Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Daytrip to Vienna

As the times go on, more and more troubles with the visa process. But things look better now, but I feel like Tim Robbins in Shawshank after he got out of the sewer. Light at the end of the tunnel.

I was to go to Vienna to apply for another Visa. And this would be the last step for me and my search for all docs to get my vísa.

On Friday morning at 1230 i boarded a bus to Vienna, Austria (about 5 hours away). nice trip. I slept for most of it. And I woke up at 5AM on one side of Vienna. I started the morning out with a nice brisk 5 mile walk across Vienna in the cold and rain. Yea, the public transit was running, but I had a few very good reasons why to not use it at the time in question:
1. Because the Consulate didn't open til 830 I would have had to wait anyways. So I figured walking instead of waiting in the rain was a better decision. Thus, I only had to wait an hour and a half instead of three and a half.
2. The second is simple. I had only an extra two Euros with me which would only pay for one way of the public transit. Yea, I had my ATM card, but I have recently forgotten the PIN code on it, so it was more or less out of the question. And I could have exchanged money, but I just wasn't in the mood.

Anyways, the story ends well. After an hour and a half of waiting, they opened up and I was in. I couldn't have asked for a nicer lady to help me and within a half hour, I was out of there. But, unfortunately there was still the long ride home. And a wait. So I got back to where the bus was leaving and had to wait for another hour or 2 and finally after a day full of hanging out in the rain, I was on my way home.

And a really great ride also. Sat next to two young American college students who were taking a trip up to Prague. The girl spend every 20 minutes in the bathroom throwing up cuz of the party they frequented the night before and all the Czech people around us were quite rude to the guy because he didn't speak Czech. Really great hospitality by the workers of Student Agency buslines. Still it¨s a good bus though.

Anyways, when it was all said and done, I was back home at about 6pm and the long day had finally come to a close. Glad it is over and now I just need to wait three long months for it to be processed. Thanks for everything.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Problems Galore, but a light...

In the last few weeks, things have been getting quite milky, to put it nicely. Milky but frothy. :)

Finding time to get everything done has been an issue. Luckily, as the time has continued, I now do not have my Seniors at school anymore. The students I have had for 5 years are now gone. It is sad, but maybe one of the most rewarding feelings in my life. It is really great and I am really looking forward to seeing my students become successful in the coming years. It is a great feeling.

Also, a problem has been with getting my visa. Going from one office to the next has been a difficult process while having a full time job. Several times and back to the city housing office, town hall, trade license office, embassy, and the foreign office. And then after all of that, they tell me it is not enough and tell me I have to take a trip on a work day to Dresden to the Czech Consulate. Gosh, it has been a real headache, but things will work out, I am sure of it. In times like these, you always have to be optimistic or you will go crazy.

The next fun thing is job hunting. It has been a lot of fun going to so many interviews and everyone saying, yea great... so probably not, but have fun. But optimism will always triumph so I have a few more in a week or so. They are fun and I am looking forward to the increased practice in job hunting.

The last problem is my roommate. He sleepwalks and through the year I have awoken and found a stray window open or something, (one time when it was about 5 degrees Fahrenheit outside. But earlier this week he turned our gas stove on and went to sleep. By the morning our flat was completely consumed with gas and had not our neighbor come in early, suffocation would only have been a few hours away. I feel someone was watching out for us.

I really can't complain about things right now. I am happy and though scary things happen. Life always brings reasons for everything. I am looking forward for the next step God has for me in my life and I am not worried about the problems and trials He brings because I know that it comes for a reason. I look forward and am ready for whatever He may bring. Thanks guys. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Strange School

Schools... they are here to educate each of us. But to some degree, even sometimes schools are quite incomprehensible. Take this one school. Let's call it... Dark. It's an "English school". Why do I quote it? Well, for just that reason. They "say" they are an English school, but I am still a bit wary about it. Let me tell you my story.

I got a phone call a few days ago before I started teaching one of my classes. A lady was on the other line. She was calling me in response to my resume I had sent to their office. )Note: I sent my resume to several different places, and it was all basically the same: some note, my resume, and a current photo, maybe I included an educational essay I had written. And mind you, everything was written in clear English.) This lady is on the line and doesn't bat an eye before she starts away in her native language, Czech, expecting me to catch everything... I did... She quickly proceeded to explain to me who she was and for what company she works for and that she is "in charge" of prospective employees. She asked me a minimal number of questions about myself and told me that before anything, I would have to come in and take an "English test". A perplexing moment for me when I think that it's clear that through everything I sent them, and them obviously knowing the fact that I am a native speaker, that I should also come in and take an "English test" (you will find out my use of quotation marks soon enough). I thought it quite funny and continued on and was actually quite looking forward to such a possibility. I thought it would be some normal grammar sentences and I would be in and out in 15 or 20 minutes.

