language development and swap/sell sites

I discontinued my Czech lessons shortly after going on maternity leave.  Reduced income plus increased demands on me and my body made the lessons less suitable.  I now spend my days gibbering away in English with my baby girl.  Yet I feel there's still plenty of occasion for Czech use, like today as I chatted in line at the post office with a woman that Baby was grinning at, or on my weekly visits to my in-laws, or on an online swap/sell network.
In college I joined a Financial Peace University group and went through Dave Ramsey's curriculum about personal finance management.  I started to track my spending and make a budget, and as I transitioned out of college into the "real world," I felt more equipped to manage my money and pay off my school debt. Yet one aspect of the course continued to remain a question to me: selling your stuff.  Quite often the course materials recommended it, but what I wanted to know was "how?"  Fast forward 6 years (and 5 years into my stay in the Czech Republic) and I've finally begun to do it.

Usually when I find my closet getting too full or come across clothing items little in use, I choose one of the following options: donate items to H&M Conscious (especially suitable for spoiled items), donate the items through the local Diakonia, or donate the items to Moment, a secondhand shop that functions like Goodwill and which uses the proceeds to support Kola Pro Afriku (Bikes for Africa). Yet there there were some things that I held onto though I continued not to wear them. Some girlfriends had repeatedly mentioned selling some items online, so finally I asked point-blank what site they used.

I was directed to a social-networking website that specializes in selling clothing and accessories.  While still pregnant, I set up a profile, aware that I wasn't in the ideal condition to wear clothes to photograph and post.  Now the belly is gone and I've got a baby girl who is filling our closets with her own tops, tights, and pajamas.  As our closets aren't getting any bigger, I decided to jump in and try to sell things.

Remember how this post began: Czech language development. Let me I pause and remind you that I live in the Czech Republic,  where people speak Czech.  This means that I needed to advertise the articles I was selling in Czech, let alone learning to navigate the Czech website.  All-in-all, the website is well designed, so though the beginning was slow (as slow as taking photographs of clothing while attending to a mommy-loving infant), I'm now able to more efficiently post items.  And while the vocabulary of posting items is becoming familiar to me, I encounter all sorts of new words as I communicate with buyers and sellers.  For example, I'd posted some various pairs of shoes and suddenly had inquiries about "length of the insole" or "height of the heel" -- phrases I hadn't yet needed to use in daily life.

Furthermore, I have some of the items I'm selling in one flat and some in another, so sometimes, I have to repeatedly respond to inquiries with various versions of "I'll be back at my flat at the weekend, and I'll measure the item for you then.  Thanks for your patience." And as clumsy I was with my responses (and sometimes with the website itself, finally marking my first sold item as sold to the wrong user), I was able to make my first sale, navigate a not-so-beloved post office and send off the item.  Currently, I've sold another three items and one more is reserved and awaiting payment.

Just today I received a package of my first (and only) purchase from the website: some merino wool growing onesies for Baby Girl.  I was pleased to buy them about 30% less than usual cost (one of them being completely new).  I also recently navigated my first exchange of items.  My package should be approaching the other user's doorstep, and sometime this week I'll get my own package.

While using this website had started as a practical effort to sell quality items that were being neglected in the back of our wardrobe, I've been pleasantly surprised with how entertaining I've found the endeavor.  As I communicate (in Czech), I see the personalities of other users come out: the slightly pushy girl eager for a good deal, the bartering man, the woman eager to make sure that our exchange is equal, the closet cross-dresser, the disappointed woman with big feet disappointed to have shown interest too late.  (I'm also quite suspicious that my latest sale may be part of a prank, but I think that I'm okay with that.)   Even visits to the post office* are more pleasant as I know what to expect and come prepared with a book or a podcast to keep me occupied while I wait in line.  Finally, I find it immensely satisfying to creatively package up items and send them off to someone who I know will enjoy them.

So though I haven't decided when I'd resume regular Czech lessons or with whom, I can count on this sell/swap website to keep my Czech in active use.

*On my way to the post office, I met one of my neighbours from our building.  She informed me that there's a postal strike scheduled for today, but it is planned for 17:00-19:00 today.


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