The past week called for a lot of reflection as it officially marked my 1-year anniversary of graduation from The College of William and Mary. The weekend snuck up on me. All of a sudden I was seeing sentimental Facebook statuses and graduation photo shoots. Then it hit me, I can’t quite say I was actually “just in college.”
However, working at a Czech high school means I get to relive being a teenager quite often, My second short and festive week in Znojmo continued last week with the festival of Majáles. Once again I had no idea what to expect, except for that I was told there would be a parade and to wear red. Majáles is a day for students and in Znojmo, it meant a competition between each of the high schools in the city. Each school had chosen to wear a different color and had to think of a theme or way to show school spirit. First, we all paraded through the city and because I only go to the coolest school, we had the red tourist train on our team. There was a lot of cheering and chanting, including one that went, “My máme Mariel” or “We have Mariel.” It felt so special to be a part of such a great community. Also, clearly, I earned us some points 🙂
It was so cool to walk past our school and see all the other students hanging out of the window cheering us on. Naturally we won (for the second year in a row)! The rest of the day was a bit rainy but there were still different musical performances and then they picked the King and Queen of Majáles 2014—one of whom was my student! Throughout the whole thing I couldn’t help but be reminded of the sorority Bid Day festivities at William and Mary. We would all wear our matching shirts and be cheering on the new members that would be joining our houses that day. Of course, that meant trying to cheer louder and be more awesome than all of the other houses. I guess even after graduation there are always opportunities to be goofy and enthusiastic. I’m glad to be part of such a fun school community again here.
For the long Victory in Europe holiday weekend I headed to Copenhagen to visit a WM friend who is working there for the program she studied abroad with 2 years ago (like me). Copenhagen was beautiful! It was my first time in Scandinavia and a few things caught me off guard. The first was the expense. Going from Czech koruna to Danish kroner was definitely a bit of an adjustment. However, some things like pastries (because a danish does come from Denmark), yummy lunches, and awesome views are so worth it. The second was the length of the day. While I’m sure the opposite in winter must be terrible, it was crazy that it stayed light out until 9:15pm! I can’t imagine how much fun it must be even closer to June 21st. The third was how much people bike. I’ve been to Amsterdam, but in Copenhagen biking seemed more like just a normal staple of life. It’s not a novelty, it’s a necessity. And, I’m pretty impressed that this continues in the freezing cold winters.
Most of my time spent in Copenhagen was simply spent walking around and exploring. I saw an amazing view from the scary spiral staircase at the top of the Vor Frelsers Kirke. Then I ventured over to Christiania, an alternative living commune that is home to “Pusher Street.” In this “Green Light District” there is no photography allowed because of the little huts where patrons can go “shopping.” I definitely felt out of place with my tourist-ready outfit, but it was definitely a cool area to walk around in that was also home to handmade designs and artist studios. Finally, I unknowingly ended up in Copenhagen the same weekend as the city hosted the infamous Eurovision Song Competition. In case you didn’t know, Eurovision is a competition between European countries, which submit songs to be performed live and then voted upon by viewers around the continent. Many famous performers and songs have come out of the competition, including a winner of the 1970s, “Waterloo” by ABBA. The festivities extended into the city where there were stages and performances throughout the weekend. The final competition took place on Saturday night with the winner being a cross-dressing singer with an amazing set of pipes from Austria. My personal favorites were The Netherlands and Malta, but their performances were a tad less dramatic. Interestingly, almost every performance was in English, yet if you heard the songs on the radio you would never guess many of them were written and performed by non-native speakers. Either way, it was pretty cool to see an international competition that didn’t involve competitive sports.
It was nice to have coincidentally planned to see a friend and a fellow WM grad on the weekend of this year’s WM graduation. Somehow I planned to coordinate seeing WM friends during a lot of the most nostalgia-provoking weekends of college throughout this year. Yet, my college years are over and I have to keep looking forward. It was cool to see my friend and meet her other American colleagues who like me have chosen to live in Europe and are learning an obscure language that is only spoken in one country. Maybe this year hasn’t been a crazy break from reality. As I figure out my next steps, I’ve truly come to appreciate how special and amazing this experience has been. Even though it hasn’t been in a major city or at an office desk, it’s been as real as ever. And as of tomorrow, there will only be 2 months to go…