These awesome two ladies are behind something incredible.
And before i am going to tell you about them and Czech School Scotland, I would love to share with you couple of more words about my life abroad.
If you live in foreign country and decide to have family there, you will probably like to introduce your children to your culture. To your language, history, things that you grew up with. And let me tell you, sometimes it is not easy.
In one of my previous blog posts I talked briefly about our new life in Scotland. Did you know it is already six years since we moved from Czech Republic to this beautiful country? I know it is cliche but it really feels like all this happened just yesterday!
I talked about leaving friends behind, however there are other things that I sometimes struggle with. Preserving my language, for example. I am forgetting czech language. I know it sounds silly and I am not kidding. It is scientifically proven that you can, in fact, forget your mother language if you don’t use it.
Well, I didn’t forget mine but my vocabulary is very, very poor now. Which is ridiculous, something that I thought can NEVER happen to me. I am huge bookworm. I read books in the class, I slept with the books and I almost got killed by car while reading book. My vocabulary used to be rich, colourful but as I got married to guy from Africa and we moved to Scotland, I was kind of forced to use English only.
How does it even feel like, speaking with foreign language? How does it feel, learning new words and phrases?
It is I-N-T-E-N-S-E!
First couple of months, anytime when I finished at my work, I returned back home totally exhausted. Not from work itself but from all the informations my brain received. I came here with pretty basic english and because I wanted to fit in and I worked as a carer, I did everything I could to improve my language skills. I was meeting new people, watched british telly with english subtitles. Even though my grammar isn’t good and it won’t most likely get any better anymore, I started to think or even dream in english. Ouch, and have you ever heard that “painful thinking” phrase? Well, it certainly can be very painful!
To save myself from any more exhaustion I stopped using czech language at home. My husband never learned my language (and to be fair, I never had desire to speak with his, igbo) and I hated to be interpreting everything to him when I talked to my kids. It is like another extra full time job, together with parenting and full time career in social care. Speaking in english was suddenly so much easier, certainly easier than to have the entire conversation twice!
And you know what? I wasn’t really that bothered. I don’t have best relationship with my family and when my father passed away I haven’t got anymore reasons to travel there. Maybe once in couple of years… Well, if there is nothing that brings me back then what is the point of even trying?
We grow up, gain new experiences, we change and form new opinions.
So changed my need to speak in my language.
Over couple of years we settled down. I could start to call this country my home. I found few friends, job that I love. Still, I felt some kind of emptiness. As a photographer, I met many people from my country and I had an opportunity to capture their milestones. It is awesome. And it is great to meet people that are culturally close to you. So why did I feel like that?
I realised that you can’t always cheat that need to have something in common with other people. And I am not talking about things like hobbies or interests. I have few really good friends that love photography, reading or Harry Potter just like me.
I am talking about need to have similar past and history with other humans. Little things that formed you into what you are right now. Details that used to be in my life and I never realised that I missed them. Tiny gems to give your children one by one and once they grow up, they will have this huge treasure which you can’t buy anywhere.
You can give them something precious, something unique.
As I am visiting and meeting clients and people from Czech Republic here in Scotland, I am more thinking about my life decisions. My decision to avoid czech language, and culture as well. What are my reasons behind it anyway? I mean, the real reasons? Well, it is not that simple.
I didn’t have happy childhood and start in my life. I was hurt by family and people around me and my wounds are so deep, that the most natural thing for me is to avoid anything that is anyhow connected to these unfortunate events of my past. I always wanted to live abroad, far away from all. When I travelled, my rejection of everything that reminded me home was like taking huge weight off my shoulders. It helped me in some ways. However, it is not really a way to solve things.
You can’t heal yourself if you can’t accept who you are. If you can’t accept your roots and past.
I will definitely talk about my past more in one of my future blog posts. My story isn’t special or unique. I know few people who, more or less, are going through similar stage of life. Many people, after couple of years start to question their choice to live abroad and many of them decide to go back to their country. Often for very similar reasons that I just described. Need to belong.
Belong to what?
When we grow older, most of us have desire to settle down and start family. And you want to be part of your child’s life. You want to give them what you know best. If you live abroad, your children will visit local schools, learn language of the country they live in. They are going to learn new songs, nursery rhymes, different things about history.
I realised that the transition from “immigrant” to being settled here in Scotland happened almost over night for my kids. While I still think of myself as someone who isn’t from here, my kids feel very differently. They feel Scottish. They are not, yet. But they don’t know anything different, apart of my oldest daughter. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I am like a stranger witness of their growing up and development and sometimes I doubt how much I am involved in this.
I have decided, for various reasons, to sweep my language and culture under the carpet. What are they getting from me then?
I am supposed to hold their hands, guide them through their journey until they are able to do it themselves. Instead, they are doing this for me. They are singing to me songs and telling me stories that I never heard before. It is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. Yet, when I am visiting my clients, I feel bit sad when they speak to their kids in their language. When I see that they are reading them their favourite childhood book. Book that you can’t find in english and even if you did, the entire reading experience will different.
My kids don’t have that. If I start to read books in my language, they are not going to understand me. We can’t play with words, change their meaning to make a joke and giggle about it because my kids don’t know it in czech and I can’t do it in english. It is kind of like little barrier that we have between each other.
I grew a need to meet more and more people that know what I am talking about. People that know what is it to live in completely new place, with new everything and then you decide to have children there. I really admire parents that is determined to not give up. Who wants to gift their kids this precious piece of them. It requires patience, time. Lots of love. And considering the current political situation in UK, I think it is incredibly brave as well.
What is Czech School Scotland?
During my sessions I heard a lot about families visiting czech school. I didn’t pay too much attention to it until my recent “identity crisis”. Not long ago I had a pleasure to meet with two lovely ladies that are behind all this.
Czech School Scotland is Community Interest Company incorporated in 2018 by directors Veronika MacLeod and Radka Petersen. Their school isn’t only about teaching czech language or history, they also organise various cultural events. They are based in Edinburgh and recently opened another branch in Glasgow.
There are many other people helping with this wonderful project and hundreds of hours involved in this. I am very glad that there are people like them and they are helping other parents that want to keep culture alive for their families while they are doing their best to adjust to their new lives in Scotland.
They have also Facebook page where you can learn more about them.
And what about you?
Are you living abroad? Where is your new home? Have you decided to have family there? Can you relate to my experience? i would love you to share it with me in comments! 😉
Next time, I am going to talk about my sixth year anniversary in Scotland and my very first days in this great country. I will also share with you photo of my first grocery shopping!