After our conversation, I went and looked at their website to find quite a credible school. They have flourished quite well after 15 years or so of existence and have even expanded to 13 different cities around the nation. Sounds quite good. But one thing did strike me as strange. The fact that there wasn't any English version to this website. I find it odd that such a prestigious English school wouldn't have even a small English translated version, since clearly, they ARE an English school.

But I digress. I travelled the next day to Prague to take my exam. I was quite excited and eager to for my exam, but still not totally understanding the exact reason and importance to know how well an American can speak English. I arrived to a healthy greeting of a few of the office workers (none of which spoke English). They explained to me the test and I was off to work. But... what was this?... an English test?... with so few English words?... I looked quizzically at this test, and jumped into it. The first part... translation. Translate from Czech to English... ok, I can do that, but I don't really understand the importance of why I should have to. Next, translate English to Czech... still not sure why it's important for teaching English in an "English Only" classroom. But, ok. Next part, translate the following 35 sentences from Czech to English. Ok, now this is ridiculous. I can speak English perfectly. Fluently even. Why do I have to translate from Czech to English? I did, and quite well, I think.

Then come the essay questions... in Czech... Quite unnecessary for me I thought. But I continued. The entire process was a bit ridiculous I felt, but an experience, nonetheless. Thankfully, it's over now, and I don't know if I will ever fully understand the process to employment at this "English school".

Monday, April 05, 2010

Like a Dutchman

Hey all. So, as the world continues to turn and life slowly passes by, so as similar likenesses occur in my life as well. Last week, as we had a 5 day holiday from school, me and Joseph and Blanka. It was really an unbelievable experience. We took ourselves a small little trip to a small little country which has two names... one of which is Holland and the other of which is The Netherlands...

First to mention that I never would have would have considered this country to be one of the last European countries that I would have visited, but it's true that it is. And second, I never would have thought that this country could have produced one of the best remixes ever with Counting Crows and their song "Holiday in Spain". Check it out here.


We got here and we stayed in a factory. You can see a few of these pictures first.

It was actually quite a scary place, and after staying here, and walking around and taking a tour of all the halls and empty space where could be creeping all sorts of freaky scary people, it makes it much easier to walk around my school in the night time. Not scary one bit.

So our first real day we went to Alkmaar which has one of the best and oldest Cheese Markets in Holland. Holland, which has the famous cheese cities such as Edam and Gouda. This was a really amazing day where we got a chance to see so many different kinds of cheese and taste so many kinds. It was surprisingly an amazing experience. You don't really ever think about how important or how good cheese can be. You just kinda buy it whenever you want a ham and cheese sandwich, and life goes on. But this was a great day and time by all.

After this we drove around this part of the country and saw the countryside which included a cheese farm which we toured as well as many small villages with canals and windmills, sheep, farms, and goats. It was truly time that you never want to forget and want to experience over and over again.

The last day we spent in Amsterdam visiting such places as the House of Anne Frank, the famous flower market in Amsterdam and the Heineken Brewery. Also, we saw really narrow houses, and lots of boats and canals in a major city. I was surprised to hear that Amsterdam is the first European city which has English (a non-native language) as its second official language.

Anyways, the pictures are the most important part here. After such a long time of working and laboring, this was a much needed and relaxing trip. And although I'm looking forward to the last coming months of work, holidays are always a nice thing to experience. :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Kettle of Infamy

Taking a trip last weekend was a fun time to finally get away from life and to relax and experience something different. Here, above, is a picture of me in the accommodations we stayed at. Next to me you see the countertop with an electric kettle on top. This is what the story is about if you are curious.

This kettle, doesn't look so electric, does it? I mean besides the electric heater underneath it and the plug into the wall. But just the kettle looks normal. So, if a tired person would wake up in the morning and put water in it. After holding it, where would you think to put it? On the electric heating pad or the stove? Of course I chose the latter. And after putting it on the small one, I decided that it wasn't big enough, so I put it on a bigger flame for 10 more seconds or so. I saw a strange flame and then realized what I was doing. Luckily, ( this picture was taken after.... looks pretty good, huh) it wasn't harmed... much. And it still worked quite normally. Just the bottom looked a bit strange.

Anyways, that was a funny thing that recently happened to me and my life. :)

And the Silence is Broken

How to break the long awkward silence?

That's what's been going through my mind for a few months now. I've wanted to write something, I really have. But something's been holding me back, and for that, I beg forgiveness. :)

Just to try and catch some of you up on what direction my life has been going in, I'll try and fill you in as much as feasibly possible, ok? But you have to promise that you'll catch me up with you as well, deal? :)

- November - Winter started (it would be the first of the following five months of the coldest winter in 18 years.)

- December - Winter continues. I was so looking forward to my Christmas holiday and finally getting a chance to relax, but I found myself ill and in bed for most of it. New Years Eve was also quite uneventful due to the heavy fog/smog in Kralupy. You'd be surprised though how unimportant this minor detail is for most people who have fireworks. Apparently, it's only important to hear the fireworks, no necessarily see them. Even the city set off their fireworks in this dense fog. And what a "noise-show" it was. Brilliant. But even the better because I was able to watch OU's bowl game on TV, and it finished at about 1215 am on the 1st of January, so I was satisfied that we at least won. Would've been quite a waste of a New Years celebration if I had spent it watching my team lose...

