Saturday, September 6, 2008

Welcome to Czech Republic!

After much prompting from my mother and various other sources, I have decided to start a blog documenting my stay here in Czech Republic. Forgive me if the posts are few and far between. I am anticipating a very busy year.
School had not started by the time I arrived in Czech Rep., so I spent the first week of my stay walking around Ceske Budejovice. My family and close friends know all too well that I am… “navigationally challenged”. Sadly, this quality has not developed in me overseas. In fact, I think that I am more confused now than I ever have been. For that simple reason, my first week was a challenge. I have tried to familiarize myself with Ceske Budejovice (with little success) just by walking and observing. My first task of my stay was to change some US cash for Czech money. Of course, it was hard enough for me to find the place where my host father, Pavel, had recommended that I change my money. Then I had to try to make myself understood. The first week passed without any troubles.

On Saturday morning, I attended choir practice in a nearby town. This one action proved to be the most beneficial of the whole week. I was fortunate enough to make friends before school began.
I started school on Monday, September 1. My friends from choir were there to guide me throughout the day. We talked to the headmaster that day so that I could be transferred into my friends’ class. That has made my life much easier. School is going pretty well, aside from not understanding much of anything that is going on. I get a little scared at the end of each class because I never know where the next class will be. The students move from classroom to classroom like we do in the States, but the teachers don’t stay in a specified room. They move, too. I’m still rather confused about the way that the classes are organized. I’m sure that I’ll figure it out eventually.

The classroom dynamics are very interesting. There are rows of small tables in each room, and two people sit at each table. In most cases, the boys sit on one side of the class and the girls sit on the other. There are some exceptions (I happen to be one of them – I sit with a boy at my table), but for the most part, the two genders are separate. I have no idea why. Everyone seems to get along pretty well in my class, which is nice – I can’t accidentally make enemies. Until very recently, the guys in my class almost refused to talk to me. I talked to one of my friends about it, and she said that it’s probably just because most of the guys don’t speak English very well, so they’re afraid to talk to me. I think that’s funny. They’re afraid to speak in a foreign language in their own country to a foreigner who should be adapting by speaking their language. Soon, I will be the self-conscious person speaking a language far out of my comfort zone.

I have three good friends at school right now; Mary, Věrka, and Barbara. Věrka and Mary are from choir. I met Barbara on the first day of school; she is one of Mary’s close friends. Mary was wonderful to begin classes with because she is so high-energy and speaks English like a pro. Barbara is slightly less outgoing, but knows English very well and is very helpful. Věrka and I have become closer during the course of the last week. She seems to find me after every class, whether or not we have the next class together. I think that she realizes how confused I am; Věrka is wonderful about pointing me in the right direction and showing me where I need to be every step of the way. I’m incredibly thankful for both of them. They have made the transition into school much easier on me. I couldn’t be happier with the way things are working out right now.

My family is wonderful. I am living with Pavel and Ivana Hanzlik. They have three children, Magda, Miša, and Petr, but all three are out of the house. Both Magda and Miša are adults and have their own homes and I have had the pleasure of meeting them both. Petr is on a Rotary Exchange in Oklahoma this year. Pavel and Ivana and I get along so well. It is honestly astonishing. Honestly, I anticipated a few conflicts – or at least one conflict! I have been pleasantly surprised. The other day, Pavel and Ivana said that they hope that I will be with them for Christmas. Tonight, as Ivana was making dinner, I gave her a hug and thanked her for doing so. She told me (in her wonderful broken English) that I was her fourth child. Then she said something to Pavel, which he translated for me: “Ivana said that she is already sad because you will be leaving us”. I feel so welcome and loved here. It’s like living with another part of my family. It all seems too good to be true sometimes…

I am incredibly pleased with the way that things are going. I hope that this positive trend continues as the year goes on. With the help of my wonderful friends and host parents, and with a little luck, it will.


Burr said...

We are so delighted to read of your experiences and how well things are going for you. Your mom sent us your blog info and we are grateful for that. God has gone before you and opened doors and windows for you like only He can do. May he continue to bless you and your time in the CR. Burr Field

Aileen said...

Hi, Karm -
Thanks for creating this blog, which will really help us keep in touch with you. Sounds like you're having a wonderful adventure, and we're thankful you have such a loving host family and good friends at school!
Love you, Aunt Aileen & Uncle Bill

Anonymous said...

Hi Karmin! We're very proud of you and it is very interesting to hear all your news!

Looking forward to reading more!

Ginger, Dave and All our boys!

Joan said...


What a wonderful blog and a great way to share with many people at once. I am so thrilled (but not surprised) that you have already made fast friends and been thoroughly adopted into your host family.

I guess we should have gotten you a hand held GPS for your journey. Gord and I had one in Australia and it was nice to have a spot making home so we could always get there.

Hugs from us both and we will look forward to reading more.



Brett D said...

Hi Karmin!

Sounds like you are doing well - and thanks for sharing the experience with us. I'm going to point my Ethnic Studies class towards this site too.

Brett Dillahunt

Kathy Corliss said...

Hi Sweetie!

Well done, and thanks for the extra effort. I know many will appreciate the opportunity to check your posts.
Words cannot describe how pleased we are that you and your new family "fit" each other! It's a God thing!
I know you are meeting all of the other exchange students during language camp this week. We'll be anxious to hear about it. Hopefully you won't have any monsters as they did in Austria.
Your package went out yesterday. Hopefully it will arrive not long after you return to Rudolfov.
Take care of yourself, and post again when you have time.

Linda MacTravel said...

It is so special that you have landed in a loving home and that they are going all out to make you feel welcome and comfortable. How awesome of God to give you such good friends right off the bat! They will all help you in your adjustment to their country. I am looking forward to your blog posts and welcome you to occasionally check mine out at...
From mine, you can also access Bryan & Andrea's, Chris & Evey's and Alicia & Paul's!! Love you and pray for you :-) Aunt Linda

pihlaja said...

Ahoj!! Oh my gosh, I am so amazingly jealous!! I am also so glad you're adapting well and enjoying yourself. It's crazy that you're going to know how to speak Czech!! I'm well aware that will not be easy, but it's cool that you have the opportunity. It can't be any harder than physics...
Love ya!

Tyler G. said...

I'm sorry that I couldn't figure this blog thing out until now but I'm glad to learn about it. I'm so happy that you are having a good time and are with a good family.
God bless I'm praying for you (we miss you over here. tell me when your comming back.)
P.S. Do you enjoy the book?

Brad said...

Well, you are pulling me into the 20th century! This is my first blog entry.

I love the pics and hope to have time to read your entry soon. It looks like you are adjusting well.

Have you had any dreams that combine your home in E. WA and where you are now? I used to do that when I live in S. Am.

I am teaching oceanography online and face-to-face environmental science class. I have to learn a new format called Angel for future online classes. It should be fun!

We have a new dog named PATSY who keeps us going for walks. Yes, it is not like E. WA were we just let our dog out the front door! =;>

Take care and enjoy your time will fly by before you know it,

Lynn Corliss