In my last blog, I touched a little bit on the language barrier we are faced with here in the Czech Republic. Now that we are two weeks in, I can already say that I am starting to get comfortable with the language barrier and even see it as an exciting challenge to overcome. I don’t expect to speak fluent Czech by the time I leave, but I hope I will be able to recognize more Czech words and improve my communication with the locals.
Fortunately, our Czech language class here at Palacký University will help us improve our communication skills. Classes seem a bit intimidating because our professor likes to ask us questions in Czech and will not hesitate to call on us individually to give an answer. This motivates me to study and gets me more comfortable with the language. During the first week, we mainly focused on pronunciation. Now I am able to read words on menus, buildings, posters, etc., but have no clue what they mean. Currently we are working on meaning of words and dialogue. We shall see how quickly I can expand my Czech vocabulary!
The language itself is nothing like I’ve ever heard before. There are many accents that we are not used to that make it sound like a much richer language. For example “ch” actually makes a throaty “h” sound. But if that sounds difficult, try seeing “ř” and actually making a “z/tri” sound. The area we live in in Olomouc is called “Neředin”, so I have been trying to master this “ř” sound. It might come in handy if I get lost and need help finding my way home (sorry Mom and Dad, it could happen!).
Other than getting lost, knowing the language comes in handy when ordering food and understanding the locals. Hearing the language is much more difficult outside of class because it seems like they are talking a million miles per hour. I understand “hello, goodbye, thank you, and please” when the locals are talking to us, but that’s about it! On Wednesday we attended a hockey game where the die-hard Olomouc fans were constantly cheering in Czech. The only word I caught onto was “Olomouc!”. Last week on our field trip to Prague, I noticed there was much more English in the city. While this may seem counterproductive to our learning, I thought it was helpful to see the translations side-by-side.
Our exposure to Czech language was temporarily shut off when we took a field trip to Dresden, Germany. I was tempted to say “dobrý den!” to say hello and “dĕkuji” for thank you, but had to remind myself that we were not in the Czech Republic anymore. It’s crazy to think we entered a completely different country just within a two-hour train ride. In Nebraska, that’s about the distance from my home in Sutherland to my school in Kearney! Off the topic of Czech language, I thoroughly enjoyed Dresden and learning about its history. Below are a few pictures to show off my time in Prague and Dresden this past weekend.
Čau for now!