Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer language school is like elementary school

I seem to be running out of blog-writing energy. But that’s OK, because the summer is running out of days. I have less than two weeks left in Eastern Europe before heading back to the US.

The problem isn't that I have nothing to write about - I've visited a few new places and seen some interesting things. However, what I’ve been doing is rather specific to this region of the Czech Republic and, furthermore, my activities have started resembling elementary school field trips.

Let me give you a rundown of my schedule last weekend to elucidate this point:


Excursion 1) Left Olomouc early to go to Bouzov Castle (organized by summer school); this castle was completely rebuilt, i.e. fake – not original, thus had a Disneyland feel to it.

Excursion 2) Cheese factory (organized by summer school); the Olomouc region is (relatively) famous for manufacturing a particularly smelly cheese called Olomoucké tvarůžky. Lucky us got to tour the strange cheese museum. The terrible tour didn't even end with a cheese sample (perhaps this was for the best).

Excursion 3) Olomouc Zoo; this last-minute “excursion” with two other summer school students was the best trip of the day. The zoo impressed me – it was more like a zoo + a nature park, which turned out to be the perfect afternoon getaway. Here’s a picture of me failing to charm the goats in the petting zoo area:


Excursion 4) Kroměříž (an historic town in the neighboring county); this small town turned out to be bigger and more interesting than we had anticipated, thus requiring more schlepping around than expected (but was still fun).

After touring the palace, the flower gardens, and town square in Kroměříž, we returned to Olomouc just in time for the soccer game at the stadium right across the street from our dorm.

Excursion 5) Football (=soccer) game: Olomouc vs. Plzeň; The drunk and screaming Olomouc fans were almost more entertaining than the game itself; Olomouc won, which was also exciting.

After the game we went out to dinner.

Then I came home and fell asleep almost immediately.

Now I understand why schools organize these kind of trips for kids: because the kids are exhausted afterward and fall asleep easily, thus making parents happy.

Staying busy all weekend allowed me to avoid the news, which has been reporting some depressing events in this part of the world. On Friday there was a train accident in the Czech Republic, which had seven fatalities. The train crash was on the route from Krakow to Prague – the same route & the same night train that I took in late June when I first came to Prague. And as I'm sure you know, there is now a war between Russia & Georgia, an "accidental" war, according to the Financial Times.

Sorry for that downer. To end less seriously, look back at the picture of the petting zoo goats rejecting me on Saturday. That perks things up, eh?


cg said...

I think you might be in kultur schock. lol. Your pic with the goats is so funny. You always had a way with animals (remember when you adopted Bart for the night @ 1336?)

iwanagain said...

I like your use of the word elucidate. I'm embarrassed to admit I had to look it up. But now that I know it, I'm going to use it often.
Recently Turkish journalists have been targeted. CNN has video of one being shot in the arm and another being shot in the eye! Yikes. It looks from the map that you're a pretty safe distance from this "accident," but Godspeed on your trip home.

Carolyn and I had a trip to the zoo last weekend as well. It's like we have the same life, or something exactly opposite of what I just wrote.