The Last Prague Week

As this was my last week in Prague, I was feeling pretty nostalgic. I definitely had less work to do this week which was most likely a result of my leaving within a few days. On Monday, we had our usual Monday meeting with the client and they finally gave us an answer about the concepts we presented to them about a series of videos for their shoe care product line. We presented a “Slow-Mo” concept, which would be slow action/athletic shots of shoes getting dirty and then very cool, causal shots of the product application. The other idea, “Helping Hands”, would be a POV shot of someone holding shoes that were dirty or had some problem and then red “Bata” hands, because their color is red, coming in from the sides of the screen and guiding the person in the cleaning process. At our presentation of these concepts, the client initially liked the Slow-Mo concept more, but that one was a more expensive option, because we would have to rent the type of camera that could shoot good quality slow motion videos. In the end, they decided on the Helping Hands concept, which I think will still make a cool video series. This week there were a few hectic meetings trying to plan the production for this video series, which I had been really involved in at the beginning because I had been in charge of researching video topics and choosing shoe care products and shoes for each video. However, this week I was kind of on the sidelines, which wasn’t my coworkers’ fault because I would be leaving very soon, so there was little I could do without needing to be involved for a longer period of time. At the same time, it was a little sad because I hadn’t thought about how these projects that I had been working on would just continue without me.

I always knew I would be leaving Prague, but the extent of what exactly I would be leaving behind definitely hit me this week. There were so many new people that I met this summer, both other students doing internships and my coworkers, that I had become close with and now have to leave behind. I had become close with my coworker/supervisor, Aubri, and I was there when she had some difficult personal issues that we talked through together. I became friends with another American and Pole at work who took me out to lunch on my last day. I learned more about the American expat community in Prague from those American coworkers and how interesting their lives were as people actually living abroad. I mastered the public transportation system, which isn’t really that confusing, but I can’t say I haven’t taken the metro or a tram the wrong way for a few stops and had to turn around. I had lunch spots and a favorite potroviny, mini-market, and by the end I really felt like I had a life in Prague. Maybe it was still the beginnings of one, but it was definitely feeling real for the last week or two, like I wasn’t an American student just here for the summer, but that I could be a full-time person living in this city. I have to say, as much as I missed home, that is a hard thing to leave.

I never did really learn the language, which unless you a language genius, is probably pretty impossible in the two-month time span that I was in the Czech Republic. I did, however, learn some key phrases like “dekuji”, thank you, and “dobry den” or “ahoj”, hello or hi. The rest of my comprehension of the city and my work culture came from context clues. For instance, in the mini-market by my apartment, the women who ran it did not speak any English. Most of our interactions, of which there were many because they sold the chili lime chips that I was obsessed with, consisted of hand motions, pointing, and watching the way the person before me in line acted with and responded to her. The same type of thing would happen when I was in line to check out at the grocery store. The people normally did not speak English so when they would ask me questions or say something to me while checking out, I was confused at first. After one or two times, I realized that the question they were asking me every time was basically “do you have a bonus card?” and when I didn’t answer they just waived it off. I realized this because when you check out at a grocery store in America they always ask you that before you pay, and really that’s just a guess, but they acted like they were asking that question and when I told them no, I didn’t have one, it seemed to make sense to them. Since everyone speaks English at my work, I was lucky in that I didn’t have to use many context clues to understand them. For me at least, I felt like my boss’ feedback was pretty direct, so it seemed very similar to America. If he wanted something changed, he would tell me what to change and if he liked what I had done, he thanked me for doing a good job, so in terms of feedback, I did not have to use context clues to understand. I think this way was very effective for me, because I prefer a direct response. If I need to change something, I would rather the person just tell me exactly what they want so that I’m not guessing, and they get the task done the way they want it.

I can’t believe this is my last blog about my week in Prague! This whole summer has been, without a doubt, an amazing experience and a time I will always remember. Well since this is my last weekly blog, I can’t say until next time, so instead: Until the final reflection blog!