29 September, 2009

Do All Trains in Europe Feel Like the Hogwarts Express?

Before I start with anything else, I want to first direct your attention to this website and this story in particular as the title was submitted by yours truly. I recommend you have a bit of fun and submit one yourself. (Feel free to post the link back here so that I can read them!)

I know everyone is curious, so I'll just cut right to the chase. Budapest this past weekend was absolutely AMAZING! I didn't think I was going to enjoy myself as much as I did. Before I left I thought that this was going to be a big mistake. I mean, I didn't really know where Budapest was, nor did I know have any idea of what we were actually going to do. I was definitely pleasantly surprised.

The weekend started at 3:20am on Friday, when I woke up to make sure I had everything, had a shower and was awake enough to leave the apartment and go to the train station. Unfortunately, as per usual with me, I did forget things...like my camera charger...which caused my camera to die on Saturday. We left the apartment at 4:15am, but we had missed the last tram to the train station. Another one wasn't on its way for another 30 minutes, which meant we would have been cutting it close to make it to the train on time. So, to try and get to the station on time Steph, Tarek, Dave, Drew and myself (we had all missed the tram) decided to take our backpacks and walk to the station. It wouldn't have been that far of a walk. We made it past Karlovo Namesti (a stop that lets us know we are about halfway to Wenceslas Square) when the others (Liza, Kris and Shayna) called to find out where we were. With the tension running high and a fear of missing our train, Steph and I took a cab to the train station...while the boys continued the walk to the station. We all made it and finally caught the 5:28am train heading out of Prague towards Beograd.

The train ride to Budapest was comfy. We took up two compartments, which reminded me and some of the others of the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter...it made me a little bit giddy to be honest. What can I say, it was my first time traveling through Europe by train. (You must remember, this is my first time in Europe period...so ever
ything is an experience for me.) Most of us slept on the way. It was a rather quiet ride with the exception of the conductor coming in every so often to check our tickets. I also really enjoyed looking out at the country side as we passed by.

Seven hours later, we finally made it to Budapest. A quick look outside of the train station revealed a city that looked much more like Eastern Europe than the Czech Republic. My initial vision was confirmed when we hopped on the metro to try and find our hostel. The cars looked older and were reminiscent of something you see in history books having to do with Communism.

After taking the metro and a tram, we were finally close to our hostel. I could feel the excitement building on this adventure in the making. Now, I have never stayed in a hostel before, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. (I mean for a long while, I thought people had just spelled "hotel" wrong.) The gate to enter the hostel was terrifying to say the least. A big metal, barred gate that blocked off a staircase inside a sketchy looking corridor with no signs. Menacing is probably an accurate word to descri
be this gate and give an idea of how I felt upon seeing this gate. We buzzed in and climbed the stairs to reveal the Riverside Hostel...which reminded me of a hippie summer camp. The receptionist was really nice and very accommodating. I couldn't have been more surprised. We checked into our room (yes, singular...there was one room with twelve beds in it...and there were ten of us...we all ended up staying in the same room, which was fun. Kind of like summer camp!) and then set out on an adventure to find authentic Hungarian food.

We found some at a restaurant that was off the beaten path and the food was very good. I got some creamy, cheesy chicken dish with rice and fries...yum! After lunch, we set off for a self-g
uided tour of sights around Pest. We walked along the river and saw Parliament, the Chain Bridge and the Budapest castle from across the way. It was a lot of fun to just wander the city and see what we could on our own with only a map to help. Eventually, we split up and I went with Shayna, Steph, Dave, Drew and Tarek for coffee, or in my case lemonade which was not the lemonade I was expecting...a bit different than American lemonade, it was more fizzy and less sweet. It also contained more than lemon, there were oranges in it as well. It wasn't too bad though.

Once we finished up here, we wandered down the main road of Budapest and back to our hostel with a quick stop into the Nike store along the way. We arrived back and got ready to try and go out to a bar for the night. The receptionist recommended a place not too far away, but seeing as none of us bought passes to take the tram or metro, we tried walking the distance. We would have made it had we traveled a bit farther, but our attention span at 12:30am was not really all that good. So, we settled for sitting at a gyro stand. They did have the best baklava! (It was chocolate.) Kris and myself along with Liza and Doushan (a friend from Slovakia that we have met through one of our "local" buddies...I also think I spelled his name wrong...) also headed back towards the hostel. This time we successfully bought tram tickets and made our way back to the hostel.

