Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

Posts tagged “language

I Swear I’m Not Dead.

Although my recent radio silence would indicate otherwise, I am alive and kicking. Specifically, fighting maniacally at the stresses and pressures that being a Senior implies. I spent the first two weeks of school in a rapid rotation between classes, homework, the shower, and my bed, with a little time in the kitchen to cook, eat, and clean up meals. Basically, my life was do work, finish just in time to go to class, go to class, come home, cook, eat, clean up, do homework, shower, sleep, do work, go to class… You get the picture.

By Tuesday of Week 2, I was up doing work until 3 in the morning, and I decided things needed to change. My advisor told me last year that Senior year needed to be as much about your transition into the real world (hence living off campus and having a job (ish?) as it is about the actual work. Then the Career Center had this wonderful event in which they basically informed us that the job hunt for post-graduation is essentially your fifth class. But I was already taking 5.5 classes…

Now I’m not.

My life is still crazy busy, but now I’ve got time for things I want to do but otherwise wouldn’t be able to. My weeks are still front-loaded; my chemistry class’ problem sets are due every Monday and my physics class’ problem sets are due every Tuesday, and then there’s the small detail of my literature class that meets once a week on Mondays that assigns anywhere from 150-300 pages (so far). I’ve still got lots of homework to work on all week long, but now I also have time for things like reading the newspaper and baking cookies and all the other things one needs to do to remain sane without feeling bad that I’m not working on my homework.

Don’t get me wrong – the decision to drop Japanese was a hard one for me to make. It took me almost a week after I told my teacher I was dropping to actually log into our course system and formally drop it. But I also know that it was the right decision to make. I don’t have time for the ~12 hours of homework it was taking in addition to the 5 hours in class. I don’t have the mental capacity to struggle through a class and feel like I’m not learning anything tangible for my struggle.

Because that’s what Japanese felt like for me. Even in my sophomore year, I felt like I was learning vocab and grammar and facts, remembering them for the test, and then letting them go. Which is exactly how most classes work (although I keep very very strange facts in the back of my head and retrieve them at the most inopportune moments…), but languages are supposed to grow on themselves, like math. The next topic you learn should make more sense as a result of the things you’ve just finished learning; if you’ve forgotten all of that, then you just end up falling further and further behind.

Add to that a year of studying a different language, and you’ve got my situation. I was in a class that I absolutely wanted to be taking, where I could be learning a language that I absolutely want to be learning, but I lost my foundation. And without the foundation, the class was just a forum for frustration, not for furthering my language skills.

For that reason, I’ve decided to go at it on my own. Instead of spending the almost 20 hours a week doing classwork for Japanese, I’ve decided to spend ~5 hours a week maintaining my Japanese, and ~5 hours a week maintaining my Czech. I need to figure out exactly what I want to get out of my language studies going forward, and I’m still working on what that will look like, but hopefully it will include a bit of writing, a bit of reading, and a bit of listening and speaking in both languages.

I dropped Japanese about a week ago and I am more well-rested, less stressed, and more fun. I have time and energy to think about and actually write blog posts again. (Yay!) I auditioned for and made the tap team, and our first rehearsal is tonight. (Yay!) I have time for things like going apple picking, making applesauce and baking apple pie. By the way, its apple season. That post is coming up next!

Advertisements

Getting Good at a Language is a Double Edged Sword

When I write blog posts, I write them in the moment. Usually, I have some thought that I realize would make a great start for a post, or I have some experience I really want to record. I often think of this blog as my journal or my diary, it is the way I record what is going on in my life, and I am just sharing it with everyone else in the whole wide world. The point of saying this is to remind both myself and you, my readers, that each of my blog posts exists as a snapshot of a moment. Usually, I write my posts straight into my blog. Less often, I write them as word documents and just cut and copy later. With the exception of my posts in foreign languages, I almost never edit a post before it goes up, just like I wouldn’t edit an entry in a diary.

