeping an open mind & he even ended our time in Prague ordering Svíčková as his own meal! I was so proud! 

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Image( Above: Don’t knock Svíčková, Smažený sýr or Kozel Cerny until you try them!)

-After we did all the touristy Prague things like Old Town, The John Lennon Wall & climb up to the castle, we did some favorite local activities. This included spending hours in my favorite neighborhood pub, dancing until 3am at the 5-story Karlovy Lázně club, & experiencing ‘The Nature’ of beautiful Divoká Šárka. As much as I love seeing all the big sites again when friends visit, I also really enjoy showing them all the hidden gems of the city that has become my home over the past 10 months. 

Rome

-I was excited to go here because Rome was the one city on this trip that we both had never visited. And it was overwhelming. There was soooo much to see. As much as I want to say that the ancient monuments & streets were my favorite–that’s not true. It was the pizza. Having gotten a recommendation from an American girl who studied in the city on our plane, we took her advice for dinner that night. And I am so glad we did! Although I have no idea what the restaurant name was, we ended up going there 2 nights in a row! It was jam packed with Americans but also so many friendly Italian workers. Sitting at tiny little wobbly tables with red checkered tablecloth noming down on my giant mixed veggie & sausage pizza was the highlight of Rome. 

-Another great thing about revisiting Italy was immediately recalling the extreme sense of welcome that Italians make you feel! Having spent 10 months in a city with silent metros, constant frowns & an overall sense of quiet it was nice to talk again. And Italians don’t just talk–they yell. So much that when they’re conversing with all their hand motions and facial expression you cannot tell if they’re angry or just telling a really good story. I loved it! 

Image(Above: This is essentially the typical Italian pizza. Notice how it is just out of the oven fresh & can barely fit on the plate? Yup.)

Firenze

-I first went to Firenze 2 years ago when I was studying abroad to visit/stay with the roommates of my friend. My time was filled with amazing food, drinking wine in piazzas at night, beautiful landscapes & a few scandalous adventures! Needless to say, I was extremely excited to show Zach this awesome city! One of the greatest things about Firenze besides the gelato shops, all the churches & duomo & restaurants is the openess. Most streets are cobblestone (reminded me of my Praha!) & don’t allow cars to drive down them. This gives the feel of genuinely being in Italy where you can walk in the streets freely–just look out for a vespa or bicycle whizzing by! 

-We were only planning on staying one night in Firenze so I knew our accommodation had to be good. After consulting the always reliable Hostelworld.com, I found the perfect place! My advice to anyone traveling is to READ THE REVIEWS! Sure the pictures may look cute & the price may be great…but it could also be 1 hour outside of the city & infested with bed bugs! The reviews are always honest &, in our case, these reviews led us to Danyhouse! A tiny section in an apartment building with only 3 small bedrooms & 2 bathrooms, the amenities were good, but it is the owner, Jonathan, who made our stay great! He immediately greeted us at the door knowing both our names & gave us a map of the city which he labeled completely. He showed us where all the sites were, as well as many places where we could get discounts for simply mentioning his name! Jonathan made us feel like treasured house guests! And after a night of political/current events discussion with the other 4 people staying there (2 Australians, 1 Welsh & 1 Brit), then a big breakfast together, I felt like we were a little family. I recommend Danyhouse to anyone traveling to Firenze! You will not be disappointed! 

Image(Above: This fabulous tan friendly man is Jonathan taking a selfie with another traveler. He took a selfie with us too before we left & I can’t wait to see how it came out!)

Pisa

-Having been to Pisa before, I knew that it would be doable in a couple of hours. So after our quick one hour train ride from Firenze, we made a move to the leaning tower & duomo. Even though there is not as much to do in Pisa, it is still so awesome to be lounging on a grassy yard a few meters away from one of the most famous monuments in the world! And of course we took those super touristy pics where to the camera is looks like you’re pushing up the leaning tower…but to everyone else, you & everyone around you look like you’re doing MJ’s ‘Thriller’ choreography!

Paris

-Although Zach thoroughly enjoyed all our previous destinations, I assured him that the best was being saved for last. I know I am super biased here; having first traveled to the amazing City of Lights when I was just 16, then spending 5 months studying there in college, & then just being there last December to turn 23–I knew my 4th visit to Paris would be just as special! By some stroke of crazy luck, our entire trip had beautiful weather! And our first full day in Paris was no exception (something extremely rare for a city that is usually cloudy). We saw all the main sights: L’Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur & Montmartre, Les Jardins des Tulleries, Musee D’Orsay, Le Defense, & of course, my girl, Eiffel. Seeing the look on Zach’s face every time he saw a new monument was priceless & actually not too far from my own expression. Paris is my ultimate happy place & even though I have been there several times, I will never stop being breathless at all that beauty. Paris is not a city, dear readers, it’s a mindset & lifestyle.

-Unsurprisingly, the food we ate here was also delicious. Confit de Canard (fried duck), crepes, all kinds of cheeses, wines & a home-made Granny Smith apple & Brie baguette sandwich I made for myself while watching a match of the French Open. Speaking of the French Open aka: one of the biggest tennis events in the world, it was taking place only a few blocks over! How Paris. There is always some event, concept, festival, exhibition going on in this city–but at the same time, the French lifestyle is all about relaxation. I made sure during my trip to Paris I took some time to chill out & enjoy the experience. 

-Another GREAT thing about being in Paris? I speak French! And even though it has been wayyy too long since I have spoken the language, I was surprised at how much immediately came back! The first bout being when we arrived in this random airport ‘Paris’ Beauvais

(Note: never fly Ryanair! Yes it’s cheap but it’s so unprofessional, the staff is rude & they only fly to airports 1hr from the actual city. Our flight was delayed over an hour with NO EXPLANATION. Spend a little more for EasyJet, it’s worth it). 

Anyways, we got off the plane & knew we had to take a 34euro bus into the city. There was a machine to buy tickets for this bus that took credit cards only. But surprise, surprise, not American credit cards! 

(Another note: Unlike European/other credit cards, American credit cards have no computer chip on them, therefore, they are not accepted at a lot of places over here. Sure they will be accepted at big chain stores/restaurants, but always ask before at smaller places & always carry some spare cash around!) 

It was alright because there was a shuttle bus, which we soon found out was full. Immediately there was a herd of nervous Americans in the airport being addressed by a girl who spoke barely any English. I sprung into action. I explained our cards didn’t work and she informed me that there was a cash desk for tickets outside–boom, day was saved! (And the bus was actually only 17euro–win!)

Image(Above: Any true Parisian knows that the best view of the city is on top of Les Galeries LaFayette shopping mall!)

Although most Parisians speak some English they 9 times out of 10 would rather speak to you in French. It’s a respect thing, much like in Prague, people value you 100% more with your broken Czech than if you were immediately resorting to only English. However, in Italy, I got the vibe that speaking English was no problem & Italians gave no attitude about the language switch. Anyways, it was nice to speak a language & have someone respond & I actually understood them. It’s a powerful feeling, one that I have since felt was forming a wall between my acculturation into Prague. This is why if I ever move back to Prague, or anywhere else, I will actively learn the language. 

So that was our trip in a nutshell! Thank you to everyone who helped us, partied with us, let us stay with them (including my awesome French host brother Simon & the cooler older sister I never had, Gillian!), & Mama G/Grampy for allowing me to take such a wonderful trip!

Now I only have 5 days left in Prague, but this trip was certainly ending this amazing adventure with a bang! 

děkuji moc

grazie

et merci beaucoup!

-JG 🙂