sobota, února 09, 2008

7 months back

just like the title.

pondělí, června 25, 2007

2 weeks

So I just got back from our last orientation, and it hasn´t really hit me yet, but that is the last time I may see a lot of those people. We always say we will meet somewhere, and I would like that to be true, but things happen, and it may not. I know if I go to any of those 10 countries, I have someone to see and a place to be for a night or two, so hopefully I can work that out soon.

My parents come tomorrow, and I think it is starting to hit me that in less than 2 weeks, I won´t be here anymore. Whatever has happened this year, it is still my life, and things have become normal here. I am looking forward to coming home and seeing everyone and doing stuff but I am also a little worried that I have been picturing home one way in my head, and it has been stuck like that, even though everyone there has been living life for a year as well. I don´t know how things have changed, and I won´t find out until I get back. I am also quite worried about being constantly surrounded by English. I have forgotten so much and I have a hard time understanding the Americans I have met and understanding movies and stuff, so we´ll see. Forgive me if I look a little confused....

čtvrtek, června 07, 2007

Trip Continued Continued

So I got a pesky little comment from Anonymous that I should keep writing about the trip! I know, I know, I just always put off blogging. For who knows what reason. But anyway (I think I always say that; I need a new phrase).

Our next stop after Zagreb was Split. We had a little trouble in Zagreb with miscommunications about whether or not we needed to reserve seats on this train, and about cost and stuff the day before, but eventually it got figured out (the train people were trying to make us pay more than we had to), and we ended up making the train. But then we realized none of us had eaten, so debating whether or not we had time, marta and I ran to a bakery kiosk (yes, they are everywhere) and got us some food, with plenty of time to spare. This train wasn´t a compartment-y bed-dy one, but it was really nice. It was brand new (this doesn´t happen in czech) and looked like an airplane. I have some pictures on my camera, but they aren´t coming off until I get home, because of my use of public computers kind of limits the camera option.

The train ride was long though (relatively), 5 hours, and it was kind of hard to sleep on the train, partly because it was 11 am when we left, and partly, because, like an airplane, the seats were small. The end of the ride was exciting because we were like, WATER!!! It was cool. I have never really been to a coast in the summer other than Mexico, so my ideas about that we sort of limited. The beaches there are almost all pebbly, and small, rather than the entire coast being a sandy beach.

After arriving at the train station, you get hounded with old men and women with sames saying rooms, rooms, in like 5 languages. And everytime it´s like, sorry, we already have a room, sorry, sorry. We had a bit of trouble finding our hostel because it is off this square down a little alley like smaller than an arm span, and they can´t put up a sign anywhere except in front because the whole city (at least the center) is like part of a UNESCO site or something. The hostel we stayed at was really small, and we had some doubts at first, mostly because we thought it had a kitchen which would make it cheaper to eat, but I am glad we ended up staying there. We did change our plans a bit and stay an extra night on Hvar, which was good because otherwise we would have had to lug all our stuff a bunch of times.

Anyway, we got to the hostel, checked in, looked around, lugged our stuff up like 4 sets of stairs (they did have a well designed staircase going up to the attic, like a cut out opposite on each step so it can go up steep, but not be so incredibly hard to walk up), talked about whether or not we should try and find another hostel, and then set out to see if the other hostel would have room, which it didn´t, and then went to go find something for dinner.

We ended up walking down to the beach (like a 15 or 20 minute walk from the center), were suprised by how small it is, and ran into some very drunken croatian teenagers, one girl who especially seemed to take a liking (it you want to call it that), to Jason. She yelled out, Chinese, Chinese, and continued to spin him around in circles by his shirt, and then when he got free, to chase him down the remainder of the beach. She was soon taken over by her friends who apologized, but it was a memorable experience. I am not sure how much for Jason though.

