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.

středa, května 02, 2007

A Bike Trip near Břeclav

So the same start...sorry for the 2 weeks between posts.

I have a new family (one woman, named Doris), but it is looking as though they are not sure whether or not it will be permanent. She lives in a "flat" in the upstairs of a house, and her parents live below. They are really not open to the idea of someone else living in the house, even if not with them. That remains to be seen. This is in Brno, and so I have been at the same school, and I think I will be for the rest of the year. There isn't too much of it left, and would make absolutely no sense to change when all the tests are coming up and the days will soon be shortened. Doris is right now in Egypt for 2 weeks, and so I am staying again with Eva, the volunteer I stayed with for almost a month in November/December. She and her parents are great.

We have finally planned our big trip. I am going with Maria (Brasil), Marta (Iceland) and Jason (Hong Kong) on our 9 day trip. We are doing 2 nights in Ljubljana, 1 in Zagreb and 5 in/near Split. During the time in Split we will probably head out for a night to an island in the vicinity. I am really excited. The planning was a huge pain, with not knowing who was coming or when we were going, but now it is all starting to work out. The next piece of business is to get the train passes, and book the hostels. We are going from May 15th to May 24th. After that, if all works out as planned, Mom and Dad will come a month later.

This past weekend was another AFS weekend. I am so glad to be in AFS Morava because we have so many activities together. In Bohemia, they have just had the required camps (3 per year) and that is all, while we get together at least once a month. This weekend was a biking weekend near Břeclav. It was the longest camp we have had, encompassing at least part of 5 days, because yesterday (Tuesday) was the 1st of Mai, and a "left-over" holiday from Comunism. It is the "den prace" or the day of work, and from what I was told, when everyone, schools, businesses etc. were required to turn out and celebrate the work and stuff. They still do it as just a day off because people say, well, work is good to have, so why not celebrate it? It is also the day for the Neo-nazi's to come out and protest. The numbers are relatively small though. In Brno, there were something like 1,000 police for 400 neo-nazis, and they didn't cause too big a rucus. I'm not sure what it was like elsewhere.

Saturday and Sunday were biking days. This is an interesting experience with a group of 20 teenagers with different biking abilities. There was one girl who didn't know how to ride a bike (it is a bit beyond me why she came...), and thus didn't come with us on our rides.

Saturday we went in the morning to go rent all the bikes for people who needed them and then we set out. The morning we spent together, culminating for lunch in a town called Valtice. Trying to find a place for 24 people to eat is quite a task. We did find a typical czech fast food place (all fried and/or cooked in oil), but it was fine. The afternoon we split up into two groups for the way back. One for the shorter, faster, easier way consisted mostly of the thai girls, and the other was the ones for the hilly longer way. The leader of my group (harder, hillier) was Diego's host dad. He rides everyday, does spinning etc., meaning is quite the biker. Fast, and not phased by hills. Unlike the rest of us. Our path took us through wine country (lots and lots of vineyards...), and up some pretty big hills. One hill we had to go down was seriously like aroller coaster. And you all know how much I hate roller coasters. My speed on that one was recorded as 45 km per hour. Not bad on a bike... We had 10 people in our group, and took about 3 hours to do 25 km because out of the 10 bikes, about 4 got grounded. We came back to the place we were staying with I think 5 people. That day we biked 50 km. Something else I did on Saturday was play Mah Jong!! In about December the kids from Hong Kong were suprised to learn that I knew how to play, and started to try and figure out how to get a set. One of the girls' moms apparently sent her a travel mah jong set, and thus I set out to learn how to play Chinese mah jong. Granted, we didn't get into everything, but it is rather more simple than ours. If anyone is wondering where atomic comes from, it is from Chinese mah jong. The point is to find 4 sets of 3 and a pair. The hardest part of this all for me was the chinese characters. because they can obviously read them. I had my little cheat sheet for the cracks, dragons and winds. It was really fun. They play with friends, much like we do cribbage. Maybe now we have a new game.... Tana, still remember?

I think for hte first time of any AFS camp, we all actually got a decent amount of sleep. Maybe because this camp was longer, maybe because we were all dead tired from biking, but for whatever reason we did. This was evident in the fact that no one wanted to go out Saturday night. That is amazing.

Sunday was our second bike day. My legs weren't sore, or at least not until we actually got on the bike. That is when you start to feel it. This day was 45 km. The start was a lot hillier. To the point where, god I can't go on. But I made it up some hills I thought I wouldn't, so that was an accomplishment. Right before lunch we went down this HUGE hill. Like 2 km, twisting and turning. It was incredibly windy that day and some of these turns I felt like I would be blown off the road! At the end I ended up with a flat tire though, and had to wait for Diego's host dad to come change it. Note: if ever going on long rides, learn how to change tires!! After this though, it was only like another 3 km to the place for lunch, but it seemed impossible! Most of the B group from the day before joined the A group, because the A group went by train! After lunch some of us headed up to this monument thing on top of a big hill in Mikulov, right near Austria. Both days we rode along the Austrian border. The ride back was fun, despite the boli nohy (hurting legs), because it was more like mountain biking stuff (rocks etc.), though I was a little worried becuse I was using a road bike, but Diego's host dad, who I borrowed it from, had one too, and was doing the same stuff, so it was good. Sunday night after everyone stopped ocmplaing about the legs, we went to the house of the host family of Richy, who lives in Breclav, to their wine cellar to try some of the wine. We weren't there very long because there wasn't exactly enough room for 24 people, but it was good. Sunday was another early night, due to the tiredness.

Monday wasn't bikes, but instead a výlet (day trip) to Lednice. There is a castle/villa from the Lichtenstien family. We got a tour of the villa, and then went out to the minaret that is on the grounds. It is pretty, but was another really windy day. In the afternoon we went to a horse place to ride horses, but this consisted of 2 horses and being led around a ring, mostly because a lot of people had never been on a horse before. Monday night I played cards with Jason and Summer (HK) and Hector (paraguay). It was funny because Hector and I started a verbal fighting match in Chinese (with the help of Jason and Summer). I have learned some practical and not so practical chinese, and decided that the only words I will ever remember how to write in chinese characters are 1, 2, 3 and son of a bitch. Not because of necessity, just because of simplicity. My vocabulary now consists of the numbers up to 999 (e.g. yat, yee, sam, say, um, lo, tsa, ba, gao, tsap; 1-10), my name is Becca (no giu Becca), he/she is/isn't (kai hai/m hai), you are/aren't (lay hai/m hai), I am/am not (no hai/m hai), thank you (to say), and various swear words. I like Cantonese, and have decided learning Chinese may not be a bad thing, but perhaps Mandarin might be a tad bit more useful seeing as it is what htey speak on the mainland.

