The end of February, finally..

Finishing up the last of what Martin brought back from his last trip home. Nothing new or fascinating to report! Ready for winter in London to pass. We’re talking about taking a quick trip over the weekend soon, not as much time to go anywhere together now that Martin is working full time. I’ve been spending a lot of time acting very domesticated (cooking cleaning shopping). I’m thinking about taking some Czech lessons online via Skype since I can’t find any physical classes to attend here now, which is kind of a bummer.
I just looked out the window and there is a rare occurrence of sunshine happening, so I’d better get out and take some photos!

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Making borůvkové knedlíky

Or at least trying! Martin’s mom gave us her recipe for borůvkové knedlíky (blueberry dumplings) and we made some yesterday. It was my first time eating them and the first time making dumplings so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Basically, you mix up flour, sour cream, and one egg into dough. After letting it sit for half an hour, you pinch off little sections of dough, roll them out, then stuff them with berries. Then you roll them up into a ball (or shape them up a little “prettier” like I tried), sprinkle in some sugar, and drop them in boiling water for 5 minutes. After taking them out you cover them with butter, then some creme and more fruit on top. It was a good first attempt I’d say, but I think I have a ways to go until they are perfected.

A few questions for the Czech

A little Q & A with this guy:

Q: In your opinion, are there any major differences between Czech people and American people?
A: Czechs are more concerned with saving space, energy, money, and food…Americans seem a little more wasteful to me. We also use public transportation instead of driving everywhere. But, Czech “customer service” isn’t good like it is in the states.
Q: What is was your opinion of Americans before visiting America? And after?
A: I thought Americans were all fat, selfish/irresponsible, and not nice to foreigners. I thought people only ate fast food. After visiting I realized there are lots of nice places to eat, and that driving everywhere isn’t so bad. Also, I was impressed with how friendly people were to me as a foreigner.
Q: What do you miss most when you are away from the Czech Republic?
A: Obviously I miss my family like anyone who is abroad. I miss Czech beers, the old Czech villages, and our railway system (it’s very cheap and easy to get wherever you want). And rohliky!
Q: What is one of your favorite fun facts about Czech culture or history?
A: In the 1200’s the Kingdom of Bohemia extended down to what is now part of Italy, so our country had access to the Adriatic Sea, which is pretty good considering that we are now in the middle of Europe with a 10 hour drive out of the country to the nearest sea.
Q: If there was one thing you could change about Czech culture, what would it be?
A: I wish that Czech people were more worldly and wouldn’t be afraid to travel and speak other languages.
Q: Name your favorite Czech movie, band/musician, historical figure, and fictional character.
A: 2 Bobule is one of my favorite movies. Tatabojs is one of my favorite bands. Jara Cimrman for fictional character, he is probably the “ideal” Czech.
Q: What is your favorite Czech tradition?
A: Christmas. We unwrap gifts on the evening of the 24th, and our gifts are from baby Jesus, not Santa Claus. Some people used to believe that if they cut an apple in half on Christmas day and a perfect star appears in the core then the next year will be good. Our main dish is carp as a Christian symbol, which is funny because we are considered the most irreligious country in Europe.

Q: What is your favorite Czech meal?
A: We don’t have a lot of pure traditional Czech meals, but I like svickova s knedliky (sirloin with dumplings), boruvkove knedliky (blueberry dumplings), and valasske frgale (a cake with plum jam and cottage cheese).

Well that will do for now, thanks to Martin for playing along 🙂

What I have learned in the last 24 hours…

….some interesting information about the Czech culture. I’ve found quite a few more blogs that are amazing. Also, I am realizing (or remembering) that I do not follow politics or world news nearly enough, the lack of history and culture (or at least knowledge of these things) in my personal background is depressing, and I am too all over the place to decide where to put what little energy I give myself into any one thing for long enough to see it through.

Frustrating.

My boyfriend can speak 3 languages plus Latin. I can’t seem to get disciplined enough to learn a second one.
I come up with all kinds of good ideas, have a spark of enthusiasm, and then get distracted by something else. And then forget about it. Or get back to it years later. Maybe I just don’t drink enough coffee.
Well, I’m hoping this blog will help whip some of these problem areas into better shape. Something about publishing thoughts and experiences lends itself to a more lasting effort. I’m enjoying learning and the thought of integrating the Czech way into our home more and more, and I know Martin will be thrilled with that.

Here are a couple of random observations I have acquired from Martin/visiting Czech:
-Czechs like for their beer to start out with a LOT of foam (as pictured here). Much less than this borders on insult.
-They have recently elected a new president, whose name is Milos Zeman. He was running against a guy who’s face was covered in tattoos.
– The caraway seed is put into almost every Czech bread I tried, and I HATE that seed with a fiery passion.
– Summer in Prague reminded me of summers in Atlanta, but Prague winters are much colder/snowier.
– A lot of the Czechs I met could speak English but didn’t because they were worried they weren’t good enough at it.
– A lot of Americans do not realize that Czechoslovakia no longer exists.

The view from my bedroom window right now. Cold out there.

Introduction

After being inspired by similar (but no longer active) blogs on the topic, I decided to start one of my own! This blog is dedicated to sharing the experience of an American girl (me, Christy) and a Czech boy (Martin) trying to start a life together somewhere in the world (currently we are living in London). Also, it will be a motivator for me to work on learning the Czech language and more about the Czech culture in general. Martin has agreed to help teach me at least one new thing a week (words, cuisine, history), which I will document here. Also, should I happen to stumble across any wisdom on the topic of international dating, I hope that it will help anyone else in my situation. It can be tricky at times, dealing with cultural differences, visas, travel expenses, job situations, language barriers…the list goes on. So, a brief background:
Martin and I met in New Zealand in March of 2012. I was just starting out a round the world trip with my friend Nicole, and we stayed with a friend just outside of Wellington at a farmhouse where Martin happened to be living and working. We met, liked each other, stayed in touch, and met back up in Europe in July. Since then we’ve been together, traveled to 10 different countries, and have met the families. We are in London now where Martin just got a job as a vet assistant, and we are staying in a flat in Hither Green. I haven’t exactly figured out what I will be doing here, and I am only allowed a total of 6 months in the UK before I have to leave for 3 months. I’m planning to go by the embassy soon to ask some questions about possible visas, but we’ll see how the next few months pan out before we commit to London (Hawaii always looms large in the back of my mind).


Together in Czech Republic last July.

So, here are the few of the basic words I know so far:

beer = pivo
cheers = na zdravi
hello = ahoj
good morning = dobre rano
good night = dobou noc
goodbye = na shledanou
beautiful = krasny

I can count to ten (deset), plus a few other random words/phrases, but really, I don’t know much at all. And the pronunciation is really difficult, the phonetics are different than with English. To be honest, learning Czech seems almost impossible to me right now. I hope to find classes somewhere in London soon.

So, that’s all for my first post! I hope to learn to cook something next. Stay tuned.