30 March 2011

Be Curly. Love Curls.

I have always loved Aveda products, and after seeing this new line for curly hair,
I am in love.
I haven't tried  it yet, but I think I will take a trip to Dresden, Germany just to visit the Aveda Salon there.
Prague doesn't have one. :(

Seriously, if you have curly hair, try Aveda. They know what they're doing. :)

This makes me so happy! Finally, people who know how to work with curls!

26 March 2011

Prague Places #1 in Teaching Abroad Locations!

I suppose it is accurate to say that, "I'm livin' the dream!" Just yesterday on Matador I found this little entry:
1. Czech Republic
Chosen for its idyllic location, amazing scenery, high demand and relative ease of entry, the Czech Republic—specifically Prague—is the traveler’s dream come true. The Prague Post, a weekly English language newspaper, is the best place to look for possibilities from home.

If you'd like to read the full article to see the other top nine locations, follow the link. Top 10 Places for Teaching English Abroad

In another article, 18 Most Scenic Places for Teaching English Overseas, Prague places #9 for most scenic locations to teach in, just after Italy! :D

I certainly can't complain.
This past week has had it's ups and downs,
but there's no other place I'd rather be
in my life right now,
than right here.

Happy Saturday!

23 March 2011

Signs of Spring

1. I went without a coat yesterday. It was glorious!
2. My sunglasses are now in my purse again. ;)
3. After tutoring, my Korean family offered me a sushi dinner with a wonderful honey mustard salad. A completely cold dinner! I felt like I was in FL again.
4. On my way home after a long day I received an invite for some homemade Sangria at a friend's flat.
5. My cheeks still hold a Macedonian glow, but my foundation is actually darker than my skin tone. I suppose my skin needs to find the sun again to gain its natural shade. Ha!

Hello spring! We've been waiting anxiously for you!


11 March 2011

I'll be gone to Macedonia for the next week!

Smile a smile!
While you smile
another smiles,
And soon there are miles
and miles of smiles,
and life's worth while
if you but smile. ~Anon
A Smile by _cassia_
I gave my smile away as happy as could be.
And every time I gave it, my smile came back to me.

I am learning to smile at random people in Prague. I've established the hard, serious face of the Czechs, but now I'm converting back to my smiley face. So, beware, if you see me on the streets, I may show you a goofy grin, like a gun shot, it'll stun you before you know what hit you. I'm tapping into my Christian+American ways, and they can be a lethally joyful combination. 


10 March 2011

Maturita Ball. Ples. Prom. These kids know how to dance!

This past Monday evening I attended my students' Maturita Ball. Maturita is the name of the exiting exam the seniors will take before graduating; this exam really is the prerequisite for university. And, unfortunately, much of it is to test the students' English, if they comprehend it or not. That's why I've been hired. To teach them "real" English, to speak with them at a natural pace, and to have them speaking and understanding quickly as they form sentences. 

Enough about the test, on to the amazing Czech cultural night I experienced. There are more differences to the  Czech Ples and the American Prom than there are similarities. First of all, at the ball itself, parents and teachers are encouraged to come. Not as chaperones, but as participants. The adults in the ballroom were just as rowdy as the students. Secondly, dancing is strictly ballroom. There was a live band playing all sorts of dances, while students and parents and teachers danced with one another. Apparently, in Czech schools dancing lessons are a part of the curriculum, because everyone knew what they were doing. While I did not. A brave student asked me to dance and showed me two different steps to use. He's quite the comedian in class. And a fellow teacher asked me to dance and led me around the ballroom. Thankfully following is easy when the leaders know the steps. ;)

The night wore on while the honored students received Maturita sashes and roses, had many professional photos taken, and had professional dancers perform on the floor. I felt like I was watching 'Dancing with the Stars,' only live. One of my students was one to perform. He doesn't say much in class, only smirks and tries to play on his phone. While I give him a hard time. He's in my class of all boys, which I hate, because they talk more than girls and always seem bored, but I know some of them understand more English than they let on. Well, he danced with his partner like he was a contestant on 'Dancing'. I was floored. Now I know, he's at least passionate about something, be it not English. 
Here is a short video from my seat on the balcony. Two seniors are singing a song they made up about their 8 years at school while the others sway below. Those are about half of my students down there on the floor. I see about 200 kids on a weekly basis.....so many hard names to memorize....
(not sure why the sound isn't working, but you get the idea)
Later in the night the students honored their homeroom teachers who have been their "head" teachers over the years and performed funny skits and dances as a surprise for the parents and teachers. The "midnight surprise" is a kind of rite of passage, all of the seniors participate in some way. And the night wouldn't be complete without the "throwing of money". The classes gathered parachutes while the people from the balconies threw money to them for their drinking activities at the afterparty. Just another subtle hint that Ples is much different than Prom. Parents and teachers who encourage drinking...what!? Well, remember that the drinking age is much lower than 21. Ahem, Americans. 
At midnight, everyone left, teachers and parents to their beds and students to the private club. Everyone was invited, but only the brave show up. I guess I am brave. I was one of two teachers who braved the afterparty. I stayed until 3am and danced with the kids and watched their slideshow of past memories in the background.
Can I just say how much I love my students! 
I think they were a bit overly excited that I showed up and played games and danced with them. The whole night they were asking me questions, dragging me here, and there, asking me to do this or that, "play foosball with us, Hannah, come dance with us, Hannah"....
I only left at 3am out of duty for the next day. But really I wanted to stay until they closed the doors at 5am.
I had so much fun; I can't wait for next year's Ples. 

Teaching in a foreign country is the best job in the world!


