Say What?!

Dobrý den!

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!


Olomouc, Czech Republic: The Everyday Life

Here I am, sitting in a cozy little café in Olomouc, Czech Republic, thinking “how in the world can I adequately express all that has occurred within the past week?” Every morning when I wake up and realize where I am, it is a fresh reminder how far away I am from home. It all seems so surreal. While the world around me feels and looks so different, I can also see myself calling Olomouc my home for the next three months.

Our first week in Olomouc felt warm and welcoming as we met many of the Czech students, professors, and suitemates. The first encounter we had was with Tereza, a graduate student at Palacký University. She has been a great help to us as we transition to the Czech culture. For our second night in Olomouc, we had a welcoming party with some of the University’s history students. At first, Ashley Florer and I were unsure how to communicate with the Czech students because of the language barrier. Fortunately, they all knew English well enough to have a good conversation. We quickly came to find, however, that not everyone knows English as well as most of the students.

The most tro20170319_182938uble I have with the language barrier is when I eat out at restaurants and cafés. Most of the menus are in Czech, so half of the time I have no clue what I’m ordering! While that may be the case, I have not had a single meal that I didn’t like! The food here is delicious, but also not much different from home. Most of the restaurants serve pizza, burgers, and fries. If possible, I try to order something new and interesting. The best meal I’ve had so far was a chicken and pork kebab with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and almonds. YUM! They also serve a lot of gyros and gelato. The gyros are a great bang for your buck! (or crown?). I already had three of them this week!20170315_132823

When we aren’t eating out, we can cook meals in our dorm. To get groceries and other necessities, Ashley and I ventured out to the nearest department store called Globus, which is basically the Czech’s equivalent to Walmart. Once again, we discovered how difficult it is to purchase things when you can’t read the label. Thank goodness for pictures! When we were ready to “czech” out (ha!), I had to purchase my own plastic bag to put my items in. It’s nothing like the U.S. where we have the cashier put our items in the bags for us, which I found quite unusual. It seems like a great way to reduce the use of plastic because most people here bring their own shopping bags.

One of the nice things about Olomouc is the public transportation system. With our tram pass, we can easily hop on a tram and take it to different parts of the city. This makes it easy to get to class, shops, and restaurants. It is very different from what I am used to in Nebraska where I usually drive myself everywhere. It is convenient in the fact that I don’t have to drive, however, I already find myself sprinting to make the right tram on time!

So there you have it – the everyday life of a study abroad student in Olomouc, Czech Republic! While there are many things I have yet to learn about this new city, I feel very fortunate for my experiences thus far. I cannot wait to see what else this city has to offer!20170315_142620