Friday, January 29, 2010

Quiet snowy days

Snow days are either a blessing or a curse. When you have to get up before sunrise and go to work... well let's just say I'm not real fond of them then. But on days like today, when you don't have to get up and you can spend the day in quiet reflection, snow-filled air is divine.

I spent the day quietly meditating on my current situation, the blessings in my life and my hopes of future joy. As I sat at my park and looked over its white expanses, I was reminded of both the loneliness and joy inherent in my life here. The cold barren landscape made me feel a sense of isolation, as though I were the only person to behold such wonders. At the same time the deep, rich beauty of its snow covered hills and fields reminded me that I have never been alone. God has been with me every step of the way and the joy I took from that was indescribable. I have struggled with loneliness at times here (who wouldn't in my place). Yet in one moment this night I remembered the truth.

Now my eyes are on the future. While I am having a wonderful time in Prague, more than anything I would like to spend the summer working in Switzerland. I have had a special love for mountains in the summer since I was a small child visiting my grandparents at their cabin in Flagstaff, AZ ever year. And over the years, Dad and I have taken at least 3 summer roadtrips to Colorado (more if you count Rachel's tournaments and family vacations). So a summer in the Swiss Alps sounds like my idea of paradise. I'm going to talk to the head of the program there that i'm interested in this weekend, so prayers for grace and blessing for me would be greatly appreciated.

Since this has been unusually introspective for one of my notes, here are some pictures of previous summer mountain trips to lighten things up :)

Very young me with Granny and Grandad

Flagstaff :)

Colorado (and this is just in the foothills!)

This on the other hand...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

For the curious

Good afternoon from snowy Praha. In response to a myriad of requests (literally 2), I'm going to introduce you to just a few of my students to help illuminate how I spend my time (hint: its half in lessons and half in analysis and preparation). We will begin by observing the room where I teach 10 of my 15 weekly classes.

Not overly spacious but the window is nice. It can be quite cold in winter (thankfully i "borrowed" a space heater which really helps) but overall I like it :)

This is one of my first students of the day, Lucie. She's very sweet and very dedicated. She almost always does her homework and she makes the most of the one on one lessons the company provides her. She is a little shy and she lacks confidence in her speaking ability but she has improved quite a bit since I first started working with her. Her great attitude makes this one of my favorite classes to teach.

These two are David (left) and Josef (pronounce yosef, right). They are both talkative and fun. They enjoy speaking and aren't afraid of making mistakes. Like Lucie, they are intermediate students who can communicate easily enough but have trouble understanding fast speech and finding just the right words. Because of this, their lessons are more conversational and those are always fun (getting paid to talk with people. I thought only pretty girls could do that)

Finally we have David. He is one of my few upper-intermediate students. His conversation is good and he understands most of what he hears. We are currently spending half the class talking (because he uses spoken english every day and wants the practice) and half preparing for an exam that will certify his english level. This is important because higher levels of english open the door to very good jobs that are otherwise unavailable here. With lots of work and a little luck, we'll get him that certification before I leave.

For now not much else to report. Two of my best friends, Daniel and Amanda are coming to visit the first two weeks of April. My parents are coming in May and Tim's parents are coming in June. Overall, its shaping up to be a fantastic spring :D

And since more pictures are always better....

This is what it still looks like outside in front of our place

This is my bus stop at Kutna Hora. My path is clear.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Back to business (with a look ahead)

"Hi Luke. I´d like to excuse from next week lesson. The reason is I need to visit my neurologist. Michal"

Hi Michal. I understand. And you want to say "I'd like to be excused from next week's lesson" :)"

"It´s nice to have you back... :-) see ya. M."

This little email exchange brought a big smile to my face. It's nice to be missed :) I'm definitely getting back into my teaching groove. I've added another class with hopefully more to come. Now that Christmas is gone, its time to roll up my sleeves and really work (and maybe even save a little).

And in the only real news of the moment, i'm looking into possibly teaching a summer English camp somewhere in Europe. I'm secretly hoping to go somewhere in the Swiss Alps. I can't possibly think of a better place or way to spend my summer. I even found this one camp near the shores of Lake Geneva (i haven't even gotten in touch with them yet but i'm allowed to hope). Here are a few pictures of the place to help you understand the appeal.

