Arriving in a new, foreign country is always exciting; especially when you know you will live and work there for the next 11 months. And you don’t really know what to expect.
For me, this was the start of a new life. Living abroad for a year, 1000 kilometers away from home in a country I have never visited and don’t speak the language of.
So telling you I wasn’t scared or anxious at all would be a total lie. But anyway, I have to say that my excitement was overtopping all of it.
Now, only a few days after my arrival, I have five new friends from France, Spain and Turkey who are also volunteers and are coordinated by the same organization as I am. Four of us live in the same dormitory where we met our first Czech (actually Slovak) friend.
The first week was really exhilarating! We played some games to get to know each other (which did not turn out as awkward as I expected it to ^^), did some team building activities and learned about coaching, key competences and ways to work towards our goals.
All of this is meant to prepare us for our volunteering projects and got me really thrilled for starting mine!
But, let’s also talk about the difficulties:
It’s a matter of luck whether people at the reception or in restaurants speak English and are also willing to speak English to you. Most of the times, it worked quite well, but sometimes smiling and nodding is all you can do. The award for the mostly used words this week definitely goes to “Sorry, I don’t speak Czech”.
It happens so quickly that you stand in front of a receptionist and can only use your hands to make clear that you need the key for the washing machine. Or some house keeper walks up to you speaking Czech and you have to type sentences in a translator app and pass the phone to each other because you cannot communicate in another way. Or you write the bus stop on a piece of paper and show it to the driver because it’s just unpronounceable to you.
All of this happened to me in just a few days but I can tell you that everything is fine as long as everyone stays friendly and open in that situation. :)
Next week, I will start my project “Future 4 Us”, visit schools I’ll work in and also have my first Czech lesson! Let’s see what tomorrow brings!