21 December, 2009

Back in the States

It's official now. I've been back home in the States for approximately three days...and it's been an interesting three days to say the least.

Once Kris and I headed to the airport on Friday morning, everything about the entire semester in Prague sort of felt like a dream. I was waiting for someone to shake me and wake me up and then tell me that we needed to leave to head to the airport so that I could leave for Prague. It was extremely surreal. But, after checking in and having a hot chocolate and cinnamon bun from Starbucks, things started to feel like reality. I was leaving and the first half of my adventure was over.

Getting through customs was a load of fun...let me just say. Our visas expired the day before our flight and so the people didn't really want to let us leave. Guess I can cross be an illegal immigrant off my list of things to do. But, with some cooperation, we were able to leave just fine. Also, the people in security also loved us as we had the film canister and I had all of my electronics. I'm not sure what they thought about the two of us, but they didn't seem to like all of this.

But, beyond all of this chaos of getting to the gate, the flight home was rather enjoyable. I don't remember take-off as I slept through it and when I finally did wake up I was over Dublin. I read my book for a little bit and watched some of the movies on my iPod before having a three hour conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me about screenplays. (I promise he asked me to talk about it, I didn't just go off on a tangent.)

Once we landed, customs wasn't too bad. The only thing that bothered me was the line, but then again I just hate lines. I pretty much breezed through and met my uncle and Geoff at the gate, which was a wonderful sight to see. We then hopped in the car and headed back to Baltimore, but not before getting lost a little bit in Brooklyn.

So, the way home was pretty normal...and things here have been pretty normal, except you know the two feet of snow we got. I think all of us coming back from Prague brought the snow with us as it was snowing pretty heavily when we left...

Since I've been home, I haven't done a whole lot. Geoff and I attempted to go to DC in the snow the other day, which resulted in us turning around and coming back. I've watched a lot stuff on my computer and I've been overly excited to eat American food. So far I've had Chinese food, a burger and cheese steak sub. I'm well on my way to eating everything that I missed while I was in Prague.

And there you have it! Part of my adventure is over. I had an amazing time in Prague and I wouldn't want it any other way. I'm not going to go into reflections on my time in this entry as I did that a few times in the entries before this one and I don't want to make myself sad that I had to leave. All I can say is thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog, thank you to all the friends I made and everyone who made this experience one worth telling.

...Now, I'm going to finish wrapping all of the presents that I brought home from Prague, I'll begin to unpack my things and begin to settle into a new routine here in the States. I'm still trying to figure out where things are in the house and I haven't quite adjusted to the time schedule here yet, but I'm sure it will come.

But, don't think that just because I'm back from Prague means that there aren't more adventures to come. For those who don't know, I'm only back in the States until January 22, 2010. It is at this point that I will board a plane for Egypt and will not return to the States until May 27,2010. That's a really long time, but it means that there will be some awesome adventures to come! So make sure to keep looking for updates!

As of right now, I'm putting As Seen By Becky on a slight hiatus. The Christmas season isn't going to yield a whole lot of interesting stories...just the usual interactions with the family...which are odd to say the least. But, do keep a look out for an actual update around mid-January. That's when I'll resume writing about the adventures...and I'll catch you up to speed on how the holidays went.

So, without further ado, this is me wishing you a safe and happy holiday! I'll be back in January and I hope to see you all here along for the adventure as well. Čau!

18 December, 2009

I have arrived safely in New York, now to just get back to Baltimore...

17 December, 2009

Some Pieces of Advice

It's 11:08pm on Thursday, December 17, 2009. This is last day I will spend in Prague...that is until I venture back at some other point in my life, which will happen at some point, but I'm unsure when.

I have turned in all of my finals, just about packed up all of my clothes and souvenirs and tomorrow morning, Kris and I will board a flight that leaves for the John F. Kennedy airport in New York. I'm having mixed emotions about leaving. I'm unsure if I really want to leave behind Prague, but I'm also very excited to see everyone back home. It's a conundrum.

The purpose of this post is to reflect on this past semester abroad. My apologies in advance as this blog is going to be more on the lengthy side. I'm going to try and be as honest as I can. I can't guarantee that it'll be all full of happy things, but I can say that it is honest.

The semester started with the eight of us all meeting at dinner. I'd say we were all pretty much in the same boat. We didn't really know each other and we didn't know how the semester was going to work.

I personally wasn't a fan of certain people due to impressions that I had gathered over the course of the first few days, but over time those feelings subsided and changed. I think everyone here has their ups and downs, their good qualities and bad and I've learned to accept them, just as we all did.

