The Czechmate Diary…


Burty Cravings / Burtova Manie May 25, 2007

Filed under: Stories — Tanja @ 5:16 am

burty031.jpg Not long ago I was really craving “burty” (Czech type of a sausage). Yet I felt like the mean sister from a famous Czech fairytale called “The Twelve Months” (O Dvanacti Mesickach), where an ugly lady in the middle of a snow storm ordered a bowl of fresh-cut strawberries: where was I going to get Burty in America?? And what tool am I going to use to bake them above the fire? (You may ask why coudn’t I just broil them in the oven…. It doesn’t taste the same!) After a long thinking session I solved both problems. Instead of the real Burty I bought a Polish Kielbasa (it really tastes almost the same) and I used straightened out wire hangers as a roasting tool. The only thing left was to find a good loaf of REAL bread. The only thing that came closest to what I wanted was this group of breads called “rustic breads”. Despite the fact that the weather outside was getting pretty warm I asked my husband to make a fire in our living-room fireplace. Meanwhile I myself started to prepare my “burty”. Now, any true Czech knows that the correct preparation of Burty truly is an art: the more cuts into the Burt one makes, the crispier and yummier it will be. –>



10 things in the Czech Republic that are better than in America (part II) May 15, 2007

Filed under: Stories — Tanja @ 8:54 pm

• NO all-you-can-eat buffets (Getting fat!!! Hallo!!)
• Quality of bread
• Daily exercise consists of more than just pressing your foot on a gas pedal
• architecture has much more personality
• Public transportation is not used just  by homeless people and ex-cons
• Fruit and vegetables taste REAL (not like the weird, tasteless, waxy-looking stuff that is available in the US grocery stores)

• Not everyone is suing everyone for everything
• Burty ( type of kielbasa)
• Universtal public acceptance of beauty of Svickova and Vepro, Knedlo, Zelo
• Visiting another country doesn’t actally take 10 hours of flying

 Do you have anything to add?? Leave a comment!


10 things in America that are better than the Czech Republic (part I) May 14, 2007

Filed under: Stories — Tanja @ 5:58 am

• All-you-can-eat buffets (I still can’t believe it!!)
• cheap clothing (love Target)
• People’s positive attitude
• Bridal/baby showers
• Option of going to school until you are 100 years old
• Free water and bread in restaurants
• Food to go
• Free soda refills
• Widespread use of deodorants
• Teachers at school actually build you up rather than tear you down

What do you think??


Not Every beach Has the Same Waves / Neni More Jako More May 4, 2007

Filed under: Stories — Tanja @ 10:44 pm

Go to fullsize image    When I came to the United States (only 18 years old), my major concern was how to find new friends. At that time I didn’t even consider it a “concern” because I assumed that the task should be accomplished pretty easily. I will just go down to the beach and meet someone that way. That’s the way it  works in Mediterranean Italy, right? One always ends up chasing some Italians away who – after only five minutes of conversation –  with their words “I lov ju bellissima”  are promising you marriage. That’s why the next day after the arrival I let myself get dropped off at the local beach. After an hour of reading I started feeling a little restless. That is why I decided to put my book down and actually looked around ( I normally don’t like to do that since I am sending signals that I am bored and in need of a company, which I am usually not interested in). The beach was just swarming with young people – so that wasn’t the problem. So I put my sandals on and thought to myself (quite upset already) that if I start walking then I must meet someone that way (that was my plan C – my final plan). As I was walking I even forced myself to smile at the people and — NOTHING HAPPENED!!! “Now I know why this is happening”, I thought to myself “because it’s Wednesday! If it was the weekend than I would meet someone in a sec!”



Problem of Critical Thinking April 23, 2007

Filed under: Stories — Tanja @ 12:29 am

  Image Preview   Problem of Critical Thinking 

Yesterday I was thinking about my old school days. When I joined the
US school system I got introduced to the concept of “critical thinking” in one of my ESL (English as a second language) classes. Here I was, a graduate from a very difficult gymnasium (high school for nerdy kids who usually want to become – or rather their parents want them to become – lawyers, doctors and researchers) with a four-year background in chemistry, philosophy and Latin I found myself completely dumb-founded with that concept. The only thing that appeared in my head while trying to “think critically” was….nothing….just a picture of a white-painted wall….no neuron firing happening whatsoever.

What I am trying to get across here is the Czech school system – according to my opinion – did make us memorize millions and millions of pages of facts in any kind of subject imaginable  but did not teach us how to critically think; how to hold on to a solid argument that’s supported by strong logical facts and thoughts. What I brought from my high school experience in the
Czech Republic was a solid set of cheat sheet inventions. What I learned in the
US schools was to know where to look up the needed information but must importantly, how to logically think for myself. The beginnings of this thinking process were very hard (and to this day still are challenging sometimes). I had to develop a completely new part of my brain that was lying under the cobwebs for almost twenty years!!



Problem kritickeho premysleni

Tak jsem vcera premyslela o mych skolackych dnech. Kdyz jsem nastoupila na americkou universitu, tak jedna z prvnich veci, ktere mi byly predstaveny  byl  koncept kritickeho smysleni. I kdyz jsem sravila dosti brutalni roky gymnazijniho studia sudiem premetu jako byla
latina, filosofie a chemie, koncept kritickeho mysleni mi nerikal vubec nic. Jedine co se mi mihalo v mozku pri pokusu “premysleni kriticky” bylo, jak bych to rekla…..NIC….mela jsem v mozku proste vybileno…..nervove synapse se ani nepohly.

Co se tu snazim naznacit je, ze cesky skolni system – podle meho hazoru – nas donutil zapamatovat si tisice faktu ve forme dat, rovnic, a slovicek, ale nenaucil nas, jak kriticky smyslet – jak logicky debatovat. Co jsem se na mem gymnaziu naucila bylo vynalezani roztodivnych tahaku; v Americe jsem se naucila jak si jakoukoliv informaci bez problemu najit (aniz bych si ji musela zapamatovat). Ale co bylo nejdulezitejsi je, ze jsem si osvojila, jak logicky premyslet a debatovat ( to zdaleka neznamena, ze jsem v tom profik). Zacatky byly tezke….. Musela jsem ozivit cast meho mozku, kterou jsem nepouzila po dobu skoro dvaceti let!


Land of Milk and Honey April 16, 2007

Filed under: Stories — Tanja @ 5:01 am

milk-picture.jpg   One of the beauties of being a foreigner in a completely new country is the incredible varieties of food that you have never eaten before! For me it was such things as avocado, papaya, mango, peanut butter, broccoli, smores (Whoever came up with that one??!!) and the list goes on….I also took on liking the American “milk”. Yes, the box did say something about “Half-and-half” but how would I have known what that meant?? The fridge also offered an option of “Non-fat milk” but I wasn’t planning on poisoning myself with that weird substance. So for about a month I kept putting this “milk” not only into my cups of coffee but also into my cereal and was drinking it by the glass anytime I felt like a cold glass of milk. And every time I tasted that “milk” I thought to myself: “This is
America! this is what everyone was talking about….even the milk tastes so much better here than in Czech!”

About a month later I started to realize that I had been suspiciously gaining weight. I kept blaming it on the lack of movement ( In
Prague one would daily run/walk about 5 miles just by trying to catch the bus or a tram on time). Well, finally my host mother caught me gulping down my daily glass of “milk” one day and proceeded to enlighten me on the situation. I was quite embarrassed, I have to say. So during the next grocery shopping we bought real (WHOLE) milk and a week later I was 15 pounds lighter.