The week began with the start of school and the development of my weekly routine while living with my mentor, Jana, and her family for the next month:
7am– Wake up and eat breakfast of tea, fruit, and small piece of cake.
7:30am– Leave house for school and drop of 2 kids, Anna and Honza, on the way.
8am-2pm– Assist in multiple English classes of different grade levels.
This week mainly consisted of introducing and answering questions about myself. The most interesting aspects of me seemed to be my mixed ethnic background, the amount of places I’ve travelled, and my reasons for choosing to come teach in the Czech Republic. The first day I had to give a small speech in front of about 80 students and teachers! When I was in high school I hated public speaking more than anything. I never would have thought that in a few years I would be the center of attention to publicly speak in front of an entire school. Overall talking about myself became pretty exhausting, but upcoming topics for this week include American geography and stereotypes.
After lessons– Eat a HUGE Czech lunch in the school canteen, usually consisting of soup, meat in a sauce, either dumplings or pasta, and a small serving of fruit. The cafeteria ladies refer to me as the Američanka (even when I said “Gracias” to them by accident). At home these meals are typically followed by coffee, but I can’t bring myself to ingest anything else.
Afternoons– Go for runs in the nearby field (a shocking leisure activity), attempt to learn Czech, read.
6pm– Eat a “small” Czech dinner of either sliced meats and cheeses on a roll or a PB&J sandwich to feel more American.
7-9:30pm– Watch the Czech news or some other form of TV. My host family collects movies in English and Czech, and has many dubbed and subtitled versions of both.
9:30-11pm– Clean my room and talk to people from home through various forms of social media.
The highlights of my week were about making connections with different people in Znojmo.
- I agreed to meet with a student, Denisa, to help her with her application and entrance exam to apply to school in England. Our coffee meeting turned into a 2-hour conversation about everything under the sun related to international relations, current events, and the future. She is super driven and can’t imagine doing anything besides being a Czech diplomat to the UK.
- After a weekend of trying to befriend the two children of my host family, we finally bonded over playing Bananagrams. While they make words in English I have to make words in Czech. We all have to help each other out a bit, and their English words are definitely much more advanced than my Czech ones.
- The school week concluded with going to a local dance class with one of the other English teachers, Zuzana, and a Canadian exchange student, Elizabeth, who will also be in Znojmo this year. It was amazing to dance again and I am definitely looking forward to attending each week. Zuzana and I determined over coffee the next day that it was fate that she happened to invite me to come. I had not mentioned I used to dance and we share similar backgrounds of regretting having had to give up dance in the past.
The week originally started on a low note when I found out I could not move into my own apartment until the end of the month. I was starting to feel restless. One self-discovery of the week is that I like to keep busy with friends and activities—both of which are still slightly lacking after only a week in Znojmo. So on Thursday night, at approximately 10pm, I decided to leave the next morning and travel 7 hours each way this weekend to Strakonice to visit 2 of the other Fulbright ETAs, Lori and Rosie. After some extra transfers and biding my time appropriately watching “Before Sunrise” and reading “On the Road,” I made it and had an amazing time! On Friday night, Lori and I went with some of her new Czech friends to a beer festival in Písek where 2 famous Czech bands played. Then Saturday, the Czechs took the three of us Americans for a 6-hour canoeing trip on the Otava River. My arms, lower back, and butt are sore today, but it was worth it for the beautiful scenery and to take advantage of one of the last warm weekends!
Coming up this week: Leading my first after-school American Culture Club, more lessons, and Znojmo’s Historic Wine Festival