So where did I leave off?
That first snow melted ended up as a nice layer of ice, but the Friday after New Years, it started again, for REAL this time :D It began in the morning, and didn’t stop till Sunday. We got somewhere around 3 feet!
Sunday also happened to be my 18th birthday, so in honor of the occasion, my family took me out to Octarna for a special birthday lunch.
The “how to” of Czech birthday present giving tradition:
1: All party guests assemble into a line to give you (the birthday person) a present.
2: One by one everyone steps up to shake your hand.
3: they wish you a lucky year, filled with wealth, love, and happiness, “Vsechno nejlepsi" (all the best) and/or “vesely narozininy” (Happy Birthday)
4: you exchange kisses
5: you receive your present J (presents are usually something small (eg. chocolate, candy, cosmetics, or a magazine) because everyone gives something, even little kids (and foreigners :P).
At lunch, I got some chocolate, some flowers, and body wash from my host family. After lunch, we went home, and I had some fun taking pictures in the newly fallen snow and ice. That evening I went to my second ever intercross practice, and ended the evening skyping with my mom and sister.
That Wednesday I planned a get together with my classmates. We all went to the popular bar called the pancake bar, or “Palacinkarna”. It turned out great J almost my whole class showed up, and even got me a cake! They also got me some chocolate and a Czech flag that the all had signed. We had a great time and although the kids who lived at school had to leave at 8:30, there was still enough people to hang around till a bit later. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so the pictures are taken with a friends camera phone, so please, pardon our red eyes :-P
Friday was the AG ples (my school ball). I went early with friends to help set up and hang out. It was mostly free dancing and eating, spiced up with the occasional dance performance. There were a lot of people dressed up in traditional garb. It was really interesting to see the regional difference in outfits. Cities as close as 10 miles have significantly different outfits. Afterwards I went to the Slady music club with my friends Vendy and Tomas.
The next morning, the Weasel Sisters intercross team had their first tournament. I was super nervous… up till this point I had only been to 2 practices and only ever held a pole two or three times more than that. But it wasn’t so bad once I got into the game. We played a series of 4 games against the only other teams from the Moravia area. Statistically, we didn’t do so well… that is, we didn’t win any of the games…. But this isn’t such a new concept to me; I’m not exactly the most athletically inclined person. So I had a blast anyway J
After the tournament we all went to the Cerny Orel (black eagle) pub on the square and had a joint birthday celebration for me and another guy on the team who had a birthday near mine. There was a DELICIOUS homemade cake from my friend on the team and I got MORE chocolate! (above):D
On Monday's rotary meeting, we had a family night of bowling. not many people showed for the event, but everyone that did had a blast.
The weekend of the 22rd I spent with exchange students in Pec Pod Snezkou on the long awaited Rotary ski weekend J Tim and I met in Brno to catch a bus to Hradec Kralove, then to Trutnov and finally to Pec Pod. True to tradition, the trip didn’t go exactly as planned, but we did finally make it to the ski lodge to a warm welcome by our friends. That night we took a trip to a snow roller coaster type thing. It was great, Eli and I road down together, and I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard. I think this must have been the last coaster ever with manual breaks J right before bed, we had our 4th and final Czech test…. I have never been good at tests, but whos idea was it to have the test at midnight???
In the morning we all went our separate ways to learn to ski, snowboard or free time on the slopes. I signed up to finally learn to snowboard, and I’m so glad I did. Personally, I think it beats skiing, no question J when we all reconvened for lunch, Sara from MA showed up with a broken wrist. It was a shame that she couldn’t snow board for the rest of the day, but the doctor there said that it wasn’t bad and wouldn’t need screws. In the afternoon we finished our time on the slopes and caped off the evening with some apples to apples, bowling, and our test results… I got 38.5 out of 40! In the morning we said our goodbyes and left for our respective buses and trains home.
On monday's Rotary meeting, we went to a restaurant in the city. the cafe was showing an exibit of art painted by the wife of a Rotarian. She taught origami and painted some Japanese for us. She painted two for me, one that said "beautiful Amy" and the other that said "82". Currently they hold a place of honor on the wall in my room :)
Wednesday there was a concert at school by a band make up of kids in the school. The bands name was TEARS. They played mostly rock, but spiced things up with some ABBA and a little twist and shout. At the end i got a picture with the whole crew.
Thursday was the last day of school before semester break, and only 4 class periods long, so we didn't do much. We took a test, watched some movies, and then for the last class, we went back to our main homeroom type class for report cards. Individually, each student was called to the front of the class to receive their grades. My teacher shook their hand and discussed what marks they had gotten with the class, and sent them back to their seat.
When she called me to come to the front, I was pretty surprised. I wasn't expecting to get a report at all. Prof. Beth shook my hand and told me that I had gotten seven 1's (the best mark), one 2, two 3's, and four classes with no grades because the teachers didn't know what they were suppose to do about grades for me. I was so excited! (even though I have the sneaking suspicion that a few of them were pity grades :P). As i returned to my seat, received a hardy round of applause, whom I believe were also quite taken back by my grades :D
On Friday my friends on the lacrosse team threw a 17th birthday party for my friend Natalia. We hung out the the pancake bar and ate and relaxed. Went to Slady for a short time, but ended up back at the bar for the end of the night.
So whats the difference?
1) every day of the year has designated Czech names. and the day that your name coincides with the name of the day, you have a sort of birthday like celebration. Chocolates, presents, the works. Unfortunately Amy isn't really a Czech name :P
2) On your birthday, instead of making a wish when you blow out the candles, you make the wish when you cut the cake.
3) It turns out, my school actually PAYS its students for good grades... thats right, students get a monetary reward of up to about 50$ if their grades are above a certain percentage... I think MHS might have a thing or two to learn from AG ;)