Little Moments

Life in Prague has been going along as usual.  I know I’ve gotten behind on my blog, but I am trying so hard to hold on to the short time that I have left here. I don’t want to spend it in front of my computer. (Or even doing the massive amounts of school work that is slowly starting to pile up) Next weekend I’m going to Krakow, then the weekend after Nice, then a weekend in Prague, a possible trip to Berlin, and then it is my last weekend here. When I left 4 and half months seemed like forever and now it is not nearly enough time to do everything that I want to do here.

For this blog entry I am going to make a list of little moments that have stood out to me over the last few months. These are things that I want to remember about my time in Europe but may have no real meaning to anyone except me.

All the walks to and from  my dorm to the metro. There is something comforting about the familiar stretch of stores where I always see the same old man standing outside the butcher shop smoking his pipe and calling out to people in Czech.

Being able to ride the metro daily. Best place to people watch ever.

The wind tunnels on the escalators in the metro stations. (Starometska is the worst)

Walking on cobblestone everywhere.

Cooking for myself .

Going to Sparta soccer games and operas&ballets at the National Theater.

Feeling more independent than I ever have before.

Going to spend a morning  at a Czech school. Getting to interact with the kids and realizing they aren’t that different than American kids.

Loving spending time alone.

Traveling; seeing new countires and new people.

Hearing new languages.

Trying new foods.

Learning about new cultures. (Easter in the Czech Republic is VERY different than at home)

Seeing people leave their babies in the strollers outside the grocery store. No one even looks twice!

Doing things for myself, not worrying what others think.

Seeing dogs on the metro. Or in restaurants. Or bars. Basically dogs are everywhere (Sara read in a book that the reason Czech people love dogs so much is because during Communism their dogs were the only ones that they could trust).

Sitting in Cafes listening to conversations in Czech and catching a few words I understand

Letting loose and living life.

Walking around the corner in Old Town Square and seeing the Tyn Church tower stretching over the square. It looks the most beautiful against a clear blue sky.

Laying on a park bench in Mala Strana feeling the sun against my face and thinking spring has finally come.

Appreciating my home and my friends more than ever before.

Knowing I am lucky and blessed.

Jumping on and off the revolving elevators at the AIFS office. (or riding them all the way around…)

Walking the tram tracks at 1 am trying to get to a club that was under-construction (fail).

Getting home when the birds are chirping.

Finding friends here who I can be myself around. So lucky.

Feeling like I fit here.

Feeling like I don’t want to leave.

Sincerely,

Celia

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Slow Down You Crazy Child

First, let me just say, wordpress sucks. It just deleted my WHOLE post. I am sitting in Jenny’s room complaining but luckily she just got a care package and is comforting me with Swedish fish. Thank god. Lets see if I can rewrite this. Woof.

This is the first Friday is 2 weeks that I have not spent sitting on bus. I am enjoying a relaxing day in Prague. Sara’s family is visiting and they took me and Jenny with them to breakfast at the Globe this morning. It’s so fun to get to meet everyones families! I had some of the best pancakes! After breakfast Jenny and I went to the English bookstore in the Globe and I bought one of Elizabeth Gilbert’s books. I can’t wait to read it. Then we went to the AIFS office and registered our trip to Nice. I can’t believe thats in 2 weeks! Time is flying by so quickly. I wish I could pause it just for a day. It funny, my life here has become very routine during the weeks I am not traveling. I sometimes forget I am in Prague. Replace the Globe with Boston Donuts/Bagel time, the bookstore with Barnes and Noble, add Car, Leanna, and Hannah and I could be having a relaxing Friday at school. Despite the fact that I am 4000 miles away from home living in a completely different culture there are still little similarities that make it easier to be here. I know I joke a lot about not coming home and never leaving Prague, but I do miss home.  I just really love it here and I am so happy and I really don’t want to leave. If everyone just came and lived here with me that would be perfect. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that in just about 2 months I will be moving back up to Worcester for Orientation. What a completely different world from where I am now. This next month and a half is going to be bittersweet. I have fallen in love with Prague and the people  I met here and right now it is impossibly hard to think about leaving them.

I spent last weekend in Vienna Austria with 60 other people from my program. We left our dorm at 9am last Friday for the 6 hour drive from Prague to Vienna. Bus trips with everyone from AIFS are always so much fun. From yelling insults across the bus to everyone falling asleep at the same time its always an experience! I like that everyone in my program gets along pretty well and traveling with the whole group is always an adventure. We stopped at the strangest rest stop that I have ever seen on my life. It was right on the border between Austria and the Czech republic. There were wizards, fire breathing dragons, a plane with a restaurant in it, and huge bags of gummy bears. What could be better?

