Petra

Public Service Interpreter and Translator

Lives in Leeds // From Nezdenice, Czech Republic

We mostly eat vegetarian and vegan stuff here, but then once I go home for a visit it’s more or less impossible not to eat meat. It definitely is getting better but I grew up in the middle of nowhere. It’s still a very nice area, it’s the border of Slovakia, eastern part of Czech Republic. My husband is English but he is learning Czech. He was actually lucky, he was searching for a Czech course, and he found this university lecturer who told him, “well, come and join us at the university”. He was just observing and participating in lectures, but of course he wouldn’t get a degree from it. Unfortunately, the following year they did not open it because there was a lack of people. But, he met some friends who were into Czech and we are still in touch with them, that’s what keeps him learning. They learn together so that’s great. 

Right now my home would be where my husband is. I am very happy in the UK, I do miss the Czech Republic but right now I am happy in Leeds because I have nice people around me, my job is great. I am just happy here in Leeds. I guess if I didn’t have my husband, I would probably go back straight to Czech Republic because I have a younger sister and she has a toddler and a six months old baby. So, I guess I would move to Prague to be with her because we have a very close family. But, my husband has a beautiful family too, so it makes everything so much easier. 

Because the values are pretty similar, it’s what makes it easier for me to live here. Maybe religion is stronger here than in Czech Republic. In general, I think it’s the same. Also, the way our families were brought up is more or less the same. And, I will try to apply for British citizenship so that’s what I’m working on now. For six years I studied English philology, that means anything about English language, English written literature, and culture of English speaking countries, so for me this is just a revision. 

I don’t think of myself as completely Czech or completely British because I like the best of both worlds, so maybe European? That may be the best description. At the beginning when I started living here, it’s not like I wanted to get rid of everything that was Czech about me. But, I did not fancy certain Czech aspects and I preferred everything British way. However, the more I am here, the more I value my “Czech-ness”. I know that plenty of interpreters would prefer if they could get rid of their accents but I learned to embrace my Czech accent so it does not make me feel “less”, it doesn’t make me a bad interpreter, I would say. 

I miss my family and my best friends, and maybe the countryside. I miss going “mushrooming”. Here I just don’t know what kind of mushrooms there are so I would not go on my own, I would have to find somebody who does. Here, I think in Nottingham forest there are some Polish and Czech people who go “mushrooming”.

I’m not sure how much I changed but the reason why I wanted to move abroad, specifically to the UK, was because I always felt that I am more optimistic and more open minded than other Czech people. So, here I felt I can have a more positive view on life in general and I wouldn’t be exposed to the typical Czech pessimism.

I still notice that Czech are more forward so it can pass as impolite in comparison with British manners, I would say. I was also brought up this way - to be more polite. My parents always told me to say “thank you” or “please”. And, when I lived in Sheffield, before I moved to Leeds, I actually lived in a shared house with two other Czechs and they told me that I said “thank you” and “please” in Czech way too many times. But I did not see a difference in my Czech, my Czech is more or less the same when it comes to being polite. Of course, my English has to be more polite because that’s the way it is here. 

I started thinking about British citizenship too late, now if there’s a general election it won’t be enough time for me to get my British citizenship and everything. I underestimated and in a way I thought Brexit would never happen. But, now it’s more likely it’ll happen, we’ll see. I got my settled status in March, the moment it was free I just did it. 

Because we both are self employed and the British pension won’t be enough, the plan is, once we retire, we move to Prague. I think, for now, Leeds is the place where we would live for now. But, I guess I am more confident now because I did not really have the support from my family at the beginning, and in general I am just much happier now.

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