Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dobrý den, jsem ospalý!

The past few days have been an absolute whirlwind! Seriously. It feels like I’ve been here way longer than four days. I've already learned so much and feel completely comfortable in this city. It’s amazing!

I’m all settled into my apartment now and feel right at home. My first day in Prague, my roommate, Haley, and I actually found the mall and picked up a few things. Then we had a USAC lunch and a tour of the school. We bought groceries and mainly got settled in. Everyone learned how to get to each other’s different buildings in the city and checked out the other apartments. I’m definitely glad I got the apartment I did. It’s so cool and in the perfect location. We also had orientation and started our first day of semi-school on Monday. Our actual classes don’t start until February 2nd but for now we are in an intensive language course to learn more of the Czech language. I’m actually really enjoying it. Everyone said that Czech is such a hard language- and it kind of is. There are tons of weird sounds that we don’t have in English. But for some reason I can actually make most of the sounds. After that it’s just a matter of trying to understand and memorizes phrases and things. I also got a really awesome teacher named Malek. He’s really nice and funny. 

I pretty much have the metro, trams, and busses down. They’re actually really easy to navigate. Prague is a big city but you can be just about anywhere in fifteen minutes. It’s pretty amazing actually. I’m jealous of their transportation system and wish we had something like it at home. 

I've already had a few adventures so far. It’s really neat here because just about every street here is not only breathtaking- it also has something historic on just about every corner it seems like. Half the time I’ve been looking for food or trying to get home and I've stumbled across amazing buildings. Yesterday my roommate, Haley, and I went and walked across Charles Bridge right at dusk. We drank hot chocolate and marveled at how completely beautiful everything is here. I seriously can’t believe I’m here and I’m this lucky to be able to see such amazing things. Eleven hours after we left that morning we finally returned to our apartment to chill for a bit before meeting some friends at a famous bar, Pivovarsky Klub. It has over 250 kinds of beer and Anthony Bourdain actually visited it on one of his episodes. Later my roommates made a delicious Kazookie that we all shared and then went to sleep.

Today I had class and then went to find something for lunch with some other students. We ended up getting a tip from a lady at a thrift store that led us to an awesome coffee shop in the back of a bookstore. Prague is apparently famous for its hot chocolate too so I tried some and it was unlike anything I’d ever had before. It was really thick and amazingly rich. I really don’t even know how to describe it. After that we walked around for a bit and just checked out some other districts of the city. We walked by a really pretty park that actually isn’t too far from our apartments. Afterwards we went to Tesco (which is kind of like Walmart) to get some more groceries and random things. One of the girls in our group actually got stopped as we were walking onto the metro and was asked to show her transportation pass. We don’t actually have to show it to get on anything here, we just have to keep it on us in case an inspector does a random check. Well all of us had ours except her so she was forced to pay a fine of 1000 crowns (about 40USD) right on the spot. Kind of a bummer considering a three month transportation pass is only about 30USD, but considering tickets in America are way more expensive it really wasn’t too bad. 

I’m so exhausted it’s unreal. I’ve been so busy since I got here and I definitely haven’t been getting enough sleep. I think everyone else is feeling the same way so pretty much everyone is actually staying in tonight. I have so much to do but I really just can’t imagine being productive or getting out of bed at the moment. We finally got our wifi fixed yesterday though so that’s nice.

I have lots of trips I want to go on soon. Berlin and Munich are just a few hours away so I will probably go there fairly soon. It looks like I will also get to snowboard in the Swiss Alps in Interlaken next month and take a trip to Auschwitz and Krakow in Poland next month if everything pans out!

It really helps because everything is insanely cheap here. Huge beers are only like $2USD and a giant, delicious, meal for about $4. I had a huge pizza the other night for less than that even and it was hands down one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. Groceries are really cheap too. Honestly everything is just so cheap that it blows my mind! I’m extremely excited about it. I’m so glad the Czech Republic isn’t on the Euro and that the dollar has been so strong lately. A few months ago one dollar was equivalent to about 19 crowns. Now it’s equivalent to about 23 so you can get a lot more for your money. 

It still really can’t believe that I get to live here for the next four months. It’s so beautiful and everything I hoped it would be. I absolutely love it. I have an interview with the company I will be doing my internship with Thursday. Besides that I’m not sure what exactly I will be doing. 

Also, I am in the process of switching phones and stuff and it’s all very complicated. I have a phone that works but it’s all just weird. It’s really just easier to email me, message me on facebook, or skype me. I will have my new number soon. And here is my mailing address as well!! 

Claire Martin + USAC
Sokolaska` 6
120 00 Praha 2
Czech Republic

I’m not actually sure where that address goes. I’m thinking to our program director because that’s who we get our mail from. Someone should please send me Whataburger spicy ketchup, sweetarts, Velveeta and Shells (apparently instant mac n’ cheese isn’t a thing here?!) and letters! I miss everyone a lot already! Here are some pictures that better show what I have been up to!

This is seriously what all the streets look like in Prague.

Pork medallions with a mustard cream sauce and roasted potatoes that cost less than $4USD. It was so delicious and I couldn't even finish it all.

Hot chocolate at Dobra` Trafika. It was delicious!

Walking down the street and ran into this amazing random cathedral!

Charles Bridge is line with ornate statues on either side like this, probably around thirty of them altogether. 

Famous building in Prague. Although most of the buildings are old an ornate, occasionally there will be a weird modern building.

The entrance to Charles Bridge at night.

Okay so there are escalators to get down to all of the metros that are CRAZY long. Is this not the tallest escalator you've ever seen? Also, they have a really good system where people walk down on the left and stand on the right and people actually do this. It's amazing. People are too stupid in America and people just like to be idiots for the fun of it there I guess. There are even signs on the walking escalators in America that say to follow the same guidelines and no one even does it. (There actually might be signs that say to do the same in the metro stations but I can't read them anyways.)

Walking across Charles Bridge at dusk. The statues are pictured on either side. 

This is my own little space! I'd post pictures of the rest of the apartment but it honestly just doesn't do it justice. Pictures just can't capture the vaulted ceilings and ornate features. This pic does show the cool wooden floor though. The building was actually built in the late 1800's and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of things like the doors and floor are original. It's amazing.

*also just a side not. It's hilarious not being able to speak or read the language proficiently. I tried using a self checkout at Tesco the other day and had no idea what buttons to push. It was slightly hilarious. Things feel normal here until little stuff like that reminds you you're on the other side of the world and have no idea what your doing.

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