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Merry Christmas

Only a few days left! Wow I cannot believe I only have a few days left in the Czech Republic…this semester flew by! We had our farewell dinnner last night downstairs : (  Finals are coming up so I am busy with homework. Last weekend in Prague too so busy packing and cleaning  as well. Still time for fun though…my roommates and I had a Christmas Party!


Merry Christmas from the Lounge!!!

Las Palmas, Spain!

For our second and final break at the end of November, my friends and I went to Las Palmas de Gran Carnia Island, Spain. This island is off the coast of Africa and very far from Spain. I spent 8 days here, laying on the beach, eating good food, tanning, reading a lot of books, boogie boarding and swimming. It was beautiful and around 75 degrees everyday. They also have some sand dunes on the other side of the island that we checked out one day. All and all a great relaxing vacation!!! For a girl from ND, being at the beach in November cannot be beat!!! Here are some pictures, enjoy!

So I was proudly say I LOVE MY LIFE IN PRAGUE! I have been having the time of my life here and I could have never imagine how much fun I’d be having before I came. A few things I’ve been up to…

Probably the best part of my program is the people that are here with me. Everyone gets along and goes out together and has a wonderful time living here in Prague. I am getting very sad that my time here is almost over : ( but I know I will look back on my study abroad experience with only fond memories. I really hope you consider checking out studying abroad if you can!

One of the fun things I’ve done this semester is do the local run in Prague. I recently did the 72nd annual Velke Hill run, which they were lying when they said Hills! Three hills, each so steep you had to use a rope to climb up…and also you had to run through 2 different streams of water. Well I actually think this stuff is pretty fun…a big group of us do this along with thousands of Czechs and afterwards go out for goulash and beer as a reward! Plus it keeps me in shape and despit all my beer drinking this semester, i’ve managed to lose 12 pounds! So all in all not too shabby!

Prague also has a great night life that caters to younger people. Lots of  people in Europe come to Prague because the price of food and drink here is very cheap. Drinking beer is a way of life in the Czech Republic and is very normal for Czechs to start drinking beer as early as 10AM. This picture is from my favorite club in Prague, Lucerna, which plays 80’s and 90’s music…so fun to dance to!

My roommates and I (above) like to have little get togethers for the people in our program. Since a lot of us were out of town for Halloween, we had a Halloween party a week later. I was Desert Rose, which if anyone watches “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” you’ll understand. As you can see we had a range of costumes and had a lot of fun. You get really close with the kids in your program because you basically are with them everyday.

I was nervous to spend Thanksgiving away from home but a kid in my program from Texas mom came and cooked us a lovely meal! It was probably the best Thanksgiving you could have away from home. I was hard to find Turkey and the other fixings in Prague since as you know, Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Czech people weren’t too impressed with us that we were celebrating, but it was all good lol. Thanksgiving with my Prague family was a success!!!

My friends from home came to visit me recently!! Steph, Rambo, Hannah and Jaimiey – what a good time! It was so good to see my fellow NDer’s and to show them around Prague. I believe they had fun! Prague now has there Christmas markets up so the whole town is decorated and it is soo pretty!!! I really enjoyed sharing my experience in Prague with them and can’t wait to see them again when school starts!

We recently went to a bar called “The Pub” where you split off into teams of up to 10 people and sit at a table. Then your team races against other teams in the bar to see which table has consumed the most beer. Then the bar your at competes with other bars to see which bar was drank the most. It was a great time and a lot of fun to say the least!

I know what your thinking…all she talks about is beer! but I am actually enjoying my time in school and learning so much about Prague and the Czech Republic. My classes are great and finals week is starting soon!!! Wish me luck!!