Like everyone else, my life is a roller coasters of ups and downs. I’ve had a lot of ups this year, but as the end of my time in Prague approaches, there are a lot of downs too. I’m trying to be honest as I record what I’m feeling, even when my feelings from one day to the next are opposite. With that said, I want to share two posts I wrote in word documents in the last few days. They are, interestingly, basically contradictory. The one is full of excitement about my growing language skills, while the other expresses frustration with those same skills.


 

Me and Czech TV

I’ve been traveling a lot these past few weeks (Paris, Cinque Terre, and Malta all in one month) and it has been seriously great. But the result of traveling a lot is that I’ve had very little down time. Especially since we’ve been in the midst of finals, all my extra time has been spent frantically writing papers and studying for those tests.

But this weekend, I’m not going anywhere. Technically I am, but I’m just accompanying my family to grandma’s house. Which means I’ve had the time to just hang out with my family.

I’ve been cuddling with Emma and got kisses from Jachym when he got home from school today. All this kid time means I’ve also gotten to watch some cartoons. Morning cartoons, afternoon cartoons, evening cartoons. There isn’t anything fundamentally interesting about watching cartoons if you are no longer a child. Watching cartoons has actually been a bit like torture over this year, because I am stuck watching cartoons that I don’t even understand. So I stopped watching them sometime around February. I would still sometimes watch other TV shows, like Castle, in Czech because I knew the plots well enough to use them as a sort of lesson in Czech.

But then, this week, I watched some cartoons. I watched some with Emma this morning, and then some with Jachym this afternoon. And I realized at some point that I wasn’t just absentmindedly staring at the TV screen waiting for the program to be over so we could do something else, like I had been earlier in the year. This time, I was actually watching them. And understanding them. Not translating them for myself, but actually understanding them. In Czech!

Now I realize that these are TV programs for children, and so they fundamentally have easier vocabulary and lots of visual clues. But I also know that these are programs in a foreign language. And these are programs that just a few months ago I found incredibly frustrating because even if I devoted 100% attention to them, I wasn’t able to understand even half of what was going on. But now, I can sit on the couch and watch the cartoons like any other kid. I don’t understand all the words, but I catch enough to figure the rest out. I use the images as context for the sentences I don’t understand. I don’t try to translate, but let myself learn through osmosis.

Obviously, this moment of realization was exciting and, honestly, a little overwhelming and disappointing. I’m about to leave, and I finally feel like I’m getting a handle on this language. I can read stories to the kids and feel like I’m actually reading them. When something seems strange, it might be because I don’t understand the words. Or it might be that the story is actually about a biting sweater and another sweater made of spaghetti. (Kids stories can be a little … strange.)


Café Conversations

As I finish my time here in Prague, I’ve been continuing with the habit I’ve picked up here in this city filled with coffee shops. I’ve joked multiple times that there is a café on every corner, and more than once I’ve made it my goal to find a new favorite. Needless to say, I have many.

But I’m not the type of person to just go sit aimlessly in a café sipping a cappuccino. I go with friends, and we chat for hours. Or I bring my computer or my iPad or a book and I write the papers I need to write or I read.

I’ve fallen in love with the café culture here more than I ever fell in love with cafés in Boston or San Francisco, not because there are necessarily more cafés here, or a greater variety, but for some other reason I couldn’t put my finger on.

I finally figured it out.

I hate working with headphones in. Not that I can’t do it or that I find headphones uncomfortable, but just that I enjoy hearing what is going on around me. I like to hear the clink of plates or the low voices of people around me. But in the States, where all those conversations are in English, I overhear something I find interesting, and all of a sudden I am no longer focusing on what I am reading, but rather that I’m thinking about the conversation I am listening to. But here, in the Czech Republic, where everyone is speaking a foreign language, that hasn’t been a problem. Every so often there is a table speaking English, and I hear that and find the language notable, but very rarely is the conversation notable as well. So I ignore it as easily as I ignored the conversations my brother and dad would have while I was in high school.

