Tag Archives: great big world

food

You Will Be Assimilated (or Acclimating to Life in Prague)

“You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.” Borg, Star Trek universe.
I know my geek is showing. My point is that when moving to a new country it’s important to breath in that culture and not stick out lIke a sore thumb and not act too American. The key is acclimating to life in Prague. Granted,

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if we were purely missionaries going to a land of cannibalistic hedonists we would not try to blend. But as English teachers in Prague looking less like tourists and more like Czechs has its advantages. First though you have to research and observe the differences in dress and mannerisms and begin to acclimate to your new home.
Here’s a list of things I’ve learned and observed in my first few weeks in Prague.

1. Take off your shoes. When entering someone’s home take off your shoes. It’s polite and a good custom as far as I’m concerned. Taking off your shoes keeps the floors cleaner. Most Czechs take pride and great care of their homes. They also don’t need the extra work of cleaning up after dirty feet. When slippers are provided please wear them. That’s why they are there.

2. Boots. It’s autumn and chilly. It’s time to start bundling up and wear your boots. Lovely boots with pants or with skirts. Most are reasonably heeled because of the cobbled streets. Good and sturdy but nice boots. A true necessity in Prague therefore I’ll need to get a pair.

3. Scarves. Scarves are huge here. Literally. Czech love huge scarves. I can see why with damp chilly mornings and evenings. While waiting for the metro or the bus a scarf makes a huge difference in keeping warm. I am looking forward to knitting a great big scarf or three. Until then I’ll make do with make smaller lighter versions that I brought with me.

4. Layers. As in Colorado layering your clothing is necessary. Mornings are chilly but it warms up quite nicely in the afternoon. Being able to bundle up and to remove layers when necessary is just the way to deal with the changing temps.

5. Coaster. When heading to a bar, pub, or restaurant and needing a beer place a coaster in front of you. Sometimes a beer will appear but most often it tells the waiter that you are ordering beer and they ask pilsner or dark or some such defining question. This is Czech custom and utilizing it makes you less touristy.

6. Tipping. To tip like a native you don’t really tip. You round up. If the bill is 713 Kc leave 800. Wait staff make a regular income and don’t  rely on tips like in the States. Hand them your money, say 1000, and ask for the amount you want back, say 200.

7. Read. On the train. On the bus. While waiting. Czechs love to read. This will be difficult for me because I get a bit nauseous if I try to read while moving. I’m sure I can manage to read while waiting though.

8. Quiet. Buses and metros are mostly quiet. Kids and babies make a normal amount of noise. But people in general are reading, listening to music with earbuds, texting, or talking quietly. It’s rather subdued and polite even when crowded at rush hour.

9. Quick. The speed of Prague is taking some getting used to. After 100 days if Pura Vida and the laid back pace of Costa Rica, Prague is quick. Always walking quickly to the bus or the metro or to work or to lunch. As far as I can tell Czechs are timely. A big change from our first 100 days abroad.

10. Survival Czech. Getting the lingo down for Costa Rica was easy. I’d been exposed to Spanish for years. Czech is different. So far I’ve got dobry den (hello) down. I think it’s highly important to learn key phrases when in country. Greetings and basic courtesies to start and learning the streets and metro stops. Being able to order food and drink and go grocery shopping in Czech are basic necessities.

If you try to look less like a  tourist and blend just a little you’ll go far to becoming part of your new world.

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Costa

Why Costa Rica (or Isn’t it Chasing Italy)

In search of pura vida. Costa Rica is pura vida.

Europe and Italy are expensive. We knew this when we first purposed this dream of Italy. Dreaming is awesome you fantasize about a magical life with museum visits, restaurants, and glorious hotels. Then reality sets in and maybe just maybe Italy is a little too big bite of adventure. Especially for a family of four on a budget. There were too many ifs and maybes.

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With our budget in mind we re-accessed our choices for starting our adventure. Costa Rica came to mind. Why Costa Rica? I believe Costa Rica is kinda magical. A land where they take conservation seriously. Where family is important and value is placed on the experience not the amount of toys you die with.

The American dream has failed us. We were told to get good grades, go to college, and get a good job. Buy a house, a couple cars, and have a couple (or more) kids. All will be alright. Just keep getting more, newer, faster toys, hobbies, stuff. Fill your life with things. It’s normal to get a new car every couple years, a new computer every two years, a new cell phone every year. Just slather yourself with technology and you won’t notice life just passing you by. Sunsets, sunrises, chatting face to face. These are things you miss when you’re working away to pay for this so called life.

Or you can take a chance. Just go for it and get out there. It’s a big world, don’t you want to experience  it.

Costa Rica has beaches, mountains, volcanoes, amazing flora and fauna. It has eco tours, surfing, zip lining, hot air ballooning, hiking, fishing, bird watching, animal rescue, butterfly studying. The cuisine is simple yet exquisitely real and satisfying. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. And let’s not get into the coffee. It’s Costa Rica, coffee is awesome. Costa Rica is phenomenal in its culture, cuisine, and environment. Almost anyone you ask would go to Costa Rica if they had the chance. Go ahead ask them. Pura Vida.

And don’t worry we are still chasing Italy.

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One Small Step

One small step for man….

Today we made our first concrete steps (beyond just talking and planning) towards our move abroad to Italy.  So it was a milestone day in that respect.  First, we contacted a couple of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) schools in Milan.  We also got our passport photos taken and filled out the passport renewal forms.  They are small steps, but it feels good to make some tangible progress.

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