úterý, dubna 17, 2007

This will be a long one

So this post is shaping up to be a long one. Be prepared.

Family Stuff
So I don't know how many people knew what was happening with my last family, but things were not going well. After a huge misunderstanding between school and myself regarding a class trip I was not able to go on, things blew up with my family. Apparently they had been unhappy for a long time, but hadn't said anything, and this incident brought out that they didn't believe me, that I was uncommunicative, that I was rude, that I wouldn't teach them English, as the main things. This was a huge suprise for me. I admit things weren't perfect, but I had no idea that they were this unhappy. My host mother became really hard to live with. She is the type of person who is rather nice, until things don't go her way, and then you have major problems. And I got caught in this net. All of my attempts to smooth things over and appease them seemed to just make things worse. AFS got involved, which I'm not really sure helped. When talking to me, it seemed that they were siding with the family, but they said they were just putting up another argument.

This whole time got me really down, added to the already hard experience I was having, especially in school. I was pretty ready to say that I had tried enough, and wanted to come home for about 2 weeks. Lately though, after talking to AFS USA and my parents, I have decided to keep trying. I am currently staying with a temporary host family for one week, but after that I have no idea what is happening. It is a big possiblity that I may have to change schools/towns again, which really scares me, especially the school part. School has by far been the hardest part of this exchange. Despite my efforts to be friendly and talkative and happy in school, I have not made any czech friends, and going to school everyday has become really hard. I keep trying every day, because who knows, maybe something will happen, but it is really hard. And starting a new school worries me just because it is really hard for me to go into a place where I know no one, and have to make my own way around, and introduce myself, as I have had in my past two schools.

I still don't know what is happening on that front, but I will let you all know once I do. The things that are really keeping me here are my exchanger friends, a trip I am planning with some people to Croatia, and a trip with my parents (real) for the last two weeks of the program.

This whole experience has been different and harder than I expected it to be, and there are times when I am truly ready to throw in the towel, not because I want to give up, but because it is hard on the pysche, and sometimes I feel like my time would be better spent doing other things. It looks like I will be staying for the duration of the program, if things work out, but I still don't know.

Trip to Poland
So last weekend was another AFS weekend. I love these weekends, and they really help me get through the rest of the stuff here. This one was a trip to Poland (well, day trip, while staying in the Czech Republic).

We got there Thrusday night, and basically just went to the place we were staying, in a village near Český Těšin, right on the Czech-Polish border. Friday in the morning we went to the school of the student (Henrique from Brasil) who lives in ČT. Bascially we had a presentation about AFS and our countries. This was the first time I felt like I could really speak fast czech, which was really cool.

This trip was only 14 people, 3 from Bohemia, because the Thais need visas to leave the country, and for one day, it was a lot. From Bohemia there were Jason (Hong Kong), Yukari (Japan) and Izabella (Brasil). It was cool to spend time with them because we haven't really seen them since the first orientation. I spent a lot of time with Jason and Yukari (plus my normal "group", well, I guess that is everyone), and got to know them a lot better. They are really cool, and I am definitely going to keep in touch.

Friday afternoon we went on foot to Poland, which is actually a lot harder than it sounds with a group of 15 people from like 8 different countries. Everytime we went across the border (there or back), we had to wait an hour, for who knows what reason. During this time we went to the travel free shop and bought candy and just messed around. Once we were actually in Poland (Cieszyn), we went to this tower thing, where you could see the whole city (Polish and czech). Then we just went around Cieszyn and then crossed the border again. Then we went for ice cream, and then back for dinner.

Saturday was the main day in Poland. We left our hostel at 5 Am on a charter bus and drove 3.5 hours (with the 1 hour border wait) to Ausschwitz. This was interesting. Many of the other students don't learn much about the Holocaust, or anything that happened during it. For me, it was a strange experience. Ausschwitz looks... so normal. Grass, semi-nice buildings, pathways. It was hard for me to imagine what went on there. It is when they show you a video and pictures and you see the people and destruction it did to them. And when you hear the numbers. 1.5 million people died in Ausschwitz (at least). Only 400,000 were every recorded, meaning the rest died right away when the got there. When the camp was liberated, only like 7,000 were there and alive. And not all of these survived very long because they were so emaciated and malnourished. It is amazing what happened to these people and that it was done BY PEOPLE. Only 600 children survived Ausschwitz, mostly twins because the doctors did experiments on them, and often killed them to do autopsies. It was the same with men and women who were often used for sterilization experiments and then killed for autopsies. We also went to Birkenau, but we didn't spend very long there. The conditions there (building-wise) were worse than at Ausschwitz, mainly I suppose because the building were open to the winters, where as the others were made of brick, if that is any consolation. Ausschwitz housed around 16,000 people at one time whereas Birkenau had 100,000. Treated like animals, and then sent to die.

The saying above the gate at Ausschwitz, Arbeit Macht Frei, is sad, ironic and just shows the lack of interest on the part of the Germans/Nazis. Work led these people to their death, for the most part, but rarely did they have a say.

Most of the other students don't learn much about the Holocaust, but I feel like now they know something, and that is better than nothing. There were a couple people who were really interested, and really saddened by this, and I felt like I too got to teach them about it, and the terror it brought. Even if only some of them will remember, it is more than the world had before, and more people who can stop it from happenening again.

After that we went to Krakow. It is a beautiful city. There is a big river running down it, with grass on both sides, and because the weather was so nice, there were lots of people out. We wandered around the city for about 3 hours, and it is just beautiful. It too is a tourist city, but mostly for other Poles, or people from surrounding countries. It apparently has the 2nd biggest square in Europe (or maybe just middle-europe).

After this we went to a salt mine, which was interesting. It isn't in use any more, but this mine is really interesting because there are dozens of chapels and stuff built in for the miners, because Poland is such a catholic country. They are really beautiful churches, and all carved out of the salt. And there are lots of statues made out of salt as well. Very interesting.

pondělí, dubna 09, 2007

Spring Holidays (jarý svatky)

So this past week has encompassed 2 spring holidays: Passover, and Easter. I'll start with Passover.

