Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vietnamese Propaganda

So in my quest to do something new in Prague each week, I went to one of the National Galleries in Prague to see an exhibit of Vietnamese Propaganda posters. The exhibit was incredibly powerful, moving, and horrendous all at the same time. One poster had a picture of children playing near a lake with a huge soldier and tank guarding them. It was a fascinating look into the images that were prevalent in Vietnam during the war. I'm definitely intrigued to learn more about the war and the experience of Vietnamese people during that time. Perhaps a trip to Vietnam will be in order...

Along with the exhibit, we were able to go through the rest of the gallery. Little did we know (by we, I mean my friends Laura and Aaron) that the gallery was 6 floors chalk full of amazing art! We only made it about halfway through the gallery before it closed, but plan to return. We saw some amazing pieces by many famous artists as well some some interesting Czech modern art.

Before our adventure to the museum, I wandered around a bit on the gorgeous (though cold) day. A breathtaking view of the Prague Castle and the Charles really doesn't get old!

A cold day, but still TONS of tourists on the bridge....

New look...

So I decided to spruce up the site a bit and add a few pictures. I look these pictures last weekend on a glorious walk through Letna park which overlooks the city.
The Prague Castle through the trees of Letna park.

The metronome in Letna park. The metronome is in the place where a statue of Stalin used to stand but came down after the Velvet Revolution.

A view of Charles Bridge...
One more view of the castle....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Have you got a fizzy drink?

So, the company I work for is British and thus we teach British English. It's not all that different really, but the big differences I've come across and keep tripping over are entertaining. I've found myself saying them in normal life - which is even more entertaining! I've mostly started writing colours and favourite with the requisite extra "u". I'm turning British! Which isn't a bad thing....just funny.

So, what are the differences I'm noticing? Well, one of my favourites (lol) is fizzy drink instead of soda. It just sounds funny. But, it's entertaining to have the kids say it. They like saying fizzy. Next, pronunciation of tomato (think of the say tomato, i say tomato). I get corrected often by my kids on that one!

Lately, I've been teaching the phrases "have you got any....?" and "I've/he/she have/has got...." In the middle of lessons, I find myself saying "do you have any ...?" and notice the kids look at me like I've gone mad. Then I realize they don't understand my "American" way. I'm starting to get the hang of it!

In teaching school subjects, I found the British call Math - Maths. Now, this is hard for Czechs to say because they don't have a "th" sound so it's always hard. But I must admit, Maths is really hard to say as a native speaker too! I asked my British friend and he said they say "Maffs" to get around the challenges of Maths. I'm not envisioning making that a habit!

Lastly, teaching time is fun. All this half past and 10 to business is fun. It's not all that different, but I would never say in real life that it was ten past three. It's 3:10! At least I'm not teaching military time, that would just get even more confusing, even though that's what the Czech's use.

Never a dull day around here...

Mullets and Elmer Fudd hats

Ever since arriving in Prague now almost 5 months ago (holy crap!), I have been amazed and excited by the massive range of mullets in this country. It is absolutely amazing, astonishing, and entertaining. They come in all shapes and sizes - young, old, male, female. You name it, I've seen it. Just another fun quirk that makes me love the Czech Republic.

Winter has brought more head adornment as there are many styles of hats around here. Some of my favorites include the ones that look like hair but aren't. They come in a variety of colours (wow, I really am turning British as typing colours that way was totally normal!) from hot pink to white! I have done many a double-take wondering if a hat was actually someone's hair! My favorite head topping comes in the form of faux (or maybe real) fur hats circa Elmer Fudd. They are amazing and mostly worn by old men (as you'd probably imagine). Anyway, they are heavenly and I kinda want to get one.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Drifting and dreaming

So I realized I haven't been writing much lately. So, what have I been up to? Hmm, not much really. Its funny, as my life is becoming pretty "normal." I get up, go to work, run errands, hit the gym, hang out with friends, read, relax, etc. Now, some of that hanging with friends time is exploring new parts of Prague or checking out places we've been wanting to visit. This past Saturday for example, a group of friends met for brunch at this amazing place that serves American style breakfast which is hard to find here. We splurged on fantastic eggs, bacon, eggs, and real maple syrup! In the stores, real maple syrup costs around $20, so it's definitely a treat! We then walked through beautiful Letna park and enjoyed the views of the city. We finally made our way to St. Norbert Monastery and enjoyed some of the best beer in Prague. It was a pretty fabulous day!

