sobota, prosince 30, 2006


Woo-hoo! I'm going to Prague for new year's with like 14 of my other exchange buddies. I'm excited. Sorry for not updating recently, but the past couple of days have been nothing other than sleeping until 11 and playing board games. Read it: winter break. So I leave tomorrow afternoon for Prague, and get back on the night of the 1st.

And something else. I know I'm crazy, but I've decided to take the SATs again. But hey, I'm taking them in Vienna. I mean, that's got to count for something.

středa, prosince 27, 2006


Helle, so I finally have some real pictures on the internet. There are lots. Most of them have been annotated so far, and they will be organized soon. The web addresses are:

I have right now like 1000 pictures, and each one holds about 500, meaning that more websites will come.

Have fun!

neděle, prosince 24, 2006

Vesele Vanoce!

Vesele Vanoce! So Christmas here is celebrated on the night of the 24th, with dinner and the tree and presents and everything. The tree was put up yesterday, and then today was the dinner at four (traditionally fried carp and potato salad; kind of like an american picnic). But I had fried chicken. And the kids had fish fingers. Only Babicka had carp. And then we went upstairs (the tree is in the kids room), and of course Jesizcek had brought the presents), and opened presents. Then it was over.

Overall, I have to say Christmas isn't all it's cracked up to be. I like the history of Hanukkah better.

středa, prosince 20, 2006

Snow....wait, what snow?

So I have just been informed by Lena, that all you people over there in Boulder/Louisville/Lafayette had a snow day today. So I though I would do a little czech weather report.


It's crazy. A bunch of people are cancelling Christmas plans to go to the mountains because there is no snow. Apparently the best place has 35cm of ARTIFICIAL snow.

This is crazy. And apparently Brno doesn't get as cold as Opava, nor does get as much snow. But I do get to go skiing (if there is ever snow; my family likes to ski).

Mornings here have been around -1 or -2 (celcius), and a little bit warmer during the day.

New Family

So on Sunday, I went to my new family. I found out that I would be going on Sunday Saturday night.

Anyway, they live in a village of about 5,000 people about 25 km from Brno, where my school is (the same school that I started). There are parents, Dana and Martin, and two little boys, Radim (aged 6) and Vladan (aged 8).

So far things are going well. They are very nice, and I like them. The only thing I worry about is the distance from Brno, where my school, activities and hopefully most of my friends will be. There are buses going semi regularly, until about 11, which isn't too bad.

I will be sending out an email update within the week, with some more info, including the address (snail mail!)


Happy Hanukkah!

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile.

So, it is now (obviously) Hanukkah, and yes, I have been celebrating. The first night, I went to t the synagogue in Brno, which is nice. It is pretty small (not as small as Ostrava), and is a more orthodox synagogue. There are some families with small children, and I think three families from Israel.

It was a much different service than I am used to. The rabbi seemed to be rushing through everything, and mumbled the whole time. I am used to (and prefer) a more participatory service.

I went to the service with (I think) the boyfriend of the sister of the woman I was staying with. After the service, we walked back to the sister's house (like 45 minutes, in the cold), to do something there. There, we lit the menorah, and I attempted to make latkes without a recipie (they actually turned out pretty well, but they don't have applesauce here!). We played scrabble (not quite dreidel, but interesting in czech and english).

Lately, with my new family, I have been lighting the menorah, and attempting to explain the concept of Hanukkah in czech. I have given them geld (lovingly sent from my mommy), and then open my presents (also lovingly sent my by mommy!) alone.

There are very few Jews here, and for many people I am the first Jew that they have met. It is interesting to think that I may be the one that shapes people's opinions on Jews and Americans.

úterý, prosince 12, 2006

My first day of school in Brno

Yes, you read that right. Today was my first day of school in Brno. But no, that does not mean I have a new family, or that I will be living in Brno. It's more like something for me to do during the day instead of sleep late and wander around Brno. I guess it is a good thing.

Today went better than most of my days at school in Opava. Again (like the one day experience in Krnov), I was put in a class with 15 year olds. I would rather be in an older class, but as this is only temporary, I am willing to deal with it. They were nice. I only talked to a couple of people, but a girl named Bara (Barbora), showed me around, and we talked. She swims everyday on a team in Brno, and said that she would talk to her coach and see if I can come some time. She also said that there is another American who is there sometimes...I have no more information on that subject, but maybe I'll find out more later. Another girl named Nikola invited me to see something tomorrow (I'm guessing in the city somewhere), and to go out with her and some people on Friday night.

It was good. I hope it will be a good experience, even if temporarily, and gives me hope for the next school (which will most likely come).

Hanukkah Package!

So I got my Hanukkah package today! It was exciting, but alas, I still don't know what is inside seeing as it is not Hanukkah yet, and everything is wrapped. So I plan on celebrating Hanukkah here, in my own Czech style (definitely not a holiday for most czechs...).

Foreigners on the Trolley bus

So there are definitely a lot more foreigners in Brno than in Opava, and I have taken to asking where people are from if I hear them speaking English on the trolley bus that sounds different than czech accented English. So far, I have met a guy from Birmingham here studying medicine for 6 years, and one guy from "just outside of New York" that sounded a lot like Uncle Scott (we have any relatives doing graduate school until Christmas in Brno? =D), who is going home on Saturday and not coming back.

My Opavian Weekend, and the posts to come

So to make it easier and less confusing for those of you following my confusing life, I am separating the past couple of days into a couple of posts. The first is here: My Opavian weekend

So Sunday night was my kolona (ples, bal etc.). Basically it was the ball that follows the end of the dancing class that czech kids take. Since the ball was in Opava, and I am currently situated in Brno, I had to go up to attend.

I went up on Saturday (my first experience taking a bus, and not a train, from place to place; rather nice actually, kind of like an airplane of wheels) and stayed until Monday. It was good to see Maria, Mint and Oey again, even if it had been only the previous weekend (or two; i don't remember) that I had seen them. We went to our old haunts (Pizzeria Uno; we tend to spend like 4 or 5 hours at a time there, just eating and talking), wandered around the christmas markets and just hung out.