Flash forward a month and we were all traveling to Budapest. We became a tight knit group really fast. This was a bit troubling as no one knew how long we could keep this up before there were problems between us.

Well, there were problems between us, but they weren't anything major...you know the normal arguments people get into when they've been living with each other for so long. Problems with roommates for not cleaning like they were supposed to and problems with people saying things that hurt feelings. All problems that were part of human nature.

But, this didn't keep us apart. We still went out places together and worked together. And in the end, it turned out to be a great experience. I have wonderful memories and new friends too!

Now, before I go back to the good memories, I'm going to air some of my grievances with this semester.

One of my biggest peeves from this semester would have to be the lack of scheduling. We would be sitting at home, making lunch when you would get a phone call from Pavel Marek saying that you had class in 5 minutes. Ummm...I'm sorry, this wasn't on the schedule. How am I supposed to make it to class on time if I didn't know I had class?!?! There was also this problem with scheduling Pavel Jech's class. I understand that he is the Dean of FAMU and is absolutely amazing, but the fact that we kept changing the days of his class really made it hard to establish a schedule.

Another one of my peeves from this semester was the railroading that happened with our film. While yes, I did in fact make the film, I don't feel that it is totally mine. And this is not only because I collaborated with someone else on the project. I feel like Pavel Marek moved our projects forward with what he thought would make a good story and we didn't get much say in the matter. I also feel like I should have learned more in Pavel Marek's class. All we ever did was pitch our stories, but I never learned how to execute the directing of my story...which could have solved some problems when I later shot my film.

And while I'm on the subject of classes. I couldn't help but always feel so lost in my Camera Works class. I didn't really understand how a camera worked and Gahut assumed that we all did, and it wasn't until I did some research on my own that I sort of understood what he was talking about. I wish he had started at the basics,but you can't change what's already happened.

These were pretty much the only major problems I had with the semester. There were minor instances where I found myself pissed at one person or another, but they aren't anything worth really worrying about. Everything ended up fine. The good definitely outweighed the bad this semester and I wouldn't want it any other way. I took trips and made friends and learned so much more than I ever really dreamed of. It's going to be extremely sad to leave all of this behind. But, I know it has to be done. We are all sad and dreading those parting words...and some of us have even already left.

I feel that this blog has become a narrative of the lives of the FAMU kids. So, to commemorate the amazing semester we all had and to break up all of my storytelling, I asked everyone to share their favorite memory and give a piece of advice to those studying abroad in the future. Without further ado, here's what they had to say.

Steph~Favorite Memory: "The picnic in Vienna. Jacob and Dave had an intense search for food and the parcour(ers) in the park."
Piece of Advice: "Love the people you're with because you have a short time together and you can share this wonderful experience together for the rest of your lives."

Shayna~Favorite Memory: "Sitting on the dock on the island with everyone drinking beer and eating sausage by the river after class."
Piece of Advice: "Take
advantage of every opportunity, even if it might not sound that cool at the time."

Dave~Favorite Memory: "
Jacob sneaking onto the runway on fashion night at Club Mecca and struttin his tweed jacket. Also, chicken races and Drew balancing an apple around the courtyard in Budapest."
Piece of Advice: "When you know you got it, bust it out!"

Liza~Favorite Memory: "@Roxy - Drew has beef with manager, Dre
w and Jacob chill on that couch all night, David going to dance/throw up, water all over Tarek's face, boys yell charge! Dave fucks up his ankle, we stay up til 7 or 8 talking and laughing and see sunrise. Also, Kris' birthday at Friends."
Piece of Advice: "It's incredibly close, just take one more step in the right direction."

Drew~Favorite Memory: "Finding David passed out by the river at 5 in the morning."
Piece of Advice: "Always look forward, because there may be something gaining on you."

Kris~Favorite Memory: "My birthday! Dave figuring out how to say the types of alcohol on the shot glass in Czech so that I could have the 21 shot. Having girl singing sessions on stage. And everyone getting a visit from the "drunk fairy" because we were all extremely toasted and somehow miraculously had no ill effects. Plus, the stumbling home with Becky. Where I am sure I divulged numerous amounts of information that should never have been shared but were probably very entertaining to hear."
Piece of Advice: "Step outside your comfort zone and immerse yourself in a new culture. And try to speak as much Czech [or whatever language your host country speaks] as possible. "

Tarek~Favorite Memory: "Getting stuck in elevator with Pavel Marek. Cesky Krumlov debauchery. Navigation in Budapest. Michael Gahut during lighting exercise. FAMU PARTY! Dubbing Jorge's movie. Shooting "Love Machine". CHAPEAU ROUGE!"

