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Czech Courses Students: #LockdownStories with Charlie

March 29, 2021

We start our new series of talks with Czech Courses students about their lockdown experience, their thoughts, plans, losses and victories. Marie spoke to our first guest, Charlie, from the USA.

"I come from near New Orleans. When I had just graduated from university, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, and I googled „teaching English“. Believe it or not, Prague was the first place that came up, and the school I eventually did attend was having a special discount. I thought, really, why not?

Five years ago, I decided to try it out for a month. It’s not been the shortest path between two points, and I’ve worked here as a teacher, customer service rep, copywriter, and editor...

On the surface, covid hasn’t had much of a dramatic effect on my immediate day-to-day routine, and I’ve only felt it change my life in how it’s destroyed any and all future plans.

But, because it’s had a major impact on other people's lives, I’ve been affected in countless psychological ways whose severity, I think, won’t be evident until much later.

The worst thing about this Covid situation is how it’s changed peoples’ ways of thinking. People are angry, paranoid, and frustrated, and there’s a dangerous mentality of “You’re either with me or against me.” 

Our perceptions of reality are being moulded like clay via social media and Netflix. I can’t think of anyone - including myself - who would not much rather an easier path in life, and we’re getting exactly what we ordered, medium-rare. 

We all, subconsciously, want to be told our opinion, and I think most of us will find ourselves quite ruthless in finding whatever evidence corresponds to that worldview. That’s called a confirmation bias. We need to open our ears to the plights of real people - preferably substantial individuals who disagree with us - and base our understanding of this world on those concrete interactions. That's not so easy through Facebook...

We all need something to look forward to, and it’s been really difficult lately to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The weekends aren’t special anymore. In the beginning, the government stumbled along like a Cimrman play, and, once you’ve lost credibility and competence, you effectively lose any right to be listened to, even if you do start to make sense.

People have totally lost direction and principle, and that creates an uncaring, mean society. Certainly not a society I want to be a part of....The only thing really keeping me responsible lately has been my Czech course, which I’ve really been enjoying for the past year.

I’ve come quite far since last spring, when I even had trouble ordering at restaurants. I now have time to practice my Czech- or, at least, think about practicing - and next week will take my A1 exam as is required for my „trvalý pobyt“, which I hope to get by the end of the year. 

Then, I will no longer need to worry about prolonging my visa, and I will be able to travel more freely, which - and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here - would make me feel more like a person. It’s pretty much the tentpole of my life at the moment and keeps me getting out of bed... 

I would like to go back to university - maybe even here in Prague. I like the atmosphere of academia. Right now, I’m just bent on finding something fulfilling. In the meantime, I like to hike, bike, read, and meet with friends in-person. 

I’ve started to explore more music; my friends and I share albums all the time, and I’ve really been breaking out of my musical comfort zone. I love that. 

I don't really know where I am going to be next year, and I don´t have a plan. But, I know that Prague will always have a special place in my heart because I’ve grown here a lot in the past five years. Jsem pražský kluk."

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