Jenny and I shared a room at the hotel in Vienna. Our beds were literally touching! When we first got to Vienna, Z and the Janas took us on a walking tour to the city center. Z and the Janas work for AIFS and they take us on the trips that are part of the progam. Z is amazing, he knows everything about everything. He is like a walking encycolpedia about European history. Especially Czech history. And the Janas are hilarious. I love being part of AIFS. Our hotel was right behind the town hall so it was about a 25 minute walk to the city center. Along the way we saw the most gorgeous park that is right near the museum district. The weather in Vienna was beautiful and everyone was so happy to be outside. Z left us downtown after the tour was over after warning us to stay away from the “Bermuda Triangle”. Its an area of the Vienna nightlife where tourists go in but they don’t go out. Naturally we made plans to meet up with everyone later and see what it was all about!

Becca, Sara, Sarah, Jenny, and I headed off to do some more exploring and find somewhere to eat dinner. Its amazing how use to walking everywhere I have gotten. We walked more than ever in Vienna but got to see so many beautiful buildings and places that we wouldn’t have seen if we had taken the metro everywhere. We ended up eating traditional Austrian food, schnitzel! I actually liked it! After that we had the most delicious gelato even though it was starting to get really cold! Then we decided to find a bar to hang out in while we waited for everyone else to come meet up with us. One major difference between Vienna and Prauge is in Prague there are pubs and bars all over the place that are open until all hours, but in Vienna we had to really search to find somewhere that was open. Eventually we meet up with another group from our program and instead of ending up in the Bermuda Triangle we went to a bar called the Bermuda Bar. Close enough right? It was funny to hear a mix of American and German music playing. Even more people showed up from out program and it ended up being a really fun night.

The next morning we all woke up early to eat breakfast in the hotel. SO GOOD. Z tooks us on another walking tour and we got to see even more of the city. We had a quick break for lunch and shopping. We meet up with everyone else from AIFS and sunbathed in front of the Maria Theresa statue while we waited for Z. Did I mention how good the weather was? Perfect. Z came and got us all up and then we went to see the Belevedere Palace. Beautiful. After that we headed off to see some museums but by that time it was almost 5 and everything was closing. Luckily we got to see the Imperial jewels. Highlights include the largest cut emerald in the world, the crown that all the holy roman emperors wore, and a nail from Jesus’ cross. So interesting! After that we were all EXHAUSTED so we headed back to the hotel to take a quick nap before dinner. Jenny and I just laid on our beds for half an hour because we couldn’t move. All the walking adds up!

That night for dinner the majority of my program headed to a pub called the Centimeter right around the corner from our hotel. It served traditional Austrian food and beer. We got 2 five liter fountains of beer (between 8 people) and our food came on a sword. It was unlike anything that I have ever seen before! It was a great night! The next morning we were up bright and early ready to get back on the bus for the 6 hour trip back to Prague. We ended up leaving half an hour late because some people forget that it was daylights saving time. Fail. On the way out of Vienna we stopped to see the Hundertwasser House. So pretty!We also visited Schonbrunn which is the imperial summer residence. We took a tour of inside the palace and then had some of the best apple strudel ever before getting back on the bus. The ride home was long but uneventful. We stopped at the crazy dragon rest stop again and Jenny and  I got the biggest back of gummy bears that I ever seen in my life. It lasted us all the way until our Wednesday art history class when we really needed it!

This week has flown by! On Tuesday, Sarah, Sara, Jenny, Kacy, and I went to Cafe Savoy with Marketa, the director of our program. She does these cafe outings a couple of times a month so that we can learn more about the cafe culture in Prague. She’s a really interesting person to talk to. Her parents are Czech but she grew up in America and then came back to Prague for grad school. Her English and Czech are both really good. And its really interesting to talk to her about the differences that we notice here compared to home. She really gets it because she experienced it too! And its always nice to get free coffee and cake. I had the best raspberry cake EVER. Also on Tuesday we all went out for drinks with Kacys parents who are visiting. We went to these really cool restaurant right by the AIFS office where cocktails are 2 for 1 on Tuesdays. Definitely going back!

One more Vienna pic, at the Hundertwasser House:

Midterms are starting! I have 2 next week but I’m not worried about either of them. My stress and anxiety levels have gone way down since coming here. Its great! Going back to student leadership and real classes next year is going to be an adjustment to say the least! I am really excited for my Critical Pedagogy midterm. Never thought I would say that but listen to what it is. I am in a group with Kacy and Tom and next week we are going to a primary school in Prague to observe a typical bilingual classroom. Then we are going into a 3rd class to do an activity with them about multicultural education and just talk to them about our lives in America. How interesting is that?! I am so excited to get to see what a typical Czech school is like and I can’t wait to get to interact with kids again.  I can’t believe this is something that I am going to get graded for!

