Friday, May 27, 2011


Like all the other photos from this last trip, stolen from Aurelie, who is, as you may have guessed, a master fotographer. That word feels like it should be more feminine, like fotografka, ya know?
Elča, a classmate, and Susie, from Pittsburgh!
Most of our group from the France trip
I loved Aurelie's red purse with a fiery passion.
Somehow we ended up with a whole bunch of misleading pictures in which I was "playing" Aurelie's ukulele. This one, note the maraca, is semi-truthful. Just trust the black and white. She is the dream jam partner though. Love you, darling!

Actually just wait wait. While on my journeys around western Europe, I saw 2 more pairs of my glasses!!! One fella in the musée d'Orsée and another on the streets of Amersfoort. 2 of my favorite places that I've seen! I am beginning to think these spectacles are a sign of taste. Or maybe that's just the ego talking :D

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hit the road Jack

or, well, me. May has been my month of travel. It started at the end of April, when I joined my school from Nový Jičín to the land of baguettes, perfume and stinky cheese. We spent 10 days on a bus traveling up and down Francie. It was scrumptious. I have dreams now about French supermarkets. As big as Walmart, as good as Wegmans, and with French food. Then again, I did see samosas and mu shu in a few. Lovely :D

So, don´t tell anyone at Harley, but the truancy officer should be all up and in my hair. This month, I will only have attended 7 days of school. Whoopsies! It´s not like I really learn much anyways. I only understand what I already know. Pretty miserable situation. Goshdarnit, Czech! But 1 week I was in France, and this last week and a half, my German girly, Aurelie, and I went north. To the Netherlands and London!

What a trip! Part of our AFS program here is that we havepermission to plan a 9 day trip to wherever we wish in Europe. We have some family friends, Niek and Marian, not too far from Utrecht, so the Netherlands was an easy destination. We caught our bus at 3:22 (in the morning! Or is that still night?) to Praha, then flew on a pink plane to Eindhoven. We had been planning to take a looksie around Eindhoven, home of Phillips, but thank goodness Niek advised us to skip it, since it has no real center and is rather industrial. It was a blessing becuase missing Eindhoven meant we got to see ´s-Hertogenbosch. Don´t ask me how to say it, but it is a charming city. Big enough, but not too big. Lots of art, canals and giant chocolate covered profiteroles. Yumm. As you probably noticed, my main goal when traveling is to try local culinary specialties. And Holland was a delicious place.

Beyond Bosche Bols, Dutch cuisine continues to impress. Or frighten. If you don´t like your dentist. They eat chocolate sprinkles. On bread! And call it breakfast! And it´s delicious. I bought a half kilo box for the fam. And they have a spread made out of ground gingerbread. Magical. No way it´s healthy, but awfully tasty. And the cheese. And the Indonesian saté. One thing that didn´t quite win me over were krokets. They are little fried logs of something. But I have no idea what. But you buy them out of little boxes in the wall, and that´s epic.

Dutch people won my heart. Down to last cell. Maybe it´s all the sweets, but they are darling. And every single one has taste. We couldn´t find an unattractive corner in the whole country, though Amsterdam was a little rougher around the edges. That it was raining our day there couldn´t have helped. But still, we didn´t see a single hobo in our whole stay, which is several less than an average day in Brno. The Dutch are doing pretty well wight about now, Í would say. Oh, and I bought a book on Dutch etiquette and I plan to learn their secrets. So genuinely caring.
From Amsterdam, we caught a bus to Londontown. Oh, there´s no place like London. The Netherlands has a large immigrant population, but in London, we´re all Londoners. It´s like traveling through a paintbox. Colourful people, and colourful attitudes. It is such a tourist friendly city. We never really got lost, just took a few scenic routes. Crossing the street is a pain there though. You have to wait for years for the cross signal, consequently, no one waits. And becuase they drive the wrong way, they swing to the left automatically when walking in crowds. So, on stairs, crosswalks and in hallways, stick to the left. Except for when the area is tourist-infested, in which case we walk on the right/correct side.
I cannot believe how quickly these last few months have gone by. I feel so at home here. My life is a far cry from the one I lead in the US, and I´m okay with that. I travel and hang out with friends more than I study or practice. I´ve gotten really into cooking, and learned that no matter how little time you have, baking after midnight is a bad idea. I love meeting friendly strangers. It makes my day every time. I only have about 5 weeks here, and I know I will be a teary mess on July 2nd. I can´t wait to be home and hop back into the fast lane, but life is good.
So, while I was traveling, I passed my nine month mark here. So, as a call back to my first few months of blogging, let's make some lists.

