"advertures across the pond" barbipez's Profile
Sitting on a bench in front of the Facultas Philosophica, which is the Charles University faculty I attended, I gaze up at Prague castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. It is absolutely lovely, and I never seem to tire of it. Prague means threshold, and, because of her prime location in the heart of Europe, has served as the crossroads for many ancient trade routes. Today, Prague is not only an international city enveloped in breath-taking architecture, but also my home.
I think about the events that led me to move to Prague, Czech Republic. Over the course of time, I would like to share some experiences and knowledge that I have picked up in my travels.
My first trip to the ‘homeland’ began after I graduated from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin on May 20, 2000. The following day, I was on a plane flying across the Atlantic to Europe. It was my first time out of the States.
Our weekend trips were not only historical lessons, but also full of surprises. They included stops through Stromberk, Kromìøíž, Kutná Hora, Sedlec, Ceské Budìjovice, Ceský Krumlov, Karlštejn and so many small villages in between. Our bus driver was constantly frustrated. Picture a charter bus on the side of a small road with its passengers hanging from the cherry trees, like “The Sound of Music.” Or, seeing his eyes bulge and jaw drop as we asked him to take a right along a tiny dirt road because we had “heard” there was a great swimming hole five kilometers down.
Just the memory of those eight weeks made my blood boil for more. But, all good things must come to an end.
What next? Oh yeah, reality bites. I head back to Austin and start the job hunt. I was hot, broke, working part time, trying to get a life after college together while in withdrawal from my magical summer in Praha.
I discussed my ideas on moving back to Prague with my Czech professor. Plans on how I would search for a job, and immerse myself in the language. She gave me the golden opportunity. She asked if I would go and help look after her kids during the summer study abroad course. In return, she would assist with room & board for six weeks.
Now I had to make a decision. A tough, life-altering decision. I had a good job, my jeep, family an hour away, a small circle of friends, teaching aerobics in my spare time, etc. Did I really want to start over from scratch? Would I fail and come running home with my tail between my legs?
The one and only thing I knew for sure is that if I did not do this, I would always wonder, “What if…?” In other words, constant mind torture. I needed to do this even if six months later I was on a plane back to Texas because it didnt work out. At least then I couldn’t ask myself over and over, “What if…?”
The decision was made, and almost one year later, I was headed across the Atlantic.
I was looking for jobs (honest I was), and even put out an advert. It took a while, but I finally got one. It's a great job that keeps me busy at least 30 hours a day, and yet I STILL find time to grab a pivo or glass of vino with friends.
My eclectic circle of friends includes international students, work colleagues, and a small group of ex-pats. Along with work, Czech lessons and friends, I teach at a gym.
Living here has is downside. I miss my family muchos. I miss real Tex-Mex food, and driving my jeep.
But, this is a learning & growing experience for me. I am surviving, and very happy. And getting to travel and see more of Europe.
Whatever may happen in the next week, month, year or 10 years, I know one thing for sure. I never have to say over and over and over, “What if…?” I now know.
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