01.16.2009 Still in Orlando. Waiting on Student Visa from the Embassy in Washington, DC & Scholarship money. Can't wait to go to London, UK to visit my friend Caio. My goal was to leave next Tuesday the 20th. Will be packing asap. Living at my Mom's house to get ready. Moved out of my house Downtown with my sister/twin Megan. Here are some pictures of what I am leaving.
Had a going away party with my girls: Katie Hodges and Kathleen Stockele at Ale House last night. It was Ladies night and the drinks were only $1.00. Today I am meeting my friend Mark Hoffman and some friends at a Hooka bar called King Tuts off Alafaya. Should be fun. My twin sister is watching my dog Abby right now. She is with her brother Diogie. They are brother and sister Chow/Golden Retriever mix dogs. I miss my Abby girl so much, but I am trying to get her ready for the big move. Here are a few pictures of her and her brother. They are best friends. I didn't want to separate them. Abby is the best pouter in the world. She is so cute and emotional. She likes to chase flashlights and bugs/animals. She is very smart and knows a handful of tricks, her best one being roll over. Here she is:
Got my flight reservations today!!! The other airlines wanted to charge me $2,500! Looked on cheapflights.com and expedia.com. Even tried Ryan Air, Czech Airline (CSA). Finally I decided to try the carrier that Caio took over to London for so cheap, and low and behold...it was the cheapest! It had great graphics on it's webpage and colors and the navigation of the website was so easy. Very impressed. So the total for the roundtrip ticket was $1,072.28 or $536.14 each way.
Here are the details:
MISS KATHRYN MCBRIDE
JETBLUE AIRWAYS B6 436 L CLASS LOW FARE CONFIRMED
DEP ORLANDO/ORLANDO INTL MON 26JAN09 1.25PM
ARR BOSTON MON 26JAN09 4.17PM
BOS -TERMINAL C - TERMINAL C
AER LINGUS EI 132 R/ECONOMY CLASS LOW FARE CONFIRMED
DEP BOSTON MON 26JAN09 7.20PM
BOS -TERMINAL E - TERMINAL E
ARR DUBLIN TUE 27JAN09 7.45AM
AER LINGUS EI 644 R/ECONOMY CLASS LOW FARE CONFIRMED
DEP DUBLIN TUE 27JAN09 11.00AM
ARR PRAGUE TUE 27JAN09 2.30PM
PRG -TERMINAL 1 - TERMINAL 1
*Then I will take a train from Prague to Brno, Czech Republic and Brno University of Technology
Should arrive around 5 pm on Tuesday in Brno.
*Once again I will take a train from Brno to Prague Sunday evening and then take a plane from Prague to Dublin
AER LINGUS EI 647 A/ECONOMY CLASS LOW FARE CONFIRMED
DEP PRAGUE SUN 31MAY09 10.10PM
PRG -TERMINAL 1 - TERMINAL 1
ARR DUBLIN SUN 31MAY09 11.40PM
*Stay overnight in a hotel or the airport :)
AER LINGUS EI 105 W/ECONOMY CLASS LOW FARE CONFIRMED
DEP DUBLIN MON 1JUN09 10.30AM
ARR NEW YORK/JOHN F KENNEDY MON 1JUN09 1.00PM
JFK -TERMINAL 4 - TERMINAL 4 INTERNATIONAL
JETBLUE AIRWAYS B6 147 R CLASS LOW FARE CONFIRMED
DEP NEW YORK/JOHN F KENNEDY MON 1JUN09 2.59PM
JFK -TERMINAL 5 - TERMINAL 5 JET BLUE
ARR ORLANDO/ORLANDO INTL MON 1JUN09 5.53PM
*Can somebody pick me up on Monday night? Thanks!!!!
I am so excited to go. Spoke to the US Embassy of the Czech Republic today and they said they would grant me a tourist visa while they are working on granting the student visa. The Tourist Visa lasts 90 days. Then I would either fill out paperwork over there or have my student visa paperwork mailed to me in Brno. I Fed Exed the two official documents from Brno University of Technology today...one being my acceptance letter in Czech and English and my Request for Accomodation approval from the dorm Pod Palackeho Vrchem Residence Hall. In order to go to Czech and get a student visa. I needed:
1. Visa Application
2. $132.00 Application fee
3. Two recent passport photos
4. Original passport mailed to the Embassy
5. Document confirming sufficient financial resources..i.e. a notarized copy of my debit card w/ the numbers whited out
6. Document confirming purpose of stay in the Czech Language
7. Document confirming accommodation
8. Criminal History Background-affidavit confirming I had never been indicted and sentenced for a felony of any kind
9. Medical health/travel insurance
Then I mailed this along with a prepaid self addressed envelope to:
The Embassy of the Czech Republic
3900 Spring of Freedom, NW
Washington, DC 20008
*Wasn't too hard just had to get accepted into the Program, then getting my Professor Dr. Lang to approve the foreign courses was the hard part. I will be taking Data Coding and Compression and Advanced Operating Systems/UNIX over there. I am excited and also excited to travel to European countries on the weekends: Paris, London, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc...will be fun! My trip begins in 5 days! It's finally here.