No one here knows anything about Judaism, let alone Passover. I didn't explain it to many people, but basically just that there is no bread, flour etc. Trying to keep kosher in this country is freakin' hard. Life here revolves around bread and pork and oil. So pretty much my kosher involved just not eating bread or pork. The other stuff is just too hard to avoid while trying, well, to eat anything at all. I did have the matzoh though, found in Prague at a little cafe after asking at one of the synagogue gift shops. The box, in 6 languages, says that it is good for weight-reduction diets and when you have a stomach ulcer. Hmmm....

Easter. Strange czech holiday. Czechs are not religious people. I think it is one of the least religious countries in the world. But they have some strange traditions. Namely, boys/men go around knocking on doors, and when the women/girls answer, they get hit with pussywillow sticks, and the men say some like rhyme or something. They then (the boys) get rewarded with chocolate, eggs, or for the older ones, alcohol. I managed to avoid most of them, other than from my little host brothers and their 4 friends, 3 of whom I have never met before. The other thing that sometimes happens is that the girls get buckets of water dumped on them. Such fun. That didn't happen either, thank god, but my friend maria got dumped in the bathtub three times.

I also have some new pictures on picasaweb.google.com/beccaintheczechrepublic. Check them out.

pondělí, dubna 02, 2007

Rowing in the Spring

So I figure that this deserves its own post, though I just wrote a long one. This one is about rowing. My first time on the water in approx. 10 months. Long time, but so good. I had some crazy problems getting the boat down to the water due to time lapse and various language problems, but we made it in the end.

It was my first time in a double and i have realized that balance is so much easier to learn in a double. I feel sort of bad for the girl with me, but I think it'll get better.

It was just so good to be on the water on a nice spring day.


So, my trip to Praha is now over, and so now I will write about it. Sorry for the choppy English. I am really starting to have major problems. It's really strange. I will not use the right case of a verb or something, and it's definitely different.

So anyway. Praha.

Friday I went on a bus to Prague (2.5 hours) in the morning with 3 other exchangers from around Brno. We all met up at the bus station in Prague at like noon, and after some wondering where the Spanish guy was, we all were there, and then headed to our hostel. This time we were actually in the city, which was really nice. Only like 20 minutes tram ride from the center. The place we stayed was a bit strange, like a gymnasium/hotel thing, but it was nice. And cheap by Prague standards (especially since it is the start of tourist season)...

About the tourists. I guess because the weather is really nice and it is spring, the tourists come. Like my first time in Prague, this was one where hearing czech is unusual on the street. There are SO MANY Italians in Prague. I guess (or so someone told me...) because Italians like culture, and it is cheaper for them to come to Prague? There are also lots of Germans, Asians (a variety of countries) and a fair share of Americans. The Thais even ran into some Thai tourists.

Anyway, Friday, I had to go to the AFS office to have a pointless conversation with an AFS person which I had already had twice on the phone, and countless times on email. I would have rather gone to the Dali exhibit with Maria and Marta, but I had to miss that to go here. Friday night was Chinese night, in an actual Chinese restaurant, run by actual Chinese people (very unsual here; lots of stuff parades as Asian food, but it rarely is real). It was really good, and I improved my chopstick skills with a bit of help from the kids from Hong Kong. Friday night we also went to Febio Fest, an international music and film festival. We went to a (bad) concert from Romania until midnight, when I went with some people to a movie from the Netherlands. It was the saddest and most moving movie I have ever seen. It is about a Jewish woman in the Netherlands during WWII and what she has to do to survive. It is called "Black Book". I would recommend it to anyone, but I really warn you, it is incredibly sad.

It was really interesting to talk to the kids I went with (from Iceland, Turkey and Hong Kong) afterwards, because they don't know much about the Holocaust and WWII. I am finding that a lot of the world is ignorant to Judaism and what has happened to Jews.

After getting back to our hostel at 4 am, we went to bed, seeing as we had to be somewhere at 10. After a fitful night of sleep, because of a strange dream about having to hide identities and get information on random trams, I got like 3 hours of sleep. Normal for these things, but it didn't hit me too much.

Saturday we went to Prague Castle (though most people, including myself, didn't want to because we had already been there), but we had to stay as a group because the AFS volunteer we were with decided we had to. She was nice, but far too "ghaadkf". We also went to a mirror house and the fenicular. Afterwards we had some free time, and I went for Turkish food and to a vintage store with some other people. Then we went to a "modern" theatre. I hated it. I really did. It was like a film background and then strange modern dancers. It was horrible. Not my type of thing. I fell asleep, I believe. After this, though we were all planning on going to a disco, I decided to go back to the hostel with some other girls because of the lack of sleep the night before, and we just talked for a couple hours, and then went to bed "early".

Sunday morning, I woke up early (8) and went by myself for a bagel. The only place to get a bagel in this country is in this one store in Prague, and I really wanted one. And I have to say it was worth it for a half an hour tram ride each way. Just for a bagel. But it's more than just bread, as some others described it. It is life. Sunday also we went to the Czech Cubism Museum, which was pretty cool, and then we all just hung out until our respective modes of transportation left.

I really like Prague. It is a wonderful city with so many different things to do. Unlike Brno, when you go out of the center, it is still exciting, with many things to see. It has so much history, and great architecture, but it is a modern city. Though there are many tourists, that just means that it really is an international city. I would like to see more czech there, but I think that will come in the future. If I were ever to live again in the Czech Republic, I think the only place I would live would be in Prague.

čtvrtek, března 29, 2007

How I Long for Thee....

No, of course not all you special people in my life. I miss Australia. So for the first three hours of school today, we went to a movie theater in town and saw a documentary about Australia. And it really made me miss it. Hearing didjeridoos, and seeing kangaroos, and Sydney, and Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef and all that. It just made me really want to go back.

I really wish I could have brought my didj with me. I miss [trying] playing, and all that stuff. I love what you can do with it, but I still have so far to go with circular breathing and everything (Hannah, want to set up a trumpet/didjeridoo/learn to circular breath session?? =D ).

But other than that, it was a pretty good day. After the movie we had an hour before we had to go back to school, so I sort of tagged along with a group of my classmates. It was like 12 people to start with, but then a bunch of girls decided they would rather go shop than to get coffee, so getting coffee (at KFC's, of course) was 4 guys, another girl and me. It was good, despite my initial not wanting to go. I got to talk to the girl for awhile, and one-on-one, which I am a lot better at.

