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.