Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On the Other Side of the Vltava

Life is great in Mala Strana. I really like my dorm, I somehow lucked out and have a pretty big living space and a common room, and the location is beautiful. I also am quite glad I am further from the old town center. It forces me to explore more and more of the city and what I have seen so far is fascinating. I am also slowly falling in love with public transportation. For my first six weeks in Prague, I did not have a PT pass. I would walk everywhere, and, unsurprisingly, this resulted in a limited knowledge of the city. However, I can now travel anywhere at anytime for free. Just today, I was in Prague 1, 2, 3, and 6. I want to visit all the lines of the metro, and many of the different trams.
Czech class is a little different than what I was used to. Right now, I am taking an intensive two-week course. Everyday we have class scheduled for four and half hours. My teacher, however, takes this time limit lightly. She wants us to all meet her a half an hour early so we can explore the city with her while she teaches us new words. She also doesn’t mind holding us late after class. While she can be frustrating at times, I think that I will probably be able to learn Czech more quickly with her because of her style. I feel it strengthening throughout the day...
One of my favorite parts about being in the CR is that I look like I could be Czech. Very often, I am spoken to in Czech and can pass by as Czech as long as I don’t say much. (Like at the fruit market, where I can manage with just saying hello and how much I want to buy). Of course, this can be frustrating when they learn that I am not a native speaker. At the metro today, I was buying some goat cheese (how many times in my life am I going to be able to say that?) and the vendor chatted away in Czech. When she realized I wasn’t really following her, she changed into German. Of course, this was much worse. She didn’t speak English, though, so we ended up saying some niceties in Spanish. I’m not sure why she wouldn’t stick with my broken Czech, but it was an interesting interaction.
My location is also a lot better for my physical health. Very close to our dorms is Petrin Hill which is surrounded by a park. Jogging there is amazingly tiring, there are tons of hills, but it completely rewarding. The hill affords the best views of Prague, and it is so magical to do such a simple thing as exercise in this beautiful capital. I’m also quite happy to be reunited with a kitchen, and I hope to bring some Czech cuisine back to the States!

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