Sunday was a lazy day, and then getting ready for the ball. Mint came over with Oey and we just hung out and got ready. Straighting my hair is something apparently everyone wants to do, so this time Maria's host sister, Vendy, did it. Though I have to say, Mint is more meticulous! I got help with makeup stuff (as most people know, it is not something I really know how to do), and then we went off to the "kulturni dum" (culture house) for our ball. It lasted from 5 until 10 pm, and consisted of us dancing (I can't dance, had a new partner, and hadn't been to the last 2 classes, which really didn't make a difference), a couple "professional" dance pairs, some little kids doing baton twirling and cheerleading like stuff, and some medieval interprative sword fight. I got to see the two people from my old class that I think I would have become friends with, and would like to keep in touch with, and hang out with my exchanger friends.

Monday, Maria "finished school early", and so I stayed until like 4. We did more old haunts (aka pizzeria uno), and more wandering around the christmas markets. I bought socks, and started to buy a few presents for a few people. Then I took the train back to brno, and came to where I live here. It was a good weekend.

pátek, prosince 08, 2006

A lazy day and the vanoční trh

So today is officially another lazy day. I haven't been to school in like 2 weeks (minus the one day at the school of the family that had a cat, and thus wouldn't work, and the one day with all the other exchangers talking to the school of the girl who would have been my host sister, but the parents are in Thailand, and thus that didn't work either), and so my days have been filled with sleep, reading, and Brno.

I am still waiting for a family, but that is supposed to happen soon (I hope; life is boring alone for 2 weeks with no one to hang out with). I rather looking forward to that. It will be hard, but I plan on completely starting over (minus the language==> that I have a pretty good handle on and definitely don't want to start over), and from the beginning trying really hard, and being outgoing and open to EVERYTHING (well, almost everything).

So yesterday was officially 7 months until the return date on my plane ticket; July 7th. That was a milestone. The past three months have gone by really quickly. The past 2 weeks haven't so much, but I figure with a new family, school, hopefully friends, and Christmas coming up, the next couple months will fly by. It's like I'm already 3/10 of the way done with an incredibly hard swimming set. I have to keep going, and when I finish I will really feel like I have accomplished something.

The Vanočni trh translates to the christmas market. A short czech lesson: r often functions as a vowel in czech words. Thus the famous saying: strč prst skrz krk (stick a finger down/through your throat). Anyway, in all the towns (most of the bigger ones anyway, like bigger than 10,000) there is a a market, with little house things selling things, a christmas tree, and good food. There is slovakian cheese, which is really good, but I can't remember the name right now; turecky med (turkish honey), which is like a hard sweet with nuts, and is really good; bramborak (like a latke==> they don't have any with jalepenos =(; medovina (alcoholic honey; i havne't tried it yet) and other delicious things.

This weekend I am going up to Opava to see my dear exchangers, and to go to the end ball for my dance class (I ended up missing the last two classes), so I probably won't be doing much dancing, but that is okay!

Anyway, I am going to try to update more often. I was going through some stuff before, but I am alive, and surviving. This weekend will hopefully be good, and once I get a new family and stuff, I expect things to slowly get better. I will send out another email with my new address and things (snail mail is always appreciated!), once I get them.

úterý, prosince 05, 2006

The hectic life of a lone wanderer

So I'm not exactly a lone wanderer, but that is sort of how I have felt recently. I'm sorry that I haven't updated recently, but I've been going through a lot of stuff. This is just to let you know that I am okay.

So basically 2 Fridays ago, I left Opava and Neplachovice to come live in Brno with a volunteer until they could find me a new family. That is where I am now. I found out I was coming to Brno about a day before it happened, which kind of messed with my head. I was picking up my life and moving with one day's notice. I knew that I would be moving, but I thought I would stay in Opava until I did.

Basically since then I have been in Brno, not doing much other than exploring the city. There isn't much, here, but it's a nice city, the 2nd biggest in the Czech Republic. Last weekend was our Christmas orientation, so for four days I got to hang out with the rest of the AFSers. I think this one was the best so far, and I truly wish it was longer. We learned about czech christmas, christmas in other countries, ate sweets, did a gift exchange, went to a disco, went swimming and just hung out. It was really fun. I hung out this time mostly with the asian kids (thailand, japan, hong kong), a girl from iceland, a girl from turkey and a boy from spain.

Anyway, I will let you guys know what happens over the next couple days, but I'm just telling you I am alive.

čtvrtek, listopadu 23, 2006

I'm Leaving on A Jet Plane...

So I'm not actually leaving on a jet plane, but this song encompasses a lot of what I am feeling right now about leaving the other exchange students in Opava.

All my bags are packed
Im ready to go
Im standin here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin
Its early morn
The taxis waitin
Hes blowin his horn
Already Im so lonesome
I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go

cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Theres so many times
Ive let you down
So many times Ive played around
I tell you now, they dont mean a thing
Evry place I go, Ill think of you
Evry song I sing, Ill sing for you
When I come back, Ill bring your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go
cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time
Let me kiss you
Then close your eyes
Ill be on my way
Dream about the days to come
When I wont have to leave alone
About the times, I wont have to say

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that youll wait for me
Hold me like youll never let me go

cause Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go
But, Im leavin on a jet plane
Dont know when Ill be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go

Words and music by john denver

So tomorrow at 5, I leave to go to Brno to stay until I have a new family. There was the possibility of staying with Mint until then, which I sort of want to do just to be close to her, Maria and Oey, but I think I'm ready to be in a new place. I just feel like I'm leaving my best friends all over again (and it was hard enough one time).

středa, listopadu 22, 2006


So lately i haven't been spending that much time at home because things are just awkward. Basically right now it's just a place to sleep. But today when I got home Pavel said, Friday we are driving to Brno with all your things and you are going to go live with Eva (one of the volunteers) for a while. This is really strange and really sudden. I have no idea what is going on. I don't know if I am leaving Opava for good, or just temporarily or what. So now I have to pack, and tell my teacher, and my basketball coach, and my drumming instructor and everyone. I don't know what is happening. This is not a feeling I like.

pondělí, listopadu 20, 2006

...and it is

Amanda's birthday. Happy 18th birthday Manda!

neděle, listopadu 19, 2006

Unexpected News

So I just thought it would be good to update on something kind of big. I think for everything this is kind of unexpected, but I am changing families. There are multiple reasons that I won't go into detail about at this current time, but maybe later. Anyway, I'm not sure when exactly I will be switching, or where I will be, but when I have more news I will let you know.