- January - The winter braved on. But throughout the month, there were interesting events such as the Kralupy music festival and a few Senior proms. We changed churches because we weren't satisfied with what we were getting from the other one and have since found the best church, for us, in the Czech Republic.

- February - We started out the month with Spring Break. Quite early, I know. But we spent, with Blanka, a week in Italy skiing. It was an awesome time skiing for a week in the Italian Alps. The month withered on and the winter showed no signs of giving in. Temperatures dropped to -10 F at times but mainly stayed around a cool 0 F. It was a fun time had by all.

- March - And now we come to happy times. Winter has left. Spring has arrived and life is much happier. It's time to start taking trips a bit more. I've taken already a few trips around and bike trips are soon to be had. A great thing that we did was visit a local waterpark during the winter. There's nothing like beating the winter with a nice warm water park.

School is going great. As my Seniors are finished with learning all the topics, my life has gotten about a million times easier. Which is nice to not have so much stress. But life is good. I don't have any complaints and I'm really looking forward to my holidays. And relaxing. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On Being 25

So, it's finally happened. My car insurance is officially lower. Too bad I don't have a car, and too bad I don't live in America. But if I rent a car (maybe i'll do that soon just because) it'll be cheaper. That's really the thing I'm most excited about. It's been an interesting last two months, for many reasons. Mostly I'm glad to be back over here because it's a great place for me right now. It's where I need to be. Some things that have happened recently:

- I recently heard that my long-term visa has been processed, so finally all the hassles and problems are behind me and I can finally rest happily with my visa. Next Thursday I will be traveling to Dresden to pick it up. Wow, my last 4 years in the Czech Republic, I drove through Dresden once, but in the last 6 months I will have been there 4 times. Wild times. Nice city though.

- I participated in a bowling tournament in Kralupy. It was great. About 20 people came and first prize was an IPhone, but unfortunately, I came in second, so I had to settle for a few prizes that were not as hefty as the prized phone. But it's ok, it was fun and I had a really fun time.

- I have finally, after much trouble and hassle and problems, applied for my Teacher Certification! Finally, after all those years of hard work and turmoil, I finally will have my certification and license to teach History! The processing fee was 52 bucks which is stupid, but i guess they have to make money somehow, and I guess they figure the students will have the same reasoning that I had,"If I spent all this time and money to apply for the license, and if all that's standing (finally) between me and getting my license, then so be it. I guess I'll do it."

Well... I guess that's at least 3 important things that have happened. My birthday was really nice. I kept myself quite busy with phone calls from friends and fun times. That's the great thing about birthdays is that you don't just have to celebrate it one day, but maybe for about a few weeks when you have time for special excursions here and there :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Foreign Saturday

So, as time goes by, I start to think that I know a lot about my small village of 18k people, give or take. I've been here long enough that I think I know most of the different kinds of foreigners. And I start to feel like normal. But what happened to me today made me feel exceptionally different.

Me and Joseph wanted to get out, so we left the flat in search of a good walk and a good lunch. We went to the market about 7 minutes away. The weather was rainy, yet sufficient nonetheless. I really liked it. Typical fall weather that makes you feel like your life is continuing. That's the reason for seasons, but enough of that. So we went there and got some food for the day and went to pay. I was getting ready to pay, with my food on the conveyor belt, and I looked at what the person behind me was buying, really really cheap beer in cans. Hm... I didn't pay much else to it, and continued in the line. Then the guy bent over to tie his shoe or something and hit my arm on the way up and I looked at him and he was Asian. He then tried to apologize to me and was quite insistent on it. Then he tried to invite me for one of his beers, or so I thought, and I declined. But he was ruthlessly insistent and took my by the arm and Joseph followed, to the nearby Chinese restaurant.

This man really couldn't speak Czech at all. And it was entirely impossible to understand anything that he was telling me... almost. He asked me my name a hundred times, and I finally understood what he was asking for, and then he asked Joseph's name and where he was from. Throughout the day, he continued to ask this. This fellow wasn't Vietnamese which the majority of people from Asia in CZ are from, this guy was from Mongolia. And what I got from the two beers that we had with him were the following.

He has lived here for three years. He can hardly at all speak any Czech (he just knows the words: wine, beer, vodka, finished, home). He doesn't know how to write in Latin alphabet, only Cyrillic. His wife is finally coming tomorrow to Czech Republic. He has at least two small children, maybe a third one. His father was killed by the police in front of him when he was thirteen and he then tried to fight the police, but they beat him up. Joseph is a super friend, and so am I. Mongolia has passports that look like drivers licenses (only some laminated plastic card).

I'm pretty sure that's all I got out of him. But It was a really interesting afternoon. I came home after that and was really confused at what had just happened. But these things seem to sneak up on my quite often. Interesting to say the least. :)