Living that Czech Life
Here is a timeline of my activities since I have arrived here in the Czech Republic. I apologize for this format but sense I don’t have internet at home I can’t spend much time on it.
- 27.08.2012 (12:30): Arrival at Prague Airport – I waited for a fellow Fulbrighter and we made our way to the Fulbright office together.
- 27.08.2012 (16:40): Train ride to Brno – This took about two and a half hours. Many of us made the journey with are two huge checked bags and a carry-on. Needless to say we took up three compartments and had to work together to get all of our bags off the train and through the station. We stayed at a 4 star hotel in Brno the second largest city in the CR.
- 27.08.2012(20:00): Dinner with ETA (English Teaching Assistantship) Fulbright Scholars – There are 10 ETAs who are placed in cities across the Czech Republic. I am the closest to Prague because Nymburk is only 45 minutes away by train. Some of the Fulbrighters are located in big cities while others are located in small towns.
- 27.08.2012 – 29.08.2012: ETA Orientation – We learned about various topics that should make our time as teaching assistants easier. We talked about professionalism, how to say no, and most important good teaching techniques. One of the highlights of this orientation was talking to a past Fulbright scholar who answered many of our questions about what to expect. The whole orientation was extremely helpful and it also served as an opportunity to spend time with the other Fulbrighters.
- 30.08.2012 (11:00): Meeting with mentors – My mentor’s name is Majka, or Marie, and she is the head of the English department at the school where I will be teaching. We talked about what was expected of me and of other administrative matters. I will be teaching 12 classes a week – 9 English classes and 3 PE classes. I will work with most of the English teachers on a weekly basis and will be working will all grade levels from ages 11 to 19.
- 30.08.2012 (19:00): Arrival in Nymburk – Nymburk is a small town with a population of around 15,000. It is famous for its sports center and specifically it is home to the national basketball champions. I live at what used to be the headquarters for the communist party in an office building. I live in the one apartment in the whole building but there is a doorman/security guard that lives in the building also so the place is very secure at night. I say apartment but it is really more like a penthouse studio. Penthouse because it is on the top floor overlooking a park and Nymburk and studio because it is basically a large room with bed, couch, desk and wardrobe in one part and a kitchen area in another. The bathroom also serves as a laundry room as well.
- 30.08.2012 (20:00): Dinner with Majka and Slavak (my colleagues) and their spouses – I found out that everyone was really excited that I played basketball. Apparently there is a semi-pro women’s basketball team that they want me to play for. I wouldn’t get paid but I would have free access to the sports facility and a new pair of shoes. There are two leagues – one travels all over the Czech Republic and the other just plays games around the Central Bohemia region. I don’t know if I will play or night but depending on the commitment I just might! It seems like a great way to see the country and to meet girls my age. I hope I can keep up I have no idea what to expect.
- 31.08.2012 (8:00): Meeting with English and PE teachers from Gymnasium (my school). We then took a teacher/staff photo in which I was placed dead center in between the headmaster and my mentor. Everyone seemed really nice and welcoming. I got a brief tour of the school and my own key and code. I am here now using the internet.
- 31.08.2012 (10:00): Running Errands – I went with my mentor and opened a Czech bank account, made an appointment with the foreign police, and went to the post office. I also went with my mentor and her husband to Tesco in a nearby town. The school went to a great length to make sure that my flat was comfortable. They supplied me with everything from pots to plants to paper. They even managed to add little decorative touches around my room. I am still in the process of decorating but I will post pictures soon. At Tesco I got a few household things I needed and food. In a lot of these stores it is BYOB (bring your own bag). Earlier in the day I went to the grocery store and bought a large amount of food which I ended up having to carry in my arms back to my flat (not a pretty sight especially because my shopping list included pickles, olive oil, spices, pastas, and various drinks).
- 31.08.2012 (18:00): Dinner with Májka and Zanek – I learned how to cook Bramboráčky (potato pancakes), gulaš and make saláty ( salad).
. Everything was really good and it was very interesting to be in a Czech household for the first time. When I entered, I removed my shoes and was given slippers to wear around the house. I was offered beer throughout my stay and encouraged to eat as much as I wanted. They were very hospitable as we talked about various topics as we cooked, ate, and relaxed. I am embarrassed at how much Czech I have forgotten but with Majka and her husband I began to practice again. I want to get a Czech tutor as soon as possible.
- 31.08.2012 – Happy birthday Auntie Brenda! (I tried to text you from my Czech phone but it didn’t go through.) Speaking of communicating, I will have Internet at home within the next week and I hope that I will be able to post more often because of it. If you click the link at the bottom of the page you can receive an email when I update my blog.
- 01.09.2012 – Relaxing at home: This morning I slept in and worked on making my room more comfortable. I also made food (pasta) on my cooker and finished up my laundry. There was a traditional Czech ball last night in my building that kept me up past midnight because of the brass instruments. However, it was quite an enjoyable experience. Later today I am supposed to go on a 14-mile (round trip) bike ride to a nearby town. We’ll see how that goes! Something tells me I’m going to be really sore tomorrow morning.
Overall everything has been really wonderful so far. When I studied abroad last time I only briefly experienced the Czech culture. As I look back on my semester abroad, I think that it was more of a European experience based in Prague. I realized this week that living in a hotel with other Americans really limited my contact with Czechs. I will make sure that this time I will be really integrated into the Czech way of life. For the next 10 months, I will be teaching, playing, cooking, eating, exploring, and learning more about myself. I feel very blessed to have been given this opportunity and I will do my best to make the most of it.