čtvrtek, listopadu 16, 2006

Just a little update...

So I had a question in the comments about what ostrey means. It means spicy. It is important to the previous story for a reason I think I forgot to mention. Mint, one of the girls from Thailand, is in love with "extra ostrey ketchup". You can't get a lot of spicy things here, and that is probably the spiciest. It's funny though because the other Thai girl can't stand spicy food. Just goes to show that you don't need to like spicy food to live in Thailand.

Anyway, today. Today was the first time I have been invited anywhere with any of my classmates. Yesterday, a girl in my Russian class (not my actual class, but w/e) asked me if I wanted to go to a čajovna (tea room) with her and some of her friends. So today I went. It was fun. We went and drank tea and they got a hookah. I tried it, and I have to say it was interesting. I don't think I'll be taking it up more than occassionally, but it was in interesting experience. Her friends were really nice, and I realized my czech isn't half bad. One of them spoke pretty good english, so towards the end we had a little conversation in english. It was good.

The bus ride home was funny. The bus cam 35 minutes late (not completely unusual), and it was PACKED. And I mean, there were people in the entire bus, including the door wells and things. Anyway, it was funny.

I have to go to basketball now. čau.

pondělí, listopadu 13, 2006

And...ostrey it is!!

So sorry again for the long wait. I've been relatively busy. I will now proceed to update you on the goings of this last weekend, which I have to say was pretty fun.

So it started Friday night. I thought we were going on our first "family trip" but of course, we don't do that, so it was just an outing. It was my host aunts 30th birthday, and she was celebrating in a town about an hour away. It turns out that Dasi and Luci weren't coming, and instead staying home, and so it was just Dana, Pavel and me. It was an interesting party, but I can't say it was much fun for me. I did try whiskey for the first time, which in very small increments isn't half bad. Most of the time I spent finishing Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion (very good book which, despite the fact I had to read it for school, I would recommend to anyone interested in reading a uh, interesting account of the US in the 1960s). We ended up leaving at like 1:30. And yeah, it wasn't all that exciting, especially due to the fact I thought originally it was going to be like a little trip where we could, I don't know, bond more or something. Anyway, that was the low point of the weekend, but it only got better.

Saturday morning was spent reading, doing homework and raking leaves (not fun in 0 degrees). At like 4 some "family friends" came over who have a three year old daughter, tripling the noise level in the house. Everyone that my family socializes with has little kids. It's definitely not something I'm used to, and not something I particularly care for, but I am learning to tolerate them. Anywho. Saturday night I went to a movie with Mint and Oey (students from Thailand). We went to go see "She's the Man", which was in English with Czech subtitles. It was really funny. We spent the whole movie laughing. We had all already seen it, but agreed that Channing Tatum is quite a looker. After that we went for pizza. We had like 2 and a half hours before my train left, which we originally thought was such a long time. We ended up having pizza, and ice cream and trying these strange, but good, hot juice things. Before we realized it, I had five minutes to get my train, and the station is at least a 25 minute walk away. We tried to find a bus, but buses don't like runing on weekends. So I ended up missing my train. The 2.5 hours was spent talking, laughing and eating, and went by like nothing. We decided that maybe I should just sleep at mint's house because my next train wasn't for another 2 hours. Anyway, we were going to take the trolley bus to her house, but we had just missed it, so we ran to the next stop, but we had just missed that one too. So we walked the 30 minutes to her house, just laughing and talking. It was great.

Once there, we watched yet another movie: Kill Bill 2. I have never seen it, and this was in czech. It was funny because every so often mint would tell me what was going on. It was great. Then was bed.

The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast etc. Then we decided that we would go to Globus (like wal mart) to buy food to make Thai food for dinner. We also then decided to see if Maria wanted to go. Despite the fact that she lives in Opava, she has only riden the trolley buses like twice in two months. So it was a tangled web of sms conversations trying to get her to understand which bus to take, and then we left. It was a rather uneventful ride to Globus, where we perused the aisles, getting some things to cook with (Globus has a rather large selection of thai food) waiting for maria to say that she was there. After like an hour, we called her, and apparently she hadn't left her house yet. So we went on with the next part of our journey: Tesco. It had started raining, so we ran to the bus stop, and then once the bus started, we weren't sure if it was actually going where we wanted. It was, so all was okay. Tesco is like, Target, I guess in comparison to Globus (wal-mart). This time was spent going to the bank, finding mint a jacket and buying some eye drops. There we met maria, haggled (in czech) with a shop assistant about the price of a jacket, and then headed back to mint's house.

Once there we waited for oey, and then proceeded to cook multitudes of thai food (well, three things; one spicy and very good, 2 not and also very good). Between the shrimp, onions and various sauces, it started smelling really good.

That is a short synopsis of my weekend. It was really fun. Yeah, that's it for now.

pondělí, listopadu 06, 2006

AFS Camp

So I got back last night from my third AFS camp, and I have to say it was probably one of my favorite. Okay, so seeing as I have only had three, one is kind of a lot, but anyway.

This one was in Brno (2nd biggest city in the czech republic; south moravia). We actually got to see some of the city, which was nice. On Friday I left Opava at around 8 with the 3 other exchange students from Opava, and one host sister of one of them. We got to Brno at like 1 (yay for 5 hour train rides to a place that is only 2 hours by car!). In the train station we met another Brazilian living in southern moravia, and then attempted to find this "shopping gallery" that is near the train station (after stashing our stuff in lockers for the next 4 hours). Those next four hours consisted of eating, shopping and trying to figure out where the thai girls were.

At 5:15 we went to get our stuff, and try and find everyone. It was cool to see everyone again. We found a map in the train station and figured out where everyone lived. EVERYONE lives in the south. There are 4 of us in Opava, one person like 40km away, and then everyone else lives south of Olomouc (about 2 hours by train).

