So since I was mugged, the people here at the University have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable and okay, as have my friends and family. I thank them for this, and accept it with gratitude and graciousness. The people here, fellow colleagues and some students, seem to be embarrassed by the behavior of their countrymen and don’t want me to think less of them and the Czech Republic as a whole. I want to be clear about this:
I harbor no ill will toward the Czech Republic or its people. I do, however, harbor some resentment towards the ones who attacked me. I understand that things like this can and do happen anywhere, and just because they happened to me in a foreign country does not mean that it is the country’s fault. Nor is it the fact that I am an American, as some people have suggested. My attackers didn’t care about nationality, what they did care about was getting my possessions. This is a common trait to thieves and robbers everywhere. Sure, you are an easier target if you are a foreigner because you (like me) may not be able to understand the language, but I have met Czechs who have been the victims of similar crimes, which allows me to be pretty damn sure when I say that it was not because I am an American. These punks were drunk and looking to make trouble as well as deprive someone of their possessions. I just happened to be there in the wrong place at the wrong time (for me anyway). And the police said that the folks that attacked me are gypsies so I fully believe that they were just waiting for someone, anyone, to happen by and in this case that just happened to be me.
I am trying not to dwell on the attack. That is a waste of energy and time and it will do no good. My nose was broken and my passport and camera were stolen. Those are unchangeable facts and thinking about what I could have done differently is an excercise in futility. Thinking about what I can do differently in the future is more constructive and productive, so that is what I am focusing on. I was a victim, but I refuse to feel like a victim or wallow in my misery. I did that on Sunday, and I am over it. My face still hurts, my eyes have a nice ring of red around them and my nose is still broken. Oh well, life goes on.
Back to the niceness of the people around me. Many people have apologized for what happened even though it is not their fault (but that’s what we say when something terrible happens to people we know; it’s lame but it’s true). One of my students brought me a box of choclates as a get well gift (I had already assigned her grade so this was not an attempt at bribery disguised as a gift) which was terribly thoughtful, nice, and unnecessary. My colleague Zuzana brouhgt me some genuine home made Czech potato soup, and it was delicious. I have been eating it all week.
Another one of my students wanted to know what my Christmas plans were, and when I told her that I didn’t really have any she suggested that I spend it with her and her family, if her parents said it was okay. I got an email from her yesterday saying that her parents said it was okay, so now I will be experiencing a traditional Czech Christmas with one of my students and her family. Apparently this is a big deal because Czech Christmases are usually limited to family only–no visitors are generally allowed unless they are blood or in laws. I feel honored, a little taken aback, and a little scared; there will be only a few English speakers there so it will be interesting to say the least. Still, I am grateful that she invited me as I will get to experience a different kind of Christmas than the one I am used to–they celebrate it on the 24th and Carp and potato salad are the traditional dishes served.
I will try to get a picture of my new face posted in the next few days before it goes away just so all you folkls out there can see. It is better today and with any luck the swelling and bruises will be gone within the week. I am not holding my breath for it, but I am hoping that they will be gone by the 24th so I can meet my student’s family without looking like a ghoul or some kind of Halloween reject.
Oh, I forgot, I got my passport back, so that’s good. But, the police had already reported it stolen so now it’s invalid and that is bad. I’ve been trying to call the US embassy in Prague, but they have not been answering the phone. I’m a bit worried because I do not know how much it will cost to replace the passport, nor do I know how long it will take. Just a little more icing on the cake that is this stupid incident.