Fairy Houses, Sandstones, and Ice Cream
During my time abroad I am not only preparing for my time as a Fulbright ETA by taking a TEFL class, I am also working in Prague as an In-Country Program Assistant for Charles University – in short I am a New Paltz representative in the ECES office and I assist the staff on various excursions throughout the Czech Republic. Getting the opportunity to work in the ECES office has been really great. From being a student at Charles, to then working on the New Paltz end of the program in the study abroad office, to now working in the Charles University study abroad office has only once again proven to me how much study abroad has shaped my life for the better. It has been very interesting and exciting for me to work in a foreign office setting. Somethings are exactly the same, but I have also learned so much more about what it means to work internationally. This experience has opened up so many new ideas about where I can take my career as an educator and I am so, so grateful for that.
This experience has also brought me on some pretty great excursions throughout the Czech Republic. This past weekend we went on a hiking trip through the Bohemian Paradise in Cesky Raj. A Czech university student who comes from this part of the country lead the day and it was fantastic. We hiked through the Sandstone City, I had no idea how diverse the Czech countryside was before this weekend. It was a really nice break from life in the city. Spending the past four years in New Paltz and being a big hiker my entire life city life is definitely an adjustment and this past weekend I remembered how much I missed spending days hiking around and just walking with no buildings or streets by my side.
We saw people mushrooming, the number one sport in the country, we built fairy houses, and stopped by a local ice cream shop. I had remembered hearing about mushrooming from the last time I was in CR, but I had never seen it in action. People actually walk around with baskets and pick mushrooms, ALL DAY! The Czech girl leading us around got very excited about this and ecstatic when she would find a mushroom herself. She actually ended up finding quite a lot and on our hike we stopped by her house, her mom fried them up, and we all had some lovely, fresh, fried, Czech mushrooms – the perfect hiking snack. She then had us pair up and have a fairy house competition. Apparently this is something people knew about from their childhood, but I had never done this – I loved it. I am doing this whenever I go hiking from now on. All in all it was a wonderful weekend roaming about the Czech countryside. Breathing some fresh crisp autumn air, fresh mushrooms, and climbing through the sandstone formations was a real retreat from Praha.