Friday consisted of getting to the camp, which was on the "edge" of Brno in a scout camp, which is just basically where the trams stopped, eating a typical czech dinner (small), and then heading back into the city to go to a disco. The disco was really fun. It was my second (third technically, I guess), but definitely the best so far. I decided that it's fun when you have people to dance with, and then go talk to. I discovered dancing CAN be fun, even if you look really stupid. This was also another czech drinking experience. I stuck to my limits and had a beer, and then tried some other things that other people had. It was intersting and I have to say I am not really a fan of whiskey or tacquila, though fusion and some milky thing were pretty good. This brings my czech drinking experiences to I think a grand total of about 5. We were at the disco from like 9 to 2 or 3, but when we left, we discovered that the trams didn't run that early, and had to walk to the bus stop, which was about a 45 minute walk through Brno, at 3 in the morning, in a group of like 20 people, speaking like 5 different languages, in the -5 degree weather. It was fun =)

The rest of the weekend consisted of hanging out, taking pictures, making shirts, and cooking "traditional" foods (chocolate chip cookies!). The cooking was fun. There was food from Thailand, US, Brazil, Turkey, Spain and the Czech Republic, I think, because some of people (Iceland, Germany, Japan and China) didn't know about it or couldn't get the ingredients. It was fun. I made chocolate chip cookies, which was interesting because I didn't have measuring cups, so I just kind of did like, okay, I guess half a package, or mixers or anything other than the ingredients and a bowl. The oven was a gas oven meaning regulating the temperature is hard, and it was extremely old. But in the end they tasted good (they looked a little strange), and were a huge hit. I'll have to make them again some time. My favorite food was the turkish. Pelin (girl from turkey living in Olomouc) made these things I don't know the name of (but have to find out!), which is like meat in a really thin wrap with vegetables. It was amazing. She also made this drink with white yogurt, water and salt, which sounds really disgusting but is actually really good with the food. There was brazilian stew stuff (starts with an f...). Wait, just got the name. Feijoada. There was Thai food (finally, spicy food). I think I'm starting to get less tolerant of spice but thank god there are thai students in Opava who have spicy thai food sometimes that I can eat. And what I think is spicy is also what they think is spicy so it's not too bad. And tortilla espana. Potatoes and eggs in like an omelette. Overall, it was very good. I want to do it again.

Saturday also consisted of going into the city and shopping. That is good, because I despretely need winter clothes. It's getting cold, and for some reason I don't wear winter clothes at home. So I went with Pelin (from Turkey) and Noe (male; from Spain; lives in Brno), and we went to shops I have never heard of but are apparently very popular in europe. These were zara, mango and H&M (which I have heard of and love, but don't have many things from). I ended up getting myself a winter coat, 2 sweaters, a bag and some gloves. I call it a successful trip. I have found here I am more willing to buy things; maybe because I don't want to be cold, but I don't know. Like today I just went with Maria (from brasil) in Opava and got some more sweaters and a scarf (all czech people wear scarves). It's crazy. I'm not used to shopping so much, but hopefully it'll stop once winter starts and i actually have enough clothes to survive -30 degree C (-22 F)weather.

Sunday families could come, but only like 3 did because for us in Opava it's far, and for other various reasons. We did a little talent show with each country singing a song. The other american girl wasn't there because she is in the middle of switching families, so I sang "I'm a Little Teapot" beause I could not for the life of me remember the words to any song (including this one).

I'm a little teapot,
short and stout
here is my handle,
here is my spout.
When you tip me over
hear me shout
tip me over and
pour me out!

Can someone let me know the actual words to this and "Home, Home on the Range"? Mucho appreciado.

So that was the third AFS camp in short.

čtvrtek, listopadu 02, 2006


So today was the first time it has snowed since I've been here. Granted, I don't know if it would be counted as an "official snow" because it didn't stick, and was on and off all day, but none-the-less it snowed, and was the first time the other exchanges students in Opava had seen snow in person. So this is a historic day in the history of, well, something.

úterý, října 31, 2006


So halloween is, well, not celebrated here. Sometimes little kids can go to Tesco (like target) and go around to the shops and get candy, but if people do anything for Halloween, they go to the graveyard to their families graves. Little different atmosphere.

It's starting to get cold here. Tomorrow is supposed to be the first snow, but I've been told many times that I am here for a very nice fall because it's warmer, and not so foggy. I have to buy warmer clothes! Sweaters are always worn here, along with millions of other layers.

The bad part about the cold is that I'm already getting sick! I haven't been sick in like a year, and this is the second time since I've been here. Now for me isn't really a good time because this weekend is the third AFS weekend, and I don't want to feel bad. This means I think I'm not going to dancing class tonight and instead will sleep, and try not to get a cold. And coldeze don't really work for me mom. Maybe just for you.

Anyway, I'll update again maybe before I go to Brno, but most likely after.

pondělí, října 30, 2006


So I'm having some trouble getting pictures online. My dad and I are working on a way, but right now I only have a few. But don't worry: I have taken around 600 so once we figure it out you can feast your eyes on the czech republic. To tide you over, there are a few on my picasa account at There aren't many here, but it's a few to start. I'll let you all know when we get the rest online. There are also a few additional pictures on my flickr account at: Eventually all of these will be in one place, and some may even appear on the blog!

And then it came again...

So I'm back again. It was good to talk to a lot of you last night. After the confirmation that my blog actually has a healthy readership, I will try earnestly to update regulary.

First to start: Hi Grandpa!

Okay, anyway, I have had some requests for some post topics (thanks Mom). I guess it's true though because I promised at the beginning to write posts on some aspects of everyday life, and so far I've only done school. But don't fret, there are still 8 more months (wow, it's already been 2). The one thing that has come up repeatedly is Daši and Luci, and just life with 4 year olds. I guess I unknowingly haven't mentioned them at all. But don't worry, they exist and are as energetic as ever.

