Expat Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Since my last post, my life has changed substantially (for better or for worse is up to you to decide). My amazing managing/proofreading job ended around the same time as my 12 month lease. Lately, there have been a lot more downs than ups, to be honest. I knew that when I took on my job at Zoot, it was essentially a temporary project and my contract was ending in March. However, the workflow was steady and I was pretty confident (after speaking with my boss) that it would get extended. All those hopes flew out the window when my co-worker and I were called in separately for a meeting. We both got the boot (my exit more brisk because of my job). Although I received the utmost praise from one of my proofreaders and well wishes from my boss, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. However, I was optimistic that I’d find something equally as appealing soon enough.

Fast forward to nearly two months later. Here I am sitting in my new expensive (yet lovely) flat scouring the internet, once again, for job openings. Thus far, I’ve had two interviews. One that I’ve yet to hear back from, and the other ending in false hope after realizing they hadn’t a clue on how to legally hire a non-EU citizen (first we need to see your visa…err, just kidding…do you have a work permit?). Oh, the joys of being an expat. And this is where I get down to the nitty gritty of this post…sometimes being an expat is hard. Like, really hard. Although I live in Prague, that doesn’t make the daily hardships any easier. In fact, sometimes it’s just the opposite. At first, everything was shiny and new. You could discover something fresh and exciting around every cobblestone corner. After around the six month mark, the shininess begins to fade and you find yourself cursing the crowded trams and the tourists who take up far too much room on the sidewalk. You become jaded.

Add in a foreign language and the stress of moving, and you’re basically screwed. The first few days of moving into my new flat were pretty much a disaster. Not only was I exhausted and stressed from the move, but I also found the most mundane tasks inconceivable. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on the gas, the washer, or even where to take out the garbage (pro tip: the dumpster on your street corner is locked). The fact that no one had bothered to clue me in on this was frustrating enough, but realizing that my landlady probably couldn’t communicate it to me in English anyway made it even worse. I ended up Face-timing my mom in tears that day because I didn’t know how to work my goddamn washing machine (can’t a girl have some clean underwear?!). During the first few weeks of my move-in, I just remember continually having one single thought: “something so easy shouldn’t be this hard”.

On top of crying over my washer, I also had to deal with the legality aspects of changing addresses (yay!). My landlady had to sign and notarize some papers that I didn’t understand so I could send them off to immigration. And let’s not even talk about battling the Czech post office! That’s another headache in and of itself. All these tasks kept stacking up, eventually toppling over and nearly crushing me with their weight. All the while I just kept cursing myself…why does it have to be so hard.

Although I originally planned this post being more upbeat, I felt it necessary to show the less than stellar aspects of living in a foreign country. And that’s not to say it’s all bad. The good days far outweigh the bad. But I’ve learned that you can’t go into this experience expecting your life to be shiny and happy-go-lucky all the time. In fact, some days just plain suck. It sucks being afraid to go to the lekarna (pharmacy) to ask for cold medicine and it sucks going to the post office trying to figure out which line to get in all the while receiving death glares. But even after all these frustrating days and maddening tasks, I force myself to remember one thing…how much I wanted it in the first place. I wanted a life full of culture and adventure. I wanted new, exciting experiences for myself in a foreign country. And that’s what I got. It may be messy at times and it might not always be what I had envisioned, but it’s real. It’s life. It’s my life. Even on my worst days, I never question if I made the right decision moving here. For better or for worse, Prague holds a special place in my heart. And that’s something I wouldn’t change for the world.

6 comments on “Expat Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

  1. Amen, girl!! I skyped home crying countless times my first 3 months there because I was so unhappy with my job. I was jobless for about two months and had to force myself to get out of bed but not spend any money day in and day out. I made a freakin Christmas tree and stockings out of construction paper and cottons balls cuz that’s as festive as I could afford to get. Going to the post office and managing utilities only got easier when I could speak more Czech, but I still got a bit anxious every time I had to deal with any kind of public service workers…and that was after living there for 4 years! But even though it was difficult at times, I miss it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I wouldn’t change that experience for the world either!

    (And please keep posting so I can live vicariously through you!)

    1. Thanks Carrie! It’s so comforting to know that other people understand and that you’re not going through it alone. And I’ll definitely continue the updates! You can count on it 🙂

  2. I totally feel you, I also write posts about being an expat and yeah it’s not easy at all but it’s definitely worth it! I think that what we are experiencing while living this is a unique opportunity that will for sure be useful for our future decisions 🙂

  3. I admire your openness to sharing this online! Sorry to hear about the struggles but they’ll pay off. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers 🙂 Definitely keep us updated.. love to know how the job search goes!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 That means a lot to me! And I actually just started a new job as a social media moderator for a start-up travel company last week, so it looks like things are starting to look up! 🙂

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