Me~Favorite Memory: "Seeing most people show up in costume for the Halloween party."
Piece of Advice: "Don't be afraid to "jump in with both feet." Leave behind any fear you may have and just enjoy everything that comes your way."

I'm finding it difficult to end this post. Probably because I know that once I do, it will be the last one of substance written here in Prague and I don't think I want to face that reality just yet. I don't think I want to face that reality at all...and I probably won't until I'm on the plane at 9:30am heading into the clouds.

But, I know that this really isn't goodbye. You never actually say "goodbye" to friends, you say "see you later". I don't know how I would have made it through the semester without all of these amazing people. Steph, Shayna, Kris, Liza, Drew, Dave and Tarek, you have all been amazing people to get to know and have made blogging so very easy as you have provided so many wonderful stories. Kim, you've been amazing with taking care of all of us. Thank you all so much.

And I guess, that is that. I'm out of things to say...except "see you later."

A Snow Covered Prague!

It's my last full day in Prague...it seems so weird to say it. I mean I've been planning this trip since February of last spring and now it's over.

Our small little group of eight is breaking apart. Slowly, but surely. Drew left this morning to catch his plane home and tomorrow Shayna, Kris and I will leave as well. And not long after all of us have touched down in the States, everyone else will have left our little place in Prague. We'll leave with memories of all the good times we've shared and all the growing that we've done as people. It's been a wonderful experience and I couldn't have asked for anything more.

So...there will probably be a few entries today. I'm going to try and not be sappy right now and just recount the last few days for you. The more emotion stuff will come later, after I finish up my Script Analysis final that's due at midnight tomorrow.

Well, the second screening on Tuesday went very well. We had a big turnout of people to come and see our films, which was rather surprising, but a lot fun. Kris and I got the reaction we wanted from the crowd, so that's good at least.

Later that evening, I took my Acting Theory final. I did very well. Only missed one question and I finished it in 15 minutes, which meant that I still made it on time to the final dinner party we were having.

The final dinner was a lot of fun. All of our professors were there and there was lots and I mean lots of food and drinks had by all. I never thought I would be this comfortable with the people in my program to go out with all of them and our professors and just have fun. Prague is definitely a totally different world, but I love it.

Before the final dinner was through, the professor got up and gave a little presentation. We received diplomas for completing the program and a DVD with all of our movies on them as well as our lighting exercise. That was pretty cool.

Here are some of the pictures from dinner!

They are Kris and Shayna being themselves, Dave with the huge Hunter's plate he and Drew ordered, Marek and Petra enjoying themselves, Pavel Marek, Pavel Jech and Michal Gahut giving a presentation, and everyone minus our editing teacher, Bara, who worked with us throughout the entire semester.

After dinner, all of us went out Friends. I don't just mean all of the FAMU kids, I mean all of the CET kids. Everyone, including Jarka and Jiri, showed up for the final karaoke night at Friends. We packed the club! Everyone was singing and dancing and socializing. It was a good end to the longest day ever had.

And of course, here are the pictures from Friends! We are also probably pretty famous on their website as they took so many pictures of us...though I haven't looked myself just yet.

They are Petra, Dave, Liza and Lisa at the club, some of the other CET people hanging out, and CET kids doing karaoke. I wish I knew more names, but then again, I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with them.

Wednesday, I woke up and took my Czech final (finally!) which was pretty easy. I really loved learning this language and I think out of all of the one's I've learned this one is my favorite.

After the final, I pretty much just did some cleaning around the apartment, worked on my Script Analysis final and packed some things up. Later on, I went to the girl's apartment and we made mulled wine (which was delicious) and french fries. We hung around the apartment and then made our last trip out to dinner as a group. It was sad, but fun all at the same time. And as we left the restaurant, it had snowed and the snow had set on the ground. The perfect ending to a great trip. We (well not me, but everyone else) had a small snowball fight which I took pictures of before we separated and lost Drew to the States.

Here are the pictures!

They are Drew and Dave coloring with Kris supervising, everyone hanging around the table, the snow fall after we left the restaurant and Drew and Liza after the snowball fight.