So here it goes: 4 year olds have a lot of energy, can keep themselves busy with the simplest things, are very loud and very cute. So Daši and Luci are 4 and like 2 months. I actually expected them to be a little older when I got here, but it doesn't really make a difference now. I don't actually see them that much during the week because they are in preschool while Dana and Pavel work and I'm in school, and now I've started some activities after school and such. They usually got to bed at like 8, so I will usually only see them for like an hour or 2 on schooldays. It's a little odd because once they go to sleep the housepretty much shuts down. This means I have been getting a lot of sleep lately because I will usually go to bed by 9:30.

Weekends usually consist of them waking up early (about 7), as I think all li9ttle kids do and is the reson why elementary schools should start earlier than high schools. They will play various tings (I usually join them for a little while, but I can't handle too much Barbie in one go), or watch some kid's tv program (about the only thing other than the occasional BBC that I watch here). We usually go to some relative's house or have people over on weekends.

Overall they are very cute little girls, but I'm still getting used to living with little kids. They require a good deal of attention from someone and often get into little fights that arequickly resolved, but usually result in tears.

Again I will answer any specific questions on the topic that I haven't answered because I'm not exactly sure what people want to know!

sobota, října 28, 2006

Once in a svatek

So today was a holiday. That means that nothing happens in Opava. I was supposed to meet Oey, an exchange student from Thailand in the centrum at 10, but apparently certain buses don't run on holidays. And then the train an hour and a half later was half an hour late. And then nothing was open, but we happened up on (appon; can't remember the spelling!) an asian bistro (many in Opava) that was open, after passing up a scary looking czech cafeteria. We only have like 45 minutes before I had to leave, but it was nice to talk to her. And then I went to the basketball games of the team I am joining. They lost both, but didn't play too badly. Hopefully I'll get to play soon.

I had some "feeling czech" moments today. The first was when I rolled up the bottom of my pants. Everyone does it here. I've never done it before. I guess it's so they don't get dirty. The second was that I bought a 1,5 L bottle of water and carried it around. Everyone also does that here.

This was supposed to post on Saturday. Let's all go back and pretend that it's saturday. Whooo.

pátek, října 27, 2006


So this post isn't going to have much actual information in it, other than the fact that I sent out another email today. For those of you who haven't been reading this (and then you wouldn't actually be seeing this), it's another update on my life. More to come later!

úterý, října 24, 2006

Sitting and Waiting...

So right now I'm sitting at home, when I should be at school, because apparently today the trains don't run after 8am, and I didn't know that, so my perfect plan to go to school for second period because my first was cancelled turned into me missing the first like 3 classes, because that's when the next bus goes. Anyway, I attempted to inform some of the girls I'm sort of friendly with, so hopefully all will be okay.

Right now I'm in the middle of figuring out how to upload photos, and in the middle of writing another mass email. But I am stuck! What should I write about? Anyone have anything they are particulary interested in? It's hard for me because life right now is pretty boring. I don't have any friends (here at least!) to go do things with, so my life pretty much consists of learning languages and being at home.

Something I guess which is kind of interesting is that I think I'm going to be on a basketball team. It's in Krnov, about 15 or 20km away, and it consists of like 15 girls between the ages of 12 and 17, with the average age probably being 13 or 14. It's okay they. They were really nice, and it'll be good exercise, and I just want to have friends, whether their 13 or 60. I'm also doing african drumming one day a week, which has a couple kids my age in it, so maybe I can become friends with them too. Right now it's hard in school to make friends. I thought I was doing okay, but there are good days and bad days. It's pretty much one big group, but that's hard to cut into and right now I just want like one friend at a time who I can talk to, and then maybe introduce me to other people. It would be great to be part of the big group, but I can only have conversations with one or two people right now, not 20. Hopefully it'll get better; we'll see.

čtvrtek, října 19, 2006

PSATs and Prague

So I haven't updated in a while, but I just got back from Prague, so I have a little bit to write about. Prague is a beautiful city, but I think there are more tourists there on a given day than czechs.

I went to Prague to take the PSATs (I know, I know, why?). I left at like 8 on Tuesday morning, and got there at like 1. I got to wander around a little bit on Tuesday, and saw Charles Bridge, and went around the old city (stareměsto). The metro there from the train station was the first time I had really seen an american (other than the other girl in my district, and my english teacher) in 6 weeks.

The old city has so many tourists. Every store and restaurant has signs in english, german, usually also czech and sometimes italian or spanish. Everyone speaks english. Everyone. There are tour groups everywhere, from all over the world. The common guidebooks you see say Prague, Prag, and Praga. Charles Bridge is also incredibly crowded. That whole area is one of the main destinations for tourists.

After that, I met Jen, another girl from the US who goes to school in Prague. We went to Vasiclav square, and got lunch, and talked. That is like the shopping centre of Prague. The one thing we did find though that I have missed is a place where you can get coffee to go. It's completely unheard of here, and I like just walking around, drinking coffee. Jen and I tried to find the Jewish Quarter, but by the time we found some of the synagogues, we had to go, so hopefully next time I'll be able to see more of it. Apparently there was a terrorist threat against the Jewish Quarter, so there are lots of police there.

The PSAT went well, I hope. I took it at the International School of Prague, but on the way there I ran into a group of students from Riverside school and christian international school of prague (the two other, smaller, international schools in Prague), and so I went there with them, and took it in the same room. We had to take the bus back into Prague (ISP is on the very outskirts), and we had to wait, so I got to talk to them for a little bit. Most of them have lived in Prague for a couple of years (the longest I think was 12), but none of them really know much czech. I probably know the same amount or more than they do, and I've only been here for 6 weeks. They were nice though.

After the PSAT, I went back to the old city, and got a bagel for lunch (Jen and I passed it the day before, and it looked really good), and then I headed back to the train station so I could catch a train back to Opava to be back in time for dancing. Wel, as it turned out we didn't have dancing last night for some reason. As soon as I found this out, I stood up to get off the train (There was one a couple of hours later, and I wanted to see more of Prague), but right as I got to the door, the train started moving! So I had to sit back down. I guess I'll have to wait to see the rest of Prague. The other interesting thing that happened on this train ride was that, from what I gathered from someone's broken english, there was a bomb threat on the track near Prague, so we had to stop in Kolin (like 30 minutes away), and wait. It turned out to be a false alarm, but it's a story to tell about my first time in Prague.