Saturday came rather quickly and Kris, Liza, Doushan and myself went for breakfast and then headed toward the castle. (I initially wanted to take a bike tour of the city, but no one else wanted to go so a tour of the castle was just as good.) We walked along the train bridge and got to take the vehicular to the top of the hill and overlook Pest. We also made it up to the top at 12pm, just in time to see the changing of the guard.
It was beautiful. After a walk around the castle grounds, we wandered over to the Matthias Church, where we went inside to look at the beautiful architecture and painting of the church, and then to the Fisherman's Bastian, which reminded me once again of Hogwarts. (I think Europe tends to remind me of Harry Potter...haha.) We then took a tour of the Medieval Synagogue and headed down from the castle district for lunch on the Buda side of things.

After we had finished eating (I had paprika veal with homemade dumplings. So GOOD!), we walked along the river and across Margaret Bridge heading back towards our hostel (which Kris and I overshot by a long shot). Once back at the hostel Kris and I decided to go and get coffee and then possibly meet up with Liza and Doushan to see the Jewish Quarter. This didn't happen and Kris and I enjoyed hot chocolate and a mango smoothie while sitting along the street in Budapest watching the people go by. We then went to get something quick for dinner. This is where I got to try Longosh...it reminded me of fried dough, but instead of being sweet it was more salty. It also had cheese, sour cream, ketchup, ham and I believe garlic on it as well. Yum! I wish I could have taken a picture, but by this point my camera was already dead. Fail...

We headed back to the hostel to meet the others who were heading out to a bar/club called Morison's 2. I really liked this place. It had places you could dance, a bar, and upstairs there were pool tables and video games. I wish I could have stayed longer, but as we didn't head out until 1:00am I was a bit tired and ready for sleep. I did have a rum and coke though and I got to play one of those arcade racing games from 1995. It made my night.

Sunday morning came and Kris left to catch the train rather early, but the rest of us had the entire day ahead. I went with Shayna and Steph to return the bike they had rented on Saturday in the Jewish Quarter. We then stopped for breakfast at an adorable and inexpensive place. I had the best french toast ever! And the hot chocolate I had was nice and thick. The start to a really good day. We returned to the hostel briefly to grab our "swim gear" (silly me didn't think she'd be swimming in September, especially since I don't go at home...) and we headed off to the baths. To get there we had to take what is claimed as the Oldest Metro line in all of Continental Europe. (Even though the London tube is older, Hungary doesn't like to count it because the UK is an island.) We saw Hero's Square, which was beautiful, and crossed through a quaint little park to the bath/spa.

I have never experie
nced anything like this. We changed and made our way outside where we found three pools. A warm one that contained a whirlpool, a cool one that was used for actual swimming and then a really hot one which you could play chess in. (The next pool I get is definitely going to have a chess board installed in it.) My favorite was the warm one. The culture surrounding these pools was also much different than anything in the states. There was no rough housing or running around the pool, it was more like people just sitting around and soaking themselves. I really enjoyed it. After an hour or so of soaking, Shayna, Steph and myself, made our way to an area that overlooked the pools and just sat and talked. It was a really relaxing Sunday. The boys eventually met us there, but this was as we were leaving. Shayna, Steph and I grabbed a nice sit down dinner in the area and then attempted to go to the Terror Museum...which had just closed when we got there. Oh well...

We wandered around for a bit and then back to the hostel to meet up with everyone and figure out if there were any plans for the evening. Nothing was really official, so Shayna, Steph, Dave and myself wandered out to an Irish bar that was down the street from our hostel for some drinks. They had American football games playing, which didn't interest me, but really amused some of the other bar patrons. We spent a good two hours at Beckett's Irish Pub and then returned to the hostel, where I pretty much crashed. I made sure my things were in order for the next morning and then fell straight asleep.

Monday morning was a bit of chaos as we checked out of our hostel and packed our things to head back home to Prague.

The train ride back seemed so much longer than the way there. Probably because I didn't sleep on the way back and probably because we kept getting moved around by people who had reserved the seats. I ended up sitting in a compartment with four people who could not speak any of the languages I spoke (and I can speak four languages at least enough to get by...).

