I’m sure when classes start I won’t have enough time to write blog entries after every thing I do. Also, there probably won’t be as many new, exciting things happening every day to write about. But there are, now, and I like writing about them, so I’m doing it.
Got up this morning and went for a run. It was nice, although I felt a bit out of place, and people were looking at me funny. Silly Americansky, all health-consciousky. I ran away from downtown on a main street near the Kolej; I haven’t ventured away from downtown yet, only toward it. So that was cool; there are a lot of little shops and groceries and cafes and pubs — and old Czech men drinking beer on the pub patios at 9:15 in the morning.
I ate breakfast at the dorm again, and went to the internet cafe across the street to activate my AIFS debit card. Gmail wasn’t working, so I couldn’t check my email. Then I took a shower, and Kathryn and I decided to venture down to Wenceslas Square and Tesco for groceries and little things for the apartment. We hopped a tram down there, and I thought we would have to get off at a certain stop to catch the Metro, but we got off there and there was Tesco!! So we ventured all over the 5-story consumerist hellhole, buying can openers and cleaning supplies and blankets and towels and groceries. I got a good week’s worth of food — apples, bananas, rice, whole wheat pasta (once I found the health food section), tomato sauce, baked beans (I couldn’t find black beans!), bread, turkey, cheese, bottled water — for 350kc (less than $20). What a deal. And it was only a mildly harrowing experience. (See Appendix A.)
We went down to campus today for an orientation meeting. It basically consisted of Marketa reading us everything that was in the literature they gave us when we were accepted to the program. But we saw the building where our classes will be, and it gave us an excuse to be downtown. After the meeting, my friends wanted to look at cell phones, so we went to the Oskar store and got the scoop. I’m still not convinced I’ll need one, so we’ll see how this week plays out once everyone else gets theirs. We walked around a bit and tried to find a place to sit down and eat; we ended up at a weird fast-food wrap place. I don’t remember the name, but they served a bunch of different types of wraps, like Greek and Thai and Japanese and Italian and Norwegian and Dutch and French. So I had a Thai wrap with chicken and good Thai dressing and lettuce and tomato. Not very Czech, but cheap and good. Then we decided we wanted a bar and some beer (because I hadn’t had any yet and it was like 7:00!!!), so we walked to Mala Strana, where none of us had hung out, and found this awesome place called U Stkaklksdf Cafe. They had 27kc (about $1.10) pints of Pilsner Urquell, so we hung out there, and it turned out it had free WiFi, and I also happened to have my computer in my backpack because I was afraid of thieves taking it while we were gone, so I passed it around and we all checked on class schedules, etc.
There were a couple of other American-looking girls in there, so we talked to them and it turned out they were from American University, doing the FAMU program, living in the dorm next door to the cafe — the dorm that Teddy is living in! So I asked if they knew him; they did, and he was a good friend of one of them. So the one girl said she would tell him she saw me, but he was out or whatever. But about a half hour later, who walked in but TEDDY!!! It was crazy — I haven’t seen him since we were like 11! So we caught up, talked about what we had been doing in the past 10 years, talked about his program and its director, who was a Czech ex-pat in the US for a while, and came back after communism and now lives at the Kolej and runs this program. So it was incredibly good to see him, just cool to see a formerly-friendly face in a crazy place halfway across the globe from where you last saw each other.
So, we got a bit rowdy at the bar after our 3rd round, and were getting kind of obnoxious, so we left a big tip for the American-friendly Czech bartender, walked back up the hill to our dorm and hung out in the lobby a bit. A lot of people were around tonight, probably feeling like they should be social because school is starting or something. We have an orientation for our intensive language course at 10:00 tomorrow morning, and then class after that. I’m excited to get started, have school, learn, have some structure and some more things to occupy my time. It’s been nice to hang out, but it will be ever better to get back to classes, learning, intellectual stimulation. And beers between classes, of course. Most of my classes are in the morning and the late afternoon, so I will have lots of time to kill at cafes and pubs and doing work during the day. I can’t wait.
So, I had plugged my computer in with my Czech adaptor for the first time when I started writing, and there were weird little blips on my screen. I felt the adaptor and it was really hot, so I unplugged it and now it kind of smells like burning. This is not a good sign. My Pod is also dying, so I was hoping to charge that, too. I should probably figure out what is going on, if I need some kind of transformer or something. I wonder how I do that. . .call 1-800-APPLE? Oh, wait. I’m in Eastern Europe. That won’t be possible. Guess I should conserve battery, then, for now.
Therefore, time for bed. Gonna get up and shower and eat breakfast so I hopefully have enough time to walk down the hill and across the bridge to class. That will be nice.
Things that are similar between Tesco in Praha and Giant Eagle in Squirrel Hill:
1. Elderly Eastern European people speaking Eastern European languages with anger.
2. More people than the aisles can comfortably accommodate.
3. Not enough cashiers.
4. Lines at the deli.
5. Braeburn apples (my favorite).
6. A very rushed and frenetic atmosphere.
Things that are different at Tesco in Praha than at Giant Eagle in Squirrel Hill:
1. Prices listed in Crowns instead of US Dollars (this is a bridgeable gap, because I am a mental math star).
2. Clerks at the deli counter who speak English; in Praha, one must point to the type of cheese one wants and then nod when the clerk has put enough of said cheese on the scale, or one must try to pronounce the type of meat one wants and be corrected by the clerk, but with a smile.)
3. The price of Braeburn apples (my favorite) — 16kc per kilo, compared with $1.69 per pound.
4. The presence of delicious dark chocolate candy bars for 9kc.
5. A little counter by the produce that you have to take your produce to, where a man weighs it and puts a sticker on it for checkout ease.