Thursday, August 24, 2006

Is summer over?

Well, my excitement for teaching has dwindled a little (a lot) since that last post, mainly because I have been doing so much more of it these past two months. I was hired by another school and also picked up a good number of private students so I've almost doubled my workload. Now I'm back to counting days until the next trip somewhere. (Seven days until I take a weekend jaunt up to Amsterdam to visit some friends.)

My family came to visit the last two weeks of July, which was actually a nice vacation. We went up to Germany and Paris for a few days. And it was just great to see them. Since then, the summer has seemed to disappear... The weather hasn't been the nicest, summer storms and all and it's nearing the end of August. I held out hope for some time that July's fantastic weather would return but that hope has faded, and just as well.

The going looks pretty good for September. Hopefully, the trip to Holland will give me that 'just returned from vacation' feeling and power me through the month. I guess it seems that there isn't that much to report. Life is good.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Teaching is great!!

I've just returned from a fun, successful Tuesday morning class (somewhat unusual) and thought I should probably note this as teaching English is what I do for a living. My Tuesday students (Pavel, Ales, & Juraj) are somewhat advanced students that I have been teaching for about a year now. Today I went by the book for lack of interest in creating a cool lesson plan. We covered raise, rise and arise... and words having to do with money. Oh, the excitement of International Express, Upper Intermediate. Well, Ales & Pavel hadn't ever learned the difference between the three key words, to my surprise. After teaching it to them, I was pleasantly surprised when Pavel, with that light of understanding in his eyes, said "Ok, now I get it... at first, I had no idea what the book was talking about, but you explained it really well. Thanks."

Well, gee, if that isn't the nicest thing to hear after a 90 minute lesson at 8 in the morning. Especially considering my Tuesday class isn't my favorite. Not that I don't enjoy the class, but both Pavel & Ales have new sons and yes, hearing about babies is enjoyable. I am female. BUT 10 months of hearing about the first time baby X did/had his first {insert cute baby activity here} gets a little old. Anyways, baby free conversation and some stellar teaching on my part (pats own back) made this class really great.

Now back to bed for a short nap before I really start my day. You think I'm kidding...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Guess it's been some time since I've posted news on life in this jungle of a city. Haha... when I say jungle, I really only mean Zizkov. I've started to notice how gritty Prague 3 is lately. I think that may be due to the warm weather. The gypsies are always hanging out on the streets and I've heard of a few muggings near my flat. But I personally don't mind. Life in the flat is going well. Maria moved home (tear) so we've had a changing of flatmates, which has gone smoothly. I have also discovered the joy of sitting in my window and keeping an eye on my street. Now that it's nice out, I try to spend some time in the window every week. It's relaxing.

World Cup fever has struck Europe and have kept my evenings occupied for the last few weeks. The games have tapered off now that we are in the semi finals, but now the games are just more exciting. I'll put it down for the record that I would like France to win. I think the French team is more fun to watch than Italy. And for Germany's sake, it would be nice if they could at least place 3rd, although I think it woulda been a better final game if it was Germany/France.. but oh well.

My dad, stepmom and little sister come to visit in a week. I'm excited. First, I'm taking two weeks off of my already slacker work schedule... sleep in! Second, we are heading up to Frankfurt for a few days. It's always nice to take a little trip out of Prague. I'm not gonna lie about the third perk here: goods from the states!! Q-tips and jelly bellies!!

Speaking about things from the states, the list of things that I will NOT be able to find in the states when I go home (should that ever happen.. haha) is growing longer. This list includes the following:
Mattoni flavored water.. specifically the 1.5 L, they do magic on a hangover (I prefer grapefruit & peach)
the sunset at 9:45 pm (this is really just a summer thing)
beer gardens!!!!!
Orbitz grapefruit & watermelon gum
Nescafe 3 in 1 coffees, you know it
those jelly donuts I can get from the bakery around the corner
liters of wine for 50kc at the Sudova Vina
my newly aquired ability to pinpoint foreign accents (well, some)
and while I've become acquainted with some of the less charming parts of Prague, this city still continues to wow me with its beauty

This list keeps going, but it won't at the moment. Czech food & beer will someday get a top spot on the list, but currently I'm dumplinged out. I'll try and get some pictures up here soon enough. Again, sorry for the two month delay on updating about life in Prague. Oh, and also, August 2nd marks one year in the CZ for me... geez. One whole year already. Time flies when you're trying to understand Czech. Haha.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ok, sooo... Croatia. Maria & I spent 5 days in Dubrovnik which is at the very bottom of the country on the Dalmation coast. The journey there wasn't so bad, but boring while I waited about 6 hours at the airport in the capital, Zagreb, for my flight down the country. The night train from Prague through Slovenia & Hungary went smoothly. I added a good number of passport stamps to my pages passing through all those countries. (pic: morning on the train in Hungary)

I arrived in Dubrovnik the night of Easter Sunday. The bus ride from the airport was nice because as we drove past the Old Town, I could see the city walls all lit up for the holiday. The city itself is really charming. It's pretty small and located between the coast of the Adriatic Sea on one side and mountains (well, really big hills) on the other. Guide books warn tourists not to go hiking in these hills or at least to stay on the paths because they may still be laced with land mines remaining from the war in the early 90s. (pics: Old Town, view from city wall)

Old Town (Stari Grad) is completely walled and has been for hundreds of years. Other than that it was pretty typical of an Old Town, complete with church, clock tower, hotels and cafes lining the streets where people can sit and tourist-watch. We had a really great dinner one night on the port just outside of Old Town. Calamari, seafood risotta and a yummy Croatian white wine -- a welcome change from goulash, dumplings & beer in Prague.