I've also joined a gym and started spinning about 4 times a week. I really enjoy the work outs and I have found that I learned my numbers (at least 1-5) from class! ;) The other day I went into a bakery and was able to order some bread and a pastry without pointing or holding up fingers. This is progress!

I find a lot of my time, I spend dreaming about other places to travel to. So, to balance those dreams, I have decided to make it a goal to do at least one new thing in Prague each week. This week, I went to the Peach Pit. It's a bar about 3 blocks from my house that is modeled after the Peach Pit diner from Beverly Hills 90210. Basically, it's hilarious, but also a fun place to hang out! I also have a huge list of museums and churches I haven't been inside yet, so I'll be working on going to a few of those these next few weeks. I love the active learning that goes along with exploring a new city and all that it has to offer. I feel each week I have a better understanding of this city...and yet, still so much to learn!

In my dreaming of travel, I am mostly dreaming of my trip to Turkey in March. My friend Katrina and I will go there for our spring break, and we're in the research phase of figuring out where we all want to go and what we all want to see! Visiting Turkey has been of high interest for me for the past few years, so I couldn't be more excited to be going!

Lots of fun dreaming, planning, and enjoying the days around here!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Does it ever get old?

One of my close friends sent me a card the other day and in it, she said she loved looking at all my pictures. Then she asked, "Does it ever get old?" I really like that question! And before I moved here, I had hoped I wouldn't take anything for granted or "let things get old." I feel good that it hasn't gotten to that point yet. There's still so much I want to see and do!

I was honestly just thinking about that the other day as I crossed the Vlatava River on one of the many trams I take in a day and caught a glimpse of the Prague Castle. It is still really cool to see! My first weeks and months here, I would always strategize to get on the side of the tram with the view. I admit, I don't always do that now, but I do try to look around as much as possible. On the tram the other day, I happened to look out and there it was. At first, it seemed so normal to me. Then I stepped back in my head and thought - damn, I really do live here! So, it is getting a bit more normal, but it certainly does not get old!

On that topic, today I was in one of my schools which happens to be near the Prague Castle. I looked out the window as I packed up my stuff to leave and looked out the window. There was the castle in plain view. I honestly hadn't even noticed you could see it from this particular classroom. Perhaps I stood differently today than other days. Who knows - but it absolutely made me smile. I get to teach English and work with (generally) awesome kids and look at the Prague Castle. What a cool life! It certainly isn't getting old...and I love it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Excuse me, did you order the chicken or the skin?

So, I started my first Czech lessons today, and let me just tell you, this is going to be an uphill battle! I am taking private lessons, but I am considering switching to a class, since my Czech is incredibly remedial. Anyway, my teacher, who's name is Jarda, went through numbers, days, months, and a few phrases with me to get me started. When we got to the part about ordering in a restaurant, he was trying to get me to say "I'd like the chicken." Apparently, I couldn't pronounce it right and was saying "I'd like the skin." And while many Czech menus have interesting items and translations, I'm pretty sure skin isn't on the menu. Which reminds me, last night we went out to meet some of the new teachers with our company. There was a rabbit dish that was translated as featuring "rabbit tight." Not sure what part of the body that comes from! Another teacher told a story about eating at another restaurant and their menu had listed "ground human meat." Needless to say, he didn't try it!

Back to Czech lessons...there are many sounds in the Czech language that are really difficult to pronounce. My favorite is also that many words have very few vowels, so often just looking at the word and thinking of how to pronounce it hurts my head! This is going to be an interesting adventure. I am not aiming to be conversational in Czech, but I would like to be able to order and get around a restaurant and the grocery store a little easier. We shall see how this goes...