I was extremely happy to be back in Prague. It really felt like home and I missed being able to communicate with people even on a basic level. Hungarian is so very different from Czech that speaking to anyone became impossible. I pretty much resorted to English most of the time because they understood me a bit more than when I tried to pronounce the Hungarian.

Overall, this trip was a whole lot of fun and I would go back again if given the chance. I don't feel like I know Budapest as well as I know Prague, but I don't think I'll ever know any city as well as I'll know Prague. I sort of think of them as New York and DC. I live in DC and know it pretty well, plus there are lots of touristy things you can do. I visit New York and never have a problem finding new things to do, but the tourist atmosphere is less than DC. Budapest is New York and Prague is DC. That's about the best comparison I can make.

So, that's it! That was my first experience with traveling in Europe beyond the Czech Republic. I can't wait to go again!

And now for some more pictures!

They are from top to bottom: Buda castle taken as we approached the Buda side of Budapest, Parliament (my favorite building) taken from Buda castle, the National Opera building, Pest from Buda, Steph, Shayna and I relaxing at the Turkish baths, the vehicular that we took to the castle, and Kris, Liza and myself with Pest in the background.

So, that's about it for the trip to Budapest. More to come! Stay tuned!

24 September, 2009

"Took a Midnight Train Going Anywhere!"

The week is finally over. I know it is only Thursday, but for us FAMU kids, there are no "real" classes on Fridays. We would normally have a culture and art excursion, but in fact that won't start until October 2...which means tomorrow is free! Then, Monday is a national holiday...once again meaning no class. If I've been doing my math correctly, that means we have a four day weekend.

And what better way to spend a four day weekend then by taking a 5:30am train to Budapest, Hungary! Yes, you read correctly. Budapest, Hungary. We'll be staying more on the Pest side of things rather than the Buda. (This is not a joke...I didn't know it but apparently there are two different sides of Budapest. Buda and Pest.) From what I've been told, there are spas, museums and more castles to see! It should be a lot of fun. All eight of us are going and we will be staying in a hostel. I was rather impressed that it isn't costing us a whole lot to go and stay for three nights. I promise I will post pictures as soon as I return.

I must say that I'm quite excited that the week is over. Class shopping was really hard and really tiring. I went to just about every elective offered to decide if I want to take that class. Some of them were really good, like Script Analysis, Acting Theories, and History of Animation. And then there were some that just did not tickle my fancy. I'm sure they're good classes for someone, but I'm not that someone. All in all, I'm quite excited to have the opportunity to take the classes that I'm taking. I thought about it earlier and I realized that I wasn't just taking college classes. These were actual film classes and this was actually like being in film school.

It was a pretty awesome realization and I realized it yesterday during Camera Works. This was also when I realized that I never actually learned the ins and outs of how a camera runs...lucky for me, one of the kids in my program, Dave, brought along a "textbook" that it explains it pretty well. It's starting to make more sense now. But, other than that minor snag, I love my classes. I actually feel like a film student.

Alright. So, in addition to the other classes I'm taking, I think I'm going to take History of Animation, Acting Theories and I'm up in the air about deciding between these three...History and Culture in the Czech Lands, Script Analysis, and Introduction to Soundtrack. I may just take two of the three for credit and take one as an audit. I don't know though. Any opinions are welcome.

I feel like this post was kind of rambling and didn't really have a clear direction. This is probably because I'm so excited about leaving tomorrow morning. Yay! This does mean, though, that I will not have a computer until Monday at some point. I'll get back to everyone on Monday. For now...I'm gonna call it quits on this post. Stay tuned, more excitement to follow!

21 September, 2009

The Ins and Outs of FAMU

This last week has been busy and this week looks even busier. I do enjoy getting into a regular routine though. That's when things start to feel more like home and less...touristy.

So, after returning from Cesky Krumlov, which was AMAZING as I have already pointed out and will continue to point out, I (along with all of the others in the film program) began classes at FAMU. We started off on Tuesday with Script and Directing with Pavel Marek, then we had Camera Works and Screenplay Writing. It was here that we started pitching the ideas for our final movies. This took me a bit by surprise as we had just started classes and we were already working on that final project. But, as I'm realizing time moves really fast and before I know it, it will be December and I'll be on my way back to the States.

