Allison Body is a student at Rockhurst University and an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures blogger corresponding with a 3rd grade class in Texas. Allison is currently studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic on an ISA Fall 1 program.
Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I have no problem with the fact that my apartment kitchen is covered in pumpkin guts at the moment.
Since I got here it has been important to me to try to be a part of Czech culture, because it seems wrong to expect all of Prague to change for my sake. So I have given up a few things I enjoy, like having ice in my drinks, going for runs in my neighborhood, and talking loudly. I buy only Czech chocolate bars, order in Czech at restaurants, and stand on the correct side of the escalator in the metro.
But tonight, I had to do something American: celebrate Halloween with some good ole’ fashioned pumpkin carving. Several of my friends from ISA came over with pumpkins we had found in markets around Prague, and we spent the past few hours making pumpkin masterpieces. We carved scary faces, happy faces, a cat, and even a few Czech words (dobre – good and spatne – bad). We roasted pumpkin seeds with salt, cinnamon sugar, and even garlic (that last one is definitely a Czech ingredient). Prague does not really celebrate Halloween like we do in America with pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating, so it was nice to get together for a night and do something that reminded us of home—even if a lot of us hadn’t carved a pumpkin in years.
So right now, even though I am cleaning pumpkin goo out of every corner of my kitchen, I am still smiling, because I can’t help but be grateful for good friends, memories of home, and a little Halloween party. Most days, I am trying hard to be a Czecka (Czech girl), but every now and then I think it is okay to take a day off. Sometimes you just have to carve out a little space for yourself and your traditions in your strange home—or in this case, carve a pumpkin.