So, you may be wondering about exactly where I'm going for my service. I know I was pretty curious about this place. One day after I first learned where I was going to be serving, I was enjoying a raspberry frappuccino and the pages of Walden in a Barnes & Noble. While I was reading, my mind began to wander, and I started thinking that it might be a good idea to figure out a little bit about the place where I was going to live for at least 6 months. So I finished the frap and put my book away, and meandered to the Travel section. There I picked up the Lonely Planet book for the Czech Republic, and it really didn't have much good to say about Cesky Tesin. Basically the gist of the entry was that the only reason to be in this town was because one had just arrived from Cieszyn, Poland, or was on one's way there. Hmm.
I didn't see that as a problem, since I've lived in the middle of the United States my whole life, in a state that many see as just a boring, flat piece of land to get through on the way to Colorado. So I actually figured that in that regard, I would feel quite at home in Cesky Tesin. I also learned that Cesky Tesin and Cieszyn were, up until about 1920 and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the same city, with a river running through it. When the empire broke up at the end of WWI and boundary lines were drawn for the new nations, that river was used as the boundary for Poland and, at the time, Czechoslovakia, and so the city was divided in half. Pretty interesting, I thought. This can be seen in the following map. These "twin cities" are located on the far right-hand margin of the map. I know it's not an excellent graphic, but I did what I could. For perspective, the upper right corner of the map is Poland and the lower right corner is Slovakia.
For more information about the Czech Republic (since I've provided SUCH a wealth of knowledge here...), the official website for the nation, www.czech.cz, seems like a pretty helpful and well-informed source :P Another website that I've stumbled upon that I anticipate using extensively is http://www.locallingo.com/index.html It's a pretty good website with all kinds of audio files (RealAudio) that have a native speaker pronouncing all kinds of words and the alphabet and various different pronunciations for the vowels. In short, I'm excited about that, too. And what a blessing that I will be leaving at the end of January instead of at the beginning, so maybe I'll get a chance to teach myself some of the language before I go!