Saturday, August 2, 2003

Yes, I'm still alive!‏

Hello everyone!

Sorry that I've been so busy with school that I haven't had time to email! Uncle Pete took me to task, so now I will try to be more vigilant. :-)

School is going well at times, and bad at others. We just had a switch of which teacher is observing us during our lessons, and the lady that I have now (Betty the Bitch) totally ripped my last lesson to complete shreds. She was actually quite mean about it. To be honest, I was glad that I didn't break down and cry during the feedback session. I did, however, end up crying in the hallway afterwards when some of my friends came out to see if I was OK, so it was only a partial victory. Tearing someone down like that isn't exactly a huge confidence builder. Consequently, I'm really nervous for my next lesson on Monday, so I want to make sure I prepare it backwards and forwards.

As for the rest of school, everything is going really well and I'm getting along great with my classmates. Thankfully, we've all clicked and we find it easy to work with one another. That's a good thing since we're required to work together on several written assignments! The only trouble is that they like to work "down the pub", and I need a little more quiet and little less "pivo" (beer) to get any real work done. Plus, the place we go to, "The Red Onion", has the absolute rudest waitresses I have EVER seen. They hate us foreign bugs taking up space at their tables, so they yell at us every time we go in there. To be frank, I don't know why we keep going back, except that it's just so close to school, and also because their basic half-liter of pivo is about .85 cents. Believe me, this is a major consideration for my school friends, all of whom could drink everyone on this mailing list under the table.

Anyway, I'm just taking a bit of a break right now at the local internet cafe. I'm a regular here now, which is kind of cool. There are two girls who work here, alternately, in the evenings, and they both recognize me (no doubt are calling me "The Crazy American" behind my back), and they know that I always want a "Bon Aqua" Neperliva, and for some reason they both find that amusing. (It's a bottle of water that isn't carbonated.) It's nice to be recognized as a sort-of local. They like to practice their English on me, which I don't mind.

Today I had a huge break-through. I haven't been able to figure out how to work the washing machine. I turn it on, it makes a humming noise, I try to select one of the "programs" on the dial, and then it just does nothing. So, I asked one of my Czech speaking school friends to come over today, and she fixed it in about 30 seconds. What was wrong? Well, the water wasn't turned on! How silly of me not to have assumed that it would be off! Jesus...sometimes things seem so backwards here! You know, I got the funniest email from Grandma. She said, "I just can't feature the windows not having screens. Perish the thought!" LOL It was very amusing. But, I also can't feature why they wouldn't want to have screens. Actually, I know why. They don't use clothes dryers here, so a lot of people have clothes racks that they hang out their window.

Speaking of break-throughs, I have had several minor ones that, under such stressful times, I consider major victories. They all center around the grocery store. :-) I was so happy the other day because I discovered the spices. I had been looking for bottles, when in fact, they all come in little packets. And today I found actual crackers, which aren't available at the usual store I go to. Plus, I've been trying lots of different cheeses since they're all foreign to me. I still haven't found peanut butter, brown sugar, or honey mustard, but I'm assured that the TESCO'S has everything. I've just been too busy to take the 15 minute metro trip to get there. A non-food-related victory is that I finally discovered how to convert a computer keyboard to use English keys, instead of Czech keys at the cafe that I use in the evenings. On most computers, there's a little icon at the bottom of the screen that you click on, but this one is different. But finally I figured out how to do it manually, so that was a major thing since typing with the Czech keys took me forever. (The difference is that the "y" and "z" are reversed for some reason, and all of the punctuation keys are in a completely different order and the number keys are all fucked up too.)

Anyway, it's been really hot here the past few days. Almost as hot as Iowa, honestly. The humidity is sweltering, too. Thank god I remembered to bring my red Spanish fan with me! I can't remember if I mentioned this before, but my fan is the envy of everyone at my school. Last night I got some more compliments on it at the pub. Honestly, if I'd been swishing around Des Moines with that fan, people would have thought I was nuts, but here it makes me look all chic and cool. I like the way these people think. :-)

OK, time for me to sign off. If I haven't written to you personally, please don't hold it against me. I wish I had more time, but I just simply don't. I might be back here tomorrow, so maybe I can get more done then. Anyway, I hope all of you are doing well. :-) I'll talk to you soon!

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