IMPRESSIONS

So many red roofs is always a good sign.  Perfect weather so far.  I’m almost over jet lag.  I can’t tell if I willed myself to like beer or if it’s actually much, much better here.  Probably the latter.  I’ve eaten more red meat in the last four days than in the rest of this year put together.  Having a Fulbright grant doesn’t mean I can teach.  But I really do know English!  This is reassuring.

I wish I knew Czech.  Most of us ETA’s don’t, but there’s great admiration/dependency on those who don’t.  The whole “travel all over Europe” thing feels far fetched when I haven’t yet established where I live and work, but I dimly perceive that, a few weeks down the road, it could be quite fun, and not quite as complicated as it sounds.

I hate my luggage.  Specifically, the giant “Purple Pickle” duffle bag that has caused reams of angst and sweat to me as well as to half a dozen other people unfortunate enough to be drafted into the service.  My keen skills of packing large volumes into small spaces backfired as I dragged my rather oversize and significantly overweight bag through airports, train stations, hallways, and staircases.  Why did I think I would need this much stuff?  Why did I think I’d be okay carrying all this stuff?  And why did I consider the possibility of a wheely suitcase to be a last resort only (still not sure how that logic worked)?  Everytime a Czech person helped me carry luggage, I felt sure that their unintelligible comments to their companion amounted to “did she have to bring a fossilized dinosaur family to Europe with her?”

I’m sort of living in a convent.  It’s sort of super cool, so far.  The dorm is attached to the church, it has a little orchard and sports field out back, and a courtyard with an old well in the middle.  There’s an out-of-tune baby grand and a mostly-tuned upright (with great acoustics) at my disposal.  There’s also a water-heater on my floor, with a commercial-size furnished kitchen below.  And a chapel, study rooms, common space, I can’t even remember what/where everything is.  The top floor is six nuns, three of whom run the dorm (it’s mostly high-school age, so they get a little more supervision) and one of whom teaches at my school.  My room is a modest single on the second floor, with a view out to the courtyard.  Two of the walls are pale yellow.

High school starts Monday, and university doesn’t start til early October, so for now the dormitory halls are very empty.  The effect is that of a spiritual retreat—I feel like I ought to eat a small, meditative breakfast, then stroll quietly through the orchard composing poems.   My room also ought to be spotlessly clean and organized at all times.  It’s actually not far from that right now, but I entertain small hopes of maintaining this for long.

Fun fact: the nuns all go through nun-training in Rome!  This originated during communism, when nunnery of all kinds was strictly prohibited, but the tradition continues.  This means all the nuns (that I have met) are proficient in Italian.  Therefore: the clearest means of communication between me and my landlords/RAs/House-moms is Span-talian.  We were all struck by the weirdness of talking like this, but, along with a bit of expressive gesturing, it worked quite smoothly.

Tomorrow I got to school and meet my teachers.  Then hopefully I’ll buy a cell phone and any other necessities, and see the town some.  Maybe I’ll even get some down time to play the piano, or stroll through the orchard composing poetry.

Word of the Day 2

snídat–to eat breakfast

Ja snidam, I am eating breakfast!  Cesto snidam, I eat breakfast often!  Prosim snidame, please let’s breakfast shall we?

Word of the Day 1

Prosim– please

This is the first word I actually remembered in Czech.  It made an impression because of its versatility: the word can mean Please, Here It Is, I’m Sorry, Excuse Me, and sometimes even You’re Welcome.  That’s probably most of what I’ll be saying for the first few weeks.  Please Love Me!  Please Pillowcases?  Here it is Post Office?  I’m Sorry English!  Excuse-Me-Please-Sorry!?  It’s comforting to have at least one reliable word that I can pronounce.