Last night AIFS took over the club Radost. It’s where Rhianna filmed her Please Don’t Stop the Music video. You can even see the tram that I take home at the very beginning of the video! So cool!  Sara’s sister Christina came out with us too and got to experience Prague nightlife. I love when my whole program goes out together, we all have so much. It was a great night. The best part of the night was on the way back to the tram stop Jenny and I decided we wanted McDonald’s. Jenny went into order and I went to go see how long it would be until the tram got there.(We did NOT want to miss it because if we did then we would have to wait 45 minutes for the next one. No way).  When I got outside I saw that the tram was coming so I ran back to get Jenny but she was not leaving with her double cheeseburger. She threw money on the counter, yelled keep the change, grabbed the bag, and we took off running for the tram. Luckily we made it on just as the door was closing. Huge accomplishment.

The only down part of this week is that all the hard minerals in the water here are turning my blonde hair green. Last night I stood at my bathroom sink and poured vinegar all over my hair. And then let it soak for 15 minutes. Absolutely disgusting, but it did get some of the green out. Sara also told me about this German shampoo just for blonde hair and I got some at Tessco and that seems to be helping too. If anyone has any other suggestions on how to get the green out let me know please!! I will be so grateful!

And finally, this is what I saw when I went down to the lobby of my dorm this morning. You seriously never know what is going to be happening here. Woof.

Sincerely,

Celia

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Krásný den

“It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away.” As soon as I stepped outside of the kojel today to go on a run,  I heard those lyrics on my ipod. The song couldn’t have been more fitting for the moment. It’s been an absolutely beautiful day. As soon as I heard the familiar sound of my sneakers hitting the pavement and felt my leg muscles start working, I knew I wanted to start running regularly here. I had flashbacks to my high school cross country days and I began to remember why I loved running. I quickly got lost in my own thoughts and the comforting rhythm of my run. I stayed close to my dorm because I didn’t want to get lost but I did explore some new areas. I really don’t know the area that I live in very well at all. I know how to get to Billa (the supermarket), the metro, and the circle (where all the restaurants are) but that’s about it. Even though I live in Prague 6, I spend most of my time in Prague 1 (where Old Town is). I found a cute little flower shop not far away and a park that I didn’t know existed.  Now that is warm out, I want to do even more exploring. I worry that I am getting too comfortable here. That I am forgetting that I won’t be here forever. I still have so much I want to see and do and I feel like I have such a limited time. Time is FLYING by. No matter how hard I try to slow it down and hold on to each moment, I feel them slipping away so quickly. Everyone who told me how much I would love Prague, how I wouldn’t  want to leave, how I would have an unbelievable experience, you were right.

This had been one of the best weeks in Prague. I think I have finally gotten use to living here. My good mood from Budapest has carried over into the school week. Jenny and I did a good job on our Globalization presentation and I have gotten As on both of my psychology papers. My classes for next fall are basically all set.  The weather has been absolutely beautiful and I have tried to spend as much time outside as I possibly can. The markets in downtown are great excuses for being outside and so was my art class field trip to the Prague Castle today. Being able to walk around outside without feeling like I was going to die from cold has been amazing.  I have also been trying to spend less time on my computer. I am currently sitting in Jenny’s room to purposely avoid the internet. I wrote my Critical Pedagogy paper in under an hour without the internet as a distraction. (I am writing this blog on Word). I feel better because I have spent last time on facebook and thinking about what is going on back at Assumption without me this week. (to the right, tree blooming at the Easter Market in Old Town)

The only down side of this week has been the tourists who have taken over Prague.  They are loud and obnoxious and always seem to be in the way. I have my routine, my usual routes that I walk between classes everyday and it’s so strange to find them crowded with screaming people. I feel like I really live in Prague now and I’m not a tourist anymore. I know my way around the city and I find myself getting impatient with all these people. I’ve spent a lot of time in cafes this week trying to escape the crowds and the noise.

Vienna waits for me this weekend! So excited!

Sincerely,

Celia

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It’s not Budapest, it’s Budapesht!

Hi from Cafe Ebel! I am sitting in the big Cafe Ebel (opposed to my favorite little Cafe Ebel right by school) with Jenny and Alex. Jenny and I are supposed to be working on our presentation about Human Rights for our Globalization class but we decided our time was better spent blogging.

I spent all afternoon outside and I am the best mood right now. Its FINALLY warm in Prague. The Easter market is set up in Old Town Square and in Wenceslas Square. They are so pretty and make the city seem even more alive that normal. I sat in Old Town Square and read The Tweleve Little Cakes which is about a girl growing up in Prague during the 1980s. Its so interesting and I love that I know where a lot of the places are that she talks about. I watched a group of little Czech girls preform some kind of cheerleading routine to Poker Face. Talk about flashbacks to St. Ann talent shows! So adorable.