We were going to go have something for dinner, but we got distracted when we found this trampoline place. You could pay 5 kuna or something for 10 minutes of jumping. It is actually kind of expensive, but it was really fun. I think we ended up jumping for like 30 minutes or more because the guy didn´t stop us, but it was great. I have forgotten how much fun trampolines are. By the time we finished it was like 1015, and we weren´t sure if anything was going to be open for dinner. We ended up walking like 30 minutes to find something, and it was quite good once we found it. Maria had a great octopus salad, and I think I may have to venture out and try the octopus sushi (it is not like crab...).

The next day we had to check out of our hostel by 10 so it was a sort of early day. At 4 we had a ferry to Hvar, an island like 1.5 hours by ferry, where we spent 2 nights. By day we went to this GREAT photo exhibition we had found the night before, World Press Photo. It was AMAZING. I like photography, and this stuff was like, well, press photos from a bunch of different things from throughout the year. Marta ended up buying a book with all the pictures, and I would have as well, but I didn´t have the cash on me at the time. Jason didn´t go with us because he said he didn´t like photography, but seeing the book, I think he sort of regretted it.

Our ferry was like a speedboat, which I wasn´t too happy about. I am fine on very small boats and very big boats, but not those in the middle. And this was in the middle. I spent the whole time trying not to look at anything and to sleep.

Hvar is a beautiful island/city. The city itself has like 10000 residents, and doesn´t have any street signs. The lady from our hostel met us at the ferry station and took us to the hostel. It was a bit far away, but actually only like a 10 minute walk from the center of town. Hvar reminds me of Sayulita, but wealthier. It is like a charming little village. Though this one it seems is a bit more popular with tourists (the wealthy kind) and a lot more expensive.

At the hostel we had a room to ourselves again. This hostel was really nice as well. The room was really nice, and reminded me sort of a hotel (with a very small room), just with four beds. There were some other people staying there, but the ones we met first were a nice young couple from Australia, currently living in London, who have travelled almost the whole Europe. There was a group of Canadians who were actually in Prague in the same hostel as Marta and I when we were there, and some other people. There were a guy from Maryland who I think may have lived in the same neighborhood as we did (was it Rockville?).

We had bought food in Split before we came because it was a Sunday and we didn´t think that the stores were going to be open, so that night we made curry. I kind forgot some of the ingredients off the top of my head, but it turned out really well, thanks mostly in part to Jason. After dinner we went and walked along the road on the coast, just to get a handle on things.

The next day we went out to like a concrete thing in the middle of the rocks that we had found the day before and that was our "beach". The beaches had people on them and were really small and pebbly so we didn´t go there. The water in Croatia is so COLD!! It is like when you turn on the cold water in a shower. It is freezing, but that didn´t deter us. We ended up collecting sea urchins, but then discovered we weren´t sure whether or not we could eat them, nor was anyone else, so we ended up just cracking one open but not eating it. Marta got incredibly burned this day. She is a VERY icelander, and turned red. It looked very painful, but she was hopeful. I got a bit burned, but nothing too bad thanks to my one experience here in brno burning my shins by accident.

We made pasta that night, taking full advantage of our hostel with a kitchen. I need to learn how to cook more things. After dinner we talked for a bit, listened to Marta talk to her mom in Iceland (icelandic is a very cool language), and then stayed up and talked to some other people staying at the hostel.

Our ferry left at 730 the next morning, so it was bright and early. Maria was up at 530 to go down to the docks and get tickets. A lot of people from our hostel were leaving that day and heading to different places. This ferry was better because it was a big car ferry, and didn´t rock so much. It wasn´t as fast though, but that was okay. Our remaining time in Split was spent wandering the small alley ways, feasting on fruit from the fruit market, at the beach, and then a one day trip to Brač, another island nearby. This has a beach that is featured on a lot of postcards and stuff, but I think it wasn´t as nice as it looks. For one, people said it was sand, but it was pebbles, and it was really windy that day. But it was an experience.

