Hi, my name is Anna, I am 22 years old, and I am currently living in Brno. I was born and raised in Luxembourg, with a double nationality, Luxembourgish and Czech.
I lived in Luxembourg until my graduation in 2018, however, I visited my relatives and friends in the Czech Republic during my whole life. Living in a bi-lingual household, the language never was an issue whenever I came here.
After graduation, I moved to the Netherlands for my studies, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t happy there. I moved back to my parents and after long research and pro-and-contra lists, I decided to move to Brno to study musicology.
When I made this decision, it gave me comfort to know that I knew the language and the culture, but I was excited to make new experiences as someone living here and not only visiting.
In August 2019 I moved to Brno and started my student experience. I didn’t know anyone in this city, and I was a little anxious about finding friends, but ever since I started university, I have met many great people. Since then, I have made many observations and discoveries.
- As many would agree, one of the first or most classic observations when living abroad is the price difference compared to the country you lived in before. Not only in apartment costs, transportation fees, but also when grocery shopping or going to a bar or café.
- Another discovery I made was the language part. Although I am fluent and don’t have an accent in Czech, I sometimes do make mistakes. When that happens, people around me look shocked. In the beginning, it was challenging for me to communicate solely in one language and more so on academic grounds.
- During the first year, before the global pandemic, I discovered the richness in cultural events and particularly their accessibility. I quickly made a habit of at least twice a week going to a concert or jam session with my friends. Thanks to those events, I have met many people from various parts of Czechia or Slovakia and became conscious of the cultural differences within the country. I started to feel like I was at home.
Obviously, there have been and still are many more discoveries that I have made, and others undoubtedly too. However, one of the most profound experiences that have changed my life is introducing myself to others.
Introductions – simple or awkward?
Introducing oneself is such a basic thing to do and yet it might be awkward from time to time. Sometimes, when I introduced myself and people asked where I was from, after telling them I was from Luxembourg and being Czech too, I got very interesting looks.
Although I have experienced this a couple of times before, since living here this kind of interaction felt different.
The reactions varied, some people wanted to know more and were interested in “my story”. Others expressed a feeling of incomprehension and alienation when they linked Luxembourg to “the rich country”. Opinions and stereotypes were conveyed, in a funny kind of tone or in a more serious tone too.
So, sometimes to avoid this, I just said I was from the area my mother’s from, but immediately I felt guilty for feeling “ashamed” about my double nationality. Finally, I decided that I couldn’t control the other person’s reaction and continued to introduce myself as the Czech and Luxembourgish girl. Not a foreigner nor a native.
It has been a journey, and it still is, and I have learned a lot. Not only about life in the Czech Republic but also about myself and human interaction in general. I believe going through this kind of experiences makes us grow as individuals and form our identity. Staying true to myself and embracing the positive experiences and learning from the less positive ones is a process I am thankful for.
I strongly believe that in spite of the pandemic circumstances, thanks to Foreigners and to numerous Facebook groups and pages, new communities can and are being formed. Communities in which information and experiences are shared, and where introductions might be more comfortable.