I have traveled to Czech twice. The first time, I was a high school student. This was my first trip to Europe, the first time traveling without my family, and it was going to be longer than a week. I had friends go on this trip in previous years, each coming home with so many great stories and memories. I still think it's amazing that as high school students, we were offered to be apart of this trip. We had to raise the money for cost of the trip, creatively work with our team to come up with interesting an informative english lessons, and we got to learn about this culture that was so foreign to us. I didn't know much about Czech when the opportunity to go first came about (honestly, had you asked me to point it out on a map, I would have desperately been searching for the name Czechoslovakia) , but I was eager to learn and experience this place that was so new to me.
My time in The Czech Republic was more meaningful than I ever thought it would be. I loved the beautiful country that we were in, the cities that felt so different than our own, the people that I came to love, and a language that I still wish I could master. We spent a lot of time at the beautiful Malenovice. We had our training here. We learned about Czech culture, got acquainted with American interns and Czechs that we would be working with throughout camp, some lessons on teaching English, and the schedule of how camps are typically ran. Our team was lucky enough to host our camp here. Once camp was over, we were invited to stay with the families of some of the students. It was so fun to experience where and how they lived. And before we left to travel back home, we got to spend a few days in Prague. The style of this trip was great because we weren't just sight seeing a new country. We were learning by truly experiencing it. I'm grateful that at such a young age, I was able to gain an appreciation for that type of travel.
I now have multiple friends who are living in Czech, working with the same organization, but full time. I get to see photos of them with some of my friends that I made there, see their kids growing up in this environment of a new culture, language and food, and hear all about the ups and downs of moving your entire life to such a different place. With the combination of facebook, skype, e-mail, and instant everything, I am able to see what's going on in the lives of my friends who are so far. It's a constant reminder of this place and makes me think back to what those trips meant to me. One of the simple ways I am able to recreate memories of my time spent there is with food. This breakfast, for example, is my version of a Czech breakfast. A bowl of rolls (rolihk) and breads were always served with honey, jams, and spreads. Various meats and veggies as well, a long with coffee and tea. I never had scrambled eggs (boiled, yes) while I was there or a bagel, but this familiar combination of spreadable cheese, salami, veggies, and a bread is such a privilege to my taste buds and bucket full of memories. It's also a little way to share this experience with Philip. I have shared stories and photos with him about my journeys to eastern Europe, but being able to make this little meal that we enjoy together is such a treat to me. Even drinking our coffee from these mugs is significant, as they came from a pottery shop in Prague... So much story behind such a simple meal.