A Chatty Thursday (And 4 Things)

It's not even 9pm, but I am so sleepy.

And...I haven't even left my flat today.

Don't judge me though, because I have been really productive. I did my second day of Blogilates (a new venture which I will discuss more at a later time), cleaned, and slowly but surely, I have been going through all of my stuff and purging/attempting to pack. I still don't know how I'm going to get everything home in two suitcases. I keep weeding things out and it still just seems like too much. Plus, I don't want to get ripped off by the airline for my bags being too heavy. So many dilemmas...

Anywho, I feel like writing something a bit fun today, that also doesn't require too much work on my brain's part. I saw this "survey" go around a few weeks ago and thought it was interesting. So, I'm going to do it today. Introducing, the "4 Things Tag."

Four names that people call me other than your real name:
1. Randa
2. Randy
3. Rand'r
4. Randa Pooh (Childhood nicknames die hard...or just never die.)

Four places I've lived:
1. Old Town, Florida
2. Gainesville, Florida
3. Tallahassee, Florida
4. Prague, Czech Republic

Four jobs I've had:
1. Assistant Retail Manager
2. Research Assistant
3. Customer Service Representative
4. English Teacher

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Spaghetti
2. Mushroom Swiss burgers
3. French fries
4. Chocolate chip cookies

Four things I prefer not to eat:
1. Raisins
2. Sweet potatoes
3. Fried chicken (on the bone)
4. Raisins (I hate them enough to mention them twice.)

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Any beach
2. In England (And I will be in less than two weeks!)
3. Watching a movie at the cinema
4. Spending time with my family

Four movies I've watched more than once:
1. The Phantom of the Opera
2. Titanic
3. The Princess Bride
4. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Four books I'd recommend:
1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (This is obviously a series, but I'm going to count it as one.)
2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Four places I've visited: 
1. London, England
2. Berlin, Germany
3. Vienna, Austria
4. Bratislava, Slovakia

Four TV shows I watch/watched:
1. Sex and the City
2. Scrubs
3. Orange is the New Black
4. The Big Bang Theory

Four things I'm looking forward to this year:
1. Seeing Mumford and Sons (tomorrow!) and Coldplay next month!
2. Being back in Florida with my friends and family.
3. Finding a new job (teaching, hopefully) and getting back on my feet financially.
4. More traveling!

Do we have anything in common? What are some of your "4 things?"


This One's for the Prague Squad

Pretty sure this was the first squad pic ever. 
I've never been very good at making friends. 

It's not because I'm not "friendly." I would consider myself a very approachable person. However, I am a very approachable person who has social anxiety, and a severe case of "introvertedness."

As a result of this, I've never had a giant social circle. Throughout my life, in each new chapter/situation, I have tended to make one or two really close friends. This doesn't mean that I am rude to other people by any means...I'm just more an "acquaintance." Do I wish I was more outgoing sometimes? Of course. But, I am who I am...and that's okay. 

This is one reason that moving abroad last summer was a huge leap for me. I was leaving everyone I was familiar with, to come to a place where I knew absolutely no one. And, I'm really glad I did, because I have met a lot of really amazing people here in Prague, from my trainers and classmates on my TEFL course, to my colleagues and students during my teaching months. 

My closest friendships though, came in the form of the Prague Squad. Jess was my flatmate during the TEFL course, and Ephram was my best TEFL friend/flatmate for the rest of my time in Prague. After TEFL, the three of us started spending a lot of time together, and thus, the "Prague Squad" was formed. 

You can't tell, but this was taken in front of a building that I'm almost positive was haunted. 
We are three very different personalities, but I think our differences are the reason that we were able to have so many laughs. The past 11 months have been filled with countless travel mishaps, nights at "headquarters," and inside jokes. Without these two, I would not have some of my favorite Prague memories. 

Last night was our final rendezvous with the three of us together. Ephram left for Greece this morning, and I am leaving to move back home to Florida before he returns. It was a pretty bittersweet realization. But, we know that this is not the end. There will be future reunions in Europe...somehow, somewhere!

So, this post is a thank you to you, Prague Squad. Thank you for both being such great friends! You have been such a key part of my year here in Prague. I look forward to seeing what we all accomplish before we meet again. I "lo v" you both. 


You're Always More than You Think

Public Service Announcement: Leaving the Czech Republic is just as complicated as getting into the Czech Republic. 

Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that either process is complicated...more like time consuming. If you want to do things legally, there are a lot of steps to take, a lot of people to talk to (or use a translator to talk to), and a lot of paperwork to complete. This has been my life for the past week. 

My Visa expired on Wednesday, so I had to go to the foreign police to get a stamp in my passport to show that I am re-starting my tourist Visa, since I will be here for a couple of more weeks. That was about a three hour adventure. Earlier in the week I also had to go un-register with the social office. Everything is taken care of in terms of leaving my schools, FINALLY. Now I just have to un-register with the financial office, cancel my Czech phone plan, cancel my Czech bank account, pay off any outstanding balances on my bills here, and...PACK. 

When I moved here last summer, I came with one large suitcase, a backpack, and a small duffel bag. I have since accumulated a medium sized suitcase, and bought a few things, so I'm really hoping that I can comfortably get everything back to Florida in two suitcases. I'm about 99% sure this is doable. I guess we will see as the packing process ensues. 

I went through all of my teaching supplies and important paperwork today. I trashed a good majority of the stuff, but there are a few things that I want to keep. I have also accumulated a pile of bits and bobs...bus and plane tickets, city maps, receipts from different experiences, etc. I sorted through it today as well, and decided to keep most of it. Because, hello...scrapbooks and collages are in the near-ish future. 

Something I have been beating myself up over lately is the thought that I feel like I haven't done enough while I have been in Europe. Sure, I have visited five new countries, saw a lot of things, and learned even more, but I'm still left asking...was it enough? I have no doubt that there is plenty of traveling in my future, but did I take full advantage of this experience? 

This question has popped up daily, but when I step back to really take a look at the situation, the answer is a resounding yes. Yes, I have taken full advantage. Did I get to do everything I wanted to do? Definitely not. But, with the time, finances, and position I was given...I did pretty darn well. Especially considering that this is the first opportunity I have had to feed my desire for European travel. I worked hard to be able to have this experience, and even though it hasn't ended in exactly the way I was hoping it would...I refuse to dwell on the "what if's?"

Constantly thinking that we could have done something better or different is a huge downfall of our nature as human beings. At least...I think it is. Why? Because doubts way too often interfere with our ability to appreciate and enjoy our lives. Sure...there is probably always something that we could do better, or differently, but things happen in the way that they do for a reason. 

We are always more than we think we are. Situations are not always going to meet our perfect expectations, but that does not mean that we are failures. Every day is a new adventure. When we wake up each morning, we don't wake up knowing exactly what successes or or disasters we will face. We learn as we go. We handle life as it comes. And the fact that we handle it...that is proof enough that we are more than our minds lead us to believe. 

Going through these mementos that I have accumulated over the past year made me realize that. I have done so much more than I ever thought I would. I myself am more than I think I am. And you, you are too. I encourage you to take a second to appreciate that about yourself. 

Happy Friday! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!


Lately in Photos

I'm a big fan of Instagram, and if you are also a big fan of Instagram you have probably noticed the new changes that have been made to the presentation of the app. I think I like it. What do you think?

With Instagram in mind, I thought I would keep things simple around here today and share some of my recent favorite moments that have been captured through photograph. Some great memories have been made, and I'm so thankful that they are mine! Please let me know what some of your recent favorite moments are in the comments below! 

//Spring trips to Prague Castle are the best trips to Prague Castle.
//I received some mail from home this week, complete with a photo of some adorable, spoiled dogs.
//I never tire of views of red rooftops. 
//Blue skies work magic on the mood. 
//I finally tried the infamous trdelnik ice cream cone. It was disgusting. (JK.)
//I was able to see a Czech performance of The Phantom of the Opera. It was fantastic!
//Prague is full of so many beautiful blooms.
//Shakespeare and Sons will probably always be one of my favorite bookstores in the world. 
//Matching sunglasses for the win.


5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Free Time

As you may or may not know, Friday was my last day of teaching. Well...for the most part. I still have two private students that I will have lessons with over the next couple of weeks, but two 90 minute lessons per week can hardly be considered strenuous. 

As you also may or may not know, I'm not leaving Europe to return to Florida until mid-June. When I tell people this, they always ask me the same question:

What are you doing to do with yourself for a month and a half?

Sometimes we can be so afraid of free time. We think free time equals laziness, and life wasting. This is a thought that I struggle with as well. Summer vacations in high school were honestly the last time I had more than a few days away from school or work. That's why I plan to make the most of this spare time...here in Europe, and when I return home to Florida. (Because honestly, I will probably take the remainder of the summer to readjust, job hunt, and work on my mental health.)