This past weekend I went to Budapest with Jenny. It was an adventure to say the least! I have never been stared at that much before.  My blonde hair already makes me stand out like a sore thumb but put that together with the fact that both Jenny and I were wearing french braids and spandex leggings from our 8 hour bus ride, and that we were speaking English made us scream” hey we are American!”

Our trip started at the awful hour of 430 am on Friday. We had to be up to make it to the bus station in Prague for our 8 hour bus ride to Budapest. Say it with me, woof! The bus ride was mostly uneventful, despite being exhausted and having to deal with some very large culture differences(having to do with smells but I’ll spare you) we made it to Budapest with no problems. Its always really scary arriving in a country where you don’t speak the language, you don’t know where to go, and you have no money. Also, the Budapest metro is one of the scariest places I have ever been in. Walking around trying to find an ATM I remember thinking, why did I want to come to Budapest? I was convinced Jenny and I were not going to make it out of the metro let alone into the actual city.

Jenny and I quickly found an ATM and exchanged money ignoring the people around us trying to sell us things or just speaking Hungarian to us in general. Then we had to figure out how to buy metro tickets. I tried to explain to the man working there in English where we wanted to go but unfortunately he didn’t speak English and I definitely do not speak Hungarian. Luckily by pointing at the metro stop that we needed to get off at and some help from his friend, we managed to buy tickets. The Budapest metro is the oldest metro line in Europe and it really looks like it. The doors on the train slam so loud and hard that it almost sounded like a gunshot. After about a 20 minute ride, we got off and found our way to our hostel without getting lost. Jenny was smart enough to take pictures of a map on her camera so we used that to find our way. I am happy to report that we did not get lost once the entire weekend. Major accomplishment!

Our hostel was right by the Margaret bridge on the Pest side of the Danube river. When we first got there, the man who ran the hostel, Andrew, sat me and Jenny down and literally talked to us for almost an hour. He told us everything we needed to see and do in Budapest. He also informed us its not ” Budapest, it’s Budapesht!” He made jokes and teased us. Very entertaining. The first night we had our own room and own shower which was really nice. And the second night we shared a room with an Asian couple. Definitely an interesting experience. So after Andrew had told us everything about Budapest and everything else he could think of, we set off to do some exploring. The weather was BEAUTIFUL! I think it was the first time Jenny and I had felt warm weather in months and we were in heaven. We walked along the Pest side of the Danube river looking over to Buda. We went to this huge indoor market that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. They sold all kinds of fresh produce and meat and baked goods along with some touristy thing. So cool. It reminded me a little bit of the inside part of Eastern Market in DC. After that we had a quick dinner which was delicious. Jenny tried duck and I had some really good turkey. Way better than Czech food!

After dinner we were just going to go back our hostel because we were exhausted from our long day, but we decided that we wanted to see the city at night. We walked across one of the bridges to the Buda side and climbed a HUGE mountain and got to see the most breath taking view I have ever seen in my life. So worth the hike.

The next morning Jenny and I made our plan for the day. Definitely ambitious. We did not want to use public transportation so we were planning to walk everywhere. Luckily for us it was another beautiful day and all we wanted to do was be outside.  We walked across the Margaret Bridge so that we could see the view of Pest during the day. Parliament looked just as beautiful during the day as it did the night before. We walked along the river until we came to another huge mountain. which we decided to climb. Once we got to the top we were at Fisherman Bastion; the best view of both Buda and  Pest. Breathtaking, I’ve never seen anything like it. We hung around in the Old Town for a while and just started at the beautiful view. We grabbed coffee at a cute cafe and then headed to the Palace. More beautiful views.

We headed back to the Pest side to go the the Terror Museum. Growing up right outside DC I have been spoiled by all the great museums and the fact that they are free. It always shocks me when you have to pay to go inside a museum. Anyway, I thought this museum was totally worth the money. It was all about the Nazi invasion of Hungary and then the communist occupation. Stalin’s car is there! So strange to see that. It was so interesting and I had goosebumps the entire time.  After the museum we got some gelato to  cheer ourselves up. Then we started walking toward Heroes Square and the baths. Heroes Square was something I had been dying to see ever since I saw Alex’s pictures from his trip to Budapest; I definitely kept bugging Jenny about getting there. So glad we made it because it was beautiful. And even more beautiful when we walked back through it at night.

