We’re staring at the meat fridge in the grocery store, phones in hand, typing into our translate apps. After two years in Prague, my husband and I still sometimes have trouble knowing what the heck we’re doing at the grocery store. Flank steak for fajitas? Heck if we learned that in Czech class. After five minutes we choose what translates as “rear putty” beef, and head home.
With a new culture, a new language, a new city, a new job, new friends, the new can get old. So I understand now why the most consistent advice we got from friends who’d moved abroad before us was to pack reminders of home.
Which is exactly what my friend Jessica did when she packed up and moved from Athens, Georgia to Prague, Czech Republic.
This girl has style — hip, funky, fabulous style. Need I explain further why I immediately fell in love with this one? (Then she went and deemed us “style sisters,” and the compliment secured her a friend for life.)
Jessica brought lots of her favorite wearable accessories to Prague, like bold graphic tote bags, a schnazzy pair of gold chevron Toms, and a whole pile of cool jewelry, including a sweet “forget me not” ring from her best friend.
She also brought lots of home accessories. Whether she’d previously acquired them, or friends gifted her new goodies as a farewell, Jessica’s loft is splashed with reminders of her people: garlands they’ve strung, coasters they’ve knitted, and paintings they’ve painted. These handmade treasures give Jessica’s place soul.
“Every time I look at them, it reminds me of who gave it to me.”
Jessica cleverly used a handmade “You’re the bomb” wire necklace to accessorize her bedside lampshade.
“My friend made that necklace for me because I always tell people they’re the bomb. My friends hate it. They say, ‘People don’t say that anymore.’ I don’t care!”
Jessica has also started collecting things from her life in Prague, like a wooden crate that says “artificial shortening” in Czech. She uses it to corral remotes and magazines.
She filled some lonely shelves with a teacup collection, all of them stamped with the country’s pre-1993 moniker, “Czechoslovakia.”
“I think I was really worried to come here and not be able to find things that were me. But here, you can find incredible things.”
Jessica’s place is a fantastic mix of past and present, peppered with clues of who she is and who she loves. The things she brought from home not only make her flat instantly interesting, they made her flat instantly home.
“That’s what makes a house a home, is having really personal things, and really beautiful things.”
With a few added details like cheerful plants peppered through the flat, a happy string of lights adorning the metal loft rail, and a good book laying about ready to be curled up with, I’d be happy to come for tea and just never leave.
[Handmade garlands and original paintings by Bowerbird.]