Today, I’m sitting in a café, like always. Like always, the conversations around me are in Czech. But this time, I understand most of what is happening and I can’t focus anymore. I am listening to these conversations around me, understanding enough to want to understand it all. And it is distracting.

I finally figured it out.

I love having background noise, and as long as I couldn’t understand them, dozens of conversations could happen around me and I wouldn’t be bothered.

It feels like I have been doing my homework in the eye of a hurricane all year long. But now, the eye has moved, and the wind is blowing my papers away and I am getting wet. And it is distracting.

Perhaps this is why I never fell in love with doing work in cafés in Boston. I’ve gotten lots of distraction-free work done in Diesel, where you have to pay for internet. But that was in spite of the atmosphere, not because of it. I would go to Diesel with headphones and playlists because otherwise I’d happily sit in a corner and eavesdrop. And here, with just two papers left to write in Prague, the same thing is happening to me in Czech.


So I guess getting good at this language is a double edged sword. I was hoping to bring my love of cafés as work spaces back to Boston, but now I suspect that won’t be happening. At the same time, learning that I need my headphones in cafés here too is a little exciting, because it means that my latent language skills are growing exponentially! Just in time to go home…

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve got a good answer or come to any sort of conclusion regarding how I feel about these discoveries. But you can be sure that there will be lots more posts about leaving coming up. Consider this a warning – my blog is about to get sentimental.

 


My Mini Pre-Reverse Culture Shock Experience

AKA, My Trip to Malta

I just got back from Malta, where I experienced culture shock and reverse culture shock at the same time. But how is that possible, I hear you ask? Well…

Culture Shock

For one, the island of Malta is a relatively recent British baby. By that, I mean, it only gained independence in 1964. As such, they drive on the wrong side of the road, and a lot of the Maltese speak British English. So that was weird. But the bigger culture shock was a result of the way Maltese treat women.

Or, I should say, stare at women.

Because I spent the better part of my weekend feeling slightly uncomfortable because of the stares I was getting in the streets. I wasn’t wearing anything particularly provocative. (This shouldn’t need to be a part of the consideration or a part of this post, but it is anyways…) There was only one point over the weekend where I felt truly nervous, when a guy literally started following me down the street. When you’re traveling alone as a young woman, you expect stuff like this, but it is still a bit scary. Especially when you travel the way I do and enjoy wandering down side streets and abandoned alleys. But I stayed alert, walked quickly, used my highly reflective sunglasses as a mirror of sorts to keep an eye on the guy, and struck up a conversation with the first people I passed so he had to move on.

In other ways, Maltese people are pretty nice. They are always willing to help if you’re asking for directions, or which bus you should be taking. But the constant staring was unnerving, and the first time all year I’ve really and truly felt like I was in a significantly different culture. (It takes a lot for me to feel out of place, because of my experiences in the completely different culture that is Japan’s.)

Reverse Culture Shock

I spent the weekend in Malta, where everyone speaks both Maltese (a strange hybrid of Arabic and Italian) and English. Let me tell you, the fact that everyone spoke English threw me off my game. I would walk up to someone to ask for help, and not know what to say. Or I would walk into a store and not know how to greet the clerks. Or sit down in a restaurant and be unsure if I should just order or also point.

In each of these situations, about two seconds later I realized I could just speak English like a normal person, but it was always a strange realization to have. I haven’t been in an English-first country for almost nine months. Technically, Malta isn’t an English-first country, but it is one of the official languages, and everyone I met spoke at least reasonable English. In fact, the two adorable old people I met were the only ones that didn’t speak perfect English. And so I realized that I went to Malta and experience pre-reverse culture shock.

Is this, I wonder, what going back to the States is going to be like? Am I going to get home and not be sure how to address people in the airport, or wonder how to tell the cab driver from the airport where to go? Am I going to think Dobry Den when I walk into a store before I think Hello? It is an interesting thought that I can’t do much about at this point, but it is also a slightly frightening thought that makes me just a bit nervous about going home.