The baths were probably one of my absolute favorite things about Budapest. It’s almost like a big outdoor swimming pool but the water is so warm and every ten minutes bubbles turn on and give you the best massage ever. Sitting in the baths, watching the sunset, and staring at all the beautiful buildings around me it, it hit me how incredibly lucky I am. How many people can say that they have sat in the baths in Budapest? Or how many people get to study abroad? I am so grateful for this chance to travel, to learn new things and learn about different cultures, and to meet new people. Not only European people, but my friends in my program. I know that I have met some of my best friends here in Prague and they will be with for the rest of my life.

My trip to Budapest came at the absolute perfect time for me. I am so proud of Jenny and I for traveling alone and staying safe. I feel so empowered and confident after this weekend. I am in much better place than I was when I left. I fully intend to love every minute that I have left here. And I know there are not too many left.  (JENNY STOP READING!) As Jenny and I sat on the metro this morning on our way downtown to go to class and run errands, it hit us that our time here is so limited. We both got so sad and I got so completely distracted that I forgot to get off the metro where I was planning to get off! It’s strange how quickly time is passing here. And even stranger to think about life going on back home without me. Orientation training is starting, my Reach Out Center program is still going (thank you Michelle!), CoreTeam is still meeting, START retreats are still happening, people still go to Boston Donuts and Bagel Time. I miss Assumption so much sometimes and would love to be there right now, but with each passing day I am more and more sure that I supposed to be here. Coming back to Prague on Sunday evening once again felt like “coming home.” Jenny and I were staring out the window and right as the bus pulled into Prague, a rainbow filled the sky. Perfection.

Tonight after class, its girls family dinner! Jenny, Becca, Sara, Sarah, and I have started the tradition of all cooking something different and then all piling in to the Sara(h)s kitchen to eat and talk about everything. Definitely one of my favorite things to do here. Love those girls!

Going to Vienna with AIFS this weekend! So excited. I will try to update again before I leave, but I think it is a good thing my blog entries have become less frequent. It means I am really “living the dream” as Kait Bevins would tell me! Sending lots of love back home, I miss you all more than ever and am so grateful for your continued support and constant emails. They keep me going!

Sincerely,

Celia

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Imogen Heap, Amsterdam, and Family!

Despite my lack of posts, I didn’t get lost in Amsterdam! (thanks for that Guster song Car!) I just have not had a second to write since my last post. I am even falling behind on my emails and my own journal. Its hard to keep up with everything and make sure that I am still living in the moment here. And experiencing everything that I can. Theres so much to catch up on! I’ll back track to last week and see if I can get everything in.

Last week, Sara, Sarah, Jenny, and I went to an Imogen Heap concert in Prague! Concerts in Europe are so different than back home. Normally everyone would be pushing to get to the front to get the best view. Here, everyone just stays in their own spots and listens to the music. Its much more relaxed and I really liked it. Imogen Heap was AMAZING live and she played almost all of my favorite songs. I’ll post videos on my facebook soon!

I know I am forgetting things but I’ll just skip right to Amsterdam. Last Thursday, Becca, Sarah, Sara, Jenny, Elyssa, and I made our way to the Prague airport to leave for Amsterdam! We’re lucky, the bus that goes to the airport leaves rights from out metro stop. We made it to Amsterdam with no problems (minus Becca’s cell phone incident but that was solved quickly!) The train station is right in the airport so we caught a train that went right to Amsterdam Central. I really had no idea where we were going but luckily Sara had written down directions to our hostel. Its so strange arriving in a city and really having no idea where to go or even how to speak the language. We stayed right in the middle of the red light district at the Witte Tulip. We had a six person room to ourselves and minus the scary bunk beds, gross showers, the crazy stairs, and our seventh roommate (a mouse!!) it wasn’t too bad. (One of the canals in Amsterdam to the right!)

The whole time we were in Amsterdam we ate the most delicious food.  We had great Thai food two nights  and even though I don’t really like Mexican food I have to admit I liked the Mexican restaurant we went to a lot. And every morning we had the best breakfasts. Pancakes 2 days in a row and the best french toast ever our last day. So much better then Czech food. The first morning we went to Sara’s pancake house and had really good Dutch pancakes. They are more like crepes than the typical fluffy American pancakes. After that we headed to the Anne Frank house. Now, let me mention how cold it was in Amsterdam. FREEZING and WINDY! Oh and it rained all of Friday afternoon. Yuck.  We got lucky and had beautiful sunny days both Saturday and Sunday despite the cold temperatures. We stood in line for about half an hour before we got into the house. I loved seeing the house! Anne Frank’s diary was one of my favorite books and I loved seeing all the things she wrote about. Her room still has all the pictures that she put on the wall. Its so small, I can’t imagine hiding there for 2 years. (Anne Frank statue to the left)

