The Randomness of Having Free Time
I haven’t written much since January started because there hasn’t been much to write about. I’ve pretty much just been at home, reading books, studying my Czech, not doing much of anything.
I had my math classes, and an upcoming math quiz, and therefore decided to join my classmates in a math study group. In the city of cafes, it seemed appropriate to meet in a cafe one evening to spend some time reviewing. So that’s what we did. And I found a new favorite cafe. Called Friends’ Coffee House, it has a perfect atmosphere – great for working, chatting, or really whatever. It seems to be visited by both locals and local ex-pats – the conversations are evenly distributed between Czech and broken English. Although that evening the table behind us was a group of four German girls studying for a Czech test.
There are four of us in my math class – the English section of Charles University’s Discrete Math – myself and one other American, and then two Russians. I met one of them in the subway and we walked to the cafe. Even though he had the address and the 3G-compatible phone, I was the one that got us from point A to point B, primarily because I’ve just explored the city more. That, and I could actually ask for directions to the appropriate street. Which led to a conversation about why he hasn’t learned any Czech (he is planning to live here for at least three years, it seems logical to me that he should learn at least a bit of the language!). Which led to him challenging me to use my Czech. So I ordered his smoothie for him.
It was the first time I’ve tried to translate from English to Czech, and was a bit of an exercise in absurdity, because the lady who was working behind the counter (the obchodník, in Czech) clearly spoke English. But she humored us, and let me order for him in Czech, and now he’s enrolled in Czech classes…
And then the very next day I decided to wander around. I went into the city with a few hours to kill and the desire to print out some pictures for my scrapbook/journal. I’ve been postponing this process because the last time, it took three days and cost an outrageous amount, but this time I was determined to be more successful. And I was! I found a print shop (copy shop, really) that printed my 7 pictures on matte paper in about 3 minutes and cost me 40 crowns (not even $2). Admittedly, they were printed on thick paper, not photo paper, but that is even better for my scrapbooking purposes.
I then went off to see if my favorite paper store was open (yes, I have a favorite paper store in Prague). It wasn’t, but on my approximate way back to the trams, I found another adorable cafe. I swear, if I ever open a cafe, I want it to be exactly like this one. I only wish I’d had my camera with me. The whole place was books. The counter held up by books (probably something else too, but it looked like just books). The benches were cushions on top of books. The walls were floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, made up of books and planks of wood. But the books weren’t just structural; the bookshelves had books of all shapes and sizes to just grab and read while you drink your coffee/tea. Kids books, philosophy books, science fiction books, and then German and English books in the same categories. I had a cup of green tea and read five chapters of a new (to me) Vonnegut novel. I’ll go back a few more times, when I’ve got time to spare, and see if I can’t finish it before I go home in May.
In addition to the new cafes, I spent two hours with my relative, Monika. There isn’t really any way to describe her except as a wonderful relative. Or maybe as my aunt, although she’s probably actually my second cousin thrice removed or something like that. We live not even five minutes apart, so we got coffee in the McCafe near our house, chatted about random stuff for two hours, and I wrote down far more that thirty new words for the day.
And, she told me that Gilmore Girls was, in fact, translated and dubbed in Czech, which inspired a new search and (finally!) success! I’ve now taken to watching Gilmorová Děvčcata, which requires incredible amounts of concentration, pausing for the dictionary flip, and re-watching parts until I understand.
I’m heading off this afternoon for a trip to Morzine to ski and Geneva to visit Katy, so expect only a few posts for the next week, but a healthy dose of blogging the last week of January, when I get back to Prague, and dive right into orientation week #2, when I get to help out orientating the newbies! (But actually, I’ve been asked with Holly, another girl staying the year, to help out a bit at orientation. Plus I’ve got my continued private Czech lessons with my Czech teacher from CIEE, and my math final to take!)