Other Highlights from Malta

DSC_0102

They really like this kind of window. I like them too! More significantly, though, all the buildings in Malta were made of giant bricks that reminded me a bit of the adobe bricks we made back in elementary school. Although I think they were actually limestone. Even though the buildings are all made of these bricks and often showing significant weathering, they all have pops of color – usually in the form of brightly painted doors or bay windows like these.

The Azure Window

I liked this window too! Called the Azure Window, it can be found on the island of Gozo (the northernmost of the three islands that make up the small nation of Malta) and is gorgeous. As you can see from the photo above, the day that I went was beautiful, the sky was clear, and the hiking was fun (and easy!).

The Dingli Cliffs, on the South West side of the island, are beautiful. Just another drop-dead gorgeous natural feature on the island, the cliffs also seem to be really dangerous. If you look carefully at the center of the picture above, you can see an old white car that clearly went off the side of the cliff. This was one of about a half dozen cars I saw that had gone over the edge, probably with deadly consequences for the drivers.

DSC_0004

I also went scuba diving, which was my first dive since I completed my PADI Open Water certification. I got certified in Monterey Bay, CA, where a good day in terms of visibility is 20 to 30 feet. In Malta (we left from the beach above) our visibility was more than 20 meters. I dove to about 15 meters for about 40 minutes. Not a particularly long or deep dive, but absolutely gorgeous. The name of the dive was Cirkewwa Arch, and it was awesome. I saw jellyfish, poisonous scorpion fish, and all sorts of really brightly colored fish weaving in and out of the grass. All told, best experience of the weekend.

So yeah, Malta is gorgeous.


Český Čtvrtek – v Italii

S Ashten letíme z Milano do Prahy. Byli jsme od 24.4 v Italii. Na tři dny a dve noci, jsme byli v Činke Tére. A na náš poslední den a noc, jsme byli v Janov. V Činke Tére, můžete vidět krásné modré moře. Fotografovala jsme moc, ale neplavala jsem protože moře bylo moc studené. Ale, jsme obě byly ve vodě. V Pátek, jsme jely na túru mezi Monterosso a Vernazza a v Sobotu jsme ležely 4 hodiny na pláži. Počasí v Neděli bylo špatně, ale to nevadí protože jsme cestovaly z Janov do Milano a potom z Milano do Prahy. My jsme jedli opravdu nejlepší jidlo. Měli jsme mnoho mořských poldů a moje nejoblíbené jidlo byl rak. Měla jsem taky dobrý salát a píly jsme vino každy den. S každé večeři, jsme píly láhev vína.


With Ashten, I am flying from Milan to Prague. We were in Italy from the 24th of April. For three days and two nights, we were in Cinque Terre. And for our last day and night, we were in Genoa. In the Cinque Terre, you can see the beautiful blue ocean. I took lots of photos, but I didn’t swim because the ocean was very cold. But, we both walked in the water. On Friday, we hiked between Monterosso and Vernazza and on Saturday we lounged for 4 hours on the beach. The weather on Sunday was bad, but it didn’t matter because we traveled from Genoa to Milan and then from Milan to Prague. We ate truly the best food. We had a lot of seafood and my favorite thing I had was crab. I also had a really good salad and we had wine every day. With each dinner, we had a bottle of wine.


Český Čtvrtek – Káča

Můj tatinek jednou řikal, “všichni musí sbírat něco.” On sbíral známky v dětsví, a dnes sbírá knihy o fotbalových rozhodčích. S mojí rodinou, sbírame mince z celého světa, proto máme mince z Japonsko, z Kanad’y, České Republicky, a mnoho dalších. Ale, sbírám něco sama taky. Sbírám káči. Proč? Tady je podvika.

Když mi bylo 13 let, cestovali jsme do České Republiky s mými prarodiči. Potom jsme cestovali do Italie, ale to jenom já, můj bratr, a moji rodiče. V Praze, jsem založila moc krasnou káču v trh a moje babička ji koupila pro mě. Byla to moje vzpominka z České Republiky.