Amsterdam is so different than Prague. Dutch is much more similar to English than Czech is and I heard a lot more people speaking English in general. Its also a lot more westernized. We even found an American food store!  It made me appreciate that fact that I did choose such a drastically different place to study. I don’t think I realized how different it was until then.  I think its going to make me grow and change even more than if I had chosen to go to somewhere more similar to America. I found myself missing Prague while I was gone. I kept wanting to say dobry den or prosim the whole weekend. I even missed hearing people around me speak Czech.  The last time I came back to Prague was from the trip Moravia and it did not feel like home; this time it did. (My favorite bike in Amsterdam is to the right)

I loved seeing all the canals in Amsterdam and the houses along them are beautiful. Our last day there we took a boat tour of the main canals which was completely worth it. So beautiful, so different than anything I have ever seen. And I have never seen so many bicycles in my life. Or almost been hit by so many! Don’t stand in the bike line in Amsterdam, you will get run over! The Van Gogh museum was another one of my favorite places.  I had flashbacks to my high school AP Art History class and was excited to see so many pieces of art that I recognized. I’ve never really been a big fan of art museums but that’s changing.  In my Czech Art and Architecture class we go on field trips every week and I am starting to really like the art museums in Prague.  And I am learning to really appreciate the art much more than I  use to.

This week my family has been visiting for my sisters spring break! Its been so fun showing them around and having them see all the places that I write about in this blog. Its been a little exhausting doing touristy things with them and going to classes too. We went to the Church of Our Lady Victorious to see the Infant of Prague statue and met the most interesting priest ever. He told us all about his mission work in Africa and ended up giving us 3 pictures made from butterfly wings. So pretty! We also climbed up the Petrin observation tower in Prague and got to see a beauftiul view of the city! (That picture is me and my sister Moey at the Lennon wall! )

The apartment they stayed in was really nice and I loved getting take a real shower away from my gross shower in the kolej (dorm)!  I tried goulash for the first time this week and was surprised to find that i LOVE it. I love the bread dumplings and its just so good. Maybe I am finally growing out of my picky eating habits…doubtful haha!

I am currently suffering from some kind of death sounding cough that about half my program has too. Once one of us gets sick, the others quickly follow. Despite being sick, Sara, Sarah, Jenny, Becca, Kacy, Walt, And Alex all came over for dinner on Thursday night. My mom cooked pasta chipolte (my favorite food ever!) and we all had a great time drinking wine and telling my family all about our semester so far. I was reminded again how lucky I am to have made such great friends here! So lucky. (From back to front : Moey, Alex, Sarah, Walt, Sara, Kacy, Becca, Me, and Jenny!)

Next weekend Jenny and I are off to Budapest! And then the weekend after, Vienna with AIFS. Also coming up in April is Karkow! And in May, Berlin. I am loving forward to getting back into a routine this week and get caught up with my school work which I have been neglecting. More soon!

Sincerely,

Celia

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Jsem Rád !

I have been gone exactly one month and 2 days. Time is slipping away so quickly, I can’t believe it. I am falling in love with Prague more and more everyday. I love that I live here, I love that I know my way around. I love how comfortable I am with the city and how familiar being here seems. I fit perfectly here and I couldn’t be happier. I am even starting to love listening to people speak Czech. Even though I struggle to speak it and understand a lot of it, I love sitting on the metro or tram and being able to understand a few simple words. There’s even something oddly comforting about sitting in a cafe and not being able to understand what is being said around me. It makes it easier to get lost in my own thoughts and writing.  I am learning so much so quickly. Not just in the classroom but about myself and the city and culture around me. I love walking around by myself with my own thoughts. I never get the chance to spend this much time alone when I am at school and I think this is the perfect time in my life to do it. It is also probably the only time I am going to have very few responsibilities and expectations to live up to and I am making the most of it. I am never going to get to have an experience like this that pushes me so far out of my comfort zone again. That challenges me everyday. I never understood how much being here would really change me but it has and it will continue to. I only hope that I can bring everything I am learning back to Assumption with me. And that this “new Celia” still fits at Assumption.

Last week was the first full week of real classes. I miss my normal classes back at Assumption but I think this change of pace is good for me. I am only taking 4 classes because I got 3 credits from my Czech Intensive course. My first class was Globalization which sounds so interesting but I think its going to be a pretty boring class just because of how my professor talks. So slow! And her English isn’t great so its hard to follow. Also, there is a window right at the front of the classroom and you can see the Prague castle and I definitely get distracted by how gorgeous it is. Sometimes I still can’t believe I live here and I get to see these beautiful views everyday. Luckily Jenny is in my class and we try to help each other stay awake…although last class that involved playing hang man and writing letters. Oops!

