Twelve months ago, Ms Girl boarded Easyjet flight EZY484 from Stansted to Prague. According to my diary, during my first week here I felt so happy I couldn’t stop smiling. Not that I didn’t anticipate that there would be bumps in the road, but I think my initial assessment of my life in Czechland still applies: “So far, so great”.
So, what have been the highs and lows of the last year? Here are a few of them, presented in an easy-to-digest list format:
1. Receiving ridiculous amounts of praise from surprised locals when managing to stammer out the most basic utterance in Czech. Disproportionate, yes, but also deeply gratifying.
2. Swapping a particularly grotty London suburb – the street I lived on was actually called “Murder Mile” although I obviously survived – for a cosy flat in a pretty corner of Prague which Czechman and I can actually afford to rent without having to share with anyone else.
3. Managing to get more mentally and emotionally rewarding work than I had in London – and luncheon vouchers! I’ve never had a job where they gave you luncheon vouchers, not even in France! Another excuse to eat out nearly every single day (don’t tell Czechman…)
4. Managing to make nice new friends (aww) which has helped me to avoid homesickness almost completely. That and regular trips to Marks and Spencers. Once M & S pulled out of France, I wasn’t far behind…
5. Discovering new things. Like the fact that I could ski without significantly injuring myself or anyone else. And that fruit dumplings can be a main course.
1. Having my attempts to communicate in Czech undercut or ridiculed. It’s not like I don’t have the knowledge – I can tell my irregular imperfect verb of motion from my locative plural, thanks very much – but thanks to people in shops and restaurants being so determined to show off just how well they can speak English, I’m now severely lacking in confidence.
2. Grumpy-faced individuals behind desks who think that rather than attempting to solve your problem, from their perspective the problem would go away if you simply buggered off.
3. Grumpy-faced individuals who work on supermarket checkouts who yell at you for putting your shopping basket back on the wrong pile, refuse to accept your stravenky (luncheon vouchers) because you have two 3 crown toilet rolls amongst your otherwise completely edible groceries and avoid putting your change in your hand lest they be contaminated by your foreign germs.
I know what I said before. I was wrong.
4. My failure to make more than one genuine Czech friend of my own. Aww. You will all be aware that I live with (a) Czechman – “Stop talking about me on your blog! It’s all Czechman, Czechman Czechman!” – so I suppose that makes me more integrated than the average Anglophone expat but I wish I had a few more Czech pals.
5. Killer icicles. It turns out the main hazard of a Czech winter is not the actual cold which if you wrap up warm enough – one English friend of mine even goes as far as sporting a balaclava – but the ice. All the snow made things very slippery out there indeed. Then there were the icicles – huge monsterous stalagtites which when the thaw came started falling from the sky. Yikes!
Phew, I enjoyed that. Especially the moaney bit. It’s nice to get things off your proverbial chest once in a while. Anyway, thanks to those of you who’ve been reading this for the past twelve months and apologies for my recent lack of posts. Now spring is finally in the air, I’m sure I’ll feel more inspired.