I'm looking out my window right now and I can't believe that a) it's snowing and b) tomorrow will be the last time I look out my window and see Vyšehrad. But, as Kris said last night, "This is the icing on the cake, we get to see snow covered Prague just before we leave."

The last few days have been a blast and I wouldn't want them any other way. But, as I said earlier in this post, I'm not going to be sappy here. I'll do that later today, when it's closer to me leaving. Right now, I have to finish a final, return some things to CET and get the pin I want from Prague. Still doing things, even as I'm preparing to leave.

Countdown: 1 day left in Prague. :-(

15 December, 2009

D-Day and Other Stories

I'm beginning to breathe again. In and out. Slowly, but I am breathing again. Which is more than I could say for a few hours ago.

Today was it. The moment that the puts all of the FAMU kids on edge. The day we screen our films on the big screen in front of all of our professors and they give us criticism. It's absolutely terrifying. We've put everything we have into our creations and in a matter of moments, there is a chance that it could be torn to shreds by our professors.

Well, Kris and my film was the first to screen. We put a lot of work into it as I'm sure you've read about, but still it seemed off to me and I was nervous. I was disappointed in how long it was and I knew there were mistakes that wouldn't be overlooked by the professors. I also knew that Kris and I had chosen to film in an extremely different style than anyone else. More of a documentary/home movie style than a cinematic movie style, which made both Kris and I feel a bit inadequate in the filming department.

The response...was good. Surprisingly enough. The things we knew were wrong with the film were spoken about,but it wasn't anything that we didn't already know. One professor said that he loved the film, how it was filmed and that the story and characters were very believable. Actually, most of the professors loved how it was filmed and said that was the strongest part of the film. Kris and I were shocked.

I feel better about the second screening now, where we will show it to our friends, families, actors, crew and so on. Now that I know my movie isn't in fact a piece of crap, it can be shown and I won't be as nervous.

In other news, the countdown until we leave this amazing experience is coming closer and closer. This past weekend was the last weekend I will ever spend in the Czech Republic...that is unless I come back for some reason. Anyway, on Saturday our local buddies, Petra and Marek, held a Christmas dinner with traditional Czech food. It was delicious and so much fun. Good food, good friends and good fun!

We had a delicious soup to start off with, which consisted of cabbage, pepperoni and potatoes. It was followed by dinner which was salmon baked with lemon juice, garlic and onion along with potato salad. And then for desert were these delicious jam/chili filled pastry things covered in sugar. It was a to-die for dinner. We also had champagne and wine to make the night perfect. We toasted the end of a great semester and hopes for the future. This will be one night that I always remember.

Here are some of the pictures I took at Christmas dinner.

They are Liza, Shayna and Petra making desert for the party, Steph, Dave and Drew decorating the napkins, the delicious soup we had and just about everyone gathered around before the party began.

After all of the fun Saturday night, Kris and I had to meet Marek Jicha for color grading, which helped our movie out a lot. It made it look cohesive, which was definitely what we needed.

Well, there isn't a whole lot more to write about. I've been trying to enjoy what's left of my time here. I've gone out to lunch and dinner with Steph and Shayna a few times in the past couple days and I'm just about finished my Christmas shopping. There are only a few things left to buy and only a few days left here. I've only got three finals left now and by Wednesday afternoon, they should all be turned in.

Tonight is the final dinner for CET and everyone will be there. It should be lots of fun, but it will also be very sad as the program has now come full circle. We started with a dinner as a group with our professors and we will end as a group who have accomplished a great deal of things including making short films.

So, with that I finish this entry. There will be more posts in the coming days, but I have nothing else to write right now. You're caught up with the events of the FAMU kids. But, don't think you can wander just yet, there is still more to come.

Countdown: 3 days left in Prague

P.S.- For those who watch Dexter, I finished the fourth season on Monday and "woah" is all I can say. I need the next season, but that requires me to wait until next September and that is such a long time. Boo!

11 December, 2009

A Decent End...

I have just returned from a decent end to an ok day. It was not a great one...well, let's say that it started off as ok and then went to bad and then ended with a decent end.

So, let's skip my morning because honestly it is rather boring. The only thing I did that was remotely interesting was take a package to the post office and have it sent to Geoff. It was amusing as the trams weren't really running correctly and well, that meant me carrying my abnormally heavy box up the street to the post office and getting weird looks from people who didn't move out of the way of my umbrella as I walked (I couldn't do much with it as I was also carrying the box).

Then, around 2pm I left to go and attempt to take my Czech final. I say attempt because there was a series of miscommunications that went on and led to the end result of over half of us having to take the final on Wednesday, which is what I really didn't want to do.