With all of this in mind, I decided to make a list of things that I want to do during the next couple of months. I feel like I have created a good balance of activities, so I thought I would share. I hope that anyone who finds themselves with some extra time, whether it's a few days or a couple of months, will find some inspiration and encouragement in these goals. 

1. Take care of "back burner" tasks. 
We all have things that we need to do that aren't necessarily priorities. Maybe you want to clean out your house and take some things to the donation center. Maybe you need to file away that growing stack of mail. Maybe you need to organize your email inbox. 

Before I leave Prague, I need to donate clothes (that are either too big, or too warm to take home to Florida), and go through all of my teaching materials to decide what to trash and what to keep. Do I want to spend time doing these things? No. But, will I do them? Yes. 

If we place our focus on a project, it can be completed in a matter of hours. Then, you can spend the rest of your free time with the satisfaction of knowing you accomplished something you have been putting off. It's a win-win situation. 

2. Exercise.
Since I have been in Europe, my energy levels have been so much higher. I think it's probably because I typically walk 4-5 miles a day, and I participate in much more physical activity than I was at home. I want to take that to the next level by attempting to go for jogs in the morning and teaching myself some toning exercises. I want to solidify these habits so that I can carry them home with me. 

Free time does not always have to be spent on the couch with Netflix and a bowl of popcorn. Put on some workout clothes and break a sweat. Tire yourself out, and then come home and shower and put on your favorite show. Couch time is so much better when you feel like you have earned it. 

3. Hobbies, hobbies, hobbies. 
You know those things that you would always rather be doing when you are at work or school? Well...that's what free time is for! What are your favorite things in the world? 

I plan to get A LOT of reading and writing done this summer. I'm making it a goal to blog most days, and to maybe even finish writing my novel, because guess what? I have the time! 

Decide what you want to do, and do it. Cook. Dance. Hike. Paint. Sing. Create or produce something. This is the time. 

4. Explore. 
I think one of the best things a person can do for their mood is getting out of the house. There is a beautiful world out there. Go see it! 

If you are in the position to, travel to a place you have always wanted to go. Take a road trip. Get on a plane. Heck, even if this is not financially feasible for you, go discover something new in your own back yard. 

I am planning to take full advantage of my remaining time in Prague. I'm going to re-visit favorite places and find new ones. I'm going to see Mumford and Sons in a couple of weeks, and Phantom of the Opera this Friday. I'm then heading over to England to spend two weeks there before I step onto a plane back to the U.S. 

The moral of the story is...it doesn't matter where you go or what you do...just experience something new. Make some memories. Breathe some fresh air. 

5. Invest in the people you love. 
Life is busy, and the victims of our busyness are typically those who are the closest to us. When we are going through the stresses and routines of our every day lives, we often forget to remind our friends and family how much we appreciate and care about them. It's sad but it's true. 

Take advantage of a freer schedule and spend time with the people you love. Have a conversation. Treat them to lunch. If their far away, give them a phone call or write them a heartfelt letter. Give them the love and attention that is so often tucked away into the forgotten corners of your heart. 

As a final thought, I of course believe that there is nothing wrong with relaxing and being lazy every now and then. However, I'm almost certain that there is no way to go wrong when you are balancing relaxation with the things above. Let's change the way we view our free time, so that we can enjoy it before we get back to work. 

Have I missed anything? What do you like to do when you have free time?


Drunk Stalkers, Dead Rats, and Disregarding the Rules [Travel Talk]

I was looking back at some of my posts from my travels from this past year and I noticed a trend. 

For the most part, those posts only talk about the positive aspects of the trips. And, while they are obviously fun and memorable trips that I will never forget...no period of travel goes perfectly according to plan. So I thought, why not start sharing some of the less picturesque (and often funny) moments from my travels? 

I thought the perfect trip to begin this little series of not so glamorous travel experiences would be November 2015's trip to Plzen, Czech Republic. Let's get into it. 

P.S. Thanks to Ephram for letting me use his photos for this post!

Something that I did mention in my previous Plzen post is that we actually missed our bus due to being at the wrong bus station in Prague. Although it was an issue that was pretty easily resolved, it was still stressful. And...little did we know that the occurrence was just the first of many downfalls that would come along during the trip. 

When we arrived in Plzen, it was dark. Not only was it dark, but we had no idea how to get to our hostel. Luckily, Google Maps helped with that, and we were soon walking in the direction of our accomodation. 

