A window into one of the little Third Culture Kid things:
This is a svačina. Quickly after snapping this photo, I carefully placed these items in my backpack (no one likes smushed banana bread!) and strode out to class.
My days semester more resemble school days in Czech - they start at 8 and sometimes go until 2:15 before I'm back at my apartment. Without a lunch break, I'm left to only one option on those slightly longer days: bring a svačina = snack.
What makes me laugh about this is that in elementary school we were basically required to have a snack every day at school. I would panic as a kid when I forgot my snack, because I would stand out if I did. Our 15 minute break from 9:30-9:45 was reserved for this purpose alone, and everyone always took this time to eat their snacks. In my early days, I was on the "meal plan" for snacks, and my two favorite things that got delivered were jam-filled light and fluffy doughnuts, and when they would give us bread and yogurt (which were always eaten together when presented this way).
Middle school pre-gluten-free days included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (which made Czechs very confused and sometimes disgusted), or my favorite - cherry turnovers. Not bad, eh? Heh...Actually, it's probably a good thing I had to go gluten and dairy-free in high-school.
Svačina time did not even end in high-school! Although at this point, students ate their snacks whenever they wanted to instead of at a set time. There was also not as high of pressure to have a snack every day (though everyone did anyways). I suppose this habit of never leaving the house without a snack was one that was ingrained in the Czech school system, and has burrowed itself into my patterns of life too.
I ran into Pavel (the only other Czech at school, and one of Caleb's friends from pre-college days too) later today and heard all of his updates on life. He's married and living off-campus, so I don't get to talk with him much, but when our paths cross, we both enjoy getting to speak Czech for a bit. At the end of our conversation, he said that he'd better get back to "domácí úkoly" (homework), and all of the memories of Czech school came flooding back. Domácí úkoly, svačina... it's all still in my heart and head and it's strange to access those memories only at certain times, since I only speak English every day.
Czech and the U.S. have made their imprints on me, and I think that I'll be discovering those marks for the rest of my life as different situations present themselves. Today though, I'll thoroughly enjoyed the svačina that I happened to remember to pack thanks to Czech school systems. Gluten-free banana bread, a piece of chocolate, water and some cherry tomatoes can do wonders for making it easier to concentrate in class and at work. Thanks, Czech teachers.