Arguably the most useful phrase, Promiňte, prosím means “Excuse me, please.” So excuse me for the fact that I didn’t write anything yesterday. I’ve had a long and exhausting week, what with full days of orientation activities, and with evenings of baking and playing and, dear God, how do mothers do it? (I return to the sentiments of this post for a short moment.)
Anyway, we’re going to skip our Czech lesson for the day (unless you actually want to learn the six different forms of “to be” in Czech, and the corresponding six versions of “my name is…”). Instead, we’re going to talk about the fact that my classes are in this building, every day:
I am literally taking classes in a chapel in one of the oldest sections of Prague (Vyšehrad). One of the classrooms is known as the “Chapel room.” When I get lost, or am early enough to wherever I’m going that I get to wander around before hand, I sometimes stumble onto majestic spots like this:
The astronomical clock in Prague (in Old Town Square, or Staroměstské náměstí) is the oldest functioning astronomical clock in the world. This crazy complicated thing shows not only the positions in the sky of the sun and the moon in the zodiac, but also the day of the year and the time in Old Czech time and current local time. Maybe I’ll eventually learn to read it, but probably not.
This is also found in staroměstské náměsti, and is an old church. Don’t ask me for details, because I can’t fill you in on them at this point in time. However, I can tell you that it is Gothic (gotický), and that the Czech word for church is kostel. I learned these things on our walk today.
Today was our first day of intensive Czech, which was definitely intense. I love my professor so much – she is super energetic and has an adorable habit of referring to the entire class as “my dear.” But her energy does not change the fact that Czech is a difficult language, and that my brain basically wanted to explode at the end of our lesson. I’m excited, though, because looking through the textbook we have for the next two weeks, it seems like I’m going to learn a lot. If I can actually absorb all of the verb structures and vocabulary, I’ll be well on my way to actually being able to speak Czech. Yay!
I was able to take the tram (tramvoj) this morning without any problems at all, and didn’t even miss my metro connection. The next step is figuring out what all the signs mean in the metros so that I can actually take the correct exit and end up where I want to be, instead of two blocks away. Still, this morning, when I exited the metro, I had a good enough sense of where I was and which exit I had taken to figure out (correctly) which way to go on the first try.
Also, I get to go to school in a city this beautiful. I walk past this river (řeka) every day, and cross an old, gorgeous bridge (most) at least twice a day. I’m usually not a fan of cities, but I can’t help but love walking through history every single day.
Remember how I said Czech people supposedly never smile? Well, once again, I got a smile out of a Czech person. And on public transportation, no less. Again, I was with a group of Americans, which meant we were speaking in English. As we got off the tram, my two colleagues pressed forward, while I let an older woman go ahead of me. I motioned, and said prosím. Perhaps at my manners, perhaps at my bad pronunciation, perhaps because her leg hurt and she was actually grimacing, she smiled. We learned in class that prosím means more than just “please.” It also means you’re welcome, here you go, go ahead, and pretty much anything else. If you ever come to Prague, when in doubt, say “prosím.” Except when you’re saying “thank you.” Then say děkuji.