Sunday, September 13, 2009

Exile in Novy Bydzov

The following is a post from guest blogger and friend, Matt Corbin, reflecting on his first weeks as an ex-pat in the Czech Republic. For the next year, Matt will be teaching English in Novy Bydzov, a small town outside of Prague, and working on his first novel.

He blogs about the perils of lesson plans, hotels with strict occupancy policies, and the strange pleasure of trading television for writing, at A Broad Study.

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Novy Bydzov – a town with a population of no more than 1,000, nearly 300 miles from where the once invisible Iron Curtain stood, where people get around with their legs and bikes rather than cars.

As I take my daily walk to The Matrix, a friendly café/pub in town, I pass children smiling as they walk, and elderly men and women carrying groceries in baskets on the front of their handlebars and attached to the back of their seats. I see teenagers hidden slightly in the corners of dimly lit parks, smoking cigarettes and sipping on beers.

Beer seems to be the drink of choice here. Since I don’t drink alcohol, I am surprised when my Coca-Cola Light costs more than my girlfriend’s 20-ounce or .5-liter beer. As proof of its abundance, this price difference between beer and Coca-Cola Light holds true no matter which café or pub we’re in.

At night, I step out on the balcony of my fourth floor flat and look out at some of the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever seen. There is a strong smell of fertilizer in the air. As the sky grows darker, I watch a stray dog scamper back and forth across the field of maybe fifty yards below me, barking at anyone or anything that passes. On these nights I read instead of watching television, I play cards instead of watching television and I write instead of watching television.

I think I could find no more peace here than anywhere. I had always said I could never imagine living in a small town, but I believe in this small town, that even many people in Prague have never heard of, I may have found a state of bliss.

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