9 best Czech words:
  1. herbařovat- to press flowers
  2. scvrknout se- to shrink/shrivel. I learned this one from listening to my host mum read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  3. šalina- tram, but only in Brno.
  4. prdel- ass. But it sounds so nice!
  5. blbost- kind of like stupidity, but better
  6. moucha- like the French. For the last few months, I have been puzzling over why French and Czech share so many words. Then, I talked to my host aunt, who I guess studied French, and she had the best explanation. Czech is very similar to Russian, and the Czech Republic was occupied by the Soviet Union for quite a while, and Russians used to use a truckload of French. The upper echelons at least wouldn't be caught dead speaking much else. Think Stravinsky and his "Oiseau de Feu."
  7. zmrzlina- Ice-cream. It's a party in your mouth. Though Czech ice-cream leaves a bit to be desired. Though, size isn't everything, or so I'm told. Like gelato, eh?
  8. ahoj- 4 letters for fun. Though "fun" in Czech is legrace. Like leg race. Just said Czechily. Man, I miss track!
  9. třicet- thirty. I still cannot say it at allll. That Ř wins every time.
9 bits of Czech Cuisine to try:
  1. Guláš s knedlíky
  2. Good Czech chleba. It's hearty and rye-y, and good with everything when it's fresh.
  3. klobasa- good Czech artery-clogging sausages
  4. marlenka- a layered cakey dessert flavoured with honey and caramel and walnuts. Yumm
  5. Moravian wine. It's culture.
  6. Kofola- Czech Coca-Cola. I will miss it.
  7. Tatranky- chocolatey-wafery goodness
  8. Vanočka- pretty close to Challah, just supposedly for Christmas. But they eat it all year round.
  9. Every single cookie you can get your hands on around the holidays
9 countries I've seen
  1. UK
  2. The Netherlands
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. Poland
  6. Spain
  7. Austria
  8. Slovakia
  9. and of course, ČESKO!!!
9 sights v Česku that you can't miss
  1. Karlův most- especially pleasant around midnight
  2. Špilberk- the castle overlooking Brno
  3. Mikulov- An awfully adorable town in the south of Morava
  4. Moravský Kras- a system of caves near Brno.
  5. The inside of a traditional Czech pub
  6. Nový Orloj in Brno. controversial, but I LOVE ITTTT
  7. Opava's city center
  8. Old town square in Praha
  9. Czech women, or so all of my male friends say
9 places I would love a plane ticket to (nudge-nudge, wink-wink)
  1. Freiburg, Germany
  2. Campo Grande, Brazil
  3. Oaxaca, Mexico
  4. Amersfoort, the Netherlands
  5. Barcelona
  6. Barcelona
  7. Barcelona
  8. Barcelona
  9. Brno, but I don't need it yet
9 things I am excited for when I get home
  1. Mum and Papa
  2. The farm
  3. Thai curry
  4. Kanackies
  5. My Sunshine and my Ninja and my Auntie Emily
  7. Wegmans
  8. Cabot Cheddar, extra sharp
  9. Non-smoking everything
9 things I will miss like crazy
  1. AFSers. From the same city to different continents.
  2. My too-wonderful host family
  3. Easy public transportation. I love trams.
  4. Traveling
  5. Having something to talk about with any English speaker I meet. What the hell brought you here?
  6. Living fairly greenly
  7. Czech windows. They're really cool.
  8. The Nový Orloj
  9. Kofola
Living in our house,
  1. My host mum, Ivana
  2. my host dad, Hiroshi
  3. My tallest host brother, Standa
  4. My caringest host sistah, Anička
  5. My most careful host brudda, Vítek
  6. Little host brother, Tadeáš
  7. Little sis, Marjanka
  8. Me, for one more month
  9. French cheese no one is brave enough to open. It will outlive us all.

1. La Rochelle. Down by the seaside, whoo-oo.
2. L'ile d'Oléron
3. Point zero of Paris


5. Magic Mushrooms.

6. Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Nuffff said.