I am taking one psychology class here called Language, Culture, and Social Cognition which I already love. My professor is so smart and I think I am really going to enjoy the class and get a lot out of it. Then I am taking a Czech Art and Architecture class. Its great because for the first half of the class we learn about different pieces of art and then we get to actually go see them! Last class our field trip was to Old Town Square and we looked at all the different types of Architecture right there. I love learning to appreciate all the buildings that I walk past everyday. My last class is called Global Perspectives on Critical Pedagogy. It’s going to be my hardest class but it sounds so interesting. It’s hard to focus on school work because I still feel a little like I am on vacation. Its been so  long since I have to read for class or write a paper! This week I am really going to have to try to get back in the swing of things.

One of my absolute favorite things to do here in go to cafes. A lot of Czech students live with their parents through college so they will meet up with their friends in cafes. There are so many all over the city and I find new ones every day.  I love bringing my journal with me to write in or write letters home. Last week I was the only person in this tiny cafe right by the main building and I sat re for almost two hours writing letters and journaling. I love love love it!

Jenny’s 21st birthday was last Wednesday and was a big success!  Jenny, Alex, and I went to the ballet early in the evening and them came back here to hang out with everyone in Walt and Alex’s room. We even had a cake with 21 candles : ) We headed down to the pub downstairs but there was some sort of Mexican themed dance party going on. (Really, you never know what you will find when you walk into the student pub!) So we headed to the bar right next door and Jenny did her first shot of jagar.  Then we headed out to the metro; along the walk both Jenny and Alex proved that they can do back flips. We eventually made it to Roxy. It was Ms. Erasmus (the European study abroad program) night so it was packed. I turned away from Jenny for one second and the next thing I knew she was up on stage entering herself in the contest. So good. Jenny didn’t make it to the tram stop for a fried cheese sandwich, so Walt and I had one for her. Actually Walt had 2!

Allie came to visit me this weekend!! It was a much needed visit and so good to see her. It was like a little bit of Assumption in Prague! I had a great time showing her all my favorite spots in Prauge and introducing her to all my friends here. We sat in a cafe yesterday and talked a lot about study abroad in general. Allie and I are similar in so many ways and it felt great to get to really talk about everything with her.  It was so nice to have someone here who felt just the same way that I did about coming and now she loves Rome as much as I love Prague.  We went to the 5 story club on Friday night and on Saturday night we did the Clock Tower Pub Crawl. I loved having her here and I already miss her. I miss Assumption and everyone there more than ever. Its so strange to think about life going on there. I feel like it should be on pause while I am gone and then I could come back to things just the way I left them.

Sometimes I just want to meet Hannah in the village and go to Boston Donuts and Core Team Meetings. I miss trips to Target, the craft store, and Trader Joes. I miss drinking tea in North 303 and talking about everything. I miss START 2 meetings, running around Charlies, and the Reach Out Center. I miss watching “Kaitlin” in CampMin. I miss Flagg Street School and Roberly  I want to run across the hall from my room and be in Carleighs room. I even miss going to work in Admissions and arguing with Carleigh about who has to give the tours. I want to be able to go on walks with Leanna and knock on her window and have her be right there. I miss sitting in her room on her leopard sheets and laughing about our crazy lives. And I want to sit in Alis bed in her snuggie and eat a whole bag of Swedish fish. I miss the Camden group. I miss the morning trips to Bagel Time and Boston Donuts in Carleigh’s car listening to Haven’t Met You Yet and laughing until I cry. I miss home, I miss my best friends. I would love to just have them all here with me. I wish they could see what I am seeing and experience what I am experiencing. I know I am meant to be here and they will be there when I come home, but that doesn’t make this any easier. I wish time would speed up and slow down at the same time. Being far away from everyone is so strange and so hard.

I’m getting ready to start my second week of classes and I finally feel like I am starting to have more of a routine here. I know my way around and feel so comfortable walking around by myself. On Thursday I am going to Amsterdam with Jenny, Sara, Sarah, Becca, and Elyssa. And then my family is coming to Prague on Sunday! I can’t wait : )

Sincerely,

Celia

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Můj Víkend (My Weekend)

Its so funny that all my friends here have blogs. Everyone has been updating their blogs this weekend and I have been slacking on mine. I feel like saying go read Sara’s, I feel the same way; or go read Alex’s, he wrote about everything we did. I think Walt mentioned this is in his blog once, that even though we are all blogging about our study abroad experience in Prauge, our blogs are all so different.  We experience many of the same things but we all view them so differently. And its funny that we all are the biggest fans of each others blogs.

