Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

So, I taught all my kids this song (at least the first verse depending on their ages). They love it and now it's perpetually stuck in my head! Not a bad thing. ;)

I wanted to write and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! My travel plans changed, due to some issues with my travel buddies. Their vistors visas expired this week and thus are not able to leave the country until their work visas come in (sometime in the next month or so). We had thought we found a way around it, but sadly the necessary paperwork didn't come in time for our adventure. We were all bummed, but realized it meant we were to visit this amazing part of the world another time. We are tentatively planning to go this summer instead. :)

Now, I am lucky enough to go to Germany to see family there for Christmas. I leave tomorrow and return to Prague on the 29th so I will be here for New Years. Apparently, Prague is pretty well known and fun for New Years, so that should be interesting. I'm not really sure what we'll do, but I'm sure it'll be nice! In the meantime, it's been great to have some down time to do a few touristy things here I haven't done before as well as catch up on sleep, exercise, and reading. I read an entire book over the last two days. I've also enjoyed going to spinning class and having lazy days. I feel very relaxed! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Where does time go?

I can't believe it's December 11, 2010, and I'm living in Prague! A year ago, I was living in Iowa with my parents trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was enjoying being back in Iowa and spending time with friends and family I didn't see as often living in Wyoming. I was also applying for teaching jobs and a neat opportunity came along (thanks to a good friend) in Berkeley, CA, so I applied. I ended up facing a decision: move to the Czech Republic or Berkeley. I chose Berkeley and was able to work it out so I could move to Prague in the fall. I didn't set out for this or even plan where I would end up overseas. I can't believe how well things have panned out!

Last night over dinner, I was talking with friends about the balance of planning things out and just going with the flow. While I'm all about planning, I strongly believe we have to be open to the plans changing at any time. If I hadn't been open to the plan changing, would I have applied to work at UC Berkeley? And if I hadn't done that, I would have never met the amazing people I had the privilege of working with there. Life is funny...

I'm not opposed to plans either, and I think its a good idea to have plans and goals and work towards them. However, I have learned a valuable lesson this past year - be open to the twists and turns this world throws at you. You never know where they will take you, who you will meet, or how your life will be changed because of them.

I think often of all the random events in my life that have brought amazing experiences and people into my life. One or two different decisions, and different people and experiences would be in my life instead of others. It's fascinating to think about. It also makes me incredibly grateful for those amazing people who are in my life.

Another major thing I have learned this year is this - make the most of every day and every experience. That also means finding balance and time to take care of yourself, but it means saying yes more than saying no, trying something even if it scares the crap out of you, and overall, just daring to do something new. It's been an amazing year...I'm so incredibly grateful to be here, living this life - especially enjoying those fun twists along the way!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wanna see me teach?

So, the company I work for - Wattsenglish - is very technology focused. We have our lessons videotaped throughout the year so parents can see our lessons. We also do a lot of demos and let the parents watch the demo videos with their kids so they can decide if they want lessons that way.

A lot of people have asked questions about what my classes are like. So, I'm sharing my videos with you. Just go to this site: and select my name (should be near the top). The website will be in Czech but it may ask you to put in a username and password. The username is Wattsenglish and the password is 1984. Happy viewing...and don't laugh too hard!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weihnachtsmarkt - Dresden

So, I went to Dresden with some friends for the Weihnachtsmarkt - Christmas Market. Now, I'm not one to be totally head over heels excited for Christmas - but this was AMAZING!!! Words really can't describe it, so I took a ton of pictures and a few videos for you to check out..

Dresden is a fascinating city that was mostly destroyed during World War II. Since the fall of communism, many of the historic buildings have been rebuilt from rubble. It's incredible to see a town re-created in just 20 years!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What do you want to know?

Thank you all for reading. I'm not always sure what to write, so if there's anything you want to know about, please write a note in comments and I'll write about it. ;)

For now I'll share a funny story - I went back to the doctor on Monday, because I am still sick. :( I saw him for about 5 minutes and got a prescription to clear up the upper respiratory infection I have going on. He also gave me "sick papers" which stated I should stay home from work for 10 days. As I walked out, I realized I had another question for him, so I went back into his office. Where he had just lit up a cigarette - seriously, this guy needs a doctor more than me! Anyway, he explained that he thinks I should be home for 10 days but if I want to go to work sooner, I can go back to him to get cleared for work again. So, I've been home the last two days and will go back to the doctor in the morning to try to get cleared for work. Why you might ask? Well, sick leave works a bit differently here than in the US. The first 3 days you are sick are unpaid. After that, you only get 60% of your salary. So, its a big pay cut to be sick. Not that this is the only reason to stay home, but it is significant. I am feeling better and hope to be back up to full speed soon.

Regret me not

I've been thinking a lot about regret lately. We all have moments in our lives we regret, but we find a way to deal with that regret and move forward. We learn from regret and attempt to not make the same mistakes again. There are no guarantees however.

The other part of regret is forgiveness. We seek the forgiveness of those we have hurt, but we also need to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made. I think I'm pretty good at admitting when I'm wrong and apologizing to those I've hurt. But I'm not good at all at forgiving myself. I put way too much pressure on myself to be perfect.

But the truth is I'm not perfect. I am here partly because of the regrets of my past. I regret not spending more time in Germany growing up and truly learning the language. I regret not studying abroad. These two things are huge influences into why I'm currently living in Prague. I'm grateful I'm here now and having this experience.

Some people have told me that I'm inspiring for going out and doing this. For selling most everything I own and starting a totally new chapter in my life. To those people, I do say thank you. But I also say - what's stopping you from doing the same? Ok, so maybe living overseas isn't your dream - but what is your dream? What's stopping you from living it?

I am not perfect. And this experience is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. There have been severe ups and downs. I have moments where I just want to go home and be around my friends and family and things that are familiar. But as much as I want that - I want to be here just a little bit more. So here I stay. And for who knows how long. It's not an easy thing - but it's a choice I make each day. Otherwise, it truly would not be worth being here. Life is too short to not be doing what you really want to be doing.


I've uploaded pictures to Picasa about recent adventures:

The Karlstejn folder is from a visit to the Karlstejn castle (about 45 minutes from Prague). It was the castle of King Charles and was built in 935.

Cesky Krumlov is a medieval city in southern Czech Republic. The oldest Baroque theater in the world is there (and we snuck in with a senior citizen tour to see it). Also the castle is nearly 1000 years old! It was a beautiful city to wander through!

The november folder contains pictures from seeing the opera Rigoletto in the State Opera House as well as going to some Christmas Markets and the Christmas tree lighting. There are also some videos of music around the city.