The Difficulties of Not Knowing a Language

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Gas bustersWhen I finished college in swtizerland, I decided to move to Prague in the search of my roots, being that my grandfather is Czech. However,  I never thought about the difficulties that would arise from not knowing the language, and believe me, eating grilled sandwiches for two months and sleeping in a freezing ambience was not what I had planned...

When I decided to change flats I didn't think it was going to be so difficult, and it wasn't. A lot of people in Prague speak at least some English or Spanish, and I knew a little of Czech, so I found another flat quickly. However, my new landlord wasn't at all helpful, she just gave me the keys and said, "oh by the way, the former leaser didn't pay his gas bills, and I'm trying to fix that problem, so during this week they should come and unblock the gas."

To begin, I already signed the contract and to be honest, I didn't check the gas before doing so. One, because it was broad day, and two, who rents a flat without gas, when the heater, kitchen and other appliances work only by gas? Unbelievable yes, but it was the reality and I decided to just deal with it.

A few days went by and nothing... So I decided to call my landlord and complain, and she said, "Hey, they went and you weren't home." Who goes to a house without calling before hand? I mean people work, and its not like I was going to sit home until they decided to come... The story about them showing up, or mixing addresses, or what not, went on for a month. Thank god I had already bought a small heater and a sandwich toaster, if not I would have gone bonkers. I decided to call the gas company myself, and I encountered another problem. There is only one company in Prague that deals with gas and electricity, and there are no English speaking employees, well at least I never found one. Yup, no one understood what I was saying or complaining about. Completely stressful! I felt so incompetent, but then again, I was living in a country were I didn't know the language, so who do I blame, me for not knowing the language, or them for not having English speaking employees? Gas

Finally, one of my friends helped me out and it was eventually fixed after almost 2 months, and I had gas! I made myself a huge steak that night and slept in a dessert like ambience, but believe me, it wasn't fun.

I was just wondering what would you do in this type of situation?

Comments (7)

Collette Lee
Tower Realty - Riverside, CA
It's always hard in a situation when there's a language barrier, but if I was you, I would have probably grabbed a friend sooner. There's no way I would have lived without a heater or gas for 2 months. Thank goodness for you that someone eventually was able to help you out!
Jan 07, 2008 04:53 AM
John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana
Hard to say.  Being in a foreign country this is probably accepted more over there.
Jan 07, 2008 05:11 AM
Karin Reznicek - Doral, FL
Hi Collette, thanks for your comment. Hahaha. Yeah it was awfull, and I did have a lot of friends, but I'm the kind of person that hates to bother other people, and I have difficulties asking for favors. It was a good learning experience though. I did learn some czech because of this issue, and I did learn to make the best grilled sandwiches, hehehe.
Jan 07, 2008 05:15 AM
Karin Reznicek - Doral, FL
Hi John, yeah, obviously theirs a few places where this can happen, well many of them. I'm almost positive that this would never happen in the states. Believe me, after that incident I started studying Czech, because at the end of the day, I was in Czech Rep. and did blame myself for not knowing the countries language.
Jan 07, 2008 05:20 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


After reading your comment on my last post...

I just had to come by and meet you (so to speak)...

You sound like you've led an interesting life thus far.

As to your question...

I would have gone to the nearest American Embassy and found someone to help.

But hey...That's just me...And I am assuming (that's bad, I know) Prague has an Embassy.

P.S. I admire your independence and wish I had done more traveling during my younger days :)


Jan 08, 2008 09:14 AM
Karin Reznicek - Doral, FL

TLW, thanks for dropping by, it's an honor to have someone with so much experience reading my posts, and I'm not sucking up, its just true, haha. Its like getting advice from the big man... hahaha!

Yeah, I guess  I could have gone to the embassy, but then again in those countries I guess I would have gotten the, "you have no gas" look, "and thats why you come and waist our time, cause you can't fix THAT on your own..." I mean, the whole incident is a lauph, cause it doesn't happen that often, and its so easy to fix, but its like your post of the Ka-ka heads, hahaha, these gas busters were HUGE ka-ka heads! And yeah, I love to travel and submerge in the culture, and this was part of it. Now when I go and see a house/flat I always check for gas, water, electricity. Thanks again, and by the way, its never to late to travell, I mean, you still practice shooting... :)

Jan 08, 2008 11:18 PM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

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