Learning to live in a land with severe communication barriers
Communicating in the Czech Republic has thus far been horrible. Czech is a beautiful language, in my opinion, and many people do not agree with me. But I don’t have time in my schedule to learn it, and to be honest; I don’t see how it will help me in the future.
We had a language crash course, which was fairly useful. It enabled me to finally go grocery shopping. However, that doesn’t mean I always end up buying what I had actually intended on buying.
For example, the other day I came home and opened a packet of what I prayed was butter.
Me- Oh jeez I really hope this is butter.
Roommate- Hahaha Eric said the same thing!
Me, poking the hunk of dairy with a knife- Not to be racist, but this stuff is way too white for my comfort.
Me, taking a bite of said dairy product- $#!& this is so not butter! Goddamit Prague I just want some butter!
It was some kind of creamy cheese.
Similarly, I have wasted a ton of money by constantly buying the wrong kind of milk. I always some how end up getting some strange sour smelling thick milk. I have tried various brands and tried to act it out to several attendants at the grocery store, but I always end up with the same thing. I have no idea what exactly it is, but according to one of my professors the Czechs love it.
In a separate incident, during my first week here I was showering with what I thought was a body wash. The only things that were written in English on the bottle were, “Nivea” and “24 Hour Extreme Hydration”. To my jetlagged mind and shower yearning body, that sounded like body wash. The stuff did not lather, and I whined about it everyday for a week but was too busy with orientation to remember to find out from my RA what it actually was.
It turned out to be body lotion.
A lot of people are complaining about how much they hate this language barrier. It definitely is very frustrating. There are too many consonants and too few vowels in every word, making them impossible to pronounce. Grocery shopping is difficult. Getting directions is almost impossible. My friend and I laugh about how the crash course only really taught us how to pick up men at bars; “Hi my name is ----? What’s your name”, “Where do you live”, “I want a beer”, “My number is ----“.
But I secretly love the madness of not speaking Czech. It becomes the foundation for brilliant future stories, and is just part of the great travelling experience.
(The sign in the photo is something I found outside one of the cages at the Praha Zoo)