Once the rona-dona, for not getting accepted into a UK University, had stopped (rona means crying but it’s tradition to rhyme the first word with another word), I decided to visit this country that everyone was so reluctant to talk about. Actually that’s total ‘BS’ – I didn’t make this decision at all. It was my dad who held the ‘gun to my head.’ I whinged and sulked, insisting that we go as a family, however that didn’t go down too well with pops – understandably, in my head at worst it was another foreign break! He rarely shouts but this time he exploded – “for God’s sake Zahra you’ve been molly-coddled your whole life, it’s about time you grow up, display some independence and fly the nest!!!” I really didn’t want to go. It was August – and don’t we all wind down in August ‘chillin’ doing nothing? I just wanted to sit at home, watch Humtv dramas and completely FORGET ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF CZECH REPUBLIC! But with pops around that wasn’t happening and he was ‘on my case’. Funny isn’t it, it was my dream, yet I was still being forced. The night before embarking on this two-day trip, I cried as if it was my ruksathi the next day!
This was the first time I was flying abroad alone and honestly, I felt like a hero. When going on family holidays, I often used to observe business people catching flights and it just seemed like such an adult thing to do. Now I was doing it – it sure was a great feeling (after five flights, back and forth from Stansted Airport to Brno, I really started to miss those orange pieces of paper that half your salary goes towards, the jam-packed FCC/Southern trains and believe it or not, I was actually missing that feeling of only just making it on to the tube and hearing the infamous – ‘mind the gap’). The Ryanair flight was okay, apart from the kid who remarked – “Mummy wouldn’t it be really funny if this plane went missing like the Malaysian one haha” – erm was this kid insane? How exactly is that funny?!!
When the plane landed in Brno, my initial thoughts were ‘WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING IN KASHMIR?’– there was just greenery everywhere and a village feel! However this perception changed after half an hour in the taxi, when I saw the first sign of humankind and buildings – phew!!
Whilst living in the UK I had misconceptions about Czech Republic and the people around you don’t tend to help either – half the time they don’t even know what they’re talking about!
Some conversations I was engaged in prior to the big move:
“Why the hell are you going to Czechoslovakia?!”
“Err it’s actually Czech Republic and I’m going to study Medicine.”
“Oh I thought you had already done medicine….ermm so what exactly have you been doing for the last five years?!”
(At this point I just sigh and exit the area because the next question is always- “if you’ve only just started Medicine then when are you going to get married?!”)
“Feeling a bit anxious about the move.”
“Yeah don’t worry you’ll be fine, everyone goes to Prague to do Medicine.”
“I’m actually going to Brno.”
“WHERE THE HELL IS BRUNO?! (shocked face)”
“It’s in Czech Republic, the country has more than one city believe it or not, Prague is just one and FYI it’s BRNO without the ‘U’.”
(Recently I’ve started answering Prague; explaining the existence of Brno is far too energy and time consuming.)
“Do they even have like clean water out there?”
(There was no answer for this; I just slapped the person around the face (in my mind of course.) I mean seriously, you have got to be kidding me!)
Once I arrived in Czech Republic, I realised that it’s a beautiful country with stunning buildings and architecture (ok so maybe I am slightly exaggerating here to make myself feel better, the buildings aren’t Burj Al Arab or the Shard but they sure are historical and have their own grace and character.)
The trip lasted for two days but it was a nightmare – looking for accommodation whilst trying to understand the Czech language simultaneously was a bit too much. When the estate agent asked me which I preferred, 2+KK or 3+KK (KK – Kuchynsky Kout – kitchen corner), I stared at her gormlessly and wished that my parents could come to the rescue. What the hell was this woman talking about?! KK? I just wanted to find a room and get the hell out. Nonetheless the estate agent was really helpful and eventually we managed to find a really nice fully furnished flat – for just £50 a week! Czech republic is wonderful for students as the accommodation and tuition fees (1/3rd of what we have to pay in the UK) are a considerable attraction. However the disadvantage is that you can’t take student loans and have to completely finance yourself. As if that’s not bad enough, if you are a Nandos fan like I am, then make sure you eat five years worth of chicken in the summer prior to leaving AS THERE ARE HARDLY ANY HALAL RESTARAUNTS!
Oh and how can I forget that they absolutely LOVE THEIR PIVO (beer), yes it can get awkward when I have to explain that I don’t even drink!
I often feel that when embarking on a new venture or making a decision, we stress and become really anxious – but why? Is it because we doubt ourselves? But do we really lack the ability? Or is it because we fear the ‘unknown’. Before moving to Czech Republic I found myself asking a lot of questions – I didn’t want to move to Czech Republic but why? Was it because I didn’t think I was able to do Medicine? Or was it because it was an unfamiliar environment – a new country, new place, new faces. What was actually triggering my anxiety? In life, I find that we often satisfy ourselves by believing a particular decision isn’t right for us when in actual fact we’re just a bit scared – and this is BECAUSE WE DON’T LIKE CHANGE!! As humans we become so acclimatised to our comfort zones that any kind of change makes us nervous and uneasy.
In hindsight I am so grateful for being forced to visit Czech Republic albeit it was a short stay as it enabled me to become familiar with the culture, the people and the environment. As humans we often formulate ideas in our heads and as a result, put ourselves through unnecessary anxiety and stress and it is solely due to being scared of the unknown.
So the moral of the story is quite simply this – if you are feeling uneasy about a certain decision or a move in life, don’t be. Blindly have faith in Allah with the belief that everything happens for a reason. DON’T HESITATE, MAKE THAT CHOICE, GO FORWARD AND TAKE THAT RISK! Eventually it all works out and if it doesn’t, it’s not the end (yes I know what you’re thinking, that was from Om Shanti Om – I love Bollywood films #dontjudge.)