So its been awhile! I guess getting on the UND homepage really helps you to write a new post! Things have been so wonderful and fun here in Prague for me that I’ve completely forget to write in my blog! Studying Abroad this semester was one of the best things I’ve ever done! ok so a few cool things I’ve been up to lately:

First off, for my fall break at the end of October, my friends and I decided to do a 4 country trip in 9 days! We went to Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Poland…it was a whirlwind of traveling! We first flew into Malmo, Sweden and spent the afternoon there. I am 50 % Swedish, so it was really cool to actually be with “my people” haha ya something like that.  Sweden sad to say, did not capture our imagination for too long because later that day we hoped on a train across the Baltic Sea to Copenhagen, Denmark. I must say Copenhagen is one of the prettiest cities I have ever been too. Its also one of the most expensive! A beer alone cost $10 US dollars! Since of course all us college kids are on a tight budget, we were only able to go out one night and we ate at the grocery store everyday. That aside, Copenhagen treated us well. There is a website called couchsurfing.org, which I would encourage to anyone thinking of going abroad to check out. Its a network of people who let you stay at their house for free….I know, your thinking probably the same thing as my parents CREEPY!! but its really not, its very safe and a good way to see local culture and meet people.  My friends and I have had great couch surfing experiences and the best part of it is that its FREE! Anyways, Copenhagen is full of beautiful people and beautiful things to see. I would recommend checking out a place inside of Copenhagen called Freetown Christiania. Its a social experiment and the people who live there live in a co opt and have alternative lifestyles. Very cool.

Next, we flew to Berlin, Germany. This is my second time in Germany and I must say I love Germany! It was great food and friendly people. Berlin is by far one of my favorite cities I have been to in Europe. I think the reason I like it is that it is so historic. We went on a free walking tour done by a company called Sandeman’s New Europe. If you can ever take one of these tours I highly recommend it. and its free! We got to see so much history from WWII from Hitler’s bunker to the Holocaust Memorial. I have a better understanding of the Holocaust and Germany’s role in it after visiting Berlin. We also got to see the Berlin Wall. Well I was only a young pup, age 2, when the wall came down in November 1989, but just being able to see and touch one of the most important things in history was amazing. My favorite part was the East Side Gallery, where artist put pictures on the wall after the fall of Communism. The picture of the guys kissing is from this. After learning about Communism, I feel so so lucky to have grown up in the USA. Under Communism, Berlin was divided into East and West Berlin overnight. People were striked of their rights and were even unable to see family members. There are some really cool stories of people escaping to their freedom from East Berlin. And all of this only happened 20 years ago! Other than that, Berlin is a great city and I hope someday you will be able to visit. Food is cheap and one night we went on a pub crawl to some fun places around Berlin, which was also cheap!!

Next on our trip was Krakow, Poland, which we took the train to from Berlin. 12 hours of hell on the train! We did not have seats and both toilets in our train compartment overflowed and they locked us in so there was no way out! I do not know if I will ever be able to take the train again! So by the time we arrived in Poland, we were beat from traveling and the horror train ride, so we took it pretty easy. Poland use to be an extremely poor country and still is struggling today. We took it pretty easy in Poland. A few good things about Poland: its very very cheap as it is not on the Euro yet and the food was SOOO GOOD!! We ate like kings for around 5 dollars. On the last day of our trip, we took a bus to the Auschwitz Concentration camp, about 45 minutes outside of Krakow. This is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, confronting the horrors of the Holocaust. Over 1.1 MILLION people were killed at this location by the Nazis. So complete sad and pointless. Being at Auschwitz had a very eerie feeling that this was a horrible place. If you ever have a chance to go to a concentration camp you should and pay your respects to the men, women and children who lost their lives for no reason.

After our emotional day at Auschwitz, we hoped the train back to Prague (smooth sailing this time) and our 9 day adventure was over. It felt so good to be home but I had a great time exploring more of Europe!

Dobry Den -

Well life in Prague continues to be good!!! Why? I GOT TO MEET ANTHONY BOURDAIN!!!!