After that, I had 2 more hours of school, but my first class (4th hour) ended up being gone for some other excursion, so I read kronikla ohlasene smrti (Chronicle of A Death Foretold) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and it was great. It only took me 30 minutes to read 10 pages!!! But in all seriousness, it is a really good book, and though I am only like 1/5 through it, I would recommend it in any language!!

And my last class of the day was Math, a class I usually enjoy. We are doing functions (I love them!), and so it's pretty easy seeing as they are just learning about functions, something I did in like 8th grade. But figuring out what the teacher wants you to do without them telling you is another story.

So that was my day at school.

Tomorrow I am off to Prague for the weekend with AFS. Not really sure what we are doing yet, but I'll let y'all know when I get back.

Note: I do miss all you special people in my life, but the title does not refer to that specific missing-ness.

neděle, března 25, 2007

Nemocna. Ještě.

So I am sick. Again. This sucks. I have no idea why I keep getting sick, but I do. So far since I got to my new school 2 weeks before Christmas I have missed 13 days just because I have been sick. Colds, an ear infection. It's annoying.

Last school year, I was never sick. Everyone else in school and at home got sick. But I didn't. I guess this is it getting back at me.

Anyway, sorry for the intermittent blogging. It's hard to figure out what from normal life would be exciting for people to read. (Hint: ideas accepted).

So I guess the next big thing besides school, is me going to Prague next weekend with AFS.

I was supposed to go to Bratislava for two days right after to see Amanda and help with the program she's going with and celebrate Passover, but AFS here said I can't. They are really bugging me right now. So now the thing is to figure out how to do Passover in a foreign country where staples of the diet are pork and bread. Because now I don't know how to get my matzoh from Amanda in time.

pondělí, března 19, 2007

Ted' reknu jak pravdy vymena

So as an enterance into this post, I have to warn that it involves the stark reality of exchange. I am not sure what you or the general public thinks of exchange, or what type of time I am having, but I guess you will find out now.

Let's just start with the fact that I think youth exchange is a great idea. It is a way for people on both ends (not just the student) to learn about the world, and to expand their horizons. Immersion is the best way to learn a foreign language, and this provides all that. It is an insight into a culture that is hard to get any other way.

I don't regret coming here this year; it hasn't been quite what I expected, but it is definitely not an experience I regret.

Coming here, I had a few expectations, pretty much being to learn the language, get on well with my family and make friends. The language thing is going pretty well. Let's just say my grammar sucks, but czech is hard, and I think I am doing well. Definitely in the top three langauge wise in Moravia.

Family stuff has been hard. As I think you all know, I changed families in December due to various things, and while my new family is mostly good, we still have a lot of ups and downs and I think we have some different ideas on what the relationship is supposed to be.

Friends has been one of the hardest things for me. I have made some really good friends in the other exchangers, but making czech friends has been really hard for me. I still just have acquaintances that I can usually talk to in school, but a lot hasn't progressed past there. I credit this partly to the czech national attitude of groups being good, but probably mostly to the trouble I have in communicating in groups, even in english and multiplying that times ten in czech. I am not so much disappointed because I know I have made friends from all over the world, and I have really good friends back home, but sometimes this gets really hard.

This experience for me has been full of ups and downs. It is definitely not the best time of my life, though so far I may say that it has been the most difficult. Saying that however, I have learned so much about myself, something I couldn't have done if I had stayed at home. Sometimes it takes the most difficult times to really look inward and examine who you are.

I have tried so many new things here that I wouldn't have done otherwise. I have had great experiences learning not only about czech culture, but through my friends, about Brasil, Thailand, japan, Hong Kong, Iceland, Turkey and lots of other places around the world.

I know I have people all over the world who care about me, and this is something great.

This year has been a chance to learn a new culture, language, people. Meet people from the rest of the world. Learn tremendous amounts about myself. Learn how to be independent in new ways. Learn that life is hard, but there are always good bits thrown in, and when you make it through everything, that is what you will remember. I will remember the great times I had with various people. I will keep in contact with various people around the world. And I will come home with the realization of how much I love the people in my life, how much I appreciate certain things about the US, how I want to continue to learn about the other peoples of the world, and many, many other things that I cannot list right now.

neděle, března 11, 2007

A play on gypsies

So this weekend was a makeshift AFS weekend. Friday night was divadlo (theater) in Brno. It was called "gypsies going to heaven" and was a strange play. It was a musical, and the music was good (it was the closest thing i have heard to jewish folk music in 6 months), and made me realize that yes, gypsies and jews come from the same part of the world....no wonder the music is similar.

Then we stayed in a hostel in Brno friday night and saturday night. Saturday night I went with summer (hong kong), por (thailand), makki (japan) and poom (thailand) to 'Babel', an amazing film. I am the only one in that group who really understands czech, so we thought that it was in english, but the film ended up being in 4 languages, with czech subtitles. About half of it was in english though, and maybe a quarter or so in japanese, so everyone understood and liked it.

I thought it was amazing. It's been awhile since I have seen a film where you had to think about things so much, and how everything is interconnected. I would definitely recommend it.

It also made me realize how beautiful a city Tokyo is, and how much I really want to go there.

It was nice to go with them. I talked to Por more than I have ever before, and she is really nice. It is nice to know that I have people in a lot of countries in the world where I could probably go and have a place to stay, and people to see. It's a good feeling.

So this weekend Maria (brasil) is staying with me for the week....Wait, that sentence doesn't make a lot of sense, but I think you get the jist. I will update probably next weekend.

Papa! (like cau)...

pondělí, března 05, 2007

An 18th Birthday

So this last weekend I went back to Opava for Maria (brasil)'s 18th birthday. It was me, her, Hector (Paraguay), Henrique (brasil) and Honza (czech; hector's host brother). Basically we just hung out, went out and so forth.

I have discovered an interesting thing though, that whenever I go out late I usually end up with a cold or something after. It's strange, and something I should probably work on, and probably also related more so to the lack of sleep that usually entails.

Cau to all!

čtvrtek, března 01, 2007

60/40 folding seat

Well, not exactly, but as of today, I have been in the Czech Republic for 6 months. It seems so long when it is written down, but to me, it doesn't seem so long. I have 4 months left to go. I am over half way. It is a strange feeling.

I remember when I had been here for one month. The first month was a toughy (it is still tough though), and I remember thinking about it like a swimming set; the hardest one of my life. I had done one, and had 9 more to go. Now I have gotten through the halfway party, and things will start going faster.

When I look at my calendar, it looks like no time at all. Because it is after January, we are allowed to travel a bit, and I hope to. I think I may be going to Budapest for a couple days; we'll see.

