Had a good day today — and it might not be over. I made the mistake of telling my friends I felt like going out tonight (after I had a few drinks with dinner) and although I’m not exactly feelin it anymore, they might hold me to it! Considering I haven’t been out to a club yet since I’ve been here. . .it probably won’t kill me. For right now, busier is better. I keep saying that.
I woke up semi-early and Laura and I got all dressed up, dried our hair, and went downtown to the Communist Museum. It wasn’t as amazingly cool as I expected, but there was some interesting old propaganda there, lots of information and cool pictures. Really neat old statues and busts of Lenin and Marx and Stalin, old posters, uniforms, a replica of a “grocery store.” It paints a realistic picture of life here under communism; definitely not all rose-colored, lots of oppression and strife. They also showed this short video depicting Czech history from 1969-1989 (Soviet invasion-Velvet Revolution) and it was pretty nuts to see footage from the Revolution, Wenceslas Square, where I walk every day, full of mobs of protesters, people being beaten by cops and plain-clothes cops, people beating them back. That happened like 15 years ago. The people in that footage are probably still around here, doing new jobs now, living in this quickly-turned-capitalist society. It’s just crazy to think about “history” happening such a short time ago. So, I was definitely glad I went there and learned a bit about that. I hope to learn more about it this semester.
We ventured to the Vietnamese Market next, on the directions some girl on the tram gave Laura when Laura asked her where she bought her clothes. We rode the Red Line a bit further from downtown, and took a bus to this crazy market full of kiosks selling cheap Eurotrash clothes and shoes, cheap produce (kind of the Strip District of Praha, I think), little trinkets, etc. We also found a thrift store, where I got a great little boys’ terry polo shirt that is so soft, and a paisley/floral-print mini-dress from the 70s that will look awesome with jeans or my purple pants — all for 90kc. It was strange shopping there though, being so obviously Amercian; people really think Americans have a ton of money here. Even our Czech teacher — the other day when she was taking us on a walk around some off-the-beaten-path parts of Old Town, we asked her how expensive a restaurant was and she said, “Well, it is expensive for the Czechs, but not expensive for you.” That is a very common conception here: Westerner = rich, and I guess it isn’t that far off. But there were women in there trying on dress suits and nice clothes, looking at them in the mirrors, trying to figure out which ones to get. And we were just browsing the racks, picking out some cool-looking-vintage finds, and handing over the korunas. I mean, I always feel weird thrifting in America — feeling kind of guilty for taking the cheap clothes away from other people who might not be able to afford anything more expensive, when I can afford it. Another level to the interplay of capitalism in our globalised society, I suppose. But the market wasn’t very touristy, and felt like the first authentic Czech experience I’ve had.
Then it was time for class, which went really well today. I feel like I’m getting it, picking things up, and learning. We got out early today so we could go on this boar cruise that the University had arranged for us. I was kind of skeptical at first — it had the connotation of 3 hours of awkward forced socialization — but it turned out to be really fun. A bunch of us dressed up to make it more fun, and we all walked down together and got on the same boat. We got a shot of some cinnamon schnapps when we got on the boat, a nice buffet dinner of everything from Czech food to chicken fingers, and 2 drinks on the house. We all went up to the roof after we ate and continued drinking; Bekka bought me a glass of wine so I’d keep drinking with her and she wouldn’t be the only tipsy one. It was quite nice to ride up and down the Vltava and see more of Prague, hang out with some new friends, drink some Staropramen and some wine.
We caught a tram up to the Kolej now and I’m chillin in the suite. So, we’ll see where the spirit leads for this evening. . .