Wednesday rolled around and we had more Czech class, which I absolutely adore. I know I've said it a million times, but I really love Czech and the way we are learning the language. Later that evening we began the Czech New Wave Film Series screenings. But, I go into that a little bit later.

Thursday consisted of Actor Studio, which I think is going to turn out to be my favorite class. Dasha Blahova is absolutely incredible. She knows what she's doing to make the class fun and interesting, while letting those of us who generally like to sit behind the camera understand what goes on in front of the camera. Take for instance the improv game she had us play at the very beginning of class. One of us was the parent, while the other was the child who wanted to borrow the car. The only stipulation here was that the only word the parent could say was "No". Let's just say you end up with quite a few different scenarios of how this scene plays out. But, it was so much fun. After Actor Studio, there was a long break before we once again had the Czech New Wave Film Series.

Friday came much faster than I expected and consisted of three classes, Script and Directing, Film Language and then the Czech New Wave Film Series. By this point, I still didn't have an idea for a movie.

And now, that you all have been waiting for so long to hear about...THE CZECH NEW WAVE FILM SERIES!!!!

Pretty much, over the course of three days, we watched five films that were made just before the Soviets came into what was then Czechoslovakia and censored everything. The five films on the list were A Shop on Main Street, Diamonds of the Night, Closely Watched Trains, Daises, and last but not least The Loves of a Blonde. They were all very good films and I would never have thought about watching them if it wasn't for the Czech New Wave Film Series. I would have missed out on these really important films. My favorite of which would be Closely Watched Trains. I thought that the story was easy to relate to and overall the movie was just entertaining...especially considering it is set during WWII.

The screening of these films was often followed the next day with a quick analysis/opinion/history lesson about the films we saw and the films we were going to see. I think it was structured well, and I really understand these films in their entirety. I highly recommend watching them if you ever get the chance. They are brilliant. Even the ones I wasn't so fond of.

The weekend came and went and it wasn't anything really spectacular. I did wander through the back roads of Old Town and bought the rest of my sisters birthday gift. I would tell what it is/post a picture, but I'm afraid she may be reading this and I don't want to spoil it for her. I think she'll like it though. I pretty much used the weekend as time to catch up with me time. Instead of spending it with a lot of people, I did things like update my online portfolio and things like that. On Sunday, though after going out for pizza with Steph, Shayna, Drew and Dave, I got to try homemade holushky ( I definitely spelled that wrong, but I did my best to sound it out). It was made by a Slovak friend that Liza had made and it was absolutely delicious. I only wish I could have had more, but pizza took up a lot of room.

So, this week starts class shopping. What I mean by that is picking out the classes I want to take as electives by sitting in on a lot of them and then making my decision. Yesterday (Monday), in addition to my regular classes, I sat in on History of Animation and Directing 1. I definitely think I'm going to take History of Animation...not so sure about Directing as it seemed to be a repeat of a class I am already taking with the same professor. On today's agenda (Tuesday), I am taking Central European Cinema, Acting Theories and Visual Theory 1. Don't know if I'll take any of them, but we'll see.

Here ends my post. I'll write more as the week progresses, probably about my decision on classes and such. I'm also going to try and update more frequently. Long posts are hard to write. So, don't touch that mouse blog readers, there's more on the way!

15 September, 2009

"Do You Know Where You Are?"

I'm going to apologize in advance for making another picture heavy entry. I know that some computers can't handle this as well as others, but, I think the pictures are a good way to visually describe what I've been doing for the last few days. Also, note the new layout of the blog. I think I like it a lot more than the other one, plus it's more spacious. Thanks to Geoff, I also fixed the button/tag-not-showing-up problem. <3

Friday and Saturday were pretty insignificant days compared to the rest of the weekend, but I'll tell you what went on anyway. Friday we had a meeting at FAMU where we got caught in the elevator, then we had a "family dinner", and after that we went to Club Cross. It was only ok and I came back early because it wasn't my thing. I did get to talk to Geoff though, which made me happy. Saturday morning David and Marek made crepes which were absolutely delicious. We were then supposed to go to a football (soccer game), but when we arrived we found that it was the wrong day which meant we couldn't go. Suck! So, Kris and I then wandered into Old Town Square and got dinner close to the apartments.