I am at the library, so I have to go, but just thought I would record this momentous point in my exchange.

neděle, února 25, 2007

New Pictures!

Just letting y'all know that I have some new pictures up at:


They don't have captions yet, but I'll work on getting those on soon.

There are also websties

čtvrtek, února 22, 2007

Tak, ted' nemam nic řict, ale nevadí

So, the title of this post isn't very exciting, or important, but anyway, I supposed it was time for a new post.

Not much has happened recently. I finished Atlas Shrugged today, and it is SUCH A GOOD BOOK. Recommended reading. I am rather captivated by Ayn Rand's philosophy, and the writing is just good. There was a part that included a 60 page monologue (I suppose only a small part of the 1083 pages), which got a little boring, just because it is a long time for one character to talk; the ideas were interesting, but anyway. Great book. Amazing author. I'm just sad I've read all her major books.

Hmm, what else. Yes, I got a library card to the public library in Brno. I haven't actually checked out any books yet, but I think I will in the near future. Right now my card is just more used for using the free internet you can get for time exceeding an hour at the library with a card. Good thing to do when I have a couple hours to wait between school and rowing or something. But they do have a pretty good (couple bookshelves) selection of English books, and of course lots of czech ones, something I am working up to. Right now I am reading the wizard of oz in czech and english (the pages of each are right next to each other, making it easier to get through things i don't understand).

I bought a new czech textbook, 'Chcete jeste lepe mluvit cesky?', or 'do you want to speak even better czech?'. There aren't many learn czech textbooks on the market, especially for anything intermediate or advanced, but this one came recommended by a girl who was here a couple years ago. I have found that info on the internet can't really be found, and the best way to research these textbooks is to go to a couple bookstores, and just look at all the books they have to learn czech.

I think I will be on Ceska Televize (czech tv) for the second time because today they came to tape something about Mensa, the program my host mom is involved in, and it was sort of a family affair. The first time was for rosh hashanah, but I'm not sure if that actually ever made it on air because I had school when it was on. So who knows?

sobota, února 17, 2007

Back and a little bruised

So I'm back from the mountains of Slovakia....if you want REAL mountains, of any kind, around here, you have to venture into Slovakia. There you will find yourself going from the rolling hills of the Czech Republic, slowly into the snow capped mountains of Slovakia. And while there was some snow, there was not much. Apparently the snow there is maybe a third of what it normally is. The hill the house we stayed in was on was covered the first day, and by the last, it was mostly brown. And snow doesn't melt quickly here.

Anyway, this little ski trip to Slovakia was during the spring break for my school. Basically it was my family, and two others. 6 other kids, ages 5,6,8,8,10,13. My time not spent outside in snow was divided between playing cards with kids, playing cards with adults, and making considerable progress into Atlas Shrugged, a book that continues to captivate me 800 pages in.

I decided during this week that I really don't like skiing, but snowboarding is awesome, even if you do end up spending a fair amount of time on your knees, butt, wrists, *insert body part here*, etc. I am quite bruised, with a pair of red and brown knees, among other bruises, but I rather enjoyed my self taught snowboarding. After venturing down places I thought I wouldn't, and watching people who know better than me what they are doing, I think I got down the basics after my first couple days with my two feet strapped to one board.

I may or may not be going on another skiing trip not this week, but the next, depending on whether there is enough snow in the czech "mountains". We'll see.

čtvrtek, února 08, 2007


So I just thought I would post a short post before I leave for Slovakia on Saturday. I don't know if I will have internet there, it doesn't look like I will, so don't get worried! I plan on improving my snowboarding while there, so I'll let y'all know how that went when I get back. Mom and Dad--I am still expecting an 8 o'clock phone call that next sunday.

Hmm, what's been going on? I wrote my first test in my new school. It was for physics, and I got a 4 (= D) and I'm pretty happy about it. I think it might be my first D. But there were 12 questions, with translating and stuff I only had time to answer 7 of them, and out of the 7 I got 5 right. It was the same score my desk partner got. I was happy.

pondělí, února 05, 2007


So I got back yesterday from another AFS weekend, this time in the "mountains" (aka slightly bigger hills). It was fun. I skiied for the first time in about 6 years, and I also tried snowboarding again for the first time in 8 years. and I LOVE IT! (snowboarding).

I don't really have time to write a lot right now, but I'll just write a bit.

We have a new student in Moravia, Hector (Paraguay), who is here for a semester, so we are back up to 18 students after the other American went home.

There is a really interesting split in our group of exchange students between Asians and those of European descent. I think it has to do with how cultures look at things, and ideas of fun, and "maturity", but it's rather interesting to see.

středa, ledna 31, 2007


So, I thought it was about time to write a blog about my trip to Vienna (and I promised Grandpa I would...). So here it is.

So I went to Vienna (Wien in German, Viděn in Czech) with Marta (Iceland). We left Brno Friday morning, and got to Vienna at about 10:30. It was funny going through passport control (a person comes on the bus and checks stuff). The checker-guy was very slavic looking, and looked rather suprised to see both an icelandic passport (very cool) and an american passport in the same day, at the same time. A brief note about icelandic passports: they are very advanced. They have like this page in them that has a chip in it with all the info, and they just look cool too. Ours aren't nearly so cool. Czechs just have an ID card that they have to show to travel throught the EU.

The first thing we did in Wien was, well, obviously, get off the bus, but the first hurdle was buying a metro ticket. We bought 72-hour tickets, but this handy little machine was one that took credit cards, and for some reason it kept spitting out Marta's card. But eventually we figured it out, and were on our way. The Wien metro is very clean. The whole city is very clean. There is hardly ever trash or anything on the ground, and there are very few homeless people. Vienna didn't strike me so much as other cities that I have been to, but it's a nice city. It definitely has an older median age, and is a "high-class" city. Friday we just spent wandering around Vienna. We got off at a subway stop and just wandered from there. We spent a couple hours at the Museum Quartier, not going into any museums, but just looking at the shops. Marta and I both like modernish art, and spending a lot of time in museum shops. We found a lomography shop (best kind of photography...), and spent a long time in there. We both decided at some point during the weekend we would buy a camera. From there we kept wandering, just turning when we felt like it. We came across a couple cool shops (one was almost exactly like the crystal dragon on pearl street) and ended up on the main shopping street. We went in a few department stores, walked into Starbucks, and then decided against buying anything, and then kept wandering. Somewhere on the way we found the british council, basically an english language library/resource center. Pretty cool. They also had free internet, so we spent some time on there finding things to do. I of course, compared the prices of the cameras at the store, in prague and on ebay. After that, we both decided that we really wanted one of the cameras. I ended up getting the supersampler, and marta got ...something. I can't remember the name. you can look up lomography on google.