Ok so we have an awesome pub called the Pivovarsky Klub, right below our apartment. It has great food and the Czech Republic’s largest selection of beer. Not too shabby. Well last Thursday night, a kid in our program started screaming and yelling “You’ll never guess who is downstairs right now?!!?” Ok wait, back story. We probably talk about him daily. His show ‘No Reservations’ is awesome. Well we all scurry and run downstairs and in front of my eyes there he is, Anthony Bourdain, filming a segment in MY pub!!! I literally sat 5 feet away from him while he filmed his segment. I might be one of those people in the background!!! I think I almost had a heart attack. He got to take a picture with him and talk to him for a tiny bit. Of course, we became instant friends (ya i wish) but he was cool and his production staff talked to us for a bit. Such a good night!!!

The weather is starting to turn cold here in Prague! I’m not complaining though because the cold reminds me of home : ) I love crisp, fall days. Its a little harder to go out since walking when its cold at night is no fun. My roommates and I threw a toga party and it was a lot of fun! I also had to go to the hospital because I was feeling under the weather, but everything went great! I was nervous to check out the Czech health care system, but I was impressed.

Well last Sunday, four of us decided to rent Mopeds (two Mopeds, four people) and ride 35 miles to a near by town, Kunta Hora, which has the famous Silver Mines and Bone Church. This little trip turned out to be one the most exciting/fun/scary adventures of my life. The trip there took nearly four hours and had muddy detours, trying to find the gas station, trying to figure out how to put the gas in the moped, muddy crashing of the mopeds, falling over and cracking of hence moped. It was also quite chilly. By the time we got to Kunta Hora and had lunch, everything was closed except for St. Barbaba’s Church. Well we were a little disappointed, but decided to head back because it was getting late and dark. The next hour and a half back to Prague on the moped was the SCARIEST time of my life. So two of us are on this tiny moped, in the dark, through back roads with no lights, and o, of course, it started to rain! Luckily I was not driving because I would have killed us all. We were frozen when we got home and glad to be alive. The whole day was a blast and a great adventure!!!

So last Saturday, I made a bad choice. I decided to do an all night 35 mile hike. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. It was a pilgrimage hike from Prague to the Holy Mountain. The statistics: total distance walked 34.61 miles, avg. speed 3.45 mph, time of the movement 9 hours and 59 minutes, start at 7:32pm on Friday, finish 9:30am on Saturday. I was disorientated by the end and could barely walk and was frozen. But as crazy as it was, I am really glad I did it. Its good to push yourself to your limits…now there seems like there is nothing I cannot do!

This week I turn 22!!! Woo!! Tomorrow night our friend Geiger is renting out a room at the bar where he works for us complete with a piano and accordion player!!! Here’s to my last day of being 21!

Nessie

Hello!!So its been awhile! Things have been very busy and a little crazy lately, but I will try to update on you on my past few weeks!First off, our program took us on a 5 day, 4 country field trip to Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. So that would be Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. We left bright and early Friday, October 2nd. What pulled up to pick us up was something else. Picture the ghetto-est bus you have ever seen, then add more ghetto-ness and a bad egg smell and then you have our bus. Though it looked like it may have been straight out of 1965, it was actually built in 1990. As the bus driver said (it had) “Over one million miles” I found a comfy spot on the back of the bus, which turned out to be a great decision.

Our first stop was Cesky Krumlov, a quaint and charming small town located in Southern Bohemia part of the Czech Republic. We hiked through the woods and visited some castle ruins in a near by town that I cannot remember the name. Not to sound unappreciative, but after a while, castles and castle ruins in Europe all start to look the same. After that, we could choose to either A) ride the bus the rest of the way to Cesky Krumlov, or B) hike back through more woods and meadow with our resident social director, Geiger. I chose option B which turned out to be another great choice. After enjoying some great scenery we arrived at a town called Zalta Koruna, which means “Gold Crown” to take the train to Cesky Krumlov. After checking with the train depo, the next train did not leave for almost two hours. Resourceful kids that we are, we decided to pass the time at the local pub. We had dinner, checked into the hotel, and went out again. Around 2am, another girl and I headed back to the hotel, but had forgotten our keys, so we threw rocks up at the window until someone let us in. I then slept for a few hours until it was back on the bus at 7:30AM sharp and off we went.