Potom, jsme cestovali do Italie vlakem a ve vlaku, můj tatinek pověděl mě o sbíraní. Když můžeme koupit něco káču v Italii, budeme. V celé Italii, jsme hledali. Hledali jsme v Římě, hledali jsme v Milaně, hledali jsme v Benátkách. Nakonec, jsme v Benátkách, viděli jeden káču v obchodě oken. Ale tento obchod byl zavřeny, a museli jsme jet vrzo ráno. Můj tatinek klepal a klepal a někdo otevřel dveře. Tato káča byla opravdu poslední káča skla v obchodě, možna v celých Benátkách. Ale koupili jsme. A měla jsem dvě káči ze dvou zemí.

Když jsem cestovala do Japonsko, koupila jsem káču tam. a Ted’, zkusím koupit káču v každé zemi. Je legrace, protože mám něco dělat všude. Musím hledat, proto mus=im zkoumat místa. Nemůžu jenot jet na proslulá místa když chci koupit káču z této země. Ale, nemůžu koupit všude, protože ěasto nemůžu hledat nebo nemůžu najít káči.

Myslím nejlepší důvod pro sbíraní je podviky. Když cestuju s někým, můžeme hledat dohromady. Je to legrace a trochu jiný než normalní cestování. V Listopadu, jsme cestovali s dvěma kamaradkamí do Turecka. Tam, jsem šly na trhy. Nemyslely jsme, že koupíme něco, protože všechno bylo velké nebo drahé. Ale, řikala jsem, když někdo bude vidět káči, prosim řekněte mi to. Asi za dvacet metrů, jsem viděla něco a křičela jsem “káěi!” Pravda, byl tučety káči. Koupila jsem jednu krásnou.

Mám dvě káči z Polska, protože jsem koupila jendu na trhu a naše výlet vůdce koupila jeden v Židovském muzeu. Je dreidel a nevím když opravdu káču, ale ona je opravdu hezká a děkovala jsem jí. Koupila jsem moji káča z Francie, z Švýcarska, a z Islandu v dětském obchodě, ale na Islandu jsem hledala jeden v kuchynském ochodu taky.

Moje kamarady někdy koupily káči pro mě v nové zemi, nebo pomohy mě s hledat někde. Nemám káči ze všech zemí kam jsem cestovala, ale mám jich mnoho. Mám káči z Japonska, ze Švýcarska, z Turecka, z Polska, z České Republiky, z Italie, z Francie, a možna ješte ale nemůžu vzponenout ted’protože jsem tady a jsou v Americe. Ale mám jednu otázku: když cestuju někam dvakrat nebo už, měla bych koupit jeden na každý výlet nebo ne?


My dad once told me, “everyone should collect something.” He collected stamps as a kid, and now he collects books about soccer referees. With my family, we collect coins from countries around the world, so we have coins from Japan, Canada, the Czech Republic, and many others. But, I also collect something myself. I collect tops. Why? Here is the story.

When I was 13 years old, we traveled to the Czech Republic with my grandparents. And then we traveled to Italy, but it was only me, my brother, and my parents. In Prague, I found a beautiful top in a market and my grandmother bought it for me. It was my souvenir from the Czech Republic.

After, we traveled to Italy by train and on the train, my dad told me about collecting. If we could find a top in Italy, we would buy it. Throughout Italy, we searched. We searched in Rome, we searched in Milan, we searched in Venice. At the end of our time in Venice, we saw one top in a shop window. But the shop was closed and we had to leave early in the morning. My dad knocked and knocked and someone opened the door. That top was truly the last glass top in the store, and maybe in all of Venice. But we bought it. And I had two tops from two countries.

When I travelled to Japan, I bought a top there. And now, I buy a top in every country I visit. It is fun, because I have something to do everywhere. I have to look, so I have to go to different places. I cannot only go to the tourist places if I want to buy a top in that country. but I can’t always buy one, because often I can’t search or I can’t find a top.