Friday night we went to a relatively cheap italian restaurant, and then to an english language movie theater and saw "The Queen" in english, without subtitles (that was suprising). It was pretty good. By the time we got back to our hostel it was like 10, and time for becca to go to bed in order to get enough sleep to function during the SAT!

Saturday morning was the SAT. I knew what bus to take to get there, but I hadn't looked at the times or anything. So I left for the metro station at 7, because I wanted to get there by 8. It all worked out fine until I had to walk from the bus stop to the school. I got a little lost, but thankfully with the help of a dog walker, I made it there. I was worried because I got there at like 8:10, but we didn't actually start the test until 9:15! I think it went pretty well. There was 1 math question I had a lot of trouble with, and ended up guessing on, but other than that, I think it went well. It was tiring though. The scores come out on February 15th, so I'll let you all know the results then. After the SAT I went back to the hostel to take a nap. I was so tired, and ended up sleeping for like 1.5 hours. While I was at the SAT, Marta just went around the city, and looked for second hand shops. After sending a few SMS's back and forth about when to meet, and then promptly realizing each one cost 12.5 crowns (like 60 cents) rather than the normal 2 crowns (10 cents), we met up again. After a long time. And a snow storm. Because marta ran out of credit, and then it started snowing. It snowed like 4 inches in 20 minutes. Strangest thing ever. I walked into a store, wandered around, saw a guy come in covered in snow, went huh?, walked out, and saw the snow. Marta and I finally found each other after agreeing to meet in front of the church because she couldn't send messages.... Anyway. Then we went to Starbucks, because we both decided that though we had decided the previous day not to, it was snowing, and coffee sounded good. So I got a frappuccino of course. Starbucks is expensive in Wien (3.80 euros for a tall coffee frap), but still very good nonetheless. Then we went to wait on line for standing room tickets at the Opera. The line was incredibly long, but we ended up getting tickets. THe one thing we didn't know however was how the standing room only thing worked, and so we ended up going up stairs, and realizing there were really no places left. so once it started (Don Giovanni), we like wiggled our way in between people, in a place where we could see the right side of the stage only, and all the action seemed to be happening on the left side! We ended up basically just reading the story on the screen thing that translated it. At intermission, Marta really wasn't feeling well, and so just decided to sit on the wall. I have to say I don't so much enjoy opera, but it was a "culturing" experience, and fine for only 2 euros (amazing price), but I don't plan on going again anytime soon.

Sunday we decided to take it easy because Marta was feeling better, but not up to much walking. We tried to call Sanja, a serbian girl we met in Prague during New Year's and who is studying in Vienna (and was an exchange student in Texas two years ago), but we couldn't figure out how to use the pay phones, so we didn't get to see her. We ate a lunch of appetizers from a japanese restaurant, and then went to an Andy Warhol exhibition at the Albertina. It was a pretty good exhibit, all of popstars, but pretty small. After that we went to another starbucks, and experimented with our cameras, and then at 5:30 we headed home.

čtvrtek, ledna 25, 2007


So tonight I made fajitas for my host family (well, quesadillas also for the kids). They turned out pretty well, and went over pretty well too. For me, it was just REALLY nice to eat food that has not had tremendous amounts of animal fat poured on it while cooking. Like, real food again.

Czech food is heavy. Oil/animal fat is nearly always added to the pan while cooking. It is lots of sauces, and dumplings and pork. I'm not a huge fan. I really like the sweets, but am now trying not to eat TOO many. =)

What a way to make my day!

So I was wandering around Brno this afternoon after buying bus tickets for Marta and I to Vienna, and I came across the Design Center Czech Republic. And they were having a [free] exhibition. It was amazing. Modern consumer product design. What else can a girl ask for?

Turns out it was the results of a student design contest. It was quite amazing. I have to say thought that my favorite things were these two like "life-in-a-box" posters. The concept is having everything one needs to live (bed, bathroom, table etc.) enclosed within a box, that you can open, and pull things out and down and stuff. That was one of them. The other was like a combination desk/bed thing, that you can convert for the uses of sleeping, working and hanging out. The motto was "work hard, rest well".

The Design Center Czech Republic is a really cool concept. It's a government agency concerned with promoting design in everyday life, basically. They run annual competitions for the best product, interior design and design packaging, among other things. And it is centered in Brno.

The mission of the DC CR is: "using effective tools, to promote the introduction of graphic design in the manufacturing, trade and services as one of important factors for enhancing the overall quality of products, their competitiveness and exportability, and, at the same time, to participate in the creat of harmonious level of the material culture of society that determines the national identity of products and thus helps to build their positive image abroad".

úterý, ledna 23, 2007

An idea of czech classes

So I decided I would give you all a short insight into a czech geography class. By copying my notes. I don't expect any of you to understand. I don't really either. But if anyone wants a translation, or a version w/o all the hooks and stuff, let me know.

sinolog= odborník na všechno čínské
konfuciasmus= náboženství na přelomu eilozofie

buddhismus= východo-asijské náboženství
velká zed´= 6400 km

Oppiova (1830-1842) válka => britská kolonie
=> před radě bezpečnosti = stálý člen

pokračování v probíraní Číny

nerostý: rtut´, stříbro, cín, železné rudy, wolframu, fosfátů

2. posílila lehký průmysl, zmoderní- vala závody byly vytvořeny zvláštní ekonomické zony

S, 2-naprosto pusté oblasti
nejznámější řeky- Chang Jiang
Huang He
východ- hospodářsky vybavena
od jíh na sever- monzunové časti, subtropické časti

So I think that is enough for today. If anyone wants a translation, let me know. Or y'all can try it on your own!


So I nearly forgot the reason I got on the computer in the first place. To write a post. Figure.

So the big news today is that it is snowing! The first measurable snow of the season. January 23rd. I think this is like the latest it has ever been. Yesterday was a beautiful day, when I was dying to get out on the water. And then today, the snow has come down like there is no tomorrow. I guess winter finally decided to show up, and show up with a show (there's a saying that I can't remember...)