Our next stop was Vienna, Austria (or Wien, as it is called in German). Beautiful. We ate at a beautiful vineyard called Heuiger Hirt, over looking the Danube and the whole city. The food was so good! Then, we checked in to our hostel and us girls went out to explore the city. On the night we were there, they had a once a year thing called “Museum Night” where all the museums in the city were open till 1AM. We checked out the Leopold Museum, which had some Monet, Klimt’s famous “Life and Death”, and other works of art I really enjoyed. Then we went to the Modern Art Museum. If anyone knows anything about modern art, well its not my favorite. While I can appreciate the style and innovation it experienced when it first arrived on the art world scene in the 1950’s, its weird. They had a room where literally people filmed themselves rolling around with dead chickens and fish while they were naked. Another man lied in a sleeping bag pod like thing in a meadow, completely motionless. Yes, this is art. The paintings consisted of a blue square or scribble marks that could have been made by a 5 year old. Then we made the worst mistake on our whole trip. Us girls, being very hungry and slightly hungover, decided to eat pizza, McDonald’s and gellato. I was so sick I almost lost my dinner at the Modern Art Museum. But hey then, maybe that could have been considered “art” in some way. The next day we got to explore the city a bit more and Vienna has so many beautiful buildings and things to see I was not disappointed. My favorite place was the Belveldere Palace and Gardens. We had fun constantly calling the city “Wien” and making Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes. All and all a great city. Then we were back on the bus to head to Budapest.

Hungary and Budapest was the favorite place we visited on our whole trip. Our first stop was at the city of Esztergom where the Hungarian Cathedral is located. Esztergom is one of the oldest towns in Hungary and use to have a large Jewish population until the Nazi invaded. After WWII when Communism took over, the Soviets punished the town for its strong religious ties and used the Cathedral for their armies. It is a very interesting place. The views were breath-taking. We ate dinner at a local restaurant and the food was delicious. Then is was off to the capital city of Budapest, where one of our program advisers named Richard, who grew up in Budapest, took us on a night tour of the city. Prague is one of the prettiest cities at night I have ever seen, but Budapest offers Prague some tough competition. It was so beautiful. Also, Budapest has a fascinating history. During WWII, Hungary sided with Nazi Germany. Hungary was then destroyed by Russia and most of the entire town of Budapest was leveled. Worth reading up on. We stayed in a little hole in the wall place near the river and it was actually pretty fun. The next day we woke up and probably had one of the best days I’ve had since I’ve been here. We went to Szcheni Spa, an outdoor hot mineral water spa with 3 huge outdoor swimming pools, all heated. Though it was early October, it was still nice enough to walk around in just your bikini. (Which makes a girl from ND very, very happy) Inside they had numerous different spas that ranged in temperatures from 16 degrees C to 40 degrees C….it was so much fun to jump into the freezing cold water after sitting in the hot water for as long as you could stand. They also had a bunch of saunas and steam baths of different temps. I also got a massage!!! Hungary isn’t on the Euro yet, its on its own currency the Forint, so a 30 minute massage cost around 20 bucks! Such a relaxing day. After dinner, we went out and I had one of the most fun nights I have had in Europe. We went to this club and there were not a lot of people there (It was a Monday night after all) so we got to hang out and pretty much had the dance floor to ourselves. Then in the morning it was off to Bratislava.

