05 June 2011

Prague's fringe

To me fringe is a decoration or something on the periphery. In British English, fringe is a hairstyle that Americans call bangs. But this weekend I found that fringe is also a well-known festival that many cities put on to recognize theatre and musical arts performed by international guests. Who knew?! I was clearly a Fringe Festival virgin but Prague Fringe Festival 2011 showed me how its done.

I barely scratched the surface, seeing only a handful of the 39 performers. Each show was very different and the original material is refreshing. My favorite was Mari-May Gill, an Australian who sang comedy to her guitar. She briefed the audience about her hometown, jackaroos, bundy, and FFP then sang about sheep, cabarets, and homebrews. Another popular theme of the show was a comedic desire to be French.

Two others that I really enjoyed were musical artists. Both were completely different in their own respects. Andi Neate is a Scottish singer/songwriter. She sings beautiful crisp melodies of life, nature, and love to her guitar. The other was Phebe Starr, an Australian singing indie, j-pop songs to her tastefully synthesized piano.

Obviously I was pleasantly surprised by the Prague Fringe Festival and will actively participate in other Fringe Festivals in participating cities wherever life takes me next.

02 June 2011

Things to Appreciate.

My European adventure is winding down and I'm headed back to the states in 3 weeks. I'm excited about where my future will be and what my next challenge is. But reverse culture shock is around the corner. I'm accustomed to the easy lifestyle here and in ways it will be difficult to readjust to good ol' Amurica. Of course there are things things to like and dislike about living the Czech Republic. But I'm going to leave here on a positive note and focus on the things that have been pleasant and memorable.

  1. My students, the ones who laughed with me AND at me. They taught me how to teach.
  2. The wonderful girls I've lived with for the past 9 months. we shared a 10x10 space, a bathroom, a hot plate, and lots of good craic (that's Irish slang for "good times").
  3. The generous people who have invited or re-invited me into their homes and befriended a foreigner.
  4. The most delicious beer in the world. Remember 10 months ago when I didn't even really like beer?
  5. Communicative and cultural obstacles. You're probably thinking "WHAT?! Why will you miss that?" I've found that when there's linguistic or cultural barriers, you find genuine people who are willing to work to overcome them. It's a challenge that I accept here everyday. It's often frustrating but it always leads to an educational and enriching conversation or solution.
  6. Czech crowns- living here is cheap. Czechs compare everything to the price of a beer (a half liter is about 20-35 CZK or 1-1.50 USD). For example: I heard a man say he wouldn't get his hair cut at this one place because it was too expensive. "120 CZK for a haircut?! That's like 5 beers!" That is the ultimate stinginess.
  7. Farmer Markets galore and the availability of foods without preservatives and modified ingredients thanks to EU food regulations and legislation.
  8. Amazing public transportation and the European Rail system with the ability to travel anywhere without a car.
  9. Not having to pay bills- contracts that include free housing, utilities, and internet ROCK. Then again I'm living in a 40 year old, pre-fabricated dormitory... but still.
  10. Working about 30 hours per week and having 4 day workweeks. Of course teaching 11 classes (1.5 hours each), lesson planning, and grading hundreds of essays, homework assignments and tests is no walk in the park but I really enjoyed the downtime afterwards.

And many more things to miss. As my 5th (or 6th depending how you count it) European adventure comes to a close I always have my next one to look forward to. My life as proved that if you take a Europhile out of Europe and she'll find a way to come back.