Our room had a fantastic view of the southern coast of the city. The sunsets every evening were unbelievable and I definitely have about 60 sunset pictures over 4 evenings. Hehe.

We befriended some bartenders one night and had some good conversation about perceptions of America & Croatia and about both the Iraqi & Serbian wars. One of the bartenders was a Serbian Muslim who lived in Dubrovnik during the fighting. It was definitely really interesting to hear about his experiences during the war.

Later, we took scooters around the city and saw a port where military boats were stationed and a hotel where 6,000 residents lived for three years to stay safe as well as the hotel where the military police were stationed and where prisoners were kept. It was surreal walking around the areas and trying to imagine how vastly different the city was just 10 years prior. If you had no idea about the history of the country, Dubrovnik would seem like another gorgeous coastal city.

Overall, the vacation was great and Maria & I returned to spring in Prague. Finally. (pics: views from our balcony)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

It's May!?!

I almost got very overwhelmed thinking about the things that I "should" be blogging about.. all the excitement and what not that has gone down over the past couple of weeks. But then realized there probably isn't that much to write about. So the silly little things: I got my first Czech haircut today and surprisingly they did a good job, meaning I don't look Czech. I was a little nervous that I'd end up with either a mullet, pixie bangs or pink stripes but nope, none of the above. Yesterday was a holiday here in the CZ as well as in some other European countries. It was a mix of May Day (start of summer), Labor Day & anti-communist day. I personally celebrated by playing some frisbee in Letna (although there wasn't much space to play) and having some drinks. Sounds like any other weekend really. Except this time Letna was overrun with people who turned up for the anti-commie rally and concert which was actually kind've neat to see/hear.

Bad news: my grandma passed away last week and that's been pretty hard to deal with. She was at the ripe old age of 90 so it wasn't anything out of the blue. Still, I scrambled about trying to find flights home for the funeral that I could actually make or afford but with no luck. It really sucks not being able to be there for my mom and family. I feel especially far away and that's rough when you just want to be home. I'm feeling better today, but this weekend was tough.

Lastly, Croatia oh Croatia. Well, honestly, I don't feel like writing about it right now so I will another time and I'll even include pictures!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My socks

Are turning this nasty gray color, along with some of my white shirts. Time to buy some bleach. I've accepted the crunchiness that comes from drying clothes without a dryer and Bounce sheets. I even have fabric softener which kinda helps, sorta, not really. But... then the gray socks. Gross. Luckily the weather is warming up (in the 50s currently) and soon I won't be needing socks. Where are my Rainbows anyways?? Hmm..

As for the goings on around here, well... I went to Budapest, Hungary this past weekend for 2 days with my friend Armen, who was visiting on his spring break. A) It was nice having a friend from home come visit, as it always is... and gives me a good reason to eat out and drink a lot of beer. B) Going to Budapest was awesome. The first day was a little rainy and gray, but we did enjoy watching the river flood over some surface streets. (Psst.. you can't go down those stairs. It's flooded.)
The city is divided into two parts. The bustling city side, Pest and the more residential side Buda. The castle is on the Buda side, but that seemed to be it (although we admittedly didn't explore all that much). In fact, from the castle, looking towards Buda you could see a lot of housing, which seemed to be on the more rundown side. It reminded me of parts of Prague with the Soviet style housing, but uglier.

However, the views from the castle looking towards Pest were pretty spectacular, especially since it was sunny on the second day. Pest, the more metropolitan part was kept up pretty well (at least the touristy parts) and came complete with a beautiful and elaborate Parliament and a funky metro system. The city really is something to see. Although, it is definitely not as cool as Prague. And the Danube wasn't as blue as I expected, considering songs have been written about it (cough, Strauss). Haha. (Pictures - top: flooded bridge, middle: castle, bottom: parliament)

But now I'm back in Prague for two weeks then to Croatia for a little spring break. We just booked our tickets tonight after searching endless websites looking for the fastest/cheapest way. Not paying too much and cut down our travel time from a possible 24 hours to 14. Haha.. that's still long, I know. But I had a dream about it while napping the other day. I was dreaming that I was on a cruise boat looking back on a beautiful coastline when I was woken up by a phone call from work. I was a tad frustrated but then realized hey, I'll be there in 2 weeks.

The past few days I have just been relaxing. My mom and sister come to visit this weekend for a week (before Croatia) so it's about to get busy again. Probably means I won't update for another month or so, but I'll try my best.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Time to Reminisce

I miss home. I miss my family and really, I miss my friends. What I would give right now for a lazy Friday or going to the silly 80s club a couple blocks down from me on Wilshire after some 'wine and cheese and wine' parties at 1255 Federal. What I would give for an evening at 628 Landfair or 10951 Roebling, when life was innocent and sweet... ok, not innocent. But all these things have been done and are over.

A good friend from college, Carrie Phillips passed away March 15th. So... I never know what to do with these feelings I have, loss and sadness. But also feelings of gratefulness for her time in my life and for mine in hers and how lucky I am for all of it. I guess all there is to do with it is try and use it all for the things it brings us in these moments. The realization that life, no matter how sucky we think it may be, is amazing. How it helps us find those moments where life is just good, no questions asked, even while we deal with the minor insignificant problems we have in our day to day dealings.

I will just miss Carrie and the way she made me laugh and how honest she made me feel. I will miss our UniCamp meetings, being silly and enjoying it. I will miss all of us being together and laughing and talking about life and its mishaps. And I will miss college. But I will also be grateful for all of it... even for missing it. It just proves how much I loved it.