Poděbrady, in fact the whole of the Czech Republic, is beautiful. When the plane was coming into land yesterday, I saw green fields, separated by hedges, like they are back in the UK, and therefore was expecting the architecture to be similar as well.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Nearly all the buildings are in that gorgeous European, almost Mediterranean style, with shuttered houses in all shades of colour, with beautiful gold statues adorning some of the walls. I think I could go on about how beautiful their architecture is for a least half an hour! But I’ve got to go bed soon unless I want to be dead tomorrow, so I’m going to have more on, and say my gushing for another post.
The food here is also really nice, despite what people have told me. It helps considerably that the food here is so cheap. We’ve all been given lunch and dinner vouchers which help with the cost, but even without these you can get a lovely buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad for less than £3, a pizza for less than £4 and pasta/burger and chips for less than £4 as well!
Today itself has been a whirlwind. I had to get up at 6:10, after being woken up by my room-mate at what felt like 1 a.m. so that the lady in charge of the course could show us the restaurant where we have breakfast. (My room-mate seems nice, she is Russian and speaks little English and even littler Czech, so we speak Russian together – On the one hand this is amazing practise, on the other hand I can see myself mixing up Czech and Russian even more than I already do…) I bumped into Jones and S from Bristol, and together we bumped into Russian Nick (who confusingly speaks French most of the time) and two students from Sheffield, who are both really friendly and lovely.
After breakfast, we had to do a placement test, which resulted in the Brizzle students being placed together in A2, two stages above beginners. Given we’ve only been studying Czech for six months, I was incredibly pleased with myself! Hopefully by the end of the course I’ll be equivalent to be B1 level. (The levels go Beginners, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, C2= fluency in the language). These levels are used by the EU to assess someone’s language ability. They do have a fancier name than levels, but I’ve forgotten it!
After having a very quick lunch in a nearby café, we got on a coach to Prague. Inevitably after waking so early, most of us fell asleep. Once we got to Prague, we went to the Charles University, who is the academic “supporter” of our language course…I think. We listened to some speeches, all basically saying have a lovely time on your course, and thanks for coming. Far more interestingly, they were said in English, Czech and then Russian, meaning I understood good chunks of the Czech and Russian, having already heard the English “version”.
After the speeches, we wandered round the university and then a small group of us went to a beautiful twenties inspired cubist café, where we had afternoon tea. I had a delicious little Czech cake (the translation the café gave – I can’t remember the Czech name!). After chatting in the café for about an hour, we headed to the Karlův Moct, Prague’s famous, amazingly long and beautiful bridge. Jones, S and I wandered along the bridge (accidentally losing the others on the way) and back, enjoying the sunshine and wandering how a nearby Danish marching band were coping in the heat in their uniforms (No idea why they were there – but it was pretty cool).
Since we had lost Sheffield!Nick (who happens to be a girl, to add to the confusion), who was the only one who knew her way around Prague as well as the others, I grabbed a map from the nearest Tourist Info Booth – to have my accent mistaken as French , a hundred times better than being recognised as English!
On the coach back, S, Sheffield!Nick and I decided we were going to try out some of the exercise classes held in the gym below our dorm. So, in addition to my first Czech lessons tomorrow, I’ve also got Zumba in Czech at quarter to six – Wish me luck!