4.30.2016

A Year Abroad : Food Favorites

I've had plans to do this post for a while now, but each time I would think about writing it was somehow always a time when I was hungry. And...this isn't really the type of post a person wants to write when they're hungry but have none of this delicious food to cure their cravings. So, if you're hungry, read with caution. 

I just had a lovely brunch of chocolate chip pancakes with a friend, and I'm quite full, so I'm seizing the opportunity. As my year abroad is coming to an end, I find myself reflecting on all of the different aspects of living and traveling in Central Europe and the U.K. I realized, that one of the aspects I haven't talked very much about is all of the amazing food that I have consumed. 

Living abroad has put me in the unique situation of being able to eat a lot of delicious food while also losing weight at the same time. This will probably never happen again...but at least I will have this blog post to look at in fondness in the future. So, without further rambling, let me introduce you to some of my favorite food experiences from the past year. 

***Disclaimer: I'm not a picky eater by any means, but I'm also not the most adventurous. Some of these may not be the most exciting foods, but I loved them anyway!***


Since Prague has been my home here in Europe, let's begin with the Czech food, shall we? Now...I have to be honest. There isn't a lot of Czech food that is appealing to me. Cabbage and pork knuckle just aren't things that I'm dying to order at a restaurant. However, if you have any sort of appetite for meat and potatoes, you will find dishes that you like.

Chicken steak with peppers, vegetables, and "American" potatoes.
So, technically, my favorite food that I have eaten in the Czech Republic isn't a traditionally Czech food...but the Czech version of it is just delicious. That food is goulash, more specifically, beef goulash with bread dumplings. I have tried several different variations of it here. The main difference is usually how the dumplings are prepared. But, I can honestly say I haven't found a variation that I don't like.

The first meal I ever had in Prague. 
These dumplings have pieces of bacon in them. Be still my heart...literally,, because cholesterol. 
Every Sunday morning, my friends and I go for brunch at Cafe Sladkovsky. It has a really nice atmosphere, and their breakfast food is SO GOOD. And also really affordable, which never hurts. There is nothing that is super special about the foods they serve...it's just typical breakfast food. But, the way they prepare the food is what makes it stand out. It's just so tasty. If you're ever in Prague, I recommend going to Sunday brunch here.

Bacon and eggs from Cafe Sladkovsky. 
Now, I can't write this post without chatting about "street food." When traveling, this is sometimes the easiest route to take, because it's cheap and fast, but still really good. The Christmas markets in Slovakia, Germany, and the Czech Republic were full of more options than you could imagine, so it was pretty mandatory to try something. Plus, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to visit Austria or Germany without trying a sausage.

Ciganska pecienka (Gypsy roast) at the Christmas market in Bratislava. It's basically chicken or pork meat, with onions and mustard served on a bun. 
Bratwurst in Berlin. 
This next food favorite is a bit random, because it's definitely not a meal that would come to mind in relation to Europe. When Shahid and I visited Berlin the first time, we ate at a really good Thai place near the famous Checkpoint Charlie. (I sadly cannot remember the name of the place, or find it on Google...I'm sorry!) Anyway, they have a Checkpoint Charlie sushi roll that is to die for. I never thought I could love sushi, but I loved this. We even went back to get it again on our second trip to Berlin. I'm not kidding when I say I think of this sushi at least once a week.

The Checkpoint Charlie. I would describe it as a fried California roll with a really yummy, sweet sauce. 
To wrap this post up, let's end with some dessert. To put things simply, I have "ice creamed" and "pastried" my way through my travels. Again, I'm not the most adventurous with sweet stuff. I like things plain and simple, yet delicious. I'm still amazed at the amount of pastries around every corner...and the variety! I hope you like sugar.

Chocolate croissant in Vienna. 
Ice cream trio in Prague Old Town. Chocolate, vanilla, and hazelnut. 

Chocolate twist from the supermarket. 
Gelato at Amorino in London. The dulce de leche was AMAZING. 
And...there you have it! Some of my favorite food experiences from the past nine months. The good news is, I still have about six more weeks to add to this list. I'm still on a mission to try the coveted trdlnik ice cream cone. Last time I tried to get one the line was CRAZY, but I think Shahid and I may have to try again when he is here in a few days. I will keep you updated on this venture.

