yesterday the three year anniversary of living here in
české budějovice, a small city in southwest czech republic. like the country of the czech republic, i realize i have a lot of milestones. i acknowledge each new year in europe, each year in the czech republic, and each year in the city, which are all different dates and in different seasons. but this one resonates with me particularly in terms of expat life and the success of our time living abroad.
all of the snow we’ve been having really brings me back to the day we arrived: thursday, january 24th, 2013. i’ve already written about being picked up at the bus station (which is on top of a shopping center), not being able to see the neighborhood at all because it was basically “blizard-ing” all day long, and going to the pizza place on piaristické naměsti and thinking, “i think i’m going to like it here!”
after our guests left and we were alone in our new flat, we decided we needed to get some supplies to fill our meager dorm-size refrigerator and bare ikea cabinetry with. we walked to the always beautiful main square and noticed a large NORMA sign. in case you don’t know, NORMA is like the discountiest of the discount supermarkets. i have shopped at them in berlin, and we’d gone in one in prague’s vysočanksá (to which alex thought, “where the hell am i?!”) so we sort of knew what we were getting ourselves into. we got some staples, milk, cheese, bacon, bread, tea, some window cleaner, sponges, matches, and a green broom and dustpan set that we still use now.
that first weekend, it continued to snow. i took these photos in this post as we sat at our big wooden kitchen table (that i was particularly impressed with) while eating breakfast sandwiches (an alex specialty circa 2012), drinking earl grey in one of our three mugs we had, and watching the snow fall.
the feeling of possibility and adventure! (and for anyone considering moving to a new city sight-unseen, do it ‘cause it’s truly the biggest thrill!)
now we’ve been here three years and we like it here more than ever. after year two anniversary, which was truly filled with “what are we doing? staying or going?” confusion, it seems after choosing “stay” (not to mention going to the states and coming back), we’ve made it over some secret hurdle.
it keeps getting better, and knowing more and more czech always helps. recently i was talking to a czech friend who was about to visit the united states for the first time and was grilling me for some differences she should watch out for… and for the first time, it was really, really hard to think of so many differences. probably because everything has started blending together for me now. i found it difficult to remember little things: what happens in america when we get the bill at the restaurant? do people split checks as much as they do here? i feel so unconfident about american banking and what to fill out on those little slips of paper and what my account number is. if the rules of the road in the states are the same as they are here. it’s all so hazy now. but i guess that’s what living for over three years in a different country will do to you.
no longer have i felt really inspired to write about all of the differences that once seemed so interesting and unique and now are quite normal. like the bouncers in the supermarkets (i know who you are!) and not being able to buy peanut butter at my local supermarket (unless its america or XXL week, the latter you can find normal size jars, considered here to be “XXL” size… ‘merica.)
perhaps my latest challenge is purchasing sheets, the details which i won’t bore you with besides saying that the selection is extremely slim for exactly what we’re looking for (matching duvet cover and sheets, not normal things to be sold as a set here) so we’re still looking.
ps, you might like our very first day in budějovice