Back in Britain, 2012 is full of big events and anniversaries: the Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
This month is special for me because it marks my third year in Czechland. Let’s call it my Prague-iversary.
I didn’t come here with particularly high hopes. I just hoped that I would find life here tolerable. I didn’t expect to like it here more than being back home. But I do.
Now this is something which surprises most Czechs. And their surprise surprises me – if that isn’t too many surprises to handle in two consecutive sentences. Why is it exactly that Czech people find it so hard to believe that an English lady like me could manage to be happy living in their country?
I’m not the only expat who experiences this reaction from Czechs on a regular basis. Can it still be that people believe life in the shiny West must be superior? Or is it simply a lack of first hand experience of the reality of living in a hyper urban city like London? Yes, there are endless possibilities in terms of culture and nightlife but there are downsides too. Like the fact that it takes you an hour on public transport to get anyway out of the immediate vicinity of your neighbourhood. Like the expense – even bearing in mind the higher salaries.
I don’t want this to turn into a London bashing post because I did enjoy my time there. So I’ll move on.
Moving abroad for love is a risky business. I have been fortunate to find friends, a job and to have a supportive partner – who is a native – to help me jump through any nasty administrative hoops. And of course, then there are my new Czech family. There are lots of things to like here. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll mention a few of them.
I appreciate the fact that Czechs don’t sugarcoat things for you – even if it does take some getting used to. I think both the English and the Czechs have a dark sense of humour and relish irony. I like the fact that Prague feels like it is built on a human scale. I like staring out of the window during my tramride to work in the morning and noticing all the little sculptures on the front of a building or an unintentionally retro shop front or the view across the river to Prague Castle and then feeling smug about the fact I’m not commuting to work on the Tube. I like the nice cafes. I like belonging somewhere.
It isn’t just the older generation who find it hard to believe I could enjoy life here. Most of Czechman’s friends are shocked too. So what exactly is the problem? Readers, I want to hear your explanations.
Three years ago, this blog began with a post on meat and the tempting aroma of rohlik v parku wafting across Namesti Miru. I found myself there again during the recent sunny spell admiring this statue.
She looks how I feel. Hopeful. Full of vitality. Chasing possibilities.
Hurray for Spring! Viva Czechland!