Prague is a pretty amazing city, but I'm glad that I wasn't placed there. It would have been cool to go to school in the city, but most people there are having a lot of problems. Most of the host families apparently only hosted to learn the students respective languages, everyone speaks english, and so people are having a hard time learning czech, and a lot of people are having problems with school for various reasons. With so many tourists also, and just being such an international/big/tourist destination city, Prague doesn't have the same czech being as smaller towns do, or even bigger towns (like Brno, the 2nd biggest city), in other parts of the county. I like my town, and I think I am getting a total czech experience now, which is what this exchange is about, learning the culture and the language. For me, right now, Prague is a place to visit, and who knows, maybe later I'll want to move there (it has been added to my list of possible cities to live in; a semi long list).

pátek, října 13, 2006

Long time

Hey everyone. I haven't posted in awhile, but there hasn't really been anything to post about.

AFS camp was fun, but I won't go into details because it's all people, and I don't think anyone would know any of them. The one interesting thing though is that out of 17 people, only 2 (including me) can have any type of conversation in czech. Me and a guy from Brazil.

Today I went to Brno for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. I still haven't seen the city though. That's the next AFS thing.

What else. I was going to do czech lessons with the other exchange students in Opava, but I went to the first one, and it's extremely basic (zakladni), and I guess I've just studied to much!

I am doing African drumming lessons however, which is really fun (and Hannah, who knows I may turn into a drummer. dum dum badum).

That's basically all that's happened in the past couple of days. Nothing too exciting. School, home. School is going well. I'm in the process of making friends (I miss you guys!). I really like spanish for some reason. Yeah, that's about it.


čtvrtek, října 05, 2006


So I'm off to AFS camp for 4 days, and so I know, those of you who check regularly will miss the update of my life here, and will forever be scarred, but I'm sorry. When I get back I will be sending out another email, so look forward to that. Anyway, čau.

Birthday Package!

So anyway, it's a good thing I'm not going to school today (AFS CAMP!) because otherwise I wouldn't have received the wonderful package with presents from home. It was amazing. I have to say. Though it does cost a lot to receive it (154 crowns), I'll overlook that. Tana: Blanket. Warm. Fuzzy. And it's cold here. Hannah: čaj means tea, which means they don't have chai! Imagine. And the pictures, well yeah. Laughable. Mom, Dad, Manda:The shirt! Děkuji! They don't make them quite the same here (strange english sayings...). And thanks for the PSAT book, and the pencil case, and everything, and mailing it to me, and all.

Miluju vy!

pondělí, října 02, 2006

My Birthday

Včera byla můj narozeniny. (Yesterday was my birthday). Byla dobra. (It was good). I'll start from the beginning. In the morning, I made pancakes for breakfast, and they turned out pretty well (I'm glad I found maple syrup). I had a little trouble turning on the stove (child safety really does work), but past that it was good. I was a little worried because I had to cook them in a pan rather than on a griddle, and I've never done that before, but it was okay.

Then we went and played squash (similar to racquetball, but only in the fact that you play inside, use a racquet, and play with two people). I definitely like squash better than aerobics (I tried that a couple of days ago and it didn't go well). More power, less dance. I'm not very good, and apparently I play like I'm playing tennis (not that I've ever played that before either), but it's fun.

Then we went apple picking at babička's. The apples are good, but I don't like doing it for 3 hours. I ended up playing around with my camera and getting some good pictures for about the last hour.

At like 3, family (host uncle, aunt and grandma's) came over, and it was another little birthday celebration. I'm glad that it was family too because it makes me feel like part of their family. I had no idea what was going on for part of it though because they were singing in czech and yeah. Chocolate and flowers are common gifts here, so now I have lots of fancy chocolate and three vases of flowers.

Yesterday was also the second time I've talked to mom, and the first time to dad since I've been here. I was really happy to talk to them. I cried a little at the beginning and end, but I realized I don't really want to go home yet, I just want to see them.

We had burritos (czech style) for dinner. They were definitely intersting. Instead of tortillas, they used homemade crepe like things. Ketchup is often used for tomato sauce, I've noticed, and there was lots of cheese, and little bits of ham (like in everything).

Anyway, that was my birthday, it was pretty good. I'll definitely remember my 16th birthday that I spent in the Czech Republic.

Yom Kippur

So right now it is 16:13 on Yom Kippur. I'm hungry. Anyway, here was my Yom Kippur (Jom Kipur). It was quite interesting.

On Rosh Hashanah (roš hašana), I asked about Yom Kippur. I got a time and a date. I thought, okay this is going to be semi-major. Yesterday (sunday--> my birthday! I'm now 16!), I texted (everyone here texts; it's cheaper than calling) the guy from Germany (Johannes) working in the Jewish community about Yom Kippur, and how I should get there. He didn't know about it. That was strange, but then later he wrote back and told me which train/tram to take.

Today was the first time I've riden the train alone. It's about a 25-30 minute train ride from Opava to Ostrava. Then I had to take the tram. That was interesting because the trams don't go from the train station, but rather from the bridge, but of course I don't think anyone knows what I'm talking about, so I'll just talk about the Jewish stuff.

The Jewish community in Ostrava is housed on 2 floors in a building in Ostrava (about 6 rooms). I got there at about 9:30. The service was supposed to be at 10. They have a worship room type thing with an ark and a torah, and then a meeting room, and an office. There were 7 people there for the service (me, Johannes [he isn't Jewish], a german/czech/english couple[I'm not sure, but I don't think they live in Ostrava], the director of the community, and then a cantor [I'm not sure from where either]). The service lasted 20 minutes and consisted of a kaddish for parents and a short prayer. That was it. It was very different for me. I'm used to a big community, and a long service.

I think I may be the only person in Opava fasting today. That's weird to think about. I got a little homesick thinking about break the fast and what that usually is at home, and how here I'm alone in this.