I think the best reason for collecting is the stories. If I travel with someone, we can search together. It is fun, and a bit different than normal travel. In November, I went to Turkey with two friends. There, we went to the outdoor market. We didn’t think we would buy anything, because everything was big or expensive. But I said if anyone sees tops, please let me know. From about twenty meters, I saw something and yelled “Tops!” It was true – they were dozens of tops. I bought a pretty one.

I have two tops from Poland, because I bought one at a market and our trip leaders bought one at the Jewish museum. It is a dreidel, and I don’t know if it is truly a top, but the woman is so nice and I thank her. I bought my tops in France, in Switzerland, and in Iceland from children’s stores, although I also found one in Iceland in a kitchenware store.

My friends sometimes buy me tops from new countries, or help me look for them somewhere. I don’t have tops from every country I’ve been to, but I have tops from many of them. I have tops from Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, and maybe more but I can’t remember because I am here and they are in America. But I have a question: If I travel somewhere twice or more, should I buy one for each trip, or not?


Český Čtvrtek – Lyžovaní

Když opravdu chci být lepší v češtině, musím cvičit. Proto, budu psát můj blog v češtině každý týden. Budu psát každý čtvrtek – bude moje serie: český čtvrtek.

Jela jsem minulý víkend na Slovensko na hory protože jsem chtěla lyžovat. Jela jsem vlakem s novými kamarády, píli jsme moc na tom výletě na slovensku, a jsme lyžovali celý den ve čtvrtek, v pátek, a v sobotu. Na první dva dny, počasí bylo moc krasné. V sobotu, bylo špatné – mocný vítr a sníh. Proto, jsme čekali uvnitř a jedli jsme halušky. Halušky jsou tradniční jidlo na Slovensku a je jako Italské gnocchi. V neděli, jsme jeli domů taky vlakem. Býl to super výlet.

Myslim nebudu lyžovat tuto sezónu. To je trochu smutné protože mám ráda lyžovaní, ale tato sezóna byla dobrá. Lyžovala jsem ve pěti zemích – v České Republice, na Slovensku, ve Francii, v Rakousku, a v Neměcka. Sníh nebýl dobrý, ale lyžovaní bylo pěkné, a pohledy ve Francii a na Slovensku býly moc krásný. Doufám jednou můžu lyžovat ve Rakouských Alpách a v Italii, ale tato sezóna bzla úžasná.

———————————————————————-

If I really want to get better at Czech, I have to practice. Therefore, I will write on my blog in Czech every week. I will write on Thursdays – it will be my series: Czech Thursdays. *

Last weekend, I went to the mountains in Slovakia because I went skiing. I went by train with some new friends, we drank a lot on the trip, and skied all day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The first two days, the weather was very beautiful. On Saturday, it was bad – strong winds and snow. Therefore, we waited inside and ate halushky. Halushky is a traditional food in Slovakia and is similar to Italian gnocchi. On Sunday, we went home, again by train. It was a great trip.

I think I won’t ski again this season. This is a little sad because I like skiing, but this season has been good. I skied in five countries – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Austria, and Germany. The snow wasn’t good, but the skiing was nice, and the views in France and Slovakia were very beautiful. I hope someday I will be able to ski in the Austrian Alps and in Italy, but this season has been amazing.

———————————————————————-

The word for “Thursday” in Czech starts with a “č” just like the word for “Czech” in Czech. This sound is the same as the “Cz” sound at the beginning of the English word “Czech.” Basically, my title for this series – and my reason for writing on Thursdays – is entirely alliterative and completely impossible to make clear in English. Just go with it. Return


Semester Preview #2

Anyone who’s been around this blog for a while knows that this is my second semester in the most beautiful city in Europe. But I’m not just chilling in Prague, traveling and wandering and taking pictures. (Although that is a lot of what I do here…) I am also taking classes. I’m here, at school, on Monday morning, waiting for my second week of classes to start, and it seems appropriate to let you all in on my schedule. (That, and my Dad emailed, asking that question.)