Also, did I mention the Prague Swat Team. No? Well, I should have since Kris and I totally got to see them in action. Apparently, there were squatters in a building up the street along with people supporting them and the police were trying to get them out. Well, during dinner Kris and I heard a shot sound and saw people and the swat team come running past the restaurant. Needless to say, we ordered more things and stayed inside for a bit. But, wow...not something you see everyday.

Then on Sunday, CET traveled to Cesky Krumlov, a small town south (I believe it is south anyway) of Prague. This town has a very interesting history, as it is one of the few almost completely intact Renaissance villages left in all of Europe. And why is this...because absolutely nothing happened here.

A quick history goes something like this. The town was established in the 13th century where it prospered and was one of the largest economic centers until about the Hapsburg Empire, where it was taken over and ruled as part of the empire (it was never attacked). When WWI rolled around, the king at the time pretty much paid off whoever came to try and attack the area. In WWII, it was claimed as part of the Sudetenland and thus never really touched (in fact the Nazi's actually took good care of it) and then after WWII, everyone was forced to leave because Czechoslovakia said that anyone who associated themselves with the Germans needed to leave the country. No one then inhabited the area again until 1989 after the Velvet Revolution. Pretty much, as our tour guide Bryce said, "Nothing happened here."

I have to say though, that the town was absolutely gorgeous. I think it was prettier than Prague, but I don't think I could spend more than a few days there. In the few hours of free time that I had, I managed to walk the entire town about 3 times over. But, it was a nice time.

Our trip there started at 7:30am when we left Prague. We arrived in Cesky Krumlov at 10:30am and immediately went to the castle for a tour. The inside of the castle was so pretty. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures though. That sucked. But, it was an experience I'll never forget. The inside of the castle was painted with an Italian Renaissance style in some areas and then in others a more 18th century style. You could really see where the different families painted over and reconstructed what the families that came before them did. My favorite part of the tour had to be the theatre. It was built and only once performance ever took place after it was built. It was completely restored and was just a dream come true to see. We also got to go under the stage to see the old workings of a stage. I was in heaven.

After the tour, we checked into our hotel and then we had some free time. Kris and I made some friends with the other CET kids, Lisa and Rebecca, and we had lunch and then wandered the town for a bit. We then met up with Bryce again for a tour of the town which gave us the history. Then it was a bit more free time until dinner, where there was food, beer, wine, gypsy band music, dancing, merrymaking and revelry. It was so much fun! I managed to drink 2 1/2 liter beers and a mixed drink of some kind. I also got to dance a kind of traditional Czech/Slovak dance style with Marek, one of the Slovak local buddies who lives with us. He's a really good dancer. I think when I come back I want to take partner dancing lessons. I know I've been saying it for a while, but now I really want to! (Did you get that Geoff? Haha. <3)>

The pictures are starting from the top: aerial photos of the town of Cesky Krumlov, pictures of the castle in Cesky Krumlov, Kris and I in Cesky Krumlov, another picture of the castle, an art school that is supposedly haunted because of where it was built, our tour guide Bryce giving us information and merrymaking at the pub!

But, the adventure doesn't stop after Cesky Krumlov. It continues on. After we left Cesky Krumlov, we headed to see the Iron Curtain Museum. Now, I had no idea what was in store for us at this museum and I wasn't sure how I felt at first about going there. But, once we got there it turned out to be a lot of fun.

The tour guide was extremely quirky and he knew a lot about the Iron Curtain. And he started the tour the best way ever. We were standing outside and it was extremely cold when he finally came running out and introduced himself. He then asked us if we knew where we were. None of us really had any clue because it was the country side in the Czech Republic. Upon our answer of "no", he responded "You are in the Czech Republic...about 4 km (about 2.5 miles) from Austria." Well, that was a bit of a shock. About an hour ago I was in Cesky Krumlov and now I was in Austria...well, that was a lot of traveling.

The museum wasn't the most put together thing ever, but the tour guide knew a lot and it kept most of us interested for a while. The museum mostly focused on the border guards who kept an eye on the Czech side of the Iron Curtain during communism. The one thing I learned that I never realized before was that the Iron Curtain was actually a fence...I thought it was just a metaphor for those involved with communism...not an actual voltage fence/wall.

