Sunday, January 23, 2011

4C Maturita Ball

At my school the students are separated by "classes".  About 30 students belong to each class and they take all their classes together.  In America we classify them by the year that they are in school.  For example, 8th grade, 9th grade, 10th grade, etc and every single student in that year belong to the same class.  In the Czech Republic they are divided even among the same year.  Seniors at my school here in the Czech Republic there is 4C, 4D,4B, 6A, and V8G.  Kids in those classes would all be considered seniors in America but here they are identified by their class.

Last night I went to my final ball.  Each class has a Maturita Ball.  The kids in the class have a theme and they organize the ball themselves.  It was 4C's turn last night.  The 30 students looked beautiful in their gowns and suits and their theme was commercials.  The ball was held at a local hotel and all family, friends, and teachers are invited.

Romana (colleague and friend) and I went to the ball together.  Romana has been my mentor here in the Czech Republic and I definitely would be lost with out her!  She has been an amazing support and it was fun to have a night out with her :)

Students from the younger classes also come to the balls to support their friends.  The students on the left are some of my third year students.  The students on the right are two of my 4D students.  Their English is amazing and I am proud to be their teacher :)

For some reason, I can't get these pictures to rotate so you can see them normally but I thought they needed to be posted so you may have to crink your neck a bit to view.  The one above and below are pictures of my 4C students....all super 4C students

Their gowns are beautiful and they all shined.

Karolina  (blonde 2nd from left) and Tina (brown hair on right) are two of my students and their dance group did a performance at the ball.  It was Karolina's ball so I am sure it was even more exciting for her to perform in front of her family and friends.  They are amazing!!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Jan 14, 2011

Nothing much new to report.  I have not written for awhile so I thought I would post an update.  Last weekend we met up in Olomouc (city about a 4 hour train ride from Tabor) for Brockś birthday.  There were a couple Americans and some Czechś there to celebrate Brockś birthday.  He had prepared American hamburgers and french fries and it was nice to get a taste from home.

After a while we got started talking about the Velvet Revolution (end of communism for Czech Republic).  It was absolutely captivating to listen to the Czechś recount their memories from that time period.  It was 22 years ago, so the Czech Republic is still a baby country, as far as the government goes and I soaked up all the information they had to share.

Hanka (colleague of Brockś) remembers being in college when the revolution started.  Her parents did not want her to go into school, but she did anyway.  The revolution started when university students, actors, etc started sharing the real information.  Before hand, all information that was given to the public was propaganda.  University students turned their gyms into printing presses and passed out the truth.  Hanka remembers going in and all the students were in the gym and she remembers her hands being completely black from all the ink from the presses.  She said that theaters were also being turned into printing locations.

Ivo (husband of one of Brockś colleagues) talked about how, before the revolution, he went into the passport office to get a passport so he could travel.  The man behind the counter asked him WHY he wanted a passport, so Ivo turned around and left...without a passport.

Czechś were not allowed to travel to any non communistic countries during the communism regime.  Even Yugoslavia was off limits (even though it was communistic) because they had rejected Russia and therefore Czechś were not allowed to travel there.

These are just a few of the stories that we heard that night and just a few compared to the millions of stories that I haven´t even heard yet.  I just think it is really amazing to be this close to history, to hear first hand stories about what it was like to live during that time period.  I have taught about communism in my American schools, but it was just information that I got from a book.  I am able to hear history from real people and see the emotions that were connected to those experiences and that is not expressed in any text book.

The following week (this week) school has been good.  I have had some great classes and discussions with my students.  It is soooooo wonderful having small class sizes.  I wish the American school system would see the value in protecting smaller classes.

Funny moment this week came on Thursday.  I was in my 3D class and they were finishing a writing essay test when an announcement came over the intercom.  Some students were speaking, singing and I asked Misha (student) what they were saying.  I thought they were speaking Czech.  She paused...laughed...and said, "they are speaking English."  OMG....I couldn´t even recognize my defense, they were speaking really closely into the microphone and it was hard to understand them.  Jeez Louise.  Ha....

I hope all are well.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Last Day-Going Home from Lisbon

We were sure that after our nightmare traveling experiences on the 25th, that flying home was going to be no problem----WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!

Our flight was suppose to be at 12:20 so we left the hostel at 10 after breakfast.  When we got to the airport, Lithusana had delayed our flight for 2 hours.  Are you kidding me???  I am NEVER flying with them again.  Positive thoughts, positive our 12:20 flight ended up leaving Lisbon at 2:30 and arrived in Frankfurt at 6:30pm.  We missed our connecting flight to Prague so our next flight wouldn't leave until 9:50.  the last train from Prague to Tabor is at 10:16pm so I would miss that.  Never slept in an airport before, guess there is a first time for everything.

Just as it was getting close to 9:50, we were told that the flight was going to be delayed again.  Our flight wouldn't leave until 11:00pm.  At this point I have spent over 14 hours at the airport or on a plane and I am now quite familiar with the Lisbon and Frankfurt airports.