Bratislava…well what to say about it. I was rather tried but compared to other European capitals, Bratislava cannot really compare. Sure it was a rather cute Old Town sort of thing and has some of the best souvenir shops around ( I am a sucker for those things) but someone, do not ask me who, decided to build all these ugly industrial towers and buildings that crowds the city skylines. It is u-g-l-y. Cities like Prague made rules against building stuff like that. So not too impressed with Bratislava. One advantage was though that even though it is on the Euro, things are super cheap. We went to (another) castle in Slovakia before heading home. All in all a great trip.So that is my 5 day, 4 country trip for you. O, I almost forgot to mention the best part. The back of the bus. We had a bed to lay down and a table to play card games at. Well, with as much time as we spent on the bus, we had to invent our own games. I cannot take credit for this, but someone invented “Bed Slap Poker” where since we did not have chips to bet with, you bet bread slaps. Whoever won got to hit that person across the face with a piece of bread. Instant Classic.Nessie

Hello!

Things lately can only be described as AWESOME. I can only pinch myself and feel truly lucky that I am able to have this amazing experience this semester….and things just keep getting better. While I miss my family and friends (and my dogs) back home, I am really loving my life here in Prague. Let me tell you about my past couple of weekends..

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany – BEST TIME EVER!!! I was a little unsure what awaited us behind the pearly gates that are Oktoberfest. Imagine 2000 people crammed like sardines into a huge beer hall. Everyone is singing, dancing, cheerings, and having a good time. Australians, Canadians, Germans, Americans, French, Spanish you name it are all together and friends through our mutual love of beer. I cannot help but wonder if the whole world could be at Oktoberfest, world peace would be possible. Its a giant fair as well…with rides and games. The picture was taken from the top of the ferris wheel looking over Oktoberfest at night. Also, the food was soooo good. I could eat there everyday. It was the best time of my young life and something I will never forget.  But other than just Oktoberfest I did see a good chunk of the city of Munich, which was beautiful. We went to the Olympic Park, where Munich hosted the Olympics in 1972, which was the games where my favorite American distance runner, Steve Prefountaine, ran in. The 1972 Olympics were also when the Munich Massacre happened when terrorists killed 11 Israel athletes. Another place we spent a lot of time at was the Marienplatz, which is the center square in Munich. There are a lot of cool things to see and do there, like St. Peter’s Church and the New City Hall building. All in all Munich was a great time and a great city with lots of friendly people. Just this last weekend we went on a school trip to the wine region of Moravia, Czech Republic. It was a lot of sightseeing and wine drinking crammed into two fun filled days. We started off in town of Moravsky to see the Slavic Epic by Mucha. These are enormous paintings done by the artist Mucha and are very important works of art for Czech history and culture. Next we went to the little town of Mikulov which is on the Austrian-Czech border for lunch. We climbed up this huge hill and got an amazing view of the city and the Czech country side. Then if was off to Lednice, CZ which is home to a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen. It was sparling trees, flowers, shrubs, lakes, etc and is just stunning. There are also a palace which was designed by the guy, who get this…invited the pencil. It was nice to walk around and be in a place so naturally beautiful. Then we went to our final destination of the night, Velke Bilovice, a small village where our wine vineyard was located, and where we stayed the night. We arrived to this tiny vineyard and of course wanted to freshen up after our long day. Well guess what. The guy gave our reservation away and there were only 10 beds left…for 24 of us. Not a problem though…we resourceful college kids. After a dinner of unlimited goulash and broucek, it was time for the wine tasting. Then, we got to pick our favorite wine to drink unlimited throughout the rest of the night.  It was a lot of fun but I was glad to get back to Prague and back to my own bed.I cannot believe I was already been here for over a month! Living in Prague is awesome and since I am graduating in May, living and working abroad is something I am highly considering doing. I can safely say my heart belongs to Prague. Tomorrow we are doing a 2.5K fun run uphill to celebrate all those who helped end Communism in the Czech Republic. Then this Friday is the start to our 5 day, 4 country field trip through Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary. Can’t wait!

Nessie

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