This post is dedicated to the many people who have asked me over the last two months, Sure, you like Czech lit, but “why are you really here?”
I haven’t studied Czech language before. I also don’t have Czech ancestry.
Here’s why I’m here:
First, because castles.
Because Americans are often intolerant of other cultures in the name of patriotism. I do not want to be this kind of American, or any person who is content just to stay at home all their life without seeing the world or even the next state.
Because many people in the world are intolerant of other cultures.
Because many people consider stereotypes to be truth without ever meeting a person from that culture. [See also: the 5 months when I had Muslim, Arab-Palestinian roommates in Israel. I may never have met a Palestinian person in my life otherwise. As it turns out (and I did not doubt this possibility before, though others may have), they were human beings. Really kind and open human beings.] This leads to another reason: because studying abroad in college changed my life.
Because many people of many cultures and countries consider their countries superior simply because they have grown up in them and have been taught to believe it. Americans (Like officially non-Canadian Ted Cruz). Czechs. Russians. Israelis. The French. Afghanis (according to Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner). Et cetera. I’m not sure that Canadians believe this, but they would be the only ones to be right if they did. Maybe also Scandinavia and Denmark. Cuz you know, happiest people, highest quality of life, economic equality, that lame stuff.
Because only 36% of Americans have passports. As of 2012, that is. It has long been a myth that only 10% of Americans have passports. This is not true, but it was in 1994. Anyway, 36% is not that much.
Because I want to teach English. I have taught ESL students in my home country, I have been a second-language learner in Israel, now I want to teach ESL students in their own country. I am interested in the Czech Republic, its literature and its socialist history, so I picked it.
Because I am obsessed with language and how we communicate. Language is subtle, complicated, and amazing. You can learn so much about a person by studying how they speak and what words they choose. Word choice has a huge influence on how we perceive and learn and why we believe what we believe. Czech is damn hard, but really interesting.
Because I love being a language learner. Americans don’t need to know more than one language like many other world citizens. I am super jealous of my bilingual friends. When I went to yoga or went grocery shopping in Israel, it was an amazing way to learn new vocabulary and practice what I knew. I have been taking yoga here, and I find that I understand a little more Czech with each class. I LOVE deciphering foreign languages and piecing together what I know.
Because I want to be a multicultural human being. Travelers are more open-minded and have wider horizons as well as a larger and yet more detailed picture of the world.
Because I wanted to leave my comfort zone. I spent a long time living there, and I was an extremely shy and anxious human being. I found that I am braver when I travel. I like to challenge myself.
Because American society doesn’t want you to, doesn’t believe you can, and looks down on this way of life. Nomadic Matt is an an AMAZING travel blog that began when he decided his life’s end and means, destination and journey, were both travel. People like to believe you’re running away from “real life” if you travel instead of going for higher education or getting a job. Perhaps travel can be that real life, especially when you are able to make such immediate connections with other travelers. Plus, nomad and vagabond are really cool words.
Because I’m really excited to see how successfully I can live out of my backpack when I travel next summer.
Because Iceland, my dream country, is gorgeous, and ain’t nobody stopping me from seeing it before I die. Or from scuba diving between tectonic plates there. Or stopping me from seeing Ireland, Scandinavia, Vietnam, South Korea, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Istanbul, etc…