It’s been six days since my last update, and I am sorry that I have been so negligent in my updates. I promise you that I will try to write more frequently, if not for your enjoyment, than for my memories sake. Plus, as my friend Tyler wittingly remarked, it is better to watch a couple of commercials than sit through an infomercial. It will be hard to try to boggle my mind and remember what has passed since the last entry, but I will try.
This week is my second week of classes, and on Monday I have Czech language and Czech/European Culture-Alternative Literature, Music, and Lifestyles. My language lessons are going along well, although they are a little too slow for my taste. I have decided to do some independent studying as well, and have been creating micro-lessons to help increase my vocabulary. (Don’t worry, I know that I am a huge geek) The culture class is also quite fascinating. Although at times the “alternative” part can be a little forced, it always reminds me of when Sarah used to see “I’ve always been alternative”, we have had some interesting new perspectives of the city and Czech underground life. We went to a fascinating art exhibit, which showed conspiracy theory connections between mind control in the US Army, MGM Studios, Mussorgsky, Fantasia, Witchcraft, and the USSR. Some of the connections are actually very surprising...
Once again, I had the opportunity to enjoy a spectacular performance at the Narodní Divadlo. On Monday, they played Bizet’s Carmen. This is my first time seeing a French opera, but everything I learned in my Introduction to Music course seemed to apply. While Italian operas focus almost entirely on the virtuosity of the singers, French opera plays up the importance of scenery and action; the Italian operas I have seen have had very basic sets, leaving the stage open for the soprano’s brilliance. However, Carmen had grand scenery and a gigantic cast that filled the entire stage. Furthermore, dance played a much larger role in the drama that was unfolding, and the main characters moved more than in the other operas I have seen. There may have been some sacrifice in voice quality as a result of this movement, but if so, it was quite slight. The voices were spectacular, especially Dana Buresova, who played Micaela. At the end of the show, it appeared as if she received an even larger applause than the title character.
Like last time, I was able to switch my seat during intermission and had a better view for the second act. I was surprised by what I saw; although the actors looked quite young from our seats in the first gallery, on the ground floor, you could see how much makeup was used to create this effect. In hind-sight, I was stupid to expect young actors in these challenging roles, but I was surprised at the age of many of the stars.
On Tuesday, I have history class at 8:15 in the morning. Our teacher is a fascinating man who survived World War II and teaches history from a personal perspective. He has told stories already about his escape from Nazi guards and the life of a Jew during Nazi occupation. He looks like a combination of Colonel Mustard and the Monopoly Man, but his personality is probably closer to the Colonel. He is very particular about punctuality. He gave us a ten-minute break, and I could have sworn I was only gone for nine minutes, but when I entered the class room, he reprimanded me harshly.
I also have a political science class on Tuesday. The lessons so far have been irregular, for some reason the University keeps closing during our class time, but our lesson was spectacular this week. We traveled to a small commuter village outside of Prague and had a wonderful dinner of potato soup and goulash while he lecture about the scope of the course: the political development in Central Europe during the past hundred years. After the dinner, my friend Angela and I played hide-and-go seek with an eight-year-old Czech boy. It was great to practice my Czech with a kid; they seem to have more patience and want to make sure you understand them. Afterward, Angela and I sat across from our professor on the train ride home; like most professors, he has a very unique life story, and it is great to study politics under someone who has lived through communism.
Wednesdays should be a very good day of the week, as I have no classes, but this week, it was quite boring. It was laundry day, and once again I made the mistake of doing it here at the dorms. There are three machines, but they are extremely slow, and the entire process of washing and drying my clothes took eight hours. Of course, I was able to read and surf the net while I waited, but laundry continues to be a frustrating process in Prague. During one of the wash cycles I went for an eight or nine mile jog. I have decided to run a half-marathon with my friend in Dresden and want to be in tip-top shape. Jogging around the city is also a great way to see streets and parts of town you have never seen before as well. I saw a section of town that seems to have a lot of the foreign embassies, and I can’t wait to live in a similar neighborhood.
Yesterday was a very lazy day as well. I went to class bright and early, but spent the rest of the day lazing around the dorm. The weather wasn’t the greatest, and I did not want to go out. My friends headed out to Munich to go to Oktoberfest, but I wasn’t able to go with them; unfortunately I have been having some trouble with my bank account and the time it takes for deposits to show up here in Prague. They rented a car and headed out, while I stayed in an watched the rain fall down. Finally, at about 10, I went out to a club with some of my friends who remained in Prague. It was called Cross Club and is perhaps the best club I have ever been to in Prague. It has some sort of robotic theme, and everything is very Matrixesque. It feels like you are in a different world ... I wish I would have discovered it sooner. I got a poster from the place with a gigantic brain wearing sunglasses with lips on the cerebellum. Pretty cool.
I woke up today very late, at about one, and then spent the majority of my day exploring Dejvice. This section of Prague 6 reminds me of Boston, except older and grander. I could imagine living in one of the flats that overlook the broad avenues. I really like that there are all sort of restaurants and shops in Dejvice that seem tailored for Czechs rather than tourists. There is also a surprisingly large Asian population if the number of Chinese restaurants reflects the diversity of Dejvice. Unfortunately, I wasn’t hungry, and today was a holiday and so I wasn’t able to go into the stores. However, I’m glad I know this part of town better. After making dinner, I wrote this entry, and will go to bed soon. Tomorrow I have an excursion to Ceske Budejovice! Ahoj!