Monday, November 18, 2013

Reality Check

     The end is becoming so real.  When we first got here, December seemed like it was years away.  We only have 4 more weekends here.  Four more weekends to soak up as much of this city as humanly possible.  The cold weather makes it so hard though!  The cold air sucks the motivation right out of me, but I have to keep reminding myself that the end is coming so soon!  I have a countdown going, but Gorman hates that because he thinks I'm thinking too much about the end and not enough about the now.  Which is very true.  He found this quote and sent it to me: 

"Man alone measures time. 
Man alone chimes the hour. 
And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear no other creature endures. 
A fear of time running out."

    I don't want my time here to ever run out, but I find it slipping away so quickly!  With the arrival of Aunt Leanne and moje mamkina (my mamma) happening in just 2 days/5days, I am anxiously awaiting our adventures in Prague!  I cannot wait for them to see the fairytale that I am blessed to live every day.  I cannot wait for them to meet the inspiring, intelligent, and loving people that surround me.

    I also look forward to being back at High Point.  I know this semester will be hard, and I know so many things will be different, but I am keeping a positive outlook.  I am so grateful for my Kappa Delta sisters who have been sending me so much love and endless encouraging. (Shout out to Jessie, Fox, and Anne)  Fingers crossed everyone remembers me when I get back to campus!

   This week in Prague was filled with rainy, foggy cold weather.  I finally made it to the Beer Museum (it's just a bar).  I did a taster with 5 flavors of beer- honey, chocolate, chocolate toffee, and two light beers.  Quickly after beginning the taster, I was reminded that I don't even like beer.  Luckily, I have friends kind enough to help me finish the beer!  On Saturday we had a beer drinking competition at a place called The Pub.  The Pub has 4 taps at each table and you serve yourself, while the computer keeps track of how much each person drinks.  The scores are posted on a huge TV that shows the results of The Pubs all across Prague and Europe.  We competed against the ECES group- another section of American study abroad kids who we have most of our classes with.  They are party animals (to say the least), so they won by a landslide.  That night made me so grateful for the non-party-animals that I have in my group.  Experiences are better when you can remember them all the next day.

    Speaking of not remembering things the next day, Happy belated 21st birthday shout out to Tyler!  He made it through the weekend without dying, so I'd say it was pretty successful.

    I don't know how long it will be until I can post again, but to give you a future overview:
Wednesday: Aunt Leanne gets here
Friday: Pilsner Brewery tour
Saturday: Maminka arrives!
Tuesday: Bratislava with Maminka to see Alena (Jana's cousin)
Wednesday: Off to Rome for Thanksgiving! 

And much, much more!
If I don't write soon, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Never forget how blessed you are!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Ich bin ein Berliner"

Before we get to my weekend in Germany, I want to give a shout out to the Tedder Family.

     Last Tuesday evening Michelle's parents were so kind to bring Claire and me out to dinner with them.  We went to a fancy Italian restaurant, Pasta Fresca, right next to Old Town Square.  Honestly, it was one of the loveliest nights I've had in Prague thus far.  Dr. Tedder spoiled us completely, ordering 2 plates of bruschetta and a plate of ravioli---- just for our appetizer!  I had a delightful gnocchi, paired with a delicious white wine.  Dr. Tedder is a wine connoisseur so he explained to us all we need to know about wine tasting.  For dessert Claire and I were thinking about sharing a piece of cake.  When Dr. Tedder heard this he whispered in my ear, "You don't get to do this often here, so you're NOT sharing a dessert."  It was settled.  I would get my own dessert and I would like it. We all got different things and shared them amongst ourselves.  It was the most pleasant evening talking and laughing.  They were my faux-parents for the evening, and I could not be more grateful for their generosity, love and great company.  It was so hard saying goodbye, but now I'm even more excited to have my real family here in just 7 and 11 days!!

     Off to Germany!  After a quick, rainy, but enjoyable stop in Dresden we finally made it to Berlin.  Let's just say it was NOT what I was expecting.  In my ignorant mind, Berlin was a quaint German town.  Oppositely, Berlin is like a mini New York City.  Walking around in some areas made me feel like I was right back on Long Island.  For those of you who know me, you know I do not like cities.

    The city is spread apart widely so walking everywhere was exhausting.  We went to the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Parliament, Jewish Memorial, Hitler's Bunker, several museums, etc.  My favorite was the Parliament.  We walked up the viewing dome and had a gorgeous view of Berlin right at sunset.  Another place I thought was interesting was Hitler's Bunker.  Interestingly enough, it is presently a parking lot with a small plaque about it's underground history.  The reason for this is that they wanted it to be as insignificant as possible so Neo-Nazi's cannot come and worship at the spot.  A place that held the history of the last few days of Hitler was now covered in old cars.  Pleasantly ironic.
Parliament viewing dome

Inside the dome. Too cool!

