10 Led Closely Watched Everydays at Slaný and Plzeň
Four month is done in my EVS project, seven and a half is yet to come. So does the end of the year and the beginning of a new one and with that some reflections. I came to Slaný in August where I hoped to find some self-inflicted hermithood where I can build and lean into some of my habits, find structure in my life for work, free time (I have planned to read a lot and watch as many films as humanly possible) and relationships. But not a single month has been the same. There were exciting, eventful, boring and sad times with a ton of ups and downs and finally I found myself in a winter hibernation at my parent’s house where at least I can watch as many films as humanly possible just to pass the time. With an odd mixture of Paddington films and old Hungarian documentaries I think I was successful at least with this task.
To get accustomed to the everydays of Slaný was easy and difficult at the same time. I would like to think about myself that they can put me anywhere in the world and if there is a computer with Wifi I would be alright. I can find a things to do on the Internet and if you also give me a train schedule I know where to go. But sometimes I didn’t go anywhere and didn’t seek out new things because I just felt comfortable in the hermit lifestyle. Maybe I did not observe my new surroundings with that much of a precision or I did not put so many effort into my work as I should have and the time went by slowly and the routine was not so enjoyable as I thought. Now I’m regularly going to the local library to talk and play with kids and we meet with them also at the English Club. It feels genuinely valuable to help them to speak English a and also to give them company if they are going through something difficult. My Czech is getting better and better this way too as sometimes that’s the way we communicate because it is easier for them. Few time I even started to think in Czech. I can proudly say that now two people is attending my Hungarian Club where I teach my language with the help of my Czechoslovak and English. Strangely now I can get excited about Hungarian grammar, too and how to teach this mysterious language.
Hungary is a mystery to the Czechs. That’s what I have learned when I did a presentation about my country for the Hungarian evening in November. We had some shared history and the situation of the two countries seem similar even today in terms of the societal changes and politics. But it is completely different to learn about the nation from the media and to experience it in person so that everything issue has a more serious effect on your country and your future. At times I felt bad for that the people who came to the presentation had to hear the grim reality of the current state of Hungary and not some lighthearted speech about our folklore and our nature. But at least I cooked some great food with paprika and a lot of lard of course.
It got a newfound enthusiasm for my EVS project on the arrival training in Plzeň where I went with my fellow volunteer and new flatmate, Irene. It was an official meeting of volunteers who are currently participating in an EVS in the Czech Republic. During the day we did various activities connected to our project, Czech language and culture and volunteering in general. Usually, in a group situation (or previously in a classroom) I always wanted be the the very best one and to know the answers to the questions of the leaders (previously the teacher) but here we didn’t have this option as there were no right answers just reflections, experiences and problems to be shared usually in small groups where you didn’t needed to be the smartest person in the room.The activities were really well built up but I think what I liked about the training a lot is that 20+ people who came to this country for completely different reasons were connected and could have a chance to meet each other. I have learned a lot about them and about myself. For example that you can talk to people even if you are not in the mood. That not every person is in the same wavelength and that’s okay. Some wanted to have some beer every night and some didn’t. Some were proactive and some were just in the background. I’m looking forward to the mid-term training and in the meantime I hope I can travel and meet with the people I’ve spent those days in Plzeň.
It was quite refreshing to come home to Slaný with this enthusiastic mindset. We had a very cool project, Living Library where we presented our country in elementary schools. It was a nice change that smaller kids were not ashamed to express their excitement if they can learn about some new things and they were interested and really payed attention. This time I tried to talk in a lighthearted and interactive manner and about fun stuff with the kids and in the end I managed to do it completely in Czech. Getting up at 6 o’clock wasn’t my favorite thing to do (why do schools start so early?) also it was exhausting to repeat the same speech over and over again but I think it was worth it.
For the next few months I have set up some tangible plans for myself such as get that damn Czech language exam finally which I’ve been planning to do in years and to read Svejk which I started to read at least five times and I wanted to read it ever since I borrowed it from my grandpa. Also, I’m planning to renew the Film Club a bit and we have an exciting environmental project coming up. And we even make an animation!