Škola Bydlí!

It is cold in Praha! I just took an irresponsibly long shower, because reading in bed under my one blanket didn’t warm me up enough.

I am now almost in the full swing of classes — my Post-1989 Film class doesn’t start until 4 October, so I only have 4 to worry about until then.

Monday was the best day I have had here. I absolutely needed to start classes. I needed the intellectual stimulation, the sense of purpose, the feeling of being here instead of visiting, instead of being here in transit-only. I also needed the time to myself; I had time to kill between classes and no friends in sight, so I found a Starbucks-ey cafe (see the attempt at nonfiction I wrote about it, below) and chilled out by myself; I was done with classes, again, with no friends around, so I had to walk home through the Castle by myself, which was glorious. So, I have felt refreshed, a new lease of my existence here, and a positive feeling for the rest of the term.

My classes are good. I have Modern Czech and Central European History with a professor named Jan (surprise, surprise), who is quirky and nerdy and cool. The class will be boring, one of those where you show up twice a week at 8:30, listen to the lecture, take 2 exams, and you’ve earned 3 credits. I also have Czech Language for Everyday Use, with a guy named Jíři, which is pretty self-explanatory. I am also taking a course on Alternative Lifestyles/Music/Literature/Art/Film/Culture, which is going to be amazing. The teacher is this hippie-dippy, post-punk, resistance Czech lady who is married to an American. She was in a punk band in the 80s, and when we arrived for class on Monday, she said, “Well, the weather is nice and I feel that we should use it. So we will get on Tram 17, ride 3 stops, get off, climb the stairs to Vyšhrad, go to a pub, get a few drinks and get to know each other.” So we did all of those things, and after our beers at this Rastafarian/Czech bar (they had paintings of Bob Marley on the walls) on the outskirts of town, we sat in a garden and she read us Czech fairy tales. She wants to take us on trips to at least one concert, art exhibit, film, pub, and literary cafe.

On Tuesdays, I have a Literature class on the work of Franz Kafka and MIlan Kundera; if some of the people who were there this week drop it, we will be good to go, because there are far too many at this point. It will be challenging, but a welcome challenge, for me. The professor is the head of the Czech and Comparative Literature Department at Karlov; he taught at Brown in the States for 4 years. He has a very interesting halting, inhaling, rigid, heavily-accented manner of speaking English; when he speaks in Czech, like asides to his secretary, his entire voice changes into a beautiful, singsong-ey, fluid one. Very interesting. Our class is in his office, and he told us we can bring food or drinks for class; beer is okay, but probably not vodka. And then I also have my film class on Tuesdays, but there was a sign on the door this week telling us not to come back until the 4th.

So I found a few cool little English-language bookstores in Old Town after Kafka/Kundera class. Anagram had nice clerks and a good, independent bookstore feel (with prices to match). Big Ben had a more sterile atmosphere, but lower prices, and it packs such treasures as The New York Times and Rolling Stone, so that was a nice stop, too. I got The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Kafka’s Complete Short Stories, containing “The Metamorphosis,” which make up my reading assignment for next week. I’m about 100 pages into the Unbearable Lightness and I absolutely love it. It is quite fantastic.

I ended up drinking a bottle of wine with Tyler and Mike last night, and then finding a cool little restaurant near the castle to have dinner. We went to the Hanging Coffee after that, and I had a really great time just hanging out, got to chat with Teddy and bit and some of his AU friends. Starting classes has given me an entirely new outlook on being here; it has been refreshing beyond belief.

I ventured out to do laundry yesterday at Laundry Kings. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, due to other people’s horrifying laundry experiences here, but I did get on the #15 tram going the wrong direction, so I had to get off at the end of the line and wait for one coming the other way. I did it myself, American-style, instead of sending it out, and paid 250kc for 2 washers and 1 dryer. I washed pretty much all the clothes I brought here. So, that isn’t too bad.

Went to Delvita, the Whole Foods Market of Prague (overpriced, crowded, obnoxious, yuck — I’m sticking to Tesco) on Monday and picked up a few things, including a 55kc bottle of bilé vino, which I drank with Mike while we watched Being John Malkovich. A good film, nice to drink some surprisingly good cheap wine and just spend a night in.

I am going to dry my hair, eat a sandwich, bundle up in a scarf, and venture out to find a cafe for the afternoon. I have a Kundera novel to read and Czech verbs to study. I think I will check out Kava Kava Kava, a little place in Simchov. I am still searching for my cafe. Then I am meeting some friends for dinner at Country Life, the vegetarian, healthy, organic buffet restaurant in Old Town. Delicious.

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