You see the confusion came as to where we were having the test. It's not a normal day for our class, and so we weren't sure if we were having the final at CET or FAMU. And well, one thing led to another and eventually we all thought it was figured out. We thought the final was at CET, but it turns out that it was actually at FAMU. But, by the time everything got straightened out, some of us had to reschedule the test to Wednesday. And this did not and still does not make me a happy camper. I really wanted to get the test over and done with so that I could spend the last few days in Prague doing nothing but shopping and such, but now I have to take a final. Oh well, I guess you do what you have to do.

It took a bit to get over this, but a trip to the Christmas market with Dave and Steph helped a bit. We got food and I bought some more Christmas gifts and figured out what to get other people. And then we headed back to the apartments to get ready for the FAMU party, which I had no idea was going on.

We left for the party around 11pm, and let's just say that FAMU had been turned into what Kris described as a "frat house". The entire building contained decorations and food and beer and music and game. It was absolutely incredible. Apparently, this was the Christmas celebration. Even the professor were there...along with almost every single FAMU student! The only part I'm sad about is that it was a mafia themed dress party, but I didn't know so I didn't dress up, but I wish I had. It would have been fun.

I stayed for a while. Mingled with all of the FAMU International students that I have come to know and had something to drink, but eventually the smoke and amount of people in the room started to get to me, so I left. But, it was a very fun party. You can definitely tell that it was a party thrown by those who are film majors. Everything was well lit and designed. But, it was also really weird to see FAMU as "a frat house".

Here are some of the pictures I took at the event!

They are a guy setting up a film projector for a showing something on the wall, a few FAMU students sitting and mingling, and the stairs colorful and not as crowded as they were later in the night.

Overall, not a bad day. It could have been much worse. Tomorrow I'm going to do some more Christmas shopping and then I'm going to go over and have a Christmas party with Marek, Petra and everyone else. It should be lots of fun!

Also, as a side note. Kris and I have finished editing our movie, we only have a few more things to do with it (color grading, subtitles, etc.) and it will be ready to screen on Tuesday. I'm a little bit nervous about that.

The program is slowing coming to a close, but it will go out with a huge bang! So, keep reading! Updates will be coming at you fast!

Countdown: 6 days left in Prague

06 December, 2009

It's Almost There, But...

As much as I hate to say it, the countdown until I leave this wonderful city of Prague has begun. It's already December 6th and I've been living here for a little over three months, but sadly the program will be coming to an end soon and I will then have to embark on a trip back across the Atlantic and return home.

I'm unsure as to how I feel about returning home. I mean, nothing against anyone at home, but I've been living here for three months and Prague has become my home...I just know it so well and I can't believe that in less than two weeks, I will be packing up all of my things and going home. But, just because I'm leaving in two weeks doesn't mean that things around here have gotten boring. It's far from boring.

To start, I just finished working with a friend, Jacob, on the costumes in his movie, I've been in the editing room with Kris for the last three days and we are working on finishing up our movie (everything is going ok here, but ...the editing room is a story for another time), and the Christmas market has finally come to Prague (in all seriousness, it looks like Prague went to sleep at the end of November and woke up on December 1st and Christmas had thrown up....decorations everywhere!)! (To right you can see a picture of the giant Christmas tree in the Old Town Square that I managed to get a picture of.) It's the Christmas season and I can definitely tell that I'm actually going to really enjoy the season this year. I just love wandering around the Christmas market....the only thing I really mind are the tourists, but they can't be helped really.

And then there is also the wonderful world of finals that we all are embarking on. Not that my finals are anything like the finals I had to take back in the United States, but the fact that my entire grade pretty much relies on that final kind of freaks me out a bit. I've got my History of Animation final tomorrow, Acting Theories sometime next week, the Script Analysis take home will be handed out Wednesday, and my History of the Czech Lands paper is due Wednesday with the oral exam on Thursday. Not to mention that my movie needs to be finished and ready to screen by the 15th of December. And all of this will be done within the next two weeks before I leave Prague. WOW!

But, I know everything will get done and it will be a great ending to a wonderful experience. I'm just starting to get a little bit nostalgic as I normally do around this time of year. I don't like seeing things come to an end...and the Christmas season means the end of the year is approaching and new things will begin.

So, that's all for now. I'll keep everyone posted as the countdown winds itself down. Keep watching!

Countdown: 12 Days Left in Prague