Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Very Czech Easter in the Mountains

For Easter I was lucky enough to end up with a four-day weekend and an invitation to go with some friends to a cottage in the mountains. 

The cottage in the middle. -photo courtesy of Vlasta
I have to admit a few things here. I was hesitant to go at first. The American professional in me shys away from weekend-long stays with clients. However, I was itching to get out of the city. I just needed a bit of a break from Prague. Besides, I hang out with these guys all the time in Prague, why not outside the city?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It Adds Up

So I recently read A Million Little Pieces and while it may have been a fake memoir, it's a damn good book and it totally gets you thinking.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the book, it's about a man with severe drug and alcohol addictions. His addictions go beyond anything I've ever heard of in real life and make Requiem For a Dream and Trainspotting look like child's play.

You read about his addictions, everything in his life he's managed to completely screw up under the influence of these addictions, etc.

Point: It's a great book and gets you thinking about the fine line between having fun while drinking and alcoholism. I don't care if it's not real, it'll scare the living shit out of you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Austin in the Mail

Austin arrived in the mail today.

That my friends was totally worth the two hours and four queues of Česká pošta bureaucracy as well as the 96kc duty and VAT charges. You'll notice: 
  • a map of Texas (To go on my wall) 
  • Starbucks instant coffee (Just in case) 
  • not one, not two, but three bags of Reese's
  • two jars of Austin Grand-Prize Peach Salsa (Only the best peach salsa on earth and it the jar I brought with me was gone in two weeks...)
  • two bags of black beans (Oh how I've missed thee!)
  • a bag of pinto beans (I hated these when I was a kid. Oh how things have changed.)
  • My favorite Austin skyline Starbucks mug which I forgot to pack and I'm happy to have again. (Zuzka, the horsie mug is all yours now.)
  • a vegetable peeler (because apparently the Czechs don't believe in vegetable peelers that work)
  • J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye
  • Ayn Rand's We The Living
  • Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker (Hooray! Books!
Be jealous.

Oh my goodness. Best. Day. Ever. I <3 my mom and dad

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Old Man and the Infidel

I spend lots of time on public transport. Not as much as some of my English-teacher counterparts but quite a bit. Enough to know which end of the train I should be on to be the first off and up the escalator or where to board the bus so there will definitely be an available seat. 

One of the companies I work at is located in a relatively secure facility up in a neighborhood in Smíchov. I have to take a bus from Anděl. It's honestly not very far, but the bus gets crowded with elderly people and tiny children, people who I basically wouldn't ever have to deal with if it weren't for public transportation. (Also people who get first pick at all the seats so that only a few are left for those of us who are between ages 7 and 65.)

When I get on a bus that is basically empty, I usually try to find a row of seats that's empty so that I don't have to actually sit next to someone and so that I can sit next to the window. I like the seat next to the window for some reason. That's true of buses, cars, planes, trains. Any form of transportation you can think to put me on, I won't freak out am more comfortable if I can be by the window.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Day in Hradčany

Hradčany is the Castle District in Prague and, of course, centers around Prague Castle. It's gorgeous and old and there are a million tourists to elbow your way through if you want to see any of it.

I decided to take a solo day a few weeks ago and went to the Castle by myself to take pictures and have a look around. It was some of the first sun we had seen in awhile and I was determined to spend the time outside whether anyone else was coming with me or not.

For some reason I decided to start at the bottom of the hill.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

So when I'm learning new languages I go through phases of really kicking ass and taking names and then phases of being totally lazy and wishing I could study via osmosis. 

Luckily, learning a foreign language in the country it's spoken in kind of has osmosis-like properties in that you're surrounded by it constantly and sort of pick it up and/or figure it out because you have to.

That said, people always ask why my friends and I are even bothering to learn Czech. The Czech Republic is the only country which uses the language and the population is barely pushing 10 million. And people here speak English.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Age is Just a Number

My liver finally managed to organize all the rest of my organs (namely my brain and my stomach) into a full on revolt yesterday. I stayed bedridden after a late night of beer, tequila and (god help me) Slivovice with a few of my students. (Slivovice is the devil in liquid form.)

It was Vlasta and Jan's birthdays this week, 21st and 20th respectively. Sometimes I forget how young they are.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quarterly Update

April has arrived and I'm having a bit of trouble believing I've already been in Prague for three months (this round). It's gone from snowy and freezing to sunny and warm with the occasional spring shower. I'm much happier with the weather now. 

Several of my classes are coming to an end this month (because they're quarterly) and others are finally getting comfortable enough with me to just plain have fun without thinking so much about the English and simply using it. I'm much happier now that I'm getting settled in and figuring out how to teach adults. (Not surprisingly, it's really not that different from teaching children.)