And someone commented about the big wind storm that hit Europe. We had like 2 days with a lot of wind, but nothing extreme. I did read that like 4 people died in the country or something. I think it was worse in Germany, and on the coastal regions of Europe. We did go up into the hills though, and there were a fair amount of trees down. I'm just assuming it's from that.

pátek, ledna 19, 2007


Coaches all over the world should learn something from my new rowing coaches. They are absolutely brutal. After not having done much of anything since swimming ended, this is even worse. But hopefully it will kick my butt back into shape. After two hours today, we ran for about 25 minutes, most of it with hand weights, doing various things. And then did stations (sit-ups, pole climbs, pull ups, jumping thingys, and other various things) for about 50 minutes before playing football (soccer). It was dead tiring, but it's good. I just wonder what it will be like on the water...

středa, ledna 17, 2007

Rowing and a little dancing

So two big things have happened since I last posted. The first being that I joined a rowing (veslovani) team. So far though, I have only been to one practice, and we ran for 45 minutes, inside a tiny gym, doing an obstacle course. Let's just say I am sore. After 6 months of not too much exercise, that was brutal. I may be able to get out on the water on Saturday though, if there are enough girls, and if the weather's good. On the team, apparently, there are 10-15 "young kids" (less than about 14 I think), 10-15 "high schoolers" (I think I am one of only 3 girls though), and I think 10 "older people" (19-20 years old). It should be good though. I'm not too sure about the set up of everything, but a girl who was here from Brazil last year was on the team, and had a good time. And the two other girls apparently go to my school, and seem really nice, so I am hoping for the best.

The other thing I have done recently is go to Marta's (Iceland) end of dance class ball (I had mine December 10th...). She lives in Uherské Hradiště, which is about 75km away, or about 1 hour and 20 minutes by bus. After some confusion with me waiting at the bus station for her host father to pick me up, I got to her house, and then we just hung out and got ready and waited for Diego (Brasil) to come. The ball started at 7, and the beginning is basically just the class dancing the dances that they have learned (polka, jive, cha cha, slow fox, waltz etc.). And then it is just sort of like anyone can dance. I ended up dancing a lot with Diego, basically just because, well, neither of us knew anyone else there, and for the first time, I actually enjoyed it. I don't hate it so much anymore, and realized I am not too horrible. Diego and I ended up joining Marta's dance class in the ribbon/heart giving (girls give ribbons to boys, boys give hearts to girls; the ones with the most are like, well, something), which all started with an attempt to take pictures for Marta, and then also a strange muscial chair contest that we did because Marta's dance teacher is also Diego's dance teacher, and so he wanted to have the foreign kids do something, and it was fun. It was normal musical chairs, but you dance the polka... Diego and I ended up winning. It was fun. The dance lasted until like midnight, and then Marta, Diego and I ended up staying up until like 3, only to have to wake up at 5:30 (Diego and I) to go catch our respective trains/buses. It was fun. I ended up not going to school today, but rather going home, organizing my school stuff, starting to translate some physics and sleeping. Tomorrow I start my new schedule (which I was given like 1.5 weeks ago, but have missed a lot of school due to various illnesses). I'm a little nervous because it's hard to meet a bunch of new people at once, but I am just going to do it. The worst that can happen isn't that bad. So wish me luck for school, and that I don't get too much work! (that i am worried about; it takes like 3 times as long to do anything).

neděle, ledna 14, 2007


I came across a quote that really hit me:

"I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world."
-Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey

sobota, ledna 13, 2007


So I got skis today. Well, borrowed them. If nothing better comes along apparently. So the slight hitch in this is that there is absolutely no snow. I have three ski trips planned for February, ranging from 4 days to 8 days, and there may not be snow for any of them. Today was 12 degrees Celcius (like 54 Farenheit) and it's crazy. Last year was the coldest winter they had in a long time (it got down to like -30 Celcius, or -22 Farenheit), and this year, it is incredibly warm. Everyone had ski trips planned for Christmas, and then they got cancelled due to the lack of snow. I hope it snows sometime, because I would like to try skiing again, but there is no guarantee.

úterý, ledna 09, 2007


So I am going to Vienna to take the SAT on the 27th. I am going to make a weekend out of it, and go with one or two of my other exchanger friends. Anyone have any suggestions about what to do there?

100 People

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of 100 people, with all the existing human ratios staying the same, it would look like this. There would be:
  • 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 from the Americas (both North and South), and 8 Africans
  • 70 would be non-white, 30 would be white
  • 70 would be non-Christian, 30 would be Christian
  • 89 would be heterosexual, 11 would be homosexual
  • 59 percent of the world's wealth would be in the ahnds of only 6 people, and all 6 would be citizens of the United States
  • 80 would live in subsidized housing
  • 70 would be unable to read
  • 50 would suffer from malnutrition
  • 1 would be near death and 1 would be near birth
  • Only 1 would have a college education
This was posted on the wall of an English classroom. The numbers really hit you. 1 with a college education, something so stressed, and expected, in our society. It really is a valuable thing. 11 homosexuals. 11%. All the homophobics in the world are fighting a huge number. 70 would be unable to read. All is so far from the society I am used to, and the society I am currently living in . A real culture shock would be to go live in the subsidized housing, among those suffering from malnutrition. That apparently, is how half the world lives. 59% of the money in 6% of the people. You don't realize that until it's looked at like this. But how to change it?

pondělí, ledna 08, 2007

...and life continues

So today was my first day of school after the christmas break, and then my sick break. It went pretty well. School is hard because I constantly have to be on my feet, and talk to people and stuff.

I am in the process of getting a schedule that I can participate. I just have to convince the english teacher who is helping me that I don't need a million english classes. I think she wants to like show me off. But it's annoying. I think I will end up with math, physics, spanish, german, geography, english, art, music and maybe one or two others.

After school I was supposed to go to rowing, but the girl didn't text me back until 30 minutes before, and I had already left my stuff at school, so I will start on Friday (they don't have it this wednesday). Instead, when I was about to go home, some kids from my class invited me to go play pool with them. It was fun. One of the girls is going to the US next year (somewhere in the Northeast). We ended up staying for like 3 hours, and also playing fooseball, and bowling. My skills in all have disintegrated. It's sad, but hopefully not permanent.

