Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The world is coming to an end?

I thought I would come to the Czech Republic and get a quick dose of an idyllic Christmas season, which of course includes some snow. I got Christmas markets, trees, some generic Christmas cheer, I suppose, but no snow. Actually, I think I did see snow once – off in the countryside from the window of a bus. It rained in Brno last week. But no snow. Not in any of the places that I’ve been.

My mom just sent me pictures from Las Vegas, and believe it or not, it’s snowing there. It’s not snowing in Prague. But it’s snowing in the desert. There can be no other explanation: the world is coming to an end.

It’s not my only experience with “opposites” this week. Over the weekend I was in Olomouc, which is the town where I studied over the summer. The quaint, quiet, practically people-less, historic town in the center of Moravia. (My pictures from the summer can attest to this.) This is the town where the summer school students seemed like the only patrons of the local bars; the same patrons who closed the bars down… at the wee hour of (ahem) 11 pm.

So you can imagine that it came as quite a shock to me to see the Christmas market in the town square full of people (who were not summer school students, you know, because it’s December).

I was even more shocked to find bars full of native Czech speakers (and, again, not just summer school students). But the biggest shock of all was to find myself stumbling out of a packed club around 5 AM. The sleepy little Olomouc I met over the summer has certainly woken up for the winter. Isn’t this reverse hibernation? Is this allowed?

(These were my hosts for the weekend: on the left is a fellow Berkeley grad student who also studied in Olomouc over the summer and on the right is his Slovak/Hungarian boyfriend.)

The rest of my weekend involved a mix of the odd & unbelievable in forms I never would have expected from Olomouc. This is turning out to be a theme with me & the Czech republic. Once I think I’ve got some aspect of it figured out – the language, the people, the history – something happens to make me realize I understand nothing at all. Well, Olomouc, I’m sorry I underestimated you.


A said...

Now you've got all of us in suspense. What opposites did you experience this past week--besides the vitality of the city and staying out until 5AM?!! Transpositions in research?

Julia M. said...

So demanding!! ;) I actually don't have any more opposites stories. At least not off the top of my head... that I should be posting publically (just kidding... or am I?)