After the service, Johannes took me into Ostrava just to walk around and kind of see the city. We went to this tower, where I think the only people who speak english in the city work. It is like a viewing tower. It was interesting, and I took a few photos (I haven't figured out how to uplodad them yet, but I'm working on that). We talked with the guy who worked there about the Jewish history of Ostrava.

Then I went back to Opava. I didn't go to school today, as I normally don't on Yom Kippur, but instead experience a very different version of the holiday. This community only gets together a couple of times a year, and the next time is December 16th, for Hanukkah, and I think I will also go to that.

Sometime in the next month or so, I may also visit Krnov synagogue, which is about 15 km away. It is a pre WWII synagogue, but today stands only as a building, and it sometimes rented out for functions, or used as a museum.

sobota, září 30, 2006

Birthday Party

So today was my birthday party. I was pretty worried before just because I wasn't sure who all was coming, but i knew that there was going to be a language barrier. But that all was part of the fun.

So it ended up being me, 3 girls from my class, and 2 exchange students from Thailand. I had invited 3 other girls, and maria, the exchange student from Brazil, who I hope to become better friends with, but they couldn't make it for various reasons. It turned out well though.

I spent this morning making brownies. They turned out good (looked a little intersting -I have photos I'll post later), and I think are definitely different than what you find here. Buying ingredients was interesting. Things come in different forms. Anyway, we had brownies, chocolate cake made by my host mom, czech pizza (good with paprikas, ham, and a strange ketchup tomato sauce) and mineralku. We ended up playing cards (I taught them cribbage, and maybe it will end up on three continents =) Oey and Mint taught us a thai game, and then Pavla, Silva and Misha taught us a czech game). Trying to teach cribbage in english is difficult enough, but this ended up being german, english with some czech thrown in! After all of this, we went walking through Neplachovice, talking about various things. It ended up going really well.

And presents. Here, it is customary to give flowers, so I got some flowers, but also some other cool things. When you give a present, you take the hand of the person you are giving it to and wish them good health, a happy life, and love, and friendship etc. It is different, but definitely a cool custom. I took pictures of the things I got, and will post them later. They are given as small gestures, so usually are just a small something, but it is meant with a lot (see above with handshake). That was cool.

I'm really glad I took the step and invited people over, even when I was nervous. This is a year of me reaching out, and trying new things, and then taking what I learned home, and finding out what it is I like from both places, and then using that as the slightly modified Becca. I am keeping an open mind and trying new things, because if I try it once and don't like it I don't have to do it again.

The day of firsts

So I have to come to the Czech Republic to eat McDonalds...
I had McDonald's yesterday for the first time in like 2 years. The closest McDonalds is in Ostrava, and so when my family goes there they get it as a treat. The McDonalds has Hamburgers, McChicken, Chicken Nuggets and Salad, along with happy meals, milkshakes etc.

Anyway, that was one first. The others included the first time eating pizza in the CR (very good--it was the only restaurant open on the holiday that I still don't know what it is for), first time trying homemade alcohol (I think my host uncle's goal is for me to taste every kind of alcohol made in the czech republic. I figure it's okay as I usually won't drink more than a sip! too much alcohol=bad), first time buying something in H&M (Great store), first time going to a movie here (We thought it was the 2nd pirates but it turned out to be a czech comedy that we really didn't understand). By the way, movie tickets are 70 crowns (about 3 dollars). The movie theatres (2 in Opava) show 2 movies a day, one at 5:45 and one at 8. The movies run for about 4 days, and then it is new movies. And popcorn is 15 crowns, but it has probably been sitting in the bag for a couple of years =)

Yesterday I had the day off from school for another reason I don't know. I went with my host dad to Globus (a big wal-mart like store) to buy things for making brownies. I thought I would just say a couple of things about supermarkets. First off, you can buy AMAZING bread in this store. Like baked fresh and really good. For produce, you have to get it bagged and tagged by the people in the produce section. Everyone buys chocolate, I mean everyone. Everyone here also drinks mineral water (with bubbles, of every variety from grapefruit to apple to lemon, to normal).

We went to Tesco (a strange supermarket/mall thing) for lunch because "they have the best chinese food". It is like a food court thing with 4 restaurants, and is considered fast food, but you sit down and get served with real plates and silverware etc. It was actually pretty good.

Then later we went to Ostrava (about 20 minutes by car). I have to buy some stuff for skiing because I also had to leave Colorado to start skiing again. This was uneventful because the store "doesn't have enough selection". So we went across the street to the shopping park. This had IKEA, and a bunch of clothing stores and stuff. H&M is amazing. I bought my first thing there yesterday. It was fun. Anyway, that was my experience with Ostrava. Not very exciting, but yes. I may have more to add after Yom Kippur on Monday.

čtvrtek, září 28, 2006

Mishmash padahash

So I have today and tomorrow off from school for some national holiday that was only made a holiday like 7 years ago. I have basically no idea what it's for. Anyway, I'm sitting here writing recipes and trying to find metric conversions.

The past couple of days have been good. I've talked to more of my classmates (in the usual german, czech and english combination), gone to dancing (got stepped on more times than I can count-->I need to find a new partner), had my first experience with czech beer and read one of the best books I've ever read.

Starting with the book. Ayn Rand is amazing. Anthem I have to say may be better than The Fountainhead, but both are on my list of the best books I've ever read. Anthem reminded me a lot of Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) both in message and content. I would recommend reading any of these books.

From what I've tried of both American beer and Czech beer (both aren't very much and yes, I have permission to try it, and no it's not illegal), I have to say that Czech beer is better. And the fact that teenagers don't want to get drunk is a good thing too. I went with some kids from Neplachovice (17-18 years old) for them to show me the railway station and how all that jazz works. Then they showed me the stuff in Neplachovice and Holasovice (not much), and then we went to a "Motorrest" and had a beer. It was interesting, and the rate and point was much the same as me and my friends going to go drink coffee (Hannah- no one here has heard of a mocha and they find the idea of chocolate and coffee together very strange...I'm going to have to make it sometime). Just to talk and hang out. So that was really the first time I've ever had beer (they're huge! .5L), and it was a good experience.

