May 28, 2013

Reunion

Tak mam pas zase doma. Skutecne to tento rok trvalo tech 5 dnu od navstevy ambasady v Praze. Alespon toto je plne doreseno a muzu to uzavrit :-) Nedovedu si, ale predstavit, ze by se to vsechno takto stihlo kdybych neuhanela agenturu. Pouceni pro priste - byt aktivni a porad je otravovat. Cim vetsi agentura tim vetsi zmatek a ani to, ze se na dany program specializuji nepomuze v hladkem prubehu...
Ubytovani se nam taky nejak houpe... aneb milovymi kroky k nedelnimu odjezdu :-)

So I got my passport back home. It really took 5 days since my embassy appointment in Prague. At least I can close this chapter :-) I can't imagine that everything would went so smooth if I wouldn't urgent the agency. What I have learnt is that you have to stay active and communicate with them every single step. Bigger agency equals bigger mess. It even doesn't help if the agency specializes in that program ...
Our housing situation is moving slowly forward as well ... getting closer to my Sunday's departure :-)

May 26, 2013

'Your visa has been approved'

Odlet se nezadrzitelne blizi kazdym dnem, hodinou, minutou, sekundou. Zpatky na predvolbu 415 se tesim neskutecne :-) Co mam vyreseno a co zbyva?

1. Viza - tento tyden jsem byla Americke ambasade v Praze na pohovoru kvuli J1 Work&Travel vizu. Sice jsem v poslednim rocniku, ale vizum mi bylo po par otazkach schvaleno. Pohledny pan konzul po me chtel vedet:
  • Kam letim: Tiburon, CA
  • Zda-li jsem uz tam byla posledne: Ano
  • Co studuji: Informacni systemy
  • Ve kterem rocniku a kterou univerzitu: VSB, magistersky druhy rocnik
Tod vse. Jednoduchy pohovor v anglictine. Byl velice mily ;-) Na ambasade byla, ale fronta jako blazen, a tak jsem se musela predbehnout, abych stihla vlak domu. Bylo to o fous, ale stihla jsem to vsechno.
Na ambasade si zase nechali muj pas. Dle svych smernic na to maji 2 tydny, aby mi byl dorucen. Maji ted, ale fofry s blizicimi se odlety studentu, a tak davaji nejenom extra terminy pohovoru na vyzadani, ale take prislibuji doruceni do 4-5 pracovnich dnu. Ocekavam svuj pas tedy v pondeli nebo utery. Jinak budu zase nervozni :D
2. Pojisteni - mam v ramci agentury Czech-us hrazeno po dobu trvani J1 viza. Tedy do doby kdy jsem legalne opravnena pracovat na uzemi USA. Pokud chci pak jeste cestovat v ramci grace period nebo ESTA musim si pojisteni hradit sama. Normalne stoji pojisteni v tomto programu 1€/den, tak to neni strasne a je to zahrnuto v programovem poplatku, ktery cinil $399. Na cestovani se budu muset poohlednout bud u Generali (u te se pojistuji nejcasteji diky skvelym akcim a vybornym limitum) nebo AXA (byla mi doporucena a mam kupon na 55% slevu).
3. Letenka - tak jako loni vyhrala Lufthansa. Po fiasku, ktere jsem tehdy utrpela s LOT (muj prvni rocnik Work&Travel) jsem se zarekla, ze jiz nikdy vice :D do USA s LOT. Zatim to plnim. Jako spravny vasnivy cestovatel jsem letecke spolecnosti dlouho zvazovala a hledala kombinace, ktere by mi ukazaly neco noveho. Rