Cat, outbound to Czech Republic

So I have been here for over 200 days and everyday has been great in some way. In two weeks I will be going on Eurotour which is a trip for the inbound exchange students to Spain (Barcelona), Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence and Pompeii) and France (Paris). In preparation for this I’m learning some basic French, Italian and Spanish. I’ve noticed from visiting other countries that the local people will like it when you speak some of their language even if it’s just a “Thank you” or “Good day”. You might be thinking now why would I say “Good day” to somebody because we don’t say that in the United States well it’s used every day here.  You say it when you enter a store, restaurant and to your teachers at school. In Czech “Good day” is “Dobrý den” and in German it is “Guten tag”. It does translate to good day but to them it’s a very polite hello and probably the first thing you should learn to say in any language. A thing I have noticed about living abroad is no matter what, you will learn a few words in other languages.

Before I moved to the Czech Republic I thought every country had only people of their nationality if that makes any sense. For example I thought the Czech Republic only had Czech people I didn’t realize how diverse it was. I have friends from the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria etc.. I just thought this would be something future exchange students might want to know. Also if you are near a border expect to visit that country a few times because I’ve been to Austria at least 3 times.

So the Czech Republic has some AMAZING FOOD. I love their bread. It has to be my favorite food here and also their juice.  They have so many options for juice. The food here is so fresh, the bread is made every day fresh and it’s also healthier because they don’t put preservatives in it. They do put some in the sliced bread but that’s it as far as I know. There is some food I don’t really like. It sucks because its traditional dishes like Gulaš which is meat with dumpling and a sauce. Also for Christmas they have carp with potato salad. The potato salad is great but I just don’t like seafood so I don’t like the carp. But there are many kinds of food here a lot of Asian people immigrate to here so there are some Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants which are good. Where I live we have a couple burger places which have some of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Probably the last thing about food is don’t be surprised when you see a McDonalds, Burger king, Starbucks and even Subway in Europe. They have them here. There are very few but they are still here. I’ve only had McDonalds a couple times here and Starbucks and they are great. The Starbucks is the same they just have the name in a different language and at McDonalds they have some different menu items.

You are going to walk so much when you are here or pretty much any country in Europe so bring a good pair of shoes. I’ve lost 15 kilograms (33 pounds) since I’ve been here and that is just from eating healthier and walking everywhere. You will enjoy walking because you get more of a chance to see everything and see the beauty of the country. Also, I’m from Florida so I’m use to the ground being flat and well it’s the opposite here there are so many mountains and hills. I’ve hiked up a few and man is so beautiful.

So they celebrate some of the same holidays here but just a little different. Probably one of the most dramatically different holiday is Easter. How they celebrate Easter is the men walk around their neighborhood and they hit women in the butt and sing a short song and basically for the women and girls to stay young and to not get bitter it is quite a funny tradition. They do not hit you hard though, you’re not going to get beaten with a stick. It’s a light tap.

On Christmas Eve the women typically cook all day and nobody eats until dinner. For dinner they have carp with potato salad and after dinner they open presents and how they do it is each person opens one at a time and they go in a circle it typically takes a long time depending on how many presents each person got. The presents I got were very personal. Just my spending time with them and they saw when I posted something on Facebook that I liked. I posted about how I liked wasabi peanuts and a certain kind of chips and they got me it. Also I was with my host mom shopping and I mention I wanted a hat that also covered my ear and she bought me one for Christmas, and they gave me money for my Eurotour and a bracelet the said “Pro Štěstí” which mean “For Luck” which I love and a few more things and each one was personal things they knew I would like. It’s a very personal holiday.

They don’t celebrate Halloween here and obviously Thanksgiving because that is an American (United States) holiday. They have a few festivals throughout the year and right now they have a circus in town. Each town will depend on what you will have. My city is the second most visited city in the Czech Republic so we have some more things than some smaller cities or even villages.

There are so many more things I could talk about and I will in my next journal but for the most part it’s so much better to experience it here. Whoever comes to this country will love it or any other country for that matter. I’ve been to a few countries already and am going to more this month and the ones I’ve already been to the people in them are really nice and eager to help if you need it. Keep studying your language and preparing for your exchange.