So here we go:

The first thing to note about my schedule this semester is that I manipulated it and took very specific classes which has resulted in the most amazing study abroad schedule imaginable. The earliest I start is 10:35 (M/W), and I only have classes M/T/W. Aka, I get four day weekends, so when I travel I can do it right (or at least better).

But how? Well, first of all, I’m taking a class called the Films and Literature of Arnost Lustig. A couple of friends took it last semester and loved it, and I’m psyched. The professor is Pepi Lustig, the son of the famous Czech author and director, which means we get an intensely personal view of the material. Lustig and his entire family managed to survive the Holocaust through dumb luck and a willingness to accept said luck, so these stories are really fascinating. I’m really excited about the class. In addition to the overall awesomeness, the class meets for three weekends – I can’t travel those weekends (obviously), but it means my weeks have a lighter load.

I’ve also lightened my schedule stress by taking two classes that meet only once a week. The first, called Nation, Power, and Money, is about the influence of media and propaganda on the Czech Republic and the world. It also got positive reviews from people last semester, and I’m excited to get a bit of this sort of thing from a different perspective. Back at Tufts, I took a propaganda class looking at the rise of Nazism and Japanese militarism, so I’m excited that this class takes the same ideas to look at the popularity of communism throughout East Europe and the Soviet Bloc, as well as how and why consumerism is similar to communism and advertisements similar to propaganda.

My other one-block-per-week class is called Global Crisis, and is about the 2008 financial collapse. This class is taught through ECES, which is Charles University’s center for American students (as opposed to all the programs in Prague that are affiliated with CU, like CIEE). We have our first class meeting tomorrow, but I’m excited. There will be a mix of students from CIEE, students from ECES, and also ERASMUS students from all over Europe, so I look forward to getting to meet some people outside of the program. I’ve never taken an economics class in college, but I think I’ll be okay, and hopefully I’ll learn a lot too.

The last class I’m taking through CIEE is my Czech Language class. There are seven people in my class – four of us from Fast Track last semester, two from other Czech classes last semester, and one whose Mom is Czech, so she has a much larger vocabulary than the rest of us, but never learned the grammar rules. All in all, this class may end up being my favorite (again!) because the people are great, and the professor is great. We had Jana last semester, so she already knows most of us and knows how we study, what we really want to learn, etc. We got new textbooks this semester (that cost $30, not $130 like Amazon says…), and she says we’ll be getting through all 200 pages, in addition to the activity book, so I have a suspicion this is going to be a challenging semester. On the other hand, every day I feel more and more like I’m getting a real handle on the language – I even understood the gist of the news last night. But that is a post for another day.

If you’ve been keeping track, this is only four classes, and CIEE has a strict five-class policy. So what am I missing? My internship, of course! I’ve got an internship at Amnesty International for the semester, which I think (unfortunately) will end up being my least interesting class, because I speak English. Basically, the advantage of having native English speakers for Amnesty and all the other companies CIEE sets up internships with is that we can edit their English documents and publications. It certainly isn’t the most exciting work, but I’m not complaining. I like the people I work with, and I’ve already noticed my opinions and my interpretations of international events changing. Hopefully it gets more interesting, but even if it doesn’t, I’m enjoying it for the most part.

But wait, there’s more! I am taking a sixth class, and I’m in the process of getting it approved for credit. Called Mystery of Words in USAC (another program in Prague), and previously offered at CIEE as Words through History, History through Words, it was the one class that I was most excited about taking before I came here. It is a little bit linguistics, a little bit history, a little bit anthropology, and is basically about how languages evolve over time, and how different languages influence and alter each other.

As always, I’ll be updating as the semester goes on with information about me, my life, and my classes, so check back shortly for information about last weekend’s trip to Berlin, and also last month’s trip to Geneva and the French-Swiss Alps.