Our train left Split at 1030 pm, so the whole day was another wandering around, buying souveneirs, lying by the beach, and just waiting. The train was an overnight one, so slower, but it had the bed thing, and we attempted to sleep. It didn´t work entirely well, but better than any other method probably. From Split to the Czech Republic, it was a 20 hour train ride. In Vienna we had some trouble because we found out 15 minutes before our train left that we had to reserve seats (7 Euros is outrageous), and whether or not it would be cheaper to buy the seats just within the Czech Republic on the train or not etc. It ended up working out okay though. In the Vienna train station, we had sushi for lunch because we were all entirely sick of bread (cheapest thing in these parts). It was quite good, real fish, different than supermarket sushi in the US.

So that is a short recap of our Balkan trip. I am really glad we went, even if we did have some troubles along the way. It is an experience to remember, and brought me closer to some of my exchange friends.

Next entry: About the film festival in Zlin I went to last weekend.

čtvrtek, května 31, 2007

Trip Continued

So the next part of the trip involved Zagreb, Croatia.

We came here pretty much because you have to stop here on the way from Ljubljana to Split, and decided, hey, we may as well see what the city has to offer.

In our inexperienced opinions, that would be not much. Zagreb reminded me of Brno, in the boring communist era architecture and the lack of interesting things to do, even after a bit of searching.

We wandered the 4 ish blocks to öur hostel, after having passed it a couple of times because the only sign is the name on the doorbell. It was like a little apartment with one room given over to 4 bunk beds. After putting our stuff down, we met back up with the 2 Americans we had taken the train with from Ljubljana and set out to explore Zagreb. We ended up in the main square, which had a crafts market, which is quite common in this part of the world.

We then proceeded to get ice cream and wander through the streets of what I presume to be northern Zagreb. There are some cool little alley looking streets but the exploration didn´t yield much. We found a place to eat dinner, which an insanely cool waitress who ended up speaking a bit of Portuguese, much to Maria´s delight.

After this we headed out for the night, found that going out in Zagreb is insanely expensive, and that everything except a tacky jazz club closes at midnight, so we headed home in the rain after making a late night tourist stop to the cathedral.

And then the next morning we each headed our separate ways to explore a bit more before meeting at the train station at 1030 for our train to Split.

středa, května 16, 2007

Trip to the Balkans: Part 1

So I write to you all from Ljubljana, Slovenia, a small but very beatiful city. We arrived here after a long 9.5 hour train ride from Brno/Czech Republic and a train ride through Austria.

When we first got off the train, we were like, wow this is an ugly city and were talking about how we could figure out how to leave early. But once we got to the hostel, took off our backpacks and went to walk around, it turned out to be a beautiful city.

There are only 300,000 inhabitants, and it is definitely a small city, but it is the same size as Brno, but much prettier and more things to do. There is a river running down the center of town, which is great in a new city, because it is always, hey we don't know where we are, just walk to the river.

The downside is that right now it is the rainy season, so it has been sporadically raining throughout the day.

Yesterday after the train ride, we were all dead tired because we left at 4 am (Jason from Prague at 1 am) and had to change trains 3 times, one unexpectedly because otherwise we would have ended up in budapest instead of vienna. We changed again in villach, in austria and then onto Ljubljana. The cool thing about the trains were that in the compartments, you can pull the seats out and it creates a sort of bed with the seats covering the entire thing. It is a rather good way to travel long distances with like 4 people. And people definitely won´t interrupt you looking for an empty seat. Just not enough room for more.

Our first day in Ljubljana was spent wandering around looking for a supermarket. They don´t really exist there though, just small convienence stores. At one point we asked someone and they didn´t know what a supermarket was! That was suprising to us because they do exist in Czech, and we thought that Ljubljana, because of the Euro, would be more "Europeanized" than Czech. We ended up looking around for the cheapest place to eat because our hostel didn´t have a kitchen, and we ended up eating in a "cheap" (Ljlubljana is a rather expensive place) Mexican restaurant, which was rather good.