Got my Visa today! Went to financial aid to check on the rest of my scholarship money. It is coming. I am all set to go to the Czech Republic. Now I just need to get ready and hitch a ride to the airport on Monday.
Went to Barnes and Nobles today and got language books: Czech/English dictionary, Irish phrasebook (they have their own language), and a French CD/Phrasebook along with a Pan Am Travelers Journal...it was 75% off. I plan on speaking the native languages in Czech Republic, Ireland and Pari.
Took a flight out of MCO at 1:30 pm. Mom, Megan, and Janette took me to the airport to see me off. It was very emotional for me...it hadn't fully hit me that I was leaving to go to a foreign country for 4 month by myself till they came to see me off. Megan wouldn't stop hugging me and Mom and Janette were telling me how proud they were of me to do this and how they didn't have the guts to do something like this. At that moment, neither did I. I felt so weak and alone after they left but excited for new adventures! The flight to Boston on Jet Blue was a nice change. They offered a drink and a nice snack in wicker baskets. Very friendly and not at all bossy. Once in Boston, I had to pick up my bags at the baggage claim to take to the Aer Lingus flight...remember when they used to do this stuff for you? Asked the lady at the ticket counter about it with the help of one of the pilots if I needed to pick up my bags and she said "no" even though the pilot said he was 89% sure I did. He, the ticket guy in Orlando..who Janette debated with and the baggage check in lady all told me to pick it up. I figured I better listen to 3 out of 4 in favor of doing just that..plus Janette's caution and urgency pulled at my heart. I went to the baggage carousel and they were one of the first bags to come out..along with all of my bras! The zipper broke on the front left pocket and out came all of my sexy bras exposed to the world. I had to repack them in another pocket (to my embarrassment). Checked in the bags at Aer Lingus next to a dapper dressed Irish man. The guy moved my seat around near the wings to help with my air sickness and said he gave me some leg room. Exchanged my money at Boston's airport and ate some Chinese food....really good cilantro chicken and curry chicken with lo mien. On the plane, it seemed as if it was deserted in the front, I looked over and there were 2 empty rows to sleep on...a few seconds later there was a Mom and her son that plopped themselves into the seats. I asked "is this your seat?" then the Mom said no but the flight attendant said we could sit here to lay down or something to that effect. I was so pissed....even told her, well I was planning on sleeping there and I don't feel so good. A few minutes later...to avoid a cat fight, her son moved to a window seat..Thank God. Then we actually talked and tried to get on good terms...or at least I did. The flight was almost 8 hours long and stopped in Shannon to drop passengers off. I was so exhausted at that point!!!!I wanted a cigarette smoke and they wouldn't let me off. Just got really antsy and fidgety at that point. Got to talk to some really cool young Irish blokes....a pair of fraternal rocker twins and these two friends that fought like Megan and I but worse! They always sounded like they were gonna kill each other...they were best friends but were always bickering about something....it was really funny! They were around 19-22 years old. After what seemed like eternity....an hour maybe....we took off for Dublin.
The snow at Boston's airport. It was beautiful! Shannon Airport around 5 am on Tuesday
The flight to Dublin was very short. Went to customs. They stamped my passport with a Dublin stamp. The airport was very cool in Dublin. Great jewelry, clothes and lots of homemade chocolate. You had to walk through the center of the stores to get to your gate. I had to pick up my luggage again to take to check in at baggage. Stopped and had breakfast and a red bull. Scrambled eggs, toast and jam, bacon...was a wider piece and more meat than US version and a potato triangle that looked like french toast. Was so delirious at this point! Trying to sleep on metal benches in front of gate. They were so cold and uncomfortable....gosh...why they would choose style over comfort perplexes me. Smaller plane to Prague. Sat next to two Czech girls and a guy. Had the whole row to myself. Laid down and took a good nap with no pillow. Got to Prague around 2:30 pm. Jarka was not there to pick me up so had to catch a cab to the Train station. Once at the train station it was just Greek!!!! Everything was in Czech there was no English anywhere. Had to ask a girl to help or she asked me. She spoke English so helped me get a ticket and told me where to go. She helped with my bags too. She was a real sweetheart! Train ride was about 3 hours or less. Another student named Lukas Doolezal helped us with the heavy bags and went with me on the two buses to get to the dorms. It was so cold! He told me a little bit about the history of Communism and how they used to be ruled by the Russians 20 years ago. He said everyone had a job but none was motivated to work harder because if you worked less or more, you got paid the same. Sounded kinda depressing. He said that the younger generation 20+ would know English b/c they had it in school but that the older people never had it.
Dublin's airport terminal. Very cool airport. Prague's airport called Praha in Czech
Here is the train pictures. This train was just like in the old movies with a whistle and a guy that checks your ticket. The ride to Brno was about 3 hours. Had a girl to talk to most of the way. She is studying soil agriculture at the University and lives at home with her parents in a small village of about 100. Here she is:
my first Czech friend! She was so sweet. firstname.lastname@example.org My heavy luggage I had to tow everywhere
more luggage...this was on my back & shoulder :) Me on the train to Brno. Tried to sleep every which angle on the bags.
Went to the Student housing today to pay the Deposit in Czech Koruna's..which are at the rate of 21 CZK to 1 US Dollar. Went grocery shopping at the store across from my dorm..very different products but similar in some ways. Then went to my favorite cafe/bar so far called Care Bar Piccolo. The cappuccino was only 21 CZK or 1 dollar! It was really good. See picture below. Came back to the dorm and asked my new friend Miriam if she wanted to go to Ikea with me. She agreed! She showed me the bus lines to get to Ikea and then helped my shop. My dorm room was very brown and drowned out. It seemed very depressing to me. I had to liven it up! See the before and after pictures! It's quite a change. Very small and cozy with a little kitchen area in the middle and a small bathroom...the sink and shower head are connected...they switch with a turn. So you can reach your toothbrush while in the shower!
Caffe Bar Piccolo...beer, wine, and liquor, expresso, sandwiches My 1st Coffee in CZ (actually Cappuchino)
My dorm room
Went into the center of town today...bus 53 then tram 13....there are so many trams that converge in the center of town! It looked like something out of a movie. A bunch of San Fransisco trolleys all criss crossing each other. There are McDonalds everywhere over here and KFC. I ate at KFC and had the Kentucky Special...the chicken was kinda weird...really small fries were good but they wanted to charge me 6 Krowns for ketchup! Also, you have to pay a bathroom attendant to go to the bathroom! Got a cell phone today with SIM capability. Put the SIM card the International Students Club gave me into the phone and pressed *77 and it was working. I also added minutes....about 500 to my prepaid phone. So glad I have a phone now. The # is (420) 776-3962 ...just a coincidence it looks like a US #. 420 is the country code. So, call me...:) Got some stamps at the post office...they are the kind you have to lick! They are 18 Kc's (Krowns) or almost a dollar a stamp...the conversion rate is 21Kc: 1USD. Am going to send out postcards tomorrow. Went to this really cool store tonight called Tesco and got a lot of essentials: salt and pepper shakers, pot to cook in, sugar bowl, toaster, computer speakers, battery charger..with the European 2 prong outlet...mine wouldn't work even with the converter adapter. Then got some groceries downstairs. They have the best yogurt here! It is so creamy and good. I got jelly....little comforts like that made me happy! Then I had to lug 3 big bags plus my book bag filled with items back to my dorm room! I got these burlap bags to carry them in that smelled like camels....like the potato sacks you used to do relay races in! They don't give bags here either..you have to buy them when you purchase your products.
Oh yeah, last night I went to both of the on campus bars last night...the first bar was very cozy and had a pool table and foo z ball table...i went with my suite mate Miriam from UK and met her French friends. Walked in and the place smelled very musty and like BO! One of the French guys was handsome and dressed really nice...his name was Adrian but has a girlfriend in Russia. So we drank some Czech beer...they were so cheap! Around 19 Krowns or a dollar each and you didn't have to tip! Then after a few we went to the other bar/club with two levels..top level was just a bar and the bottom level was a bar that played techno. We all danced the night away. It was really fun. Woke up this morning with a big hangover and realized it is way to easy to drink here! I am going to slow down and focus on school.
Here a few random pictures:
the European/Czech version of Starbucks: Illy A soccer stadium in Brno....big sport in Brno
.......and most importantly...my imaginary friends who keep me company and make me happy when I am on the computer 24/7!
Aren't my little friends cute?!?!? I got them at Ikea in the children's section....i like the Lion the best right now...what should I name them?*Please put your suggestions on my Blog section!!!!! Thanks for your input. ♥ ~Katy~
the flowers on my desk
My roommate's name is Uka...she is from Mongolia. She doesn't speak much English but she speaks Czech...it's kinda funny that she doesn't speak Mongolian or whatever language of her native tongue. She has family here in Brno and went away for the weekend. She is really sweet and considerate and I like her already. She helped me put my lamp together...i needed a screwdriver, and she just picked up this really big knife we have in our kitchen area and started twisting the screw out! I was worried she might cut herself but she seemed like a pro. She is studying Economics here at Brno. There are supposedly a lot of Mongolian students here. I think she knows more English than she lets on. Regardless, we can communicate with each other what we want. I asked to take her picture when I first moved in and she said "no" she was really shy about it and sure she didn't want her picture taken, so here is a pic of her side of the room..what I see most often...wish I could decorate her side...I like her bedspread but wish she would put up some pictures or something...oh well.
Uka's bed and belongings...i added the rug Uka's desk....and little girl things :)