I also bought a new journal today. Me, the person who had the same diary for 10 years and wrote 10 pages, is already finished with one. But the one I bought is really good. It has like hammars and drills and saws and stuff on the cover. I like it. I'll post a picture of it sometime. Writing has turned out to me my way of getting things out, and not keeping them inside. I suppose it's good.

neděle, ledna 07, 2007

sobota, ledna 06, 2007

Exciting things

So in the past couple weeks, there are been two things from back home which are really exciting to me. The first is:

Becca has a car! Well, a truck to be exact, but it has 4 wheels, and goes (I hope...), and is one of the ones I like. So now I guess I really have to work on getting my license when I get back, something which it looks like BVSD is giving me one less week to do. They have [finally] decided to change the school schedule, and start school a little earlier (August 17th) and end at the end of May. And have 1st semester finals before Winter Break. Finally. People realizing what students have wanted since the beginning of time. No one likes to have 2 weeks off filled with studying. So when I get home, I have 14 more hours to drive, and I also have to learn how to drive stick, and then I can drive my truck to school!

The other exciting news I got today is about my PSAT scores. So I know I'm crazy in taking the PSAT and SAT here, but hey, it seems to be paying off. I got a selection index (combined score) is 230, out of 240. It's very exciting because I got all the math questions right (score of 80), 2 reading questions wrong (score of 78) and 3 writing questions wrong (score of 72). In all the sections, it said that I scored higher than 99% of all juniors, both in Colorado and nation-wide. Now I just hope that these scores continue when I take the SAT this month in Vienna. I'm a little worried about the essay, seeing as I haven't written anything formal in like 7 months, but hopefully it will go okay. It was weird because I got a text tonight from Dad saying, you there? call us. At first I was really scared, because our calls aren't supposed to be this week, and it sounded like maybe something bad happened. So I got on the computer and saw that it was about good news, not bad, thank g-d. So I talked to my parents tonight, and heard about my PSAT scores. I'm excited, and just hope now that they don't go down dramatically on the actual test.

čtvrtek, ledna 04, 2007

Pictures Updated

So all the pictures up now on my picasas are all organized into Albums and everything. Check the links below.

Contemplating the workings of my mind

So I am being very czech right now, and taking 3 days off from school for a simple head cold. Partly because tomorrow I am watching my host brother (who is also sick) for a couple hours, and partly because the last time I went to school and was a little sick, I was constantly hounded with questions about why I was at school when I was sick. I have decided that czechs take 2 weeks off for a sore throat. And go to the doctor for everything. I haven't been yet, because, hey, I just have a cold.

So my mind recently has been centered around college. Why, I don't know. I'm halfway through writing a really long post on my college search. I have decided that this is because I always need something to worry about. My family stuff is going really well, so now I need something else. But today I started thinking about my favorite movies. I haven't listed them in a long time. This all happened while watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I remember watching a couple times after getting it for a birthday or Hanukkah present. And it was awesome cuz I figured out that some of the channels can be changed into english. or hungarian, but I usually opt for english. So anyway, right now my list of favorite movies is (in no particular order):
Brokeback Mountain
Bend It Like Beckham
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Clockwork Orange
Edward Scissorhands
Dirty Dancing
Good Will Hunting
Music of the Heart
Nowhere in Africa
Goodbye Lenin

úterý, ledna 02, 2007

New Year's

Hey, so I got back yesterday from New Year's in Prague, and I have to say I had a great time. I left Brno at about 2 pm on the 30th and got to prague at about 4:30. I spent Saturday hanging out with everyone at various pubs (and McDonalds...they all like it a lot). McDonalds is a lot more expensive here than in the States. I have eaten it more here than I ever did in the US. Saturday we had about 12 people, mostly AFS students, but also one volunteer, two of her friends (another boy from the Czech Republic, and a girl from Serbia, both living in Vienna). The girl from Serbia was on exchange in Texas with the volunteer. She was really nice. There was also a girl from Portugal who was on exchange here last year. We stayed out until about 2:30 in the morning, and then walked back to our hostel. It was the first time I had ever stayed in a hostel. It was nice. We had 11 people in the hostel, in one dormitory room.

On the first, we took our stuff to Diego's host brother's apartment, and then split up until we would meet that night at another pub. I went with Mint (Thailand), Marta (Iceland), and Poom (Thailand). We went to a really cheap clothing store (I bought a jacket!), and then headed over to a Thai restaurant in Prague. On the way there we took a bunch of pictures along the river (In 2 days, I took about 300 pictures => that's what happens when you are with asians!). The Thai restaurant was really good (according to the Thais), even though the cook was Czech. We had a really good soup, pad thai, and a chicken dish. Whenever they give us Thai food, it is always found that I am the only one other than the Thais who like spicy food, so we commiserated about losing our tolerance for spicy food. Marta turned red, because she is not used to it. And we had lychee juice, which is really really good. That afternoon before we went to meet the others at the pub we had been at the night before, we went up to Prague castle. It had just turned dark, and it was really nice. You could see the whole city, with all the lights, and some of the fireworks. I have a bunch of pictures. We took various pictures through the whole castle. I have to say the time I have most ever felt like a tourist was when we took pictures with the guards in front of the castle. Just something about standing next to someone who doesn't move is a little weird.

After the castle, we went for dinner in the cheapest place we could find around Charle's Bridge, and then headed over to the pub after picking up two more Thais (one student and one guy who was here about 4 years ago, and is now interning in the main office) and the host brother of the girl. At the pub were about 25 or 30 people. There were a bunch of people I haven't seen since the first orientation and some I have never met before (they came late). Among the ones I haven't met before was a girl from New Zealand (Amelia) and another girl from Brazil (Julia). I ended up hanging out for awhile with Marta, Amelia and Tang (the guy from Thailand), talking really fast english (marta's english is really good, as is Tang's, who is majoring in English). At about 11 we headed into Vaclaske Namesti, with a million (I'm not sure how many...) of our closest friends. I didn't drink much all night (1 beer and 1 absinthe) and I'm glad. In our group there definitely were some people who were drunk. We spent about 3 hours in Namesti, acting relatively crazy, hugging each other and dancing to the music. There were a group of 4 germans who kind of attached themselves to our group, and I guess had a really good night with a german girl and the two other americans...

Anywho, that night ended at about 3, after trying to find a dance club, but concluding that they were all too expensive, heading back to the pub, and them closing on us. We tried to get home, but it turned out that one bus ran at 3:30, and the next at 7, because it was a holiday, but we finally made it home at about 5 after some walking and taxi's (hailed by girls...they got a cheaper fare).

Overall, it was probably the best new year's i've ever had, and definitely one to remember. It was weird when I got off the metro for the first time at the horse in vaclaske namesti, and there was a concert going on, and it hit me that I was in a major european city for new year's.