Ok...now time for more pictures!

These pictures are: a picture of the museum which is an old border guard station house, a picture of the landscape of where the Iron Curtain used to be, warning signs about the forbidden and border zone (these warned that crossing them was dangerous) and me shooting a rifle (I also got to throw grenades as part of soldier training :-) .)

After this museum, we headed back to Prague and made it home around 7:30pm. What a long weekend. But, it was a lot of fun and something I probably never would have done on my own. I really enjoyed it a lot.

And now for a quick update about today. Today I started classes at FAMU. This is going to be an interesting semester. I'm curious to see what stories get to be made, but we have a whole lot to work with and anything is possible. Especially because we actually have a budget.

Also, currently working on an idea for my classes that uses the idea of dream v. reality. Don't know where it's going though. Should be interesting enough though.

More to come! Stay tuned! And feel free to leave comments! I love comments and followers!

11 September, 2009

The Way to Start Film School

Today was our orientation at FAMU. We all got stuck in the elevator...including our professor Pavel Marek. Way to go us.

I think I'm going to stay away from elevators for a while.

10 September, 2009

And It All Ends With Beer

I've got to hand it to myself. In under a week, I'm starting to be able to communicate with the locals in Czech. I know enough to get by...you know things like, hello, how are you?, my name is..., how much does this cost?, what time is it?, thank you, excuse me, etc.,etc. And it is all due to my Czech class. This picture is of my Czech book, by the way. It's a great book. One of the best I've ever used to learn a language.

Alright, so Tuesday we went on a walking tour of Prague that was supposed to last three hours. Yeah right! Three hours, I don't think so. This tour lasted at least five. But, I did take a whole bunch of pictures which I will now so graciously show you.

Starting from the top, these pictures are the religious memorial in the center of Old Town Square, the Powder Tower, Prague Castle from a distance, the Charles Bridge (which does not cross the Charles River contrary to popular belief), the John Lennon Wall, the men peeing statue by David Cerny, the Mission Impossible stairs (which we climbed to reach the castle), the Cathedral at the center of the palace complex, the giant metronome which replaced a statue of Stalin, and finally the beer garden where we ended the tour for dinner.

These are definitely not all of the photos I took on the tour. If I were to put them all up, it would take a very long time as I went a little camera happy while we were out. It was a really cool walking tour and I learned a lot about the history of Prague and the different stuff that has happened to the country.

On Wednesday, my friend
s and I took a stroll down to the Cubist Museum. Cubism was a very prominent style of art in Prague and there are still a lot of Cubist buildings left within the city. Like the museum building itself.

Then today, after our Czech class, we went to the exhibit by David Cerny of t
he EU entitled Entropa. This guy has become my new favorite artist. His stuff is rather hysterical and I just love looking at it. I'm only going to put up a few of my favorite pieces from this sculpture, but it was so funny. And I understand why the EU got mad at him for creating it.

For those who are a little confused, let me help. You see the Czech Republic holds the presidency of the EU at the moment, so they commissioned David Cerny, a famous Czech artist, to create a sculpture representing the EU. Well, this is what he did. He broke Europe up and made a complete satire of it. These are not all of the countries, but these are some good ones.

The first picture is the entire piece...mostly, it is rather large. Then we have the UK, which is sort of in the EU, but not...so Cerny chose to leave a blank spot. We then have France which is a nation on strike and Sweden which is an IKEA box. I'm sure you get the idea now.

Well, he caused a lot of controversy with this because a) its satirical and b) he said he was going to get artists from every country to do their own country, but instead he did them himself and then made up fake biographies about these people. Genius!

Ok, well...I'm sorry this is such a long and picture heavy post. More to come later. On the agenda for the weekend...row boating on the Charles River, football (soccer) game on Saturday night and Cesky Krumlov from Sunday to Monday. Keep watching! More updates soon!

09 September, 2009

House Keeping Items

Alrighty, so here are some of the house keeping items that I've been meaning to tell everyone. If you are looking to send me anything please send them to the following address:

(my name here)
C/O CET Academic Programs
Horska 2105/ 2A

120 00 Praha 2
Czech Republic

Also, if you want my phone number send me an e-mail and I'l
l give it to you.

