Hands-on cultural immersion with Czech buddies
CIEE flat Buddies are Czech university students who share apartments with the CIEE students, serve as local guides, organize various cultural activities and help with different issues from doctor’s visits to housekeeping. Read a blog post by Veronika Rožnovská who is a Czech buddy for the CNMJ students:
“I have been participating in the CIEE program for more than two years now and I have gained a lot of experience and dozens of friends during that time. I had the chance to participate in several CIEE trips. In return, I invite my flatmates to visit me in my hometown to show them the area I grew up in.
I had a unique opportunity to invite my flatmates to a truly authentic event. My relatives organize a big family gathering once a year. Last year, they decided to be inventive and put together a ’themed’ celebration, something they used to do regularly thirty years ago and that you barely ever see nowadays (spoiler alert – following parts might be seen as inappropriate). We were invited to a pig slaughter.
Pig slaughter is something our forebears did quite regularly at a time where supermarkets were not common. I mentioned to my flatmates something like this would be organized soon and, to my big surprise, they wanted to join in!
The day the pig slaughter took place, we all hopped on a train and went on a four-hour ride east of Prague where my family awaited us. When we arrived, everything was prepared for a big family gathering – cakes, soufflés, and pies. My flatmates described the whole event as the biggest feast they had ever seen.
After a warm welcome, we all sprang into work. My flatmates surprised me once more when they participated in minced meat and sausage production. After tasting all different kinds of pig products, we prepared dinner together consisting of, among others, schnitzels, meat loaves, and goulash.
After being so stuffed from all the food we had had during the day, my family members decided to teach my flatmates some traditional dances. We danced until late at night! My friends intended to leave the next day in the morning but after the whole day filled with bewildering cultural experiences, they decided to extend their visit and stayed one more day.
I know some people might find the whole slaughter culture disgusting, however, it belongs to our heritage and I was glad that I had the chance to demonstrate my American friends the way people in the Czech Republic used to live in the past.”