24 October 2010

Photo of the Week- A view of Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov has earned it's UNESCO World Heritage Site title. Nestled in the meandering Vltava River, it is complete with the 14th century castle, churches, Eggenburg brewery, and more romantic overlooks than you would expect in a small town. This panorama was one of the many photos I took after touring the castle and wandering through the gorgeous castle gardens. It was a perfect location for a birthday weekend get-away in the Czech Republic.

600 Years of Time.

Counting down from 30 minutes is daunting when you don't know what's in store. The crowd in  Staroměstské náměstí scrunched together like an accordion to accommodate the growing numbers. I happened to be walking by on my way to a restaurant, and was struck with curiosity. Attention shifted quickly from the digital countdown to the Astronomical Clock when it was illuminated literally by the hands of time. It was quite a treat- bright lights, sound simulations, and a memorable 10 minute history lesson celebrating the 600 year old Astronomical Clock. The Macula did a great job not only with the presentation and technology, but also with drawing the attention of so many on-lookers willing to sacrifice 10-40 minutes to live in the moment.

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

17 October 2010

Photo of the Week- Old Jewish Quarter

Hundreds of tombstones from the early 15th century lean and wither away in the Old Jewish Cemetery. Synagogues, cemeteries, and halls in the Jewish Quarter are testament to the turbulent history for the Jews of Prague over the past millennium.

15 October 2010

The Prettiest View with You

It's a novelty to see
hot air balloons floating in the sky. It's like spotting rainbow or a shooting star- it doesn't happen often. What is it like to dangle from a basket in the sky on the blow of a hot flame? When Jon surprised me with a hot air balloon ride over the Bohemian countryside for our anniversary, I imagined people looking up at us from below smiling and pointing as I have done.

The sun rose behind the Konopiště Castle as the basket freed itself from the icy grip of the field. The fog swirl around the trees and hug the rolling hills. We saw it all from above. The trees flashed as the sun illuminated their orange, red, and yellow autumn leaves. We saw it all from above. The interruption of raging flames kept us afloat. We did the basket shuffle around our Czech balloon operator as we took in the views from every angle. After a-rather-close-encounter-with-the-trees landing, we celebrated "us" and our ballooning experience with some Bohemian sparkling wine. Our driver exclaimed, "Breakfast!" as he popped open the bottle. The whole thing was very surreal. A sunrise in the sky over the most beautiful countryside-- not to mention castles and autumn leaves. Despite it all, my favorite part wasn't the things I saw but the person I saw them with.

09 October 2010

Photo of the Week- Legacy of John Lennon lives on in Prague

This week John Lennon turned 70. You may ask, "Isn't he dead?". No, he is still very much alive. I saw him today at the John Lennon Wall in Prague. His messages of peace and love have been illustrated on this wall by dissidents since his death in '80 leading up to the fall of communism in '89. The candles and flowers scattered beside the wall prove that Czechs have not forgotten the man who gave them hope. John Lennon žije.

07 October 2010

A few words on the Prague Metro

Metro stations. Everywhere they are different yet the same. Or are they the same yet different?

Certain things about the Prague Metro will bring you back in time- Soviet Union perhaps? This blog focuses in on the interesting and rather earthy tones seen in the Prague metro stations. Many stations do have these "convex and concave shapes" shapes seen in the photos, but as you get outside the city center  toward the terminal stations, you will see other shapes, patterns and colors, like Dejvická. Pulling into this station, you might have the impression that you've time warped back to the '70s.

Colors and shapes are interesting but let's talk escalators. Try hopping on one of these...

Once you're on, get comfortable. The Prague metro stations are so far underground that you will ride this roller coaster for about 1 minute- no joke. Let's take a ride.

04 October 2010

Cheers: to Culture Shock!

To welcome myself and the 2 other new English teachers, the Department of Languages gathered in the lounge for a little get together a couple hours before classes began. Everyone grabbed a glass of bubbly (or was it wine? I'm not sure..). This was a toast to our cooperation and success teaching with the Department of Languages. We all said Na Zdraví, or cheers, and downed our drinks. Refills were offered but graciously declined.
It was a very nice and warm welcome but a bit of culture shock. First, alcohol on campus. Second, allowing us to consume the tiniest amout of said alcohol before class. These customs would not fly at my alma mater. It was a very different experience for me at this welcome metting but because of that, it felt sincere. New things like this are why I am here. 
Na Zdraví!

Yo, teach!

Time Warp: Let me bring you back to Monica in college. I fluttered my social butterfly wings all over campus. I loved being involved in organizations and stayed busy working, volunteering, and attending this and that event. Put me in infront of a large group of people? See ya... I wouldn't do it, or not without a fuss. Leading up to my senior year I knew this had to change. I enrolled in a public speaking class. I taught Study Abroad 101 at the International Center, and over the summer I facilitated a group of 13 high schoolers for 2 weeks at the Interntaional Leadership Academy. A little experience apparently went a long way. On Wednesday I stood in front of my first class of 25 students and got into the nitty gritty of English grammar. It wasn't nerve-wracking. Shaky hands and stuttering voice McGee did not stop by. It was just fun. 

Enough about me. My students are awesome. They're all Curious Georges and want to know everything about me. They participate well and they speak minimal Czech during classtime. The classroom is pretty basic. There's white board and dry-erase marker. It's challanging not to use technology as I'm used to at Mizzou. But it is also refreshing and perhaps less destracting for the students.

Needless to say my first few days as a teacher was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. This week starts a "full week" of class and I will need my 3 day weekend to recover :).

03 October 2010

Photo of the Week- Celebrating the Patron Saint of the Bohemia

This chandelier hangs in the Chapel of St. Wenceslas in St. Vitus Cathedral. The Czech Republic shut down on September 28th to celebrate "Good King Wenceslas" and Czech Statehood Day.