As for other things, there will
be an actual update coming tomorrow that will encompass the last few days, but for now I'm just going to post pictures of my apartment.

Starting at the top these pictures are my living room, my dining room/kitchen, the entrance to my bedroom, my side of the bedroom and last but not least...the view from the balcony in living room.

There are more pictures, but these are pretty much the main highlights. Although, I do have to mention that I have dryer (which we thought we wouldn't have), a dish washer and a very large flat screen television (too bad it only gets Czech channels at the moment...we're going to try and fix that soon, along with the whole wireless internet problem at the moment).

Oh, yeah. One more thing. If you want me to send you a postcard or something and I don't already have your address, please send it to me. And feel free to skype me when I am on, my screen name is AsDirectedByBecky!

That's all for now. Look for a real update probably tomorrow evening or on Friday. There is just so much going on, I feel that if I don't update every so often you all will get slammed with a bunch of stuff in a long post, so I'm going to try and prevent from doing that.

Stay tuned!

07 September, 2009

"Never gonna give you up..."

I'm going to start this post by saying that my father would have been very proud of me today. After class, which got out at 12:20pm my class and professor went across the street to have lunch and the entire table ordered a round of beers. It wasn't even that much past noon and we were all drinking. As a suggestion for him, I think he should give up his dream on Figi and just move here. He'd like it better I think.

Anyway, the point of this actual post is to tell you a little bit about what's been going on here. I know I haven't been here all that long, but we keep traveling and doing lots and lots of stuff. There's never really a dull moment.

On Saturday night, everyone came over to our apartment and we cooked pasta in a vodka sauce (I helped chop the garlic, that's about it). Dinner was really good! We then sat around and tried to figure out what we were going to do. Marek, the one "local" buddy who is living amongst us, wanted to go clubbing so I gave the whole clubbing thing another shot. Well, we went to this club called Lucerna Music Bar and it happened to be 80's and 90's night. This was my kind of party. I absolutely love dancing to 80's and 90's music...mainly because there is no good way to dance to it.

It started out as a big group of us there and by the end of the night, the others girls had gotten tired of the club and moved on to somewhere else. It ended up being me and the guys, which was alright because they are pretty laid back and not as "catty" as some of the girls seem to be. Moral of the story, I love 80's and 90's dance night! When I get back to the states, we so need to find a place that does this!

Sunday morning came earlier than expected, especially considering the fact that I didn't get back until about 3am that morning. My morning started with exploring Old Town and a bit of New Town with Kris. We wandered through Old Town Square where they were finishing up the festival about the Golem, a mythical creature that serves as a protector of the Jewish community in Prague (Kris knows the story better than I can tell it).

After I came back from exploring, I went with the others to Bila Hora which is on the outskirts of Prague to do some voice dubbing for one of my roommates, Jorge. In case I forgot to mention it, Jorge is a student that actually attends FAMU and we were doing the dubbing for a short film that he is currently working on. We did "auditions" where he chose who he wanted to play what part, which meant that I ended up as the main character. This was both awesome and awkward. Awesome because I got to voice the main girl, awkward because there is a sex scene in the movie. But, it was still a good deal of fun.

And then this morning started my first class of Czech. It's a different language, but one that's no where near as different as Arabic. I think I'll be able to learn it just fine. After class, as I said before, we went for lunch with our professor. I got goulash which was amazing! That is something I love about this country, the food rocks!

Well, that's all for now. Na shledanou!

05 September, 2009

First Official Post from the Czech Republic!

Dobry den! That's Czech for good morning and it is also the very first phrase I learned in Czech. I think I'm going to like learning this language.

I meant to update this as soon as I got here so that there wouldn't be so much to write, but then we haven't had any wi-fi and only one ethernet cord to share between four of us. This should b
e fixed soon. But, anyway...a lot has gone on since I first landed in the Czech Republic. So, I guess I should go back two days ago and start the story there, where it should have started.

On Wednesday, September 2, my friend Kris and I boarded a plane at JFK International Airport and took off on a 7 hour flig
ht to Prague. Well, the flight itself wasn't that bad. I rather enjoyed the food on Czech Airlines that they had for dinner and I was able to sleep for a good 2 or 3 hours before the woke up the entire plane to serve breakfast, which was also pretty good. I only had one complaint about the entire flight. That would the fact that most of the plane consisted of a group of Jewish people that only spoke Hebrew and they all knew each other. Talk about feeling out of the loop. Kris and I had no idea of what was going on. People were everywhere talking to each other. It was a bit of madness.

