Thursday, April 21, 2011

One Month to Go

In a month this program will be over.  It's almost hard to believe, and yet it makes perfect sense.  It seems so long ago that I arrived in Prague.  So much has happened in approximately 3 months.  At the most superficial level, the city looks so different.  I must be honest, it was depressing to behold the dead trees and grass of a Prague winter.  But now that it's spring, Prague is verdant and lovely.  I'm so glad I chose to study in the Spring semester.  I get to see the city come to life, as opposed to wither into winter.  As a result of the warmer and sunnier weather, the tourists are out in full swing.  Many like to complain about the crowds of aimlessly ambling out-of-towners, and they can get annoying, but they are mostly endearing to me.  Tourists are always good for the economy.

The McDonalds down the block from me is no longer a source of comfort for me as it was a few blog posts ago.  It's just sort of there.  I hardly notice it now.  I suppose this is some sort of sign of growth.

On an academic level, I am now over 30 pages into my screenplay.  I'm pretty proud of it and excited to see where it goes.

I'll definitely be missing this program and this city, and probably go through some withdrawal symptoms, a month from now.  But I take this as a good sign.  This has been one of the better decisions I have made in my life.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

You Should Know I'm Listening to Aaron Copland As I Write This

What I meant to mention in my previous post, before getting on a tangent, was that being here makes me appreciate America more.  On the surface, this sounds like a horrible insult to the Czech Republic.  I do not mean to degrade the Czech Republic in any way.  I absolutely love it here.  At the same time, I do not wish to claim some false Czech heritage.  I am so glad to be from America.  I love that one of the stereotypes of Americans is that we are happy and optimistic.  I love that America is largely inhabited by people who choose to live there.  I've heard Stephen Fry theorize that the fact that the residents of America are the descendants of those who chose to emigrate and leave their home country for a new life means that sort of bravely spirit remains in the American people.  I know I'm starting to sound all corny and like this is a big lead up to announce my candidacy for 2012, but taking a break from America is just what I needed to realize how great it is.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I'll Be There For You

An unexpected habit I've gotten into during my time abroad is to compulsively watch Friends.  I have seen every episode of this 90s- early 2000s sitcom before, and yet I have the urge to relive them here in Prague.  Perhaps, unconsciously, I am craving something that reminds me of my New York home.  But I don't feel the same tinge of homesickness I felt while watching Annie Hall in class a few weeks ago.  There is a sort of comfort in the show Friends for me.  It was there all through my childhood.  So maybe I'm not craving the physical location of home, but the emotional home, the time I spent growing up.  It takes a lot of growing up to live in a different continent for 4 months with no one you knew before.  And growing up is scary.  Just ask Rachel Green.

At any rate, I'd like to personally thank the internet for providing me with these episodes of Friends.  I can't imagine studying abroad without the internet.  Not just for the television, but the communication.  It's so much cheaper to Skype or email home than to call.  I occasionally peruse the New York Times to see if anything significant is happening back home.

Right now what's on my mind is money, or lack thereof.  I purchased my train ticket to Berlin, and am thinking I way over paid.  I went to the train station to buy it, and it is significantly cheaper to purchase a ticket online.  I'm hoping I can return the ticket for a refund and buy the cheaper one.  We'll see. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Month or So

I have been the opposite of diligent about this blog.  Not to make excuses about it, but here's an excuse about it-- my goal for this blog was not to be simply a recount of what I've done, but a record of my impressions.  I also did not want to talk about people (unless necessary) because that's not terribly interesting unless you know the people.

I've been here about a month and half, which is completely nuts.  Time is just flying by.  By now I have moved on from first impressions, to deeper ones.  Here are some of the things that I truly did not expect about Prague.

The Hot Chocolate.  Whoa.  I have had the best hot chocolate of my life here.  I don't know what they do to it, and I'm not sure if I want to know, but it is great.  Anthony Bourdain did not cover that in his Prague episode of No Reservations.

The baked goods.  This is related to the previous, but I did not think there would be so many great pastries here.  And you can just pick a bakery at random and you'll get some really good stuff.  I have not experienced anything like that in the states.

Sodexo.  Sodexo, what are you doing here?  Tulane folks will know what I'm talking about.  Sodexo is the food service company that works at Tulane.  They apparently don't treat the employees at Tulane very well, as the students are always trying to organize the workers and stage protests.  I am always shocked to see the little Sodexo sticker that is outside so many of the establishments around here.

Pollution.  The car exhaust here is just unbearable.  There's not much more to say about it.  I think they could definitely benefit from a switch to renewable resources.

To sum it up, and end on a positive note, I am loving it here.  I'm sad it's moving so quickly.