The bunker where Hitler lived out his final days that is now a meaningless parking lot.

One of my favorite parts of the Berlin Wall.
Brandenburg Gate

Jewish Memorial
     One of our AIFS directors in Prague, Maike, is a young and hip.  She grew up in Berlin so she was able to give us amazing recommendations for food and hang out places.  On the first night there we went to a Lebanese place that served cheap, large portions.  I learned that evening that I do not like Lebanese.  I also tried Club Mate, a typical Berlin soda.... which I also did not like.  I also tried Curry-Wurst, a famous Berlin dish.  It's a sausage covered in sauce and curry.  Surprisingly, I liked it a lot!  My taste buds are broadening!  For dessert we went to an AMAZING waffle place-- which I LOVED!  I got a banana-chocolate waffle.  The waffle place was adorably quaint and homey.  The staff was young, friendly, and sarcastic.  We all stayed there for hours just talking and laughing.  I am blessed to have such hilarious people around me to make me laugh until I cry.

    On our drive home we stopped at Wannsee, Germany.  This town is beautiful and located on a large lake.  It's beauty almost contradicts the terrible decision that was made there-- The Final Solution.  We went to the house where it was decided, which is now a museum.  Then we had a long bus ride home, with it's fair share of laughter and sleep.  Never a dull moment with this group.
Wannsee, where Final Solution decision was made.

   So far this week I have completed 2 class presentations (1hour long & 15min long) and made immense progress on my internship search for Summer 2014.  Fingers crossed I get the one I REALLY want in Raleigh, NC.  I'm looking to make the South my home eventually, so this will be a perfect networking start!  I also figured out I'm going to Barcelona for my last weekend in Europe so I am BEYOND excited about that!  Back to USA in 37 days! Time is flying!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


This week was my nerd week here in Praha.

     This week Gorman was in Italy and Michelle has her parents here so I took this opportunity to be as productive as possible.  I locked myself in Starbucks for 4 days and banged out the majority of my homework for the rest of the semester.  Two PowerPoints, 3 Papers, and LOTS of research.  Granted, I still have a few smaller assignments to complete before the end of the semester, but for the most part all the big projects are finished!  What a weight off my shoulders!

     Aside from being boring, I did a lot of fun things this week too!  It was HalloWeekend so everyone was dressed up for the big Halloween Party.  Unfortunately, I couldn't go because I had to sign up for next semester's classes at midnight.  Luckily I got to hang out with all the Union boys before they left for the extravaganza.  And of course I wore my new giraffe onesie so I wasn't the only one out of costume on Halloween night!

My first and favorite Union gentlemen. Left to right: Dan, Stephan, and Matt(my favorite)

My #2, Stephan, Steve, or Stephanie- we change his name depending on how he's acting

A typical night with the boys.  I'm vastly outnumbered.
     This week I had the opportunity to get closer with the Union boys.  A small group of them (Chase, John, Ian, and Gorman) were off loving life in Italy, so I got the chance to hang out with some of the other boys.  They are a wonderfully, adorably nerdy group of kids.  About 10 of us took a family trip to Kauffland (the Costco of Prague) to get groceries for our family dinner!  We made BBQ chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn on the cob.  A yummy, American meal.  Being surrounded by these intelligent men, listening to music, and teaching each other cooking tips, I understood that they are my family here.  When my wifi stops working, they are the ones I call.  When they're making plans for the night, I am the one they invite.  When there's a big scary spider in my room, they are the ones I run to.   We eat meals together, share stories together, wash dishes together, explore Europe together.

Yay confetti!

     I went to my first ice hockey game this week, too!  It was so much fun!  We all bought scarves.  Mine and Claire's say "JSEM SPARTAN" which means "I am Sparta".  The end score was 11-0, but we still had a great time!  Every time our team scored a man behind us threw TONS of confetti on us.  IT. WAS. AWESOME.
     As I mentioned earlier, Michelle's folks are here this week.  They are the best!  They brought us flowers to decorate our room, a huge tub of Halloween candy (which is almost gone), and face cream!  They took me out to lunch at Cafe Ebel yesterday and I was spoiled by a delicious lunch and dessert.  Tonight, they are taking me, Claire, and Michelle to Pasta Fresca, a fancy Italian Restaurant in Old Town.  We are so excited!  What a wonderful family they are- so generous, loving, and faithful.  No wonder why Michelle is as wonderful as she is!

Off to Berlin this weekend!  Keep me in your thoughts & prayers as we travel.

Again & again I am reminded how truly blessed I am.  LOVING life, living life, and learning so much about myself and the world. I'll be so sad to leave this magical city.