We arrived in Prague a little after midnight and after we grabbed our baggage we huddled on some benches until we could catch the first train to the Prague train station at 4:16am.  Brock piled some clothes on himself and I watched more of Criminal Minds to pass the time.  After all the time in the airports on the 25th and the time in the airport on the 30th/31st, I watched almost 21 episodes of Criminal Minds.  That is how much time I spent in an airport!!!!

At 4:16 we dealt with the below zero freezing temperature and caught the bus to the train station and I was able to catch the 5:16am train to Tabor.  After getting up at 7am, getting to the airport at 10am, I walked into my flat almost 24 hours later.  I had been awake for 24 hours.  I went to bed and slept til almost 7pm.

Seat Cushion-Lisbon-Day 4

After breakfast I took by myself to do some shopping and I went and sat at the bay for a bit.  It was nice to be by myself and have some time for reflections.  It was super windy out but the skies were blue and the air was fresh.  My nose has stopped running and I am able to breath a little bit again.  The hostel is located right in the heart of Lisbon and the shopping area.  There are many shops to browse through, both clothing department stores and tourist traps shops.

    beach area

 beach area
 famous bridge in the background
 Lisbon statue
 square by the beach in Lisbon
 clock on the way to the beach in Lisbon
tile on buildings
 Christmas decorations in Lisbon, shopping area
 statue with Christmas decorations
 building in Lisbon with yellow tile
 building with blue tile
 city square fountain
 architecturally interesting elevator
 statue of Jesus across the bay
at the beach in Lisbon
 me at the beach
self portrait of me at the beach.  It was super windy so I just had enough time to pull the hair out of my eyes.
square by the bay.  They set up to celebrate New Year's Eve

 Through the arch you will find the streets of the city where my hostel was and a city worth exploring
 beach with bridge and statue in the background
beach with the bridge in background

a homeless guy in the shopping area.  You know the economy must be rough when even the dog has to go to work.  The dog sat perfectly still while it held the plastic coin jar.

 Lisbon at sunset
 I met Brock back at the hostel for lunch and then my bottom didn't leave the seat cushion on the couch at the hostel for the next 5 hours.  I watched Criminal Minds on Brock's computer while he did some of his own exploring.  It was our lazy day to do nothing and it was just fine with us.  We knew we were wasting a day but I think part of vacation is relaxing and we had basically explored all of Lisbon so we were not missing out on anything.

We were turbo explorers the first three days so day 4 was completely justified to just relax.  There are so many people in and out of the hostel that they became a sort of mini traveling family the time we were there.  It was nice to just veg and people watch and talk to my new traveling friends.

    That night a bunch of us went out to the Barrio Alta neighborhood to find some live Fado music.  Our hostel employee Sofia recommended a local Fado bar and we set off to enjoy the local music culture. Fado is music played from the heart and it tells stories of the Portuguese culture through the passionate singing.  Unfortunately by the time we got there, it was packed so a couple of us headed back to the hostel and drank and played cards.  A guy from England, Tom, taught some of us new card games which was a lot of fun to play.

Alfama - Lisbon - Day 3

Today we decided to ride the historic Tram 28.  The tram goes from one end of the city to the next.  Lisbon is basically at the bottom of the bowl and the Alfama neighborhood is up to the right and there is another neighborhood up to the left.  For 1.50 euro you can ride the tram to whichever stop you want.  Each time you get off you have to pay to get back on.

Our first stop was in the Alfama area.  Brock had heard about the Thieves Market and we wanted to check it out.  It literally is a huge flea market where the locals spread blankets out on the ground and sell absolutely everything, including and mostly junk.  I guess it makes sense since in Europe people don't have garage sales (since most people don't have a garage) and this is a location where the locals can set up their area and sell what they don't need.  Not really worth seeing in my opinion but it was said to see in all the tourist books.
locals set up their tents or blankets to sell their goods.
 locals use the parking lot to sell their goods as well.


 Our next stop was back down the hill to the opposite side of the city to a church.  After the church we walked back to the hostel.  It was all down hill so it was all good.  At the hostel Brock and I split up and I walked back up to Alfama to an amazing look out point. There is a cafe at the top and I had a pastry and soaked in my environment.  I am so lucky to be where I am at, at this moment in time.  That thought just kept going through my mind.  I loved feeling the freedom of being by myself and exploring the unknown city.

 view from a little park in the Alfama area
 view of Lisbon from park cafe
 view from neighborhood in Alfama area
Above:  Many of the buildings are made from tile.  It is really beautiful
view from cafe mid way down the Alfama area

     I walked my way back down towards Lisbon and stopped at another cafe halfway down and had a glass of Port and appreciated the view of the city.  How cool was it that I was drinking Port in Portugal.  WOW!! So amazing.  I met back up with Brock and we made pizza for dinner and hung out at the hostel.