Who knows what the future may hold. And right now, that's just the way I like it :D

Monday, January 11, 2010

Snow (and lots of it)

Many people told me that they don't really get much snow in Prague. Either this year is unusual or they were lying to me. We've had over a foot of snow in the last 2 1/2 days. Everything is covered. Public transportation (which I use to get everywhere) is barely operating because most of the drivers are in snowplows trying to keep the roads and sidewalks clear. I actually had to call and reschedule my morning lesson today because in 45 minutes only 4 trams came and all of them were overflowing with people before they reached me (normally there would be at least 15+ trams in that time). I will give it this, it certainly is pretty. But oh what a pain to commute in. (fortunately, all the snow has been powder. there is almost no ice)

In other exciting news, my Cowboys destroyed the hated eagles for the 2nd week in a row to advance to the 2nd round. We now face Minnesota on the road but with the way we're playing, I think we can beat anyone right now. On a side note, my dad will probably be going to this game and I am so jealous that aliens from mars made a special trip here recently to ask how I got my skin such a lovely shade of green. Oh well, at least I was able to watch the game from here (it was on from 2-5:30am here and I didn't miss a single minute). I actually ended up not sleeping that night at all because the snow was so beautiful that I decided to go to my park and see it unspoiled before everyone else got there. The pictures do it NO justice (snow is very hard to photograph effectively) but hopefully you can see just a little of what I enjoyed early that morning.

This is just a small part of it

So while the snow continues to fall heavily and bury my city, here are some pictures of the winter wonderland around me.

This is the entrance to my park. Now with 2 foot snowbanks lining its paths

This is a lake believe it or not.

Almost looks like a black and white photo huh?

The result of the day's snow shoveling

My backyard

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Back to my other home

The air is cold, snow is falling and the schnitzel is abundant. I’m back to Prague! I had an awesome time during my visit home and I was actually a little sorry to go back. But the lure of a fascinating world just waiting to be explored was too tempting. So while I return to the Golden City, I have quick message and a funny story for you.

First and foremost, I want to earnestly encourage all of you reading this to considering visiting Europe during the next 8 months. Getting to see sights like this can be life changing and it will NEVER be as easy or cheap as right now when you have a free bed and a knowledgeable tour guide waiting for you. Tim and I have a fold out double bed in our couch and plenty of space in our apartment. In fact, part of the reason we chose this location is because it was very visitor friendly! I know how to set up cheap transportation within Europe if you want to visit other cities and would be happy to see anyone and everyone who can come. In short don’t think, just come to Europe!

I also wanted to pass along a funny story from my flight over to the US. As many of you know, my flight was delayed in Prague, I nearly missed my connection in Paris and was then delayed 2 hours more there. By the time I arrived in Houston it had been a long LONG day. As I sat down for my connection to Dallas (4 hours later than planned), a guy behind me began complaining loudly to no one in particular that he had been flying all day and he was tired of waiting aboard planes and so on. After 2 or 3 minutes of this, I turned around and told him “I know what you mean. My plane was delayed 2 hours this morning in Paris.” He looked at me funny and asked “where’d you start?” “Prague” I responded. “I left around 9:30pm central time (it was 7:30pm at the time). Where you coming from” I asked (yes I know my grammar was bad. I was dead tired, sue me). He got a sheepish and quietly muttered “uhhh Virginia Beach”. I didn’t say a word and after that, neither did he.

And now I leave you with a few pictures that summarize my wonderful Christmas break.

This is what the airport in Prague looked like when I left. Is it any wonder my flight was delayed?

My family playing in the snow

Christmas football

Golf in January. I love Texas!

Our golf guys

The Rosaleses and me :)

Great New Years party!

This picture should prove just how awesome this party was (for those concerned about it, no we did no actually give the dog alcohol. She just liked to lick the bottles)

Two of my friends, Catie and Ness. Both lovely and very sweet

My family (minus sis) eating dinner