Dancing. I can't dance. I really can't. Neither can my partner. And he doesn't speak english or german so I often have no idea what's going on. I guess I'm trying to say, I need a new partner, but I don't know how to get one. Maria said that maybe next week she'll dance with the guy I've been dancing with and let me try someone else...Thank you!

So I'm having some of my classmates and some of the other exchange students over on Saturday for my birthday. I don't know what we're going to do, but hopefully it'll be a good experience. I'm making brownies because the cakes all used a pan we don't have here. I'll update more later.

Anyway, that's pretty much what's happening. I'll try and get some pictures online soon, but that involves downloading some stuff etc. Hopefully within the next week.

pondělí, září 25, 2006


I have decided to do a sort of series on things that I think people are interested in (school, town, food etc.). I'm sorry if it's a little confusing to read, both thought and grammar-wise, but right now my thoughts are in 3 langagues and the grammar and everything is confusing! This is the first one and it is about:

School (Škola)
The name of my school is Mendelovo Gymnazium (Mendel Grammar School). It is located in Opava, a city of 60.000 located in Northern Moravia (the eastern half of the Czech Republic). There are between 600 and 800 students in my school (I get different numbers whenever I ask). People can either go to gymnazium, if they want to go to university, or another type of high school (economics, art, industry etc.) if they want to go straight into the workplace. I am just going to talk a little about gymnazium in general, and then just my school.

People can either go to gymnazium for 8 years (after the 5th class) or 4 years (after the 9th class). Most people go for 4 years. In schools here, you stay with the same people for all your calss, for all 4 or 8 years of gymnazium. You have one or two classes a year which are electives with different people, and sometimes the class is split in half for some classes, but mostly you stay with the same people. This means that the class becomes close, and everyone is usually friends with everyone.

I was placed in the 2nd year, in class 2D. There are about 25 people in my class, and they are all 16 or 17. We have a head teacher, who lets us know about school announcements and other things. In our case she teaches us math and physics. She is the same teacher they had last year, and will have for the next 2 years.

Class schedules here are crazy! You have different classes everyday, at different times and in different rooms. There is also a bulletin board where you have to look everyday to see if anything is different for the day, and there is a good chance that it is! The days can differ greatly. For example on Mondays, I have class form 8 to 5, but on Wednesdays, I have class from 8 to 12:30. My schedule is a little different from my classmates because I am taking French, Spanish and Russian instead of Chemistry, Biology and Psychology. I will post my schedule sometime soon, but I don't have it here with me, and after only 3 weeks, I haven't yet memorized it. I'm not sure if anyone every does with all of the different things, and the changes that can happen!

Classes last 45 minutes, with 10 or 15 minutes between classes. Teachers are often a couple of minutes late, but whenever they come you have to stand up. You call teachers pan profesor or pani profesorka (man or woman). The teacher does not clean the board (usually chalkboard). A student does it before class with a sponge and water. Most classes are lecture style and rarely are notes written on the board. You can talk during class, but you are expected to take notes and know the material. Teachers do not dress up too much, and jeans are common attire.

In the basement of the school there is a shoe/coat room for every class. You have "house shoes" for school. When you get to school you go and take off your shoes and put on your house shoes (usually birkenstock like shoes). This is meant to keep the school clean when it is wet and snowy outside.

Food in school is interesting. To get food at school, there are two options. The first is a place to buy snacks (called the "bufet"). Here you can buy drinks, sandwiches, hot dogs, candy and fresh bread (very good and brought in everyday from a bakery). People usually eat a sandwich, or bread, between classes, either brought from home or bought at the bufet. Lunch is served from 11:30 to 2:30. Almost everyone eats at school. You eat after all your classes, or during a free peiod. At my schoool, it is a hot meal, and you have 3 choices. It is eaten on real plates, with metal silverware and real tables. You have a card which you scan, and you choose for the next week the week before. You pay monthly for lunch.

If there is anything else that you would like to know, feel free to ask.

Notable difference: Everyone here writes in cursive. They don't cross their t's and they often look like s's!. It makes it difficult to copy notes, or take notes from the board!

sobota, září 23, 2006

Roš Hašana

A fitting way to start. My first post with real information on the start of the new year. So today was Rosh Hashana. The only Jewish community in northern Moravia is in Ostrava (about 40 minutes by car) and it numbers maybe 30 or 40, mostly older people. It was an interesting experience. They had a dinner at a hotel in Ostrava because they do not have a synagogue. I went to this dinner with Maria, the exchange student in Opava from Brazil. It was very interesting. I am used to our Rosh Hashana services, 3 hours in Boulder Community Church, with prayers, song, participation and shofar. This was 2 hours at a hotel in Ostrava. It started out with a lady talking in Czech, of which I only caught words. Then their Rabbi came out, and for about 30 minutes, did what I am assuming is an abbreviated version of the Rosh Hashana service. I recognized most of the prayers, but they were done very quickly, and with only him singing. The only prayer in which people joined in was the last, Oseh Shalom. The remaing 45 minutes or so was dinner. It was a very interesting experince; very different than what I'm used to. This Jewish community does not have a meeting place of their own (that is what I gathered through this, and the help of Johannes, a volunteer working with the Jewish community in Ostrava from Germany who has been here a week and also doesn't speak much czech), and so they only meet for major holidays. They don't have enough men to make minyan, and thus rarely meet for shabbat. The synagogue in Ostrava was destroyed during WWII. That got me thinking about how different these people's Judaism must be from my own. Only a handful in the room probably were old enough to have actively participated in an actual synagogue, and only as teenagers. The number of people under 25 (excluding myself, Maria and Johannes) probably numbered 4, out of the 30 or 40 people in the room. I am used to a place were Judaism is prominent, and people have some knowledge of the history and traditions. Here I have found that people know very little. It is a largely athiest country, but many people continue to wears crosses. It was an interesting experience, and I think I may join the group again for Yom Kippur, so we'll see what they do for that.

L'shana Tovah

pátek, září 22, 2006

My first post

Hey everyone. I'm making this blog as a way to kind of keep people updated on my day-to-day life.