Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Getting Out of Uncomfortable Zone

Certainly it has been a cultural experience this whole Prague trek. Not knowing the native tongue is quite nerve-wracking and gives me newfound respect (though I never really was disrespectful to be fair) for those who learn a second language like English back home. Everything from being alone in public, and even more so going into a local bar or restaurant alone, has caused me to turnaround a few times.

Being with a group of Americans and Canadians who feel the same way is so nice it is not even funny. I never thought I'd say that at the start of this trip, but the fact we can share the uncertainties of this culture together and work our way towards a comfort zone together is refreshing. Me and two other students got local Czech cell phones with the assumption that we will be here for at least a year.

Tonight, however, I basically said screw it. I am going to go out myself in my 'hood and reclaim a bit of independence. I brought my Lonely Planet book out with me on my walk through Praha 9 (my neighborhood in Prague) and found a couple restaurants. The first two, I walked in and walked out because I was not sure that one had food and the other was quite divey. I was not ready for a total dive yet, but I did find another place where I walked downstairs upon entering and I gathered myself and asked if they spoke English (in Czech of course). The bartender spoke a little, the cook spoke none. But they helped me order, I used a few Czech words myself, and ordered a grilled pork steak and grilled potato pieces with mushrooms and a tasty sour cream spread on top. It was quite good. And washed down with a Pilsner Urquell of course. I was proud of myself that I learned how to say excellent, "do you speak English", and said goodbye to a Czech person for the first time in their native tongue.

The adventure continues tomorrow. My third lesson teaching the native Czechs - this being through my course. The folks so far are generally very friendly, and my experience at the restaurant tonight made me feel better about not knowing the Czech language as long as I try a couple phrases myself in their tongue. More good tidbits later. Take care everyone.

- John

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