Now, Plzen is a beautiful little city. However, like any place you visit, there are always areas that aren't so lovely to look at. So, while the hostel was the best one I have stayed at in Europe so far, the area that it was in was just a bit scary. It was also about a 15 minute walk from the center of town, and as we would make this walk to and from the hostel, we would always encounter three things:

*The very questionable looking bar/club across the street
*An abandoned building that was definitely haunted 
*And a giant dead rat next to the most frightening hideaway hole in existence

Just in case you didn't believe me. 
And yes, the rat remained there for the entire three days. 

After checking into the hostel on our first night, we went out in search of drinks...specifically beer, because as I mentioned in my last post, Plzen is popular because it is the location of the Pilsner Urquell brewery. The first place we went to was a restaurant/pub. Jess went to the washroom at one point, and when she returned she told us about a drunk guy at the bar that tried to talk to her. A little while later, Ephram went to the washroom, and he told us the same thing when he came back. 

We made a few jokes about how he just wanted a friend to talk to, finished our beer, paid, and left. Outside of the pub, we had walked about 10 feet when we noticed a man staggering towards us. Ephram and Jess both recognized him as the man that had just tried to talk to them in the restaurant. He tried to speak to us, and he was so drunk that we could not even determine what language he was speaking. 

Usually, the rule goes, if someone drunk is harassing you...you ignore them and they will go away. So, that's what we did. The problem was though...he didn't go away. 

He followed us. He continued talking and yelling. He would get unnecessarily close to us and even try to grab our arms. At this point Ephram was even yelling at him to go away, and he just wouldn't. This probably went on for a solid 10-15 minutes. Ephram finally got right in his face and yelled at him to get lost, and then we booked it and managed to lose him. 

We were really paranoid after that, looking around corners and avoiding the area we had lost him in. After another drink though, we were able to laugh about it. We even decided to give him a nickname...Germaine. Then we proceeded to joke about how Germaine was going to be hiding in the loft of our hostel room when we returned. (Unfortunately, I was the one sleeping in the loft so it wasn't too funny when the lights went out.)

Sadly...I don't have a picture of Germaine. But here is a beer in his memory. 
Let's fast forward to the next day. I also mentioned in my Plzen post that the main reason we went was to experience a beer bath. We were able to reach most places in Plzen by walking, but the spa that we were going to for the beer bath was quite a distance away. Therefore, public transportation had to come into the picture. 

A quick piece of information: most European cities have really great public transport options. For example, in Prague, we have the metro, trams and buses. Some parts of Plzen had trams, but they also had what we deemed a "bram," because it looked like a cross between a tram and a bus. 

Another quick piece of information: Public transport is not free. It's cheap, but not free. And, if you get caught on transportation without a ticket, you get a fine. 

All three of us have unlimited monthly transportation passes for Prague. However, when we were getting ready to head to the beer spa, we couldn't figure out how to buy tickets for the transport in Plzen. Jess suggested that we just ride the bram without buying them. She pointed out that the city was small, so we would probably not get checked. 

Ephram and I agreed with this, and we did manage to make it all the way to the beer spa without a ticket. We had our bath, relaxed in the spa, and left feeling rejuvenated. On the walk back to the bram stop, we continued to speak about how rejuvenated and relaxed we all felt. 

We were two stops from where we were planning to get off, and two young blonde women enter the bram through the door that we were all standing closest to. We thought nothing of them until they pulled out their badges and asked to see our transportation tickets. All three of us exchanged a wide-eyed look because we were obviously (and knowingly) not following the rules. We then quickly formulated what we were hoping would be a well-executed plan. 

We whipped out our Prague transportation passes and showed them to the women. 

They looked a bit confused and thoroughly inspected the passes. We were all still looking at each other wondering if we would get away with our crime. It seemed possible until...

"These are tickets for the city of Prague," Blonde Woman #1 told us. 

It's this point in the story that we decided to play the tourist card.

"Oh, you mean those aren't good for the ENTIRE Czech Republic? We thought they were!"

Unfortunately, they didn't fall for our tricks. We each proceeded to pay a 500 crown penalty (which is only about $20, but still a lot when you're on an English teacher's salary!), and we were then given lovely pink ticket slips. The woman who wrote our tickets smiled at us and left us with a kind "Welcome to Plzen!"

Paying for our crimes. 
The End. 

© My Restless Soul. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.