7.Colmar. Cheek-pinching cute!
8. Heidelberg


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wine Country

The weekend before this last one, we took a trip east. The south-east chunk of the Czech Republic is about as famous for its wine as the western tidbit is for beer. At least, for Czech people! We stayed at a wine cellar and tasted the goods. Müller-Thurgau is really good :D The next day, we went to Lednice, a UNESCO site and gorgeous castle and garden-park-pretty spot.

We saw more wonderful things this weekend, but my camera was dead. Therefore, those will be stolen in the near future from my host mum :D
The vines
May be a plum, apple or cherry tree. Botany is not my forte. But isn't it pretty???
My little sister, Marjanka :D
More vines
The "square." Those are all different wine cellars.
That is the coolest thingamažig ever!
Patron saint of wine?
Where the magic happens
Tasting glass
I can't take straight pictures. Deal with it.
That's a lot of crests
The gardens were lovely. I think there were at least 3 weddings the day we were there.
Gorgeous day, eh?
Forsythia was absolutely everywhere here. Pretty much all green by now, but it was loverly.
The.... Minaret? Yep! The castle had like an "epcot" vibe. Roman aquaducts, minarets, Greekish ampitheatres.
That was quite the view :D

We finished the day going to 2 more castles near Mikulov, which is near Dolní Věstoníce. Anyone know why DV is famous? I thought it was from Africa or something...
But my camera was dead :D


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Don't step on the grass

Because Czech kids pee everywhere. I would gander a guess that this is due to the fact that using the bathroom in a bathroom here runs you a pretty steep charge. As you may remember, like 50 cents steep. So, little chickies go to the loo where the doggies do. If you see a little boy standing really near a tree or a little girl squatting in the grass in front of a store, they aren't examining nature. They're answering her call.

Veselé Velikonoce!!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011


The Czech Republic is a different place. In the fabled words of AFS, not good, not bad, just different. Here's my list of differences, in no order whatsoever, trying to stick to things that can be measured and that I hear from other people about their lives as well as my own.
  • Czech beds don't use sheets. Just one big duvet.
  • There are toilets, and bath rooms. Not just one room with everything. Perfect when your little sister (or American parasite) is in the bath and you have to pee.
  • Sandwiches= snack. I bring at least 2 everyday as snacks. Instead of apples, kids walk around with subs.
  • Chocolate is a treat, but one you can have everyday. My waistline lovehates this difference.
  • Young people drink a lot more here. The top three topics we talk about with friends at school: our absolute tyrant of a math teacher, weather, and alcohol. Oh, and the Czech equivalent of American Idol. I haven't seen it, but it sounds exciting :p
  • Everyone takes the bus. I can count the number of times I have been in a car since moving to Brno on my digits. I love peoplewatching.
  • There's a sink in every classroom, but no soap or anything to dry your hands with.
  • You don't move during lessons. At all.
  • We sit in the same spots, based on which classroom we're in. Like my French class, just for every single subject.
  • Way less tests, and they are shorter than... well...
  • Essays are out of vogue here. It's all about presentations. But we have almost no homework.
  • The one you always hear about: Changing shoes. Czech people are all about slippers. Not only at home and at school, but in hotels and at rehearsals.
  • No ice. Or free water.
  • No napkins. Use your hands.
  • Fork in left, Knife in right. No knifeless finaggling here.
  • Racism is rampant
  • You have to pay to pee. Normally about 50 cents. Good thing I'm a camel.
  • You bag your own groceries. If you're too slow, get ready for the stinkeye.
  • Plastic bags, like everything here, come with a price. I like this.
  • Nutritious food isn't the top priority. My diet is beige, though getting more colorful.
  • Cursive > print. I can now write like an adult.
  • Such old history. Churches that have been sitting there for 500 years. No biggie. I go nuts over it.
  • Everyone is the same color. Still a bit scary to me.
  • Czech people all seem to have these awesome windows that depending on how you turn the handle can open different ways. Like those magic cellphones.
  • Learning is about stuffing as much in as you can and spitting it back. No stewing and adding your own spices.
  • Even the smallest stores have probably twenty kinds of sausages and salamis. Yum.
  • Soviet bloc buildings. They are hideous.
  • People are cold. Physical contact is a no-go.
  • Au contraire, Czech people are extremely helpful. Getting directions from a stranger is way better than any map.
  • No automatic garage doors
  • No suburbs. Villages, and little cities.
  • People here eat a whole different spectrum of food. It's normal to eat a whole apple. Like stem, core, everything. But just serving peas with a bit of butter next to your mashed potatoes can seem weird. Oh, and I eat liver like all the time.
So, I know these are mostly just my opinions. But I like to think there's a kernel of truth in here somewhere. Oh, and here are some oldish pictures.