Its hard to believe that I am starting real class today. I feel like I have been on the longest vacation from school ever. I am only taking 4 classes because I got 3 credits for my Czech class. I don’t have class today until 615 pm. How strange is that? I don’t have to get up early every morning to go work in Admissions. No office hours to go to in Charlies or Flag Street School to go volunteer at. I miss having Charlies to go hang out in between classes so much. No nightly meetings or hours of homework to get done (yet!). I feel like I have a lot of time on my hands right now. But at the same time I have felt like I am always busy here.  There are so many new things to do and see and I don’t want to miss a thing. The entire time I have not had trouble sleeping at all. Every night I literally crash as soon as my head hits the pillow.

On Friday night to celebrate the end of Czech class, most of my program headed out to Lucerna, a club that plays 80/90s American music on Friday nights. Before we left, we all gathered in Alex and Walts dorm room and it felt just like freshman year again. Too many people crammed into to small of a room being way too loud but having so much fun. (the picture to the right is about half  my program waiting to get on the metro on Friday night.)  On Saturday during the day, Jenny and I did more exploring. We got breakfast in Old Town and chocolate crepes. I have a new obsession with the crepes they make at the market in Old Town Square. I have never tasted anything so good.  We went to the Prague castle. The building that I thought was the castle is actually St. Vitus Cathedral and is the most beautiful church I have ever seen. I could spend hours there admiring the stain glass windows and all the architecture. The view of Prague from the castle complex is breath taking. I fell in love with the city even more.  I can’t wait until it gets warmer here and then I can spend even longer walking around outside and just experiencing everything. The snow and ice are starting to melt and it gets into the high 30s during the day which actually feels amazing.

On Saturday night a big group of us tried to go to a new bar in Prague 3. (I live in Prague 6, Old Town is Prague 1). I should have know the night was going to be a struggle when Jenny, Sara, Becca, Nikki (Becca’s friend from home who was visiting from Barcelona), and I got left behind at the metro. None of us had any idea what stop to get off at let alone where we were going once we got off the metro. Luckily we figured it out and Alex, Walt, and Kacy were waiting for us when we got off the metro. Now, I have never been to Prague 3, but I don’t think I will be rushing back at night anytime soon. Every place we tried to go, something went wrong. We finally ended up at this place called the Blind Eye. To get in, you have to knock on this big black door and someone looks out a peephole, unlocks the door, and then lets you in. Same to get out. SKETCHY. I think if we had been there on a different night it might have been better but Jenny, Sarah, Sara, Becca, Nikki, Alex, and I headed out. We caught the last metro back to Dejvickia and went to what Becca has lovingly named the “Tiki Bar” because of this strange bamboo straw like stuff over the bar. Its a very local place and was full of  local Czechs. This bar might be one of my new favorite places. We grabbed a table in the basement and played Nelson (telephone pictionary!! Anyone one knows me knows that this is my favorite game ever to play with my family and the Cullins, so imagine how happy I was when I found out Becca and Alex knew it) and had some delicious Czech beer.  Walking home, Alex convinced us all that Billa (the grocery store) was open 24/7. We were all starving so heading there for some snacks sounded great. Unfortunately when we got there, we say it was open until 2400 not 24 hours. Woof. All in all a great night despite the rough beginning. (the picture is at the Prague castle complex with the view of the city of Prague behind me)

Yesterday I woke up early to try to go to mass at St. Vitus (the cathedral at the Prague castle). I took the metro and the tram and made it there just fine. However, from what I could figure out the 930 mass was not open for the public. I tried asking one of people there if they spoke English, but either my Czezh is absolutely awful or this was a typical unfriendly Czech person who wanted nothing to do with me. Feeling frustrated and disappointed, I got back on the tram and back on the metro. I  had a whole morning ahead of myself; I wasn’t meeting everyone for brunch until 12ish. I headed to Old Town square hoping to get a crepe. Unfortunately, it was too early for all the little stands to be open. By this point I was so cold and not in a great mood. I missed things being easy, it shouldn’t be this hard to go to mass! I missed familiarity and friendly people. And being able to be understood when I asked someone a question. I wandered around Old Town Square and found a Starbucks. I know I know I shouldn’t be going to Starbucks over here, but right then that was what I needed. I got a my vanilla latte and sat a table and wrote in my journal for almost 2 hours. When I got up to leave for brunch I felt 100 times better. I even got to see the Astronomical clock ring right I was walking out of Starbucks! So cool. And I found my own way from Old Town to Cafe Louvre. Franz Kafka, Karel Capek, and Albert Einstein were regulars there! (The picture if of St. Vitus cathedral, that is only a tiny part of it, its huge) .

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping and doing laundry. Last night the Czechs were playing the Russians in a Olympic Hockey game. The student pub downstairs was packed and even though the Czechs lost it was still fun. Last night was also the third round for Orientation back at home. I got to skype with the other Execs for part of the debating process. One the strangest experiences to be 4000 miles away and involved in student leadership! (Another view of Prague to the right!)

Sincerley,

Celia

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