09 March 2011

My Six Month Anniversary

 Cream sweater, garage sale find from mom
Grey tank, Anthro
Jeans, Italian leather boots
Ribbon watch, Urban Threads
Shell necklace, Florida beach

I've officially been here six months!
September 8, 2010-March 8, 2011
Funny enough, this was my "plane" outfit
on the way over here.
I survived the doubt and anxiety,
the fear and apprehension,
and braved through the confusing and maddening
times living in a city
that has seen everything.

Four months to go, and I get a little break at home
in the good ol' US of A!

08 March 2011

March. April. May. My Travel Plans.

photos found on flickr

Macedonian Vineyards
On Friday I leave for a week in Macedonia with Young Life Prague to build a playground for children. As a new high school teacher I've been immersed in teenage culture, and with it comes new ways to serve and help out. I'm not sure if any of my students are going yet, but I'll be one of the very few native English speakers on the trip. I'm so excited! Only not about sleeping on the floor for a week...

Damrak - Amsterdam

Purple rain tulips
Over Easter weekend a friend and I are traveling to Amsterdam, Bruges, and Ghent in the Netherlands and Belgium. We are so excited to wear flirty dresses and ride bikes and buy beautiful tulips. It's our official spring welcoming trip!

Cefal├╣ II

Sicily-Agrigento: Concordia
At the end of May a few of us are flying down to Sicily for a long weekend with a crowd from couchsurfing. We'll be sleeping in homes, or perhaps outside on the beach, and attending numerous Italian picnics hosted by Couchsurfing Palermo. In the meantime, I'm meeting with my Italian language partner to prepare for my reunion with Italia!

Goodbye Winter! Hello Spring!


07 March 2011

Reading of other Places and Times

This month I've been immersed in The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. There's something really magical about reading of another place and time when I'm immersed "in real life" in a new and different culture than my own. The Last of the Mohicans, the movie, is my all-time favorite. But I've never gotten around to reading the actual book. Until now. In Prague. It's been a much easier book to tackle than other classics, but it's still taken me about all month to finish. Perhaps this novel is the real cause as to why I've been obsessed with hiking lately. ;)

The original story is vastly different than the movie.
But I suppose that is to be expected.
I now love book and movie, but for different reasons.
I love the romance and tragedy of the movie;
I love the words and descriptions of the American wilderness in the book.
And the strong bond between brothers and friends, daughters and fathers
and sisters, trust between strangers,
and commitment until the final end.
It's beautiful.

"Winters and summers, nights and days, have we roved the wilderness in company, eating of the same dish, one sleeping while the other watched; and afore it shall be said that Uncas was taken to the torment, and I at hand--There is but a single ruler of us all, whatever may be the color of the skin; and him  I call to witness--that before the Mohican boy shall perish for the want of a friend, good faith shall depart the 'arth, and 'Kill-deer' become as harmless as the tooting we'pon of the singer!" ~says the Scout to Heyward about Uncas, his brother of the forest


Next up is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I have joined a bloggers book club and am going to blog about the book as I'm reading it. I'm so excited! I've always wanted to be a part of a book club, and now I can be. Even if it is a little unconventional. I've always wanted to read Jane Eyre, and after my experience with her sister's novel, Wuthering Heights, I'm thrilled to be back in their world. Especially since there is a movie premiering soon, I have to read it before I see it. :)

Go pick up a book and expand your world.
It's magical!


06 March 2011

Going for Walks is Healthy for the Soul

Lines Written in Early Spring
by William Wordsworth 

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths; 
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played:
Their thoughts I cannot measure,
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there. 

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man

My nature hike through the villages 
outside of Prague on Saturday, 
12km, 6hrs,
beautiful weather, but still no green.

Soon, though, soon.

02 March 2011

Yellow is the color of a Prague Spring

Grey dress and thin belt from Zara in Prague. 
Yellow cardigan and olive tights given to me. 
Flats from Urban Threads in Gainesville, FL. 
Charm bracelet from Portobello Road market in London.
Earrings from a Florida garage sale. :)

Today I got my hair chopped off, about 3 inches in total, plus some angling and refining.
I told the Czech hairdresser I only wanted a trim,
but now I have shoulder-length bouncy curls.
Oh well, it grows back.
And I'm actually enjoying the change. 

Change is in the air.
I saw buds yesterday on some trees.

The week is half-way over!

01 March 2011

There are a lot of sites in and around Prague...to travel to!

Before arriving in Prague I really thought I would be traveling to different cities and countries on a monthly basis.
My hopes have not been crushed, only set to a slower pace.
Which may be healthier.
In my six months here I've been to Vienna, Austria twice; Bratislava, Slovakia three times; Budapest, Hungary once, Nuremberg, Germany and many small towns and villages throughout the Czech Republic. I had hoped to see a country a month, but Prague and its surrounding countryside have caught me by surprise.

A few weekends ago I went hiking (in the snow) with friends and some random couchsurfers. Gratitude to the Prague Meetings group on the site. We hiked about 7km while it snowed through forests, fields, and foothills. It was probably my favorite "winter" memory here in Prague.

Hiking just outside of the city

Then, this past weekend, Kristen and I joined another couchsurfers event just outside the city of Brno. (The second largest city in the CZ and Prague's rival) I must say though, Brno doesn't even hold a finger up to Prague. It's similar in size to my own little neighborhood within Prague. But the day was wonderful, with many new friends and lots of Czech wine to try. We even explored an old monastery that has been abandoned for years; that's what happens when Communism takes over. They don't restore national treasures. (Note: CZ is no longer under Communism, but it does have a lasting influence within the govn't today)

Kristen and I at the monastery
Wine in a cellar
This next weekend I'll be hiking yet again, along the Vltava river for 10km with some friends, new and old. It's nice to be able to explore in depth the place I call "home" for a short while. :)

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