I'll be in Vienna this weekend.  Expect a massive post about traveling sometime in the future.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just shoot me

I was in Paris last weekend.  You wouldn't know that from reading this blog.  I'm going to Budapest this weekend.  You also would not know that from reading this blog.

I am not going to talk about that now, though.  I plan on doing a blog later that reflects on my travels as a whole.  Get excited.

Followers of this blog will know of my troubles with my camera this semester.  I am here, writing this blog, at this moment, as a proud owner of a working camera.  I just ran out to buy one at the camera store down the block from my apartment.  It is interesting buying a camera--or anything, really--with a language barrier.  There's the suspicion that the workers are talking about you in their native tongue, or trying to use your ignorance to their advantage and get you go for all the bells and whistles without you realizing it.  My experience was not like this, however.  I reaped the unexpected benefit of a language barrier--they cannot sweet talk you into something much more expensive.  I just got the least expensive one there, and they were cool with that, hoping for the exchange to be over soon.

I believe that the reason I was in this camera situation to begin with is a manifestation of Karmic retribution in the technology age.  Though I am pro-progress (uh that sounds awkward, sorry) I do have qualms with technology.  We are buying into the philosophy to get new things just because they are new.  There is no longer sentiment attached to our possessions.  We upgrade simply because we can.  I did this with my old camera, my bulky, 4 AA battery needing, very small display, slightly chipped silver exterior Cannon.  I did this only because a sexy new Nikon came along with a sleek rechargeable battery and beautiful display screen.  The Nikon failing, then, was the price I paid for rejecting the old, for the sole reason that it was old.

And I have stepped off my soapbox.  Whether that is truly an insane interpretation of what happened to my camera, and I think it might be, I am grateful to have this absurdly pink Samsung and I'm hoping it is good to me for the rest of this trip.  In any event, it's going to be a while before I am able to trust Nikon again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Welcome to my music-related blog post.

Friday evening meant a trip to the opera here which was even more beautiful than pictures can capture.  We were way up in the nosebleed section, which is even more of a nosebleed section because this theater is more vertically oriented than horizontally oriented.  The opera we saw was Mozart's Don Giovanni which just happened to have premiered at the Estates Theater.  This theater and this opera are especially significant to the Amadeus enthusiasts among us (anyone?  anyone?  just me?  don't be shy) as the operas were filmed at this theater.  I could almost see F. Murray Abraham being moody in one of the boxes to the left of me.  Don Giovanni is also quite an important opera to the story of the film. 

Don Giovanni also played an unlikely role in my upbringing.  My father sang a lullaby to me at bedtime when I was little, one which he insisted he made up.  He was quite proud of this.  It was only until listening to a classical music station later that he realized he had been ripping off Mozart all this time-- tune-wise, the lyrics were all his own.  This tune actually came from Don Giovanni, and it was quite lovely to hear it performed by professionals, in the place where it was performed for the first time to the public.

Segue alert: I'm listening to the Beatles as I write this blog post for inspiration.  Emily has been visiting for the weekend, plus a few days, and we've been doing some sightseeing.  On Sunday we went to the Czech Museum of Music which currently is home to an extremely awesome Beatles exhibit.  The exhibit features your run-of-the-mill Beatles facts, which you can really learn anywhere, but are still interesting to read about.  What interested me most was the Czech Republic's (really, Czechoslovakia's relationship to the Beatles).  It was fascinating to read about the rejection of the "long hairs" (you guessed it, people with long hair), the censorship of rock music, the fact that young people in Czechoslovakia were always behind on the latest Beatles music, because of this censorship.  Really, I am not doing the information justice.  I would like to say that it is so enlightening to see something familiar, i.e. The Beatles, through a completely unfamiliar lens, i.e. 1960s Czechoslovakia.  Also, fun fact-- Paul McCartney is the only Beatle to actually perform in the Czech Republic.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In My Ears and In My Eyes

A poet at the first ever poetry slam I went to observed that although Starbucks is "evil" there is a bit of comfort in the fact that they are everywhere.  Even when you are far from home, you are sure to find a Starbucks.  Down the street from my apartment in Prague is a McDonald's.  It's so big and brash, and often quite crowded.  Though McDonald's leans toward "evil" there is something comforting about knowing that I can get the same meal down the block from my apartment in Prague that I can somewhere in New Orleans or New York.

My Czech roommate just cooed "Strawberry Fields Forever" as the song came on on her laptop.  The Beatles have the same affect as fast food restaurants, it seems.  Wherever you go, you can never be too far from someone who has at least five Beatles' songs committed to memory.  They are greatness accepted the world over.  I think I prefer the ubiquity of The Beatles over fast food restaurants, I must admit.