Kat doodles about life:
Today is a fairly special day. Not that something exciting would happen event wise, but it is more anniversary kind of day. I already crossed that nine years mark of being abroad in June, but today it is more significant because it is in the UK alone. I came over in order to be an au pair. An advert on a job site showing beautiful images of countryside around Church Stretton and Shropshire was good enough reason for me to go and say yes after I spent four months in Netherlands doing exactly the same job. I had three to six months in my head and then wanting to move on to au pairing in France and Scandinavia. But that never happened and nine years later I am still living in the UK, still with the desire of living in France and traveling the world.
I still remember that sunny autumn afternoon, when my grandmother accompanied me to the bus station in Prague after three weeks of holiday back home after the Dutch trip. I soon realized the food supplies may not be enough for the whole journey, so I had to act very savvy and make it last until the next morning as I had inadequate amount of foreign money for stops in other countries on the way. We arrived at London Victoria Coach Station at 5:30 am the next day and I had to wait until about 4 pm for the next bus to take me to Shrewsbury. I had £20 in my pocket, which back in Czech Republic at that time was equivalent of enormous amount of money, I believe you could say around 60 beers. (Just remember that was 2004!) It was unbelievable! I was suddenly in the country I was only taught about at school and picked out randomly as my A level topic in Geography and English language. What a coincidence! All the talk about Queen’s guard, English breakfast, pigeons, black cabs, fog, driving on the left became very real. I felt perhaps even too real as I was walking out of the bus station with my big 3 stone heavy backpack, small back pack in front of me and an art portfolio in my hand, when suddenly massive double-decker bus nearly hit me as I was going to cross the pedestrian. Right I have to start keep looking right first, not left! Oh my gosh! Wake up! Thinking to myself! Feeling very excited I ended up walking into Hyde Park to sit down for a bit and look at the London map I just bought, so I can see what The City has to offer before I have to catch the next bus. I sat on the bench in a foggy, turning sunny, morning Hyde Park watching pigeons and texting those exact things to my friends back home of what I could see, smell and feel at that right moment. It was simply just way too surreal. You would never think such a situation can stuck in your mind for so long. I remember it like it was yesterday. Later on in the day my hunger was getting worse, so I decided to buy a sandwich, but opted for a baguette of cheese and tomato, because I felt I am getting more value for money. How wrong was I! For half of baguette they charged me £4.50! I was horrified as a tourist wrongly comparing prices and what it could get me back home. For some reason apart from cafes and sandwich shops I did not notice any supermarket, so I guess buying it from a cafe next to Parliament and Big Ben, explains it all. Oh silly me.
People often ask me if I like this country?! Well of course I like it! Otherwise I would not be still living here nine years later! I have created my life here, working on my career, I made it work for me, I worked hard, people gave me opportunities, I got myself through two educational institutions and many other courses, and I met some really wonderful and dear friends along the way. Quiet honestly I consider myself British. In a patriotic sort of way. Obviously I am still Czech as my passport says and I did not resent my home country in one way, but I made sure I made it work and felt homely here. I joined and blended within the society and certainly expressed my feelings in case someone was trying to accuse me of stealing jobs, benefits, not speaking English or putting me into the same group with Polish people. I paid tax for all these years, picked up all the colloquial language and even a British boyfriend along the way. I fall in love with English breakfast (minus the baked beans) and Christmas minces, forcing my Czech friends and family to try during Christmas visits including the famous pudding and brandy sauce. I fall in love with the weather and all year round temperature, which allows you to wear pretty much the same clothes just with an addition of few extra tops when required. Obviously that had some impact of me not getting it quite right when trying to go out on a night out back home in minus twenty Celsius and foot high snow in high heels and little black dress and not much else. That particular lesson was quickly learnt. I fall in love with British politeness and everyone wishing each other lovely day, banks, post offices and shops being open during the late evenings and weekends including making all the required information needed online or over the phone comparing to the byrocratic system back home.
I just simply fall in love with this country and that is why I am still here. And I know that even some people I know back home judge me for calling Britain home, it is not that I would hate my native country, I still call home ‘home’ too, I just feel very happy here and I call every place or country around the world home, when feeling the same way. Plus entertaining my friends when speaking Czech with Welsh or Bristolian accent is priceless and I really do not mind being known as the English girl. And for those, who judge, I have developed simple way to shut them up: ‘Take your passport, book the ticket, pack the bag and do it yourself! Then we talk! ‘ They soon realize you cannot compare the amount of money you earn here to being lonely on your birthday, during Christmas or when simply things are just not great and you cannot pop over to your local pub to have a chat with your mate. I do not know how long I plan to be here. I may have to return next month or simply never. I am enjoying living like the character from Happy Go Lucky, so I guess I leave it until my inner soul says that’s enough!
Thank you reading and Thank you for being part of my 9 years (and longer) experience. With love Kat xx