The plane landed ea
rly at 5:45am (Czech time, that would be 11:45pm American time) and we got through customs rather quickly. We then proceeded to find some place in the airport that was open. Low and behold, we found ourselves at the McDonald's because it was the only place open. We made our home there until about 8:30am. During our stay there, we pretty much did nothing but plan out some of the stuff that we are going to do while in Prague this semester. Things like see the maze of mirrors and rent a row boat on the Charles River.

EDIT: This is Thursday morning now, by the way.

We started to get a bit worried around 9:45am when no one seemed to show up to retrieve us from the airport. Turns out though, that Kim (our RD) was just running late and she couldn't believe that CET didn't think to have someone come pick us up earlier. We caught a taxi with some other people which lead us on a tour of the entire city by taxi. I have come to the conclusion that I never, ever want to drive in Prague. It's worse than New York, but the city itself is gorgeous.

Once I reached my apartment, I met one of my roommates, Jorge, and I pretty much crashed for a nap until about 3:30pm. When I got up, one of my other roommates had arrived and I talked with her for a bit. Turns out she had been in Prague for a week prior to this, so she was pretty well adapted to the sleeping schedule.

We headed for the opening CET dinner around 5pm and made our way to this really nice Czech restaurant. I had chicken in a spicy cream sauce and it was delicious. While at the dinner, we got to meet one of our professors from FA
MU and the dean of FAMU. (FAMU is the film school where I will be taking most of my classes.) After dinner, we headed out with our "local buddies" (these are people that actually live in the Czech Republic and are living with us to show us around), Petra, Marek, and Jorge to a pub which was close to our apartments. We were there until 11pm and it was so much fun. It was relaxing and I got to know many of the people in my program. We are a small group of 8, so we are pretty tight knit.

Friday morning came around earlier than I wanted it too. I started the morning with a jog with Kris around the local park and then a quick trip to the store for shower stuff, where I quickly learned that you needed to bring your own bag to the store. Luckily, I didn't get a whole lot of stuff.

After a shower, I headed with Steph (my roommate) to orientation at the CET center. This was a pretty quick overview of what
we were going to be doing this semester. We watched some of the films from last semester, which were fabulous and amazing. I can't believe I'm going to get to make something that spectacular this semester. Also, I get to use real film. Not digital stuff like I use at home, real-honest to goodness film!

We took a break for lunch
and then Kim took us on a mini-tour of Prague. We saw New town and Old town and it was just awesome! We crossed the Charles Bridge by foot and then Kim left us and the 7 of us traveled up to Prague Castle to have a look around. The view from up there was absolutely beautiful. The picture doesn't do it justice, you just have to see it for yourself.

We then moved our way ba
ck down to the tram and back to the apartments so we could get ready for dinner. For dinner, we went to this little place that was across the train tracks. I had duck and potato dumplings! It was so awesome!

After dinner we went back to the apartments to get ready to go out. Marrek took us out to a club that was under the Charles Bridge. Ladies got in for free! Can't beat that. It was a little weird though, being able to order from the bar. I first got a Mojito and I danced a little with everyone. But, I am so not a good dancer, so Kris and I decided to just go get another drink and find a table, which we did. The second drink was a Smirnoff. It was a pretty good time, though I don't think the clubbing scene is for me unless I have really close friends with me. I get pretty self-conscious about my horrible social dancing abilities.

Kris and I left the club at around 1:30am and ran to catch the night tram back home. The nice thing about Prague is that the entire city had transportation all night. It's pretty awesome.

Today's agenda consisted of mainly shopping for groceries, which were extremely inexpensive and working on getting my other abroad application filled out. And now, we're getting ready for dinner with the group. We are going to do the whole cooking thing tonight. Should be fun!

More to come! Stay tuned!

02 September, 2009

At the airport with my friend Kris. We will be boarding soon! The ride here wasn't as bad as it could have been, which is good. Going to miss everyone though! More to come from Prague!
The start of my travels have begun! On the way to JFK International for my flight. Nervous and excited all at the same time. More updates to come!