Meeting the Czech Family… and Summer Plans

So, last weekend was an interesting experience for me. You can get by in Prague without speaking a word of Czech. For much of my month here, I haven’t needed to, with the exception of Czech class. When I have used Czech, it has usually been because I wanted to, not because I was put in a situation where it was absolutely necessary.

That all changed last Saturday when I went to visit a real life Czech family to spend the afternoon. While I won’t blog their names for their privacy, in the morning I went to their flat in the Hradcanska area of Prague, behind Prague Castle for those with a knowledge of Prague geography. The area was one I wasn’t really familiar with, but it seemed like a nice, quiet place to live, with great access to all of the cultural attractions of the center of the city. After walking from the Metro a bit, I made my way to their apartment, rang the buzzer, and the mother of the family came down to let me in. After showing me around the apartment, which was stuffed floor to ceiling with books and decorated with the finest IKEA furnishings, we sat down at the kitchen table to introduce ourselves. They spoke English, but not very well. I was able to pick up on a lot of the Czech they were using. The mother plays the piano to accompany ballet practice, which I thought was cool. The father is a civil engineer who works within walking distance of the flat. They have a boy and a girl. He is 13 and she is 10. They both speak English much, much better than I speak Czech, and they’ve even learned some Chinese. However, in our visit, they were both super-quiet. According to their dad, they don’t talk much anyway, but it probably also had something to do with me being a huge stranger to them.
We talked about my family and my plans after college. We also talked about differences between the US and the Czech Republic, where they had travelled as a family, where I live, etc. I took them on a street view tour of Allentown and of State College. They got a pretty big kick out of that. 
The mother made lunch, which was broccoli soup and spaghetti with a tomato and mozzarella salad. After that, we talked a little more about our lives, then made some tentative plans for our next meeting. In a few weeks, I’ll be going to their grandmother’s house where I’ll have a homemade Czech meal. I’m very excited about that. 
In other news, I accepted an internship offer at The Raben Group in Washington, D.C. for this summer. It is a progressive lobbying and strategic communications firm that frequently works on behalf on non-profits and foundations. After interning at CSIS last summer, I wanted a different experience for this upcoming one, and, having talked to some former Raben interns, I am very excited to see what this summer offers. 
Additionally, last week I decided to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship, so this week has been pretty busy brainstorming and working on collecting letters of recommendation for the application, which is due March 15th. 
It’s a busy time here in Prague, but most of my work is not in the classroom. Through the internet, I’m still very much connected to Penn State and goings on there. Exciting things on the horizon.
Until next time,
Eli
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