Prague. . .Czech it Out!

Two entries in one day? I must need more to occupy my time. I guess technically this entry will be tomorrow’s, since it is after midnight. But, still.

Today was a good day. I am still feeling culture shocked, pretty hardcore. So, in order to combat that, I tried to keep going today — even when I wanted to crawl in bed and take a nap, I forced myself on a Tram, walked across the Vlatva, and explored Praha 1.

Our “tour” was nice — it started with yet another traditional Czech meal at a brewery! We rode the 23 Tram downtown to it; we had their good microbrew pilsner, a delicious vegetable and potato soup, an entree of chicken with mushroom cream sauce, cabbage with dressing, and little round swirly tater-tots that had mashed potatoes inside, and dessert of an apple/rasin/walnut big kolachi thing. Also paid for by AIFS. . .or, I guess, by our program fees. But it feels like a free meal.

We walked to the AIFS office after that, on Wencesclas Square (as in, Good King looked out, on the feast of Stephen” — he’s the Patron Saint of the CZ, apparently), then went to Tesco, where we will do our grocery shopping, then back to the Post Office on the Square. We hopped the Metro to check out “Prague’s Only Unique Czech-American Laundromat,” Laundry Kings, where it is suggested we wash our clothes. Then back on the tram, back to the Kolej.

I kind of wanted to take a nap at this point in the day; I was feeling quite overwhelmed, wondering whether or not I’d ever be able to get back to the places I’d just been, wondering how I’d ever get everything done I’d need to do for school, life, etc in this crazy city that I don’t understand yet. When I got back to my room, however, I learned that my suitemates’ room had been broken into, and the one girl’s brand new, $2,000 Apple laptop had been stolen. I kind of freaked out, because they had told me earlier at the brewery that they couldn’t get our front door, the one that opens into the main hallway, locked, but both our room doors were locked, so they weren’t worried. I asked them if they had used their key to lock the door, just like when they unlock it; they hadn’t thought of that, so they hadn’t tried it. So someone had walked through that open main door, apparently, and ducked around the corner to their room, which you can’t see from the hall if you were walking by, and broke down their door. Pretty creepy. We figured someone had to have known she had the computer in there; she had it sitting on top of the wardrobe, in view, I suppose, of someone who looked into the window. But it still doesn’t make sense that someone would break into only that room, only take that laptop, not touch anything in the unlocked wardrobes in the hallway. I don’t know. I know that we will lock the doors from now on.

After hearing this news, I knew if I stopped doing things I would most likely break down, so I joined a large group that was going back down to Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske namesti, for the lay person, or the Czech-speaking person). I knocked on Zac’s door to see if he wanted to come, and by the time he came out, everyone else was gone. So we decided to venture downtown anyway, and just fend for ourselves. We got on a Tram and rode to the bottom of the hill, right before the river, and then walked across on most Legii (Legii Bridge, for the layperson) to Wenceslas Square. We found a cool internet cafe on the second floor of a wine bar, and wrote emails and checked our course registration. I am enrolled in 3 classes and am on the waiting list for 3 more, so we’ll see how it works out.

Then we decided to go to Old Town (Stare Mesto) to check out the square and some of the old castle-like buildings. It was pretty awesome to walk through there, especially after only seeing it on TV and in pictures. Pretty incredible. So we walked around a bit, looked at Russian dolls of Bill Clinton and Dubya, and went to find a cafe Zac had seen in his tour book. We found it, and ducked into the dimly lit, quiet, totally chill little bar for 30kc tall glasses of Pilsner Urquell. The environment was pretty much perfect, the waitress/bartender was really cute and laughed at us trying to speak Czech, and it was almost empty. So after that, we walked toward home through New Town (Nove Mesto) and found another bar — one that is supposedly frequented by American ex-patriates. So we went there; I had a pint of Staropramen, and a big plate of nachos (yes, that’s right, nachos in Prague. Lay off — the last 2 meals I’ve eaten have been huge tradition Czech fare!). Then we caught a tram and came home. It was just a really good, relaxed evening that made me feel like I have a handle on this city, or am at least starting to get one. I navigated, rode public transport, found good beer, and got home safely. And really, what more do you need?

Talked to Mom and Dad for a bit — I emailed them my number here and they called my room. It was good to talk to them; I haven’t talked to them since I’ve gotten to Praha.

I just ate some of the cheese I bought in London. Gross, because it rode through a 7-hour bus ride in my suitcase at the bottom of the bus. But it tasted all right.

Lots more people around tonight at the Kolej. I think a few more programs moved in today. I’m beat. I have to keep justifying to myself that it’s okay if I don’t go out to clubs or bars with people all the time. I mean, I wouldn’t have fun doing that at home, so why should I do it here? I mean, I’m in Prague, but that doesn’t mean I have to party all the time; if I’d be happier just chilling out and reading or writing, that’s okay, right? I have to keep telling myself it is. I mean, I spent like 12 hours today with people, being social! I’m allowed to have some alone time, I think. I don’t know. I’m realizing that I don’t really remember how to be me, in a normal situation — I don’t remember how I am socially, what I like to do when I am able to choose how to occupy my time, that kind of thing, since I lived on YouthWorks’ schedule for the past 3 months. So now, I have to remember how to be me again, what I really do like to do, and also try to balance that with the other-universe that is a study abroad semester, the strange social milieus that exist there, etc. But it’s cool. I’ll figure it out. And I’m having fun. I’m enjoying myself! So how can that be bad? It can’t be. So there. crazy, overanalyzing brain.

Going to sleep.

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