today i had my first real czech language class. i’ve had two 45 minute beginners’ classes before as part of my TEFL course (thank goodness for them). but today i bicycled on up to the center of foreigner integration – an NGO that offers free assistance to foreigners, and this is the first month they’ve had the funding to begin the czech language courses. i’m thinkin’, it’s free… it’s two times a day tuesday and thursday…. it’s a close bike ride away…. it might give me some good teaching or classroom management tips… what’s my excuse not to go?
i love learning languages so i was pretty excited about the opportunity of a free course. i figure, as long as it won’t mess up my german learning. i know that sounds strange, but i’ve had terrible luck in the past learning two languages at once, or one and then the other. as soon as i signed up for german classes at UW, it was as if all my spanish went out the window. i completed spanish 202, so i was mid-intermediate. now, i can read spanish and understand most of it, but can’t speak a word. it’s sad.
so, i am the only girl in class. (greaaaaaaat.) not only that, the only “westerner”. for some reason i had expected to see a handful of brits, maybe germans, etc. but no, everyone is is from middle asia, russia, or south east asia. the teacher speaks in czech the whole time. i was expecting that, but probably eight times she asked me questions i had no answer to.
being in the czech republic can feel jarring sometimes. it’s lovely in our nice little oasis of english (sometimes german) here on riegrova street, but when i walk out the front door i’m in the heart of czech land. i already hear this language all around me, which can feel really isolating on a bad day, and a bit disorienting on a good day. in this czech class, i got this isolating feeling. especially since the other students knew more than me, as i had missed the previous classes. i found myself thinking, “why would i want to expose myself to this isolating foreign feeling every week for ninety minutes? i could be in my cozy place feeling comfortable and not isolated”. also thoughts of “why am i even bothering to do this?” all this and more can run through one’s mind when they are in czech language class with not a clue.
but finally, i think i was starting to pick up on a few things. VERY FEW, but still a few. i now know how to ask formally and informally “where do you live?” or Kde bydlite? and Kde bydlíš? (respectively) see what i mean?!?! this language is crazy looking! having a background in german has actually helped a lot when it comes to pronunciation, though , phewww. not completely out of the loop.
i met some nepalese guys who work at the local, extremely popular indian restaurant in town (indicka). solidarity is good. other people agreeing that czech language is hard to learn, good. even if those other people barely speak english, whatever. so, i will press on for now. if it can make things easier at the grocery store or other necessary errand, then wonderful. but now i have a whole bunch of things though i must google translate because i have noooo idea what they were.
spring is lovely. this cherry blossom tree is very near our house. it’s funny because most czech people ignore it but sometimes you’ll see it swarmed with asian tourists taking photos.
oh, just an average lunch for cynthia. i made smoked salmon rolls with cucumber & avocado.
classic car show in the square a couple weekends ago
some deliciousness i created for seis de mayo. cheese stuffed peppers (i used ricotta and a mix of white/yellow cheeses), rice & beans. note that they are black beans– a very hard to find commodity in these parts!
we watched a bunch of slayer live concert footage at my favorite rock bar here in town, mighty bar velbloud, and then saw this band rat city riot at the budejovicky majales festival last week. it was awesome. and they played a great fugazi cover. i wish majales were longer– it’s a week of free concerts all over the city. rat city riot is an american (san diego) band but their record label is german! i think they have found great popularity over here, but not so much in the states. ain’t it funny when that happens?
i am seeing a lot of news and photos about people graduating. or people getting ready to start a new program or new degree in the fall. this is exciting! and the main point of my post is really that learning is exciting. and that one is never too old, too american, too female, or too broke to learn. learning can happen every day if you seek it out.