Things have been pretty busy over the last week or so. It really is a little bit amazing how differently this year is already turning out to be. It's not just about having different students. It's as about finding a totally different social group. I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that I live closer to the action, but it seems like I'm finally having a chance to get out and be a part of life here. Granted, a lot of it has been with my fellow native English speakers, but it's just been nice.
Last weekend we were in Prague for our first ESI retreat. It was good to get to see everyone and experience the new group dynamic on this side of the ocean. It was rather eerie seeing all the people from training in this new setting. We had our meetings at Kelly's house, which worked out really nicely since I was sleeping there as well :) But it was also nice just to be in the home setting. She has really managed to make her life here, and being in her hat feels like being in a house. Kind of makes me think of when I would visit the Read's place in Hong Kong. You'd ride up the elevator in a typical looking apartment high rise, and open the door into a two story home. It felt like you were situated on a hill in the country somewhere. So random.
Anyhow, we spent a good deal of time tied up in meetings, but we got a little chance to get out and see the sights. Brit and Gina met us in town when we arrived on Friday and we ended up climbing up the tower on the Charles Bridge and getting some amazing views!
The next day, after our meetings were over, we did a little shopping and sight seeing. Laura and I took the time to pose with our pal Honza Hus in the Old Town Square. Good times. :)
We came back on Sunday after a long CA meeting, and soon the week was in full swing. With the two first weeks out of the way, life has definitely taken on a speedy rhythm. It's amazing how, with the snapping of fingers, a week dissolves into a weekend. And this week certainly had it's fair share of busyness. Wednesday night we went out after work to celebrate Caleb's birthday. Caleb is another American in town. He's married to a beautiful Czech woman, who was a fantastic host, and has lived here for 7 years. They graciously opened their home to us, and also invited a couple other guys who speak English really well, over for this great party. Being the typical little kid that I am, I just couldn't leave until the party was all the way over. That being said, I curled up in bed about 1:30 with my busiest work day yet set to start in only 5 hours. Hmmmm...maybe not my smartest move ever.
I told myself that, little sleep or no, it was my fault, and therefore I had to be on best and brightest behavior all day. I've often found that I do better on less sleep. Basically because it means that I'm being really active, and I'm always happier when I have a full schedule. Not that I don't need time to rest every now and again as well, but for the most part, I like to keep busy. So I managed to get through teaching 5 classes (ten hours of teaching!) on about 5 hours of sleep.
Ten hour days are not going to become a weekly thing, but, due to Tammy's really odd schedule, they will happen on occasion. I've found, however, that they're really pretty doable. I had an hour off for lunch, and about two hours in the afternoon to do some planning, and it worked out okay. I wouldn't do well if I had to work like that every day, but it really wasn't so bad, even on 5 hours of sleep.
And then came Friday! Talk about a day of crazy great fun! First of all, I only had to teach one class, and was therefore free by 10:30. Second, it was our first English Pub Night. We had to move to a new location, but, except for the fact that there wasn't really enough ventilation and it got REALLY smoky, the set up was pretty ideal. We were in this pub called Walza, and it's set up really open so you can tell who is there. We had a really good turnout, which is pretty typical of the first party, and a decent sized group of students from last year were there as well as quite a few of our new daily students, and a decent number of evening students as well.
I felt a little stretched thin trying to get around to hanging out with all the different groups, but it was well worth it.
Anicka and Tereza are both daily students this year. Anicka is in my L2 class and Tereze in L3.
Here are a nice group of L2's from last year. They were really a great class and it's sad not to have them around this year. A few of them are in evening classes now, so it's nice to see them around when they're there.
Here I am with a big crew of my daily students from this year. In this picture you can see me, Vasek, Honza, Anicka, Jirka, Tereza and Vojta. It's so strange to type their names on my computer because I can't do any of the diacritical marks. So just know that if I could write them correctly, and you had any idea how to pronounce Czech letters, you would realize that Vasek should sound like Vashek and Anicka like Anichka. One of the great things about the Czech language is that it's completely phonetic. Letters always do the same things. The only thing is that they have some letters we just don't have, so it makes it difficult to really convey it.
Here you can see my favorite picture of the night. I think Honza and Anicka are pretty much adorable! And then there's Vasek (yes, I have two of them this year) who thought he should be in the beginner's class, but is seriously really good at English. I'm super happy he has been moved up to our class because he really adds a lot to it. My two Vasek's are actually both amazing students. The other one, who is in L3, is truly dedicated to learning English, and even when the rest of the students speak to him in Czech he'll still speak to them in English! Way to go to the Vaseks!
Besides having a great selection of Czechs we also had a decent showing of Americans, and our other native English speaker Ian. So in all we had 7 native speakers! Anyone recognize the girl in the next photo with Roshani?
Yep, that's right! Rebecca came to see me! She's currently working in Vienna with a group of students from her college in the US. She went on this study abroad program when she was a student and now gets to be one of the chaperons. She had a free weekend and was able to come up here and see me so I was way excited to have her. After yet another late night out (we got home at about 2:30) we spent the day seeing Cheb. God blessed us with A-MAZE-ING weather! I mean it was incredible. After weeks of cloudy bleak fall weather, we had sunny blue skies all day. It was perfect for showing off my little town. I also introduced her to the wonder that is Kofola...ahhh...
It was sad to see her climb on the train today, but we're thinking of ways to meet up again. I really want to get to Vienna this year anyway, and we're even contemplating meeting up some weekend to go to Berlin, so there's much to be done in the next few months while she's on my current side of the world. Life is pretty fascinating.