The tip of that is the highest point in the whole Czech Republic. Bylo tam zkurvená zima.
Guess what it is. Once I asked, I no longer needed an answer.
The last few days in October of 1808, Beethoven LIVED HERE (in Opava)! A whole week or so. They named the street after him.
Opava is really gorgeous.
Again from Opava. It was really heavily bombed during WWII, leaving these ugly chunks. The whole soviet and historical beauty clash is a strong theme throughout the country.

This kid is going places. When he wins a grammy, I can say I knew him. Yes.
AFS ball :D
Me and our Prom king and queen, if we were to do such silly things.
I have a thing for Germans.

Wawel, in Kraków
Auschwitz. So many emotions.
Somethings you have to see once in your life.

But life here continues to be lalalalalala wonderful. Letters would make me smile, chicos. I can't believe how little time I have here. The plane ride home will be so miserable, leaving all these people who light up my life and understand me better than I understand myself. At least I have all of you to look forward to! Went to a jazz concert wednesday, and heard a lovely New York accent. It was heaven. Cool concert by the way. Part of the Brno Jazzfest. And the ballet yetserday. Guys should wear skirts a lot more. Very attractive. hahaha
LOVELOVELOVE all of y'all. Take care! Traveling again with my family for the weekend. Not sure where to, but it's an adventure! Hugs!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who let the dogs out? in? onto?

So, I have a few utterly spectacular friends here who love to complain almost as much as I do. One common "cultural difference" that comes up pretty often is the attitude towards dogs here. They do whatever they bloody well please, most of the time. This means dogs in the metro, dogs on the šalina, dogs in restaurants. The restaurant thing gets to me, but my story:
Yesterday, I saw "The King's Speech" at the cinema with Marina and Erika. A really fantastic film, by the way. Then, I took šalina 4 back form the city center to my bus stop on Mendlovo Náměstí, and got on the bus. Then, a dog hopped on behind me. Everyone on the bus was puzzled. He was wearing a leash, but no one was coming running "FIDO FIDO! GET BACK HERE!". We waited about a minute and looked around, laughing at what was happening, until the bus was supposed to leave. This caused the bus driver to de-attach himself from the seat, which I didn't know they could do, to escort him off. The little boy next to me was crying at the sight of that lonely dog, so unjustly kicked off the bus because he's too short to validate his ticket. Or something.

Well, it was funny when it happened! Rabbit rabbit, though I'm a bit late.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

And I love her, I need her

Hey y'all. March has been the month of magic! So many amazing days, nights, jam sessions, and conversations. I love Brno! Spring has really hit, and everything has come to life! I can wear skirts, even shorts!, again, and Žebětín, my village, is full of forests and windy cobblestone paths perfect to wander along. I am living the dream!
Some exchange friends I have here made such great friends when they landed at school and activities that they don't pay much attention to their host families, or at least it seems that way. I practically don 't want to go home, I love my family here so much. They are far too nice to me, and put up with all my heaps and heaps of problems, and heaps and heaps of stuff :p I spent one afternoon complaining about missing bagels, and that weekend, my host mum made homemade poppy seed bagels. Unbelievably delicious with a bit of goat cheese. Ňamňam :D I can sit at the table and talk to them for hours. So funny, thoughtful, and far more clear-minded than I have ever been.
School is a bit different here. I have a few teachers who think I am interesting and talented, and a few who think I am the devil incarnate. Most of these feelings are mutual though, so no worries, really. We have one teacher who does absolutely everything I have ever taken fault in in any former teachers. She is an utter basketcase. Only 3 months from Saturday though! Holy cow! But like in Nový Jičín, people at school are so helpful! I get tired of asking for help before they seem to get tired of dealing with me!
I don't really feel like sitting here typing for a year, I want to go play accordeon :D
Mějte se, my loves!
Title note: I miss you Shayneeeee. Our facebook chats are too short.