The next day, we just walked around Ljubljana, attempting to go to a few museums, but the ones that we were interested in were closed. We went to the markets, fruit and crafts and just got to see Ljubljana. We tried to find this Roman wall from a long time ago (I don't know when) but we ended up just walking right by it. It was just a wall. Like 6 feet high with grass growing on top. Nothing special really. We found a really cool shop with some Lomography stuff, as well as other strange stuff. It was cool.

Our last day in Ljubljana we went up to the Castle, where we ended up meeting a guy from Florida. We went with him and a girl from our hostel from Pennsylvania to Ljubljana.

Summary: Ljubljana is great, though probably a better place to live than visit for an extended period of time. It seems to have a sort of funky (small) underculture, but there are a lot of families and cafes and stuff.

The other parts of the trip will be updated shortly, but I thought some of you might appreciate a new entry.

pondělí, května 14, 2007


or in other words, Croatia.

I am off bright and early tomorrow morning (4 am) with 3 friends (maria, marta, jason) to ljubljana, zagreb, split and hvar. And I am rather excited.

We started planning this trip as a theoretical possibility probably 2 months ago, maybe more. At the time, it seemed so far away. So close to the end and a wind down. Now it is here, and it is hard to believe.

With around 50 days left, time is flying by. My parents (hopefully) are coming on the 25th of June, 2 days after Cristian leaves. We will (I think; mom is planning everything) go around the Czech Republic, and then maybe also to Budapest, Bratislava and Ausschwitz.

I truly have to say that I am ready to be home. This year has been great, and I have friends I will hopefully be able to visit from around the world, but on the czech side of things, it has been tough. I am on my 4th family, one woman who I am not sure if I will connect with, but is offering me a place to stay none the less, and my 2nd school. School has been the toughest thing of them all. For whatever reason, whether it be me or some other reason, I have had a really hard time connecting with czech teenagers. I like the country, the language and everything, and after spending 5 days last weekend in Prague, I have decided that well I may not want to live as a czech person, I wouldn´t so much mind living in Czech. Who knows if it will happen, but it is a possibility open to me.

One thing I worry about for next year is how to keep up my czech. I like the language, even if the grammar is insanely difficult, but I don´t want to lose it. I have bought some czech books and cds, and I know I have some friends (mostly in Brasil) I can write to in czech, but I worry about losing my speaking ability. If any of you happen to know a czech speaker, let me know!

As this year comes to a close, I am trying to keep travelling to see my friends, and speak czech. I am now starting to think in czech a bit, though the grammar makes that a bit tough. But I like it. I have currently read 1.5 books in czech, the first being Kroníka ohlašene smrt, or chronicles of a death foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, quíte good, but a bit of a tough read for a first book. The one I am currently seeing is rather interesting. It is called Jak Jsem Viděl Ameriku, or how I saw america, written my a czech (oslovakian) who travelled around the US for 5 months right after Communism fell.

I have been trying to go to rowing, but things there are just ramping up as my schedule does too. As opposed to how it is in the US, with sports coming to a close around May, here stuff is just starting. I just found out that my rowing club is going to some European competition next weekend, but I can´t go seeing as I will be in Croatia. And after that I have only about 3 more weeks.

It is amazing to think at the beginning how the 3 months I was here seemed so long, and yet so short. This year seems to have flown by, with preparations ramping up for the next. I am so glad I took a year to see how others live, but am definitely ready to get on with my own life.

I definitely feel that perhaps this wasn´t the best program or time for me to come, but that cannot be changed. As such, I am just happy that I have learned a lot about others, and about myself.

In the next couple months, I start thinking about the future: college, mostly. Where, what, when, how. All the nuts and bolts about where I will be the 4 years after.

pátek, května 04, 2007

CU in Czech Republic

So yesterday my PE teacher showed up to class wearing a CU T-shirt. I was just a bit more than suprised. I didn´t ask her how she got it, but it was quite the suprise.

The other strange thing yesterday was big groups of people walking through Brno, wearing costumes and yelling. It was strange.

And finally, there was some type of firefighter band playing in the square yesterday. I thought of you, Hannah.