What are some of your favorite foods you have tried while traveling? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

4.29.2016

Giving You the Blue of the Sky


Well, my first venture with teaching English as a second language is officially over.

Today was my final day of teaching with my language schools. I have spent the last five days saying goodbye to my students...who also happen to be really, really, extraordinary people. I have been teaching some of these people for eight months now, and it feels strange to know that I'm never going to walk in and sit down to have a lesson with them again.

Anyone who is a teacher of any type knows that there is so much more to the job than simply "teaching." We may be there to share our knowledge, but we also end up learning in return. Working with Czech students has given me the ability to not only see their language skills improve, but also to learn so much about their culture and their personalities. It's an experience that I will never forget, and I hope it's not the end of my teaching career.

In true Czech fashion, a couple of my students gave me goodbye gifts. One gave me a rose, and one gave me chocolate and a cool notebook. The student who gave me the chocolate is a meteorologist, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that she is one of the most interesting, successful, and strong women that I have ever met.

The chocolate that she gave me was in a blue box. She explained to me that she found one in a blue box on purpose, because she wanted to give it to me and leave me with a Czech proverb. When translated to English, the proverb reads:

"I can't give you much, but I can give you the blue of the sky."

We parted with well wishes to each other, and I was really grateful for the chocolate, but even more grateful for the meaning that accompanied the chocolate. It has left me thinking all day. And here is what I have concluded.

We meet a lot of people throughout our lives...more than we could ever possibly remember the names of. Some leave us with good memories, and some with bad...but regardless of the feelings we associate with them, they are always going to remain in our minds. What if we could give something to each and every person that we encounter? What if we could send them on their way with something that would benefit their life each and every day?

Obviously it would be impossible to leave each person with something material...but I believe that's where this proverb comes in.

We can always leave people with the blue of the sky. We can leave them with wishes of luck, with hope for their futures, and with positive thoughts to reflect on in their daily lives. We can leave them with respect, and kindness, and fondness. We can leave them with reminders of new and exciting times to come.

So, that is how I'm going to view this past year as I prepare to leave Prague. When I depart from this beautiful city in a few short weeks, I will go with fond memories of every person I have met. To everyone I have gotten to know since last summer, whether you are a student, friend, fellow teacher, or acquaintance, I'm leaving you with the bluest of blue skies.

4.10.2016

Numbers


3 : The number of teaching weeks I have left here in Prague. 
8 : The number of weeks I have left of living in the Czech Republic. 
10 : The number of weeks I have until I am back home in Florida. 

Let me be honest...I haven't blogged because these numbers are all I have been able to think about over the past few weeks. I have so many mixed emotions about everything that is happening...about everything that is yet to happen over the next few months. I don't want to leave Europe, but I do. I want to move home, but I don't. I want to be able to forget about all of the things I haven't yet done, and be thankful for the things that I have been fortunate enough to do. 

I want to stop worrying about money, and what type of job I am going to be able to find when I get home. I want to stop being sad when I think about being across an ocean from my boyfriend, and be happy about working towards our future together. I just want my brain to stop for two seconds so that I can enjoy not only the remainder of my time abroad, but also the transition that I know is about to take place. 

I have been avoiding writing because I don't want to come across as selfish or negative when I speak about these things, but I think the reality of traveling and being abroad is this...it changes you, and it makes you feel strongly about where you are in the world. My heart is feeling torn between three different countries...America, where my family and my friends and my comforts are, England, where Shahid is, and the Czech Republic, which I have learned to love despite the struggles I have had since being here. I feel as if I have been struggling to find my place in the world for a long time now, and after spending time abroad, I'm not closer to that, but further from it. 

And, I know this will all change. It's just a matter of being patient, and making the most of any situation that I find myself in. I am so fortunate to be living this life, and I would not trade it for anything...even to ease my confusions. It will all work out in due time. 

Sorry for this crazy rant...I'm trying to get back on track with my posting. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful upcoming week! 
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