Sunday, March 28, 2010

Adventure #023 - The Photo Shoot

You may not have noticed this information if you're not really interested by fashion, but in February, Alexander McQueen passed away. He was an amazing British designer, one of my favourites actually. The world of fashion just lost a great person.

Adventure #022 - The Thai Massage

My co-workers told me several times about these places you find everywhere in Prague where you can have a Thai massage. I really wanted to try, even more because my back's a mess, but never did.

So for my birthday, which was end of February, my lovely flatmates gave me a gift voucher for a Thai massage.

I went there one evening when my back was killing me and was really tired. Best time to do this!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Adventure #021- Cross Country Skiing

I love the snow. I love winter because of the snow and winter sports. Or at least because of snowboarding, sledding and snowball fights, etc. Definitely not because of cross country (XC) skiing!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Adventure #020 - The Swearing

As Angela says, I have a really dirty mouth. Yes, I swear a lot. In French, of course, which my friends find really funny.

But swearing is not really lady-like. So my challenge for the past week was to stop swearing. Each time I would swear, I had to pu 10Kc in a jar (about 40 Cents in Euros). This challenge was supposed to go on for a week but more than five swearings in a day would add another day to the challenge.

Adventure #019b - The Opera

One of my good childhood memories is my Mum's perfum when she was going out in the evening. Magie Noire by Lancôme. My parents would sometime go to the Opera or see a Ballet. And I loved Mum's perfum when she was kissing me goodbye. Still feel like a little girl if I smell it today.

She would sometimes tell me stories. Not fairy tales or children stories, but things about books she had read, life of people she liked, like Edith Piaf. The Opera Carmen was one of these. She had a CD by the Opera singer Montserra Caballe on which you could find a few songs from Carmen. We listened to this CD a lot and the music was beautiful. And Mum told me several times that when I grow up, she will take me to the Opera to see Carmen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Adventure #019a- The Opera

The opera has never been high on my list of things to do in life, at least it didn't use to be. And then I received an email with people singing opera in a marketplace in Spain. They were singing La Traviata and it was so beautiful, I almost started crying, while sitting in a KFC.

If I felt that way at an impromptu viewing in KFC, how would I react to the live version? I talked to Chloe and she said she had always wanted to see Carmen, so we decided we would look into it and see if it was showing in Prague for the season. It was showing, but the tickets started at 1200kc ($80)!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Adventure #009- The Czech Adventure

Progress Report #1
About a month ago, I started meeting with a woman, who wants to practice her English in order to be ready for a job in the Fall, once a week for a language exchange. Right now, the time isn't evenly shared, but we spend about 20-30 minutes in Czech.

The best part about it: she tries to understand me. Most people usually switch to English before I get an entire sentence out. So far, my vocabulary doesn't extend very far, but on our second meeting I was able to describe the 6 dogs and 1 cat in Reno. Even though the topics aren't exciting, I am able to use the grammar that I have been taught in my classes. And, because I try to make sentences above my level, I am challenging myself and learning new words.

I had a funny experience in Czech a few weeks ago. I was riding the tram illegally with a friend (I forgot my pass, he forgot to buy one) and we got caught. The controller asked us to get off the tram and after we did, she decided to only give us 1 fine, which was really nice of her! I think part of the reason we only got 1 fine was that I tried to tell her that I had a month-long pass in my wallet at home. With a lot of pantomime and half sentences, I managed to tell her that I didn't have my pass because I left it in my wallet in my purse at home. And that I had left my purse at home because I was attending a football match. It was a successful exchange because we had a conversation. There were words I didn't know, but could act or mime for her and she did the same for me.

The weekly exchanges and lessons will continue... Who knows, maybe I will be really good at this language in a few decades ;)

The Challenge:
When I went home for the holidays, my friends and family all wanted to know how much Czech I spoke. The answer was almost none! I can order food and read a menu but beyond that I need to be spoken to like I am 3 years old (one or two words at a time only please!) The more people that asked, the more I felt like I should be learning the language of my adopted home.

I may be exaggerating my lack of knowledge a bit. I had taken a course last spring, but it was quick and I wasn't that committed to learning so I didn't do well or go far. Part of my reluctance to learn the language well was the fact that I kept planning to leave.

Now that I have decided to stop making plans to leave, I figured I should commit to learning the language. It would be nice to be able to communicate with the people around me; in my dance class, when my students start speaking in Czech, saying more to the owner of the fruit & veg shop downstairs than 'dobry den' (good day), etc.

The goal is as follows: if I leave before July, then I will take the level A1 test (beginner); if I leave sometime after, I will take the A2 (pre-intermediate) in November. (For a better explanation of the levels use this link:

As this adventure will take awhile, I will be posting several updates as I progress in my skill level, or if anything exciting happens (like a conversation with someone random). I am taking weekly Czech lessons and meeting with my fellow student once a week to review, so progress is slow but steady.

Držte mi palce! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adventure #016, 017, 018 - The Little Things Matter Adventure

So I haven't written very many things lately because many of the things I've done haven't been very noteworthy. But they have been things I have always wanted to do, like going by a second hand store or into a restaurant. They will be lumped into one post to minimize boredom (yours and mine!)

I love shopping, and finding a deal is the best part. I am not a fan of labels or looking like the crowd either. I like to go to second hand stores and find unique pieces. I don't want to walk down the street and see 3 other people wearing the same top as me. Plus, second hand stores are easier on the wallet. There are several stores that I pass on a regular basis and never go inside. So I decided that it was time. I went in, enjoyed the browsing but didn't find anything I really wanted to own.

I also tried a few new recipes. I made bagels. From scratch. I have tried this before, but I wasn't very happy with the recipe and results. This time, I used a wheat flour instead of a white flour. The recipe I used this time was simpler and they turned out much better. The flavor and texture was better than the first time. The second recipe was a pizza dough made with beer. It was a really easy recipe that was very versatile. I made pita bread and a pastry dough (with dark beer instead of light). One of the best parts of the recipe? The fact that you don't use the whole beer, so you can enjoy the rest while the dough cooks! Send me a message for either recipe.

I have had 1529 songs on my iPod since 2008. A friend downloaded a bunch of music for me before I left and I haven't listened to half of it. I usually stick with the tried and true because I like to listen when I am in specific moods. So I am slowly working my way through all the songs. It takes a while because I need to listen to each group a couple times before I make a decision about them either way. My most recent discoveries? Black Rebel Motorcycle and Stars.

As you can see, I haven't been idle, just been doing things that are easier on the wallet and therefore, not as exciting. So I decided that each category would get one point.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Adventure #015 - The Stockholm Metro

As I was staying in Stockholm, Sweden, for a few days with my family, we went for a tour of the Metro.

The Stockholm Metro is small, with only three lines, and quite recent. The Blue Line for instance was built in the 70s. Why is this metro special? Because all the stations have been decorated by artists. Instead of covering the rock with walls, the city decided to use the money to pay artists to do something nicer and original. About 1 millions Swedish Crowns were spent on each station (about 10.000€). We made this tour with a designer who wrote a school thesis on the Stockholm Metro. It was really interesting to listen to her as she could explain the significations of the things and knew all the details that we could have missed.