Monday, September 10, 2007

A Substantial Update

It’s been a week since my last update, and what a long week it has been! Class for 5 hours a day, we only focus on Czech language right now, and then walking around the city for a while, and studying every night. My teacher thinks we should study at least two hours a night, which makes a total of 7 hours a day of Czech and then trying to use this Czech for the other nine waking hours. I really enjoy the language, and it I have been able to act as an interpreter for my group at times.
This weekend, I went to the Pilsner Brewery with my friends, and we learned more about the beer culture here in the Czech Republic. I was the only student in the higher level Czech class, so at points I was able to act as a translator. Even though I know such a small vocabulary, I’ve been able to get my point across with the words I do know, and the Czechs really like it when you speak their language. I was able to get a student rate for our group, and, after a giant-sized game of chess with big beer bottles as pawns, we toured the brewery. It started with a video that spoke of the history of the brewery, and the manner in which this was portrayed was hilarious. They had filmed the story in a style similar to the history channel. It was so serious, and made the beer look like it occupied a significant part of European history. The story of the master brewer and discovering the recipe was portrayed like the drafting of the constitution. I have never seen such hyperbole used in advertising a beer.
Afterward, we toured the rest of the brewery and saw how beer was made and tasted unique beers that only visitors of the brewery can try. They were created in the same fashion as the first beers, and were more authentic and delicious. After buying a couple of souvenirs and a game of beer chess we headed into the city.

Pilzen is not the most interesting city. Some of the building’s facades are interesting, but there is not much to see there besides the brewery. We couldn’t even find a restaurant that looked good, but we were lucky enough to stumble into an exhibition, which portrayed the earth from above through photography. The pictures were gorgeous, and showed the world from various countries under various conditions. Many of the photos showed pictures of calamities and described the differences in life-style between the third world and developed states. It was kind of sickening to see how much better off I am than people around the world. The fact that I can have fresh water, a clean home, and food everyday is such a gift, and looking at these pictures really accentuated how lucky I am. The pictures also showed many different geographical wonders around the world, and the negative impact of the human race. There are so many places in the world I still want to see, and I hope we can continue conserving what is left, and stop the destruction of the beautiful world we live on.
When we finished looking at these interesting photos, we had to head back to the bus. We were kind of lost, but I was able to ask everyone we passed where the bus station was, and we slowly made it back to the station. I could understand snippets of the directions, but never enough to fully understand where to go. Fortunately, we made it back to Prague safely.
Sunday was a day of rest. I was pleased to discover that we have a piano in our dormitory, and I spent the morning practicing piano for the first time in three months. It was spectacular. Well, my playing was far from spectacular, but the feeling of being able to sit down and play again was great. Of course, I am a little rusty, but I am very excited that I can practice again. I just wish I had some of my music books... I’ve also gotten back into cooking. After languages, and international relations, I would have to say cooking is my greatest passion. It is so fun to cook, and I have been able to cook for my roommates and it’s great to get feedback. I really enjoy trying to copy Czech and Bulgarian dishes that I have tried; I only wish I had an oven. It is hard to make impressive meals when you only have two hot plates.
I have met a lot of great people in Prague from around the US, and it is great to be living in a dorm again. Of course, it is weird that all my friends back in the states are heading to their colleges, and that people are taking classes at BC again, but it is nice to be doing something completely different. Next week, I start regular classes. I am really excited, since my classes focus on cultural studies and political science. I also have the opportunity to engage in a lot of cultural activities; tonight we are going to the opera! This program fits me like a glove, and I am really glad I chose it.

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