Monday, July 21, 2003

Flat, but no cigar

Hello all!

Well, I'm telling you...I didn't think I'd make it to this computer tonight, but somehow I managed to drag myself here. I don't know how, believe me. My feet feel as though they are going to explode, and I'm so goddamned tired I could just cry!

First of all, back to the school day--I couldn't sleep all night, kept tossing and turning. My left hip is killing me; I took some Tylenol, to no avail. My room was stifling, I'm getting a cold. I finally drifted off to sleep around the time my alarm went off. So, I conveniently shut it off and didn't wake up until 7:30, which was the time I had planned on leaving my hostel *at the latest*. So, great fun to run around like crazy, trying to find an outfit to wear, not having any time to brush my teeth or even go to the bathroom. Luckily, I remembered to throw my small toiletries bag into my backpack so that I could brush my teeth at the school! So, I raced toward the metro, and actually got there about 5 minutes earlier than I had expected. So, with much relief, I ended up getting to school at 8, with plenty of time to find the school. Yeah right.

I walked in what I thought was the right direction for about 8-10 minutes...nothing. Turned around and came back. Walked in another direction for 5-8 minutes....nothing. Turned around and came back, all the while contemplating just going back to my hostel and saying Fuck It to the course and everything. But, eventually, sweat-soaked and foot-sore, I spotted a taxi, and I could have cried with relief. I got in and showed him the map. It was much like Spain when he started trying to explain to me that my school was like just around the corner, but fortunately, he actually (and very grudgingly) drove me to the school. I was literally begging him, not that he could understand what I was saying. Eventually, I got to the school (the damn street isn't marked [most of them aren't-they don't have street signs at all like we do] so that's why I missed it), and went up to find my class halfway through their ice-breaker activities. I told the teacher why I was late (only by 15 minutes, all things considered), and excused myself to use the bathroom. Brushed my teeth, sponged myself down, and returned to the room, still sweaty and beet-red in the face. It was like a first day of school NIGHTMARE come true!!

Anyway, class progressed fine, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun, actually. The people I'm with are funny and easy to get along with, and the students we're teaching (for the first two weeks) are older and at an intermediate level. Someone asked me to explain how the course works. It's very simple: it last for 4 weeks, and during that whole time, we will have classes every morning that teach us how to be teachers. :-) Every afternoon, we will split up into groups of 6 (you're always with the same 6 for the whole course), and we each have scheduled time to teach "our" class. Our class consists of about 12 Czech people who have paid a paltry sum of money to learn English from people they know are just in training. So, they get practically free English lessons, and we get guinea pigs! I will spend at least 6 hours personally teaching these people.

For the first two weeks, my group and I will be working with the upper level students. For the last two weeks, we will work with lower level students. Today was our first day with them, and we all did part of the lesson as a way to introduce ourselves. Mostly, we just did the ice-breaker games with them that we did together at the beginning of the day ourselves. My first day of official, observed teaching will be on Wednesday. I have to do a 40 minute lesson on the difference between American English and British English. For this first week, our lessons will be given to us, and they'll tell us how to teach them. After this week, though, we're more and more on our own to come up with ways to teach the material that's required. It's a little daunting, but at least the head of the course will only be observing me during the first two (and hence, easier) weeks. After that, when we switch to working with the lower level learners, I'll be supervised by a part-time teacher.

Anyway, so school was great, except the having to walk around part, because thanks to this morning's escapade, I have blisters on my pinky toes again. It's never ending, I swear!

But, I had high hopes because I was meeting about the flat tonight. Well, let me tell you right now, I am not going to take this flat. The guy, who sounded like a young and perky Aussie on the phone, was actually a 40-ish, slightly pockmarked, graying hair in a ponytail Aussie, who works in a kitchen somewhere here in Prague. I think he must have used someone else's account to place the ad! Anyway, we had to walk FOREVER to get to the tram to get to the flat, and then FOREVER again to get to the flat, and then up two stories in the building, and the whole flat is kind of dump with no living room and a tiny kitchen with a non-working oven. But the room is huge, and has its own lock on the door, and the guy is grisly but friendly....but I just can't bring myself to live there! I told him I had another place to look at, even though I don't, and that I would call him tomorrow or Wednesday to let him know. But seriously, if you guys had taken one look at this guy *and* the flat...well, there is just no fucking way.

So, now I'm up shit-creek again, and I don't know what I'm going to do. I suppose I'll end up extending my stay at the Casa de la Rock-Hard-Bed, because I don't know what else to do. Frankly, I'm beginning to feel the strain of all this, and right now I feel like coming home as soon as this course is done. Maybe moving to Minneapolis or Portland (you know, somewhere where I fucking KNOW someone!!), calling it quits on this international thing. I miss my goddamn cat, I miss my family, and I don't know if I can deal with all of this anymore!! OK, I realize I just had a very bad day....but seriously, I'm afraid I'm going to crack here! If I can't land a decent place to live before this course is up, you guys might be seeing me a lot sooner than I planned!! I mean, it'll be my birthday in Denmark, and then home again in plenty of time for Thanksgiving.

Seriously...this has been a lot harder than I thought, mostly because of how much energy I have to expend just to do the simplest things. I can't just get in my car and drive 10 minutes to the mall to buy sheets or 15 minutes to work or 8 minutes to a friend's house. If I want a bottle of WATER (and it's the only place nearby that sells non-carbonated water), it's at least an 8 minute walk. Ok, not so bad...if I had my own place I could just buy them at the store. The store, however, is at least a 10 minute walk to a metro, a 3 minute ride, a changeover requiring going up and down lots of steps, and then another 4-5 minute ride to a TESCO that closes at fucking 8 o'clock, and then you've got to carry your shit home on the metro. Or, if you're lucky, there will be a supermarket in your neighborhood, in which case it's probably just a 10 minute walk there and a 10 minute walk back, loaded down with groceries. The veggie restaurant that I like is a 15 minute walk from my hostel. And 15 minutes back, probably when it's dark, and when you've just eaten like a cow and don't feel like walking anywhere. And the internet place is a 3 minute walk, but it's down 30 stairs, across a busy street, and up another 30 stairs, plus down some more to get into the joint. IT'S NEVER-ENDING!!! I'm tired beyond belief, but I can't sleep at night. And I'm getting sick, and it's sweltering hot here with no air conditioning anywhere you go. Everything is ridiculous, and please pardon me for bitching about it here. I am close to reaching a breaking point after this evening. I expected to have ups and downs, but this is a very down night, and it's threatening to take over the "ups"!!

OK, sorry, but I just had to vent a bit. :-) Don't worry too much about me. Anyway, I need to get going back to my hostel so that I can shower and then pass out (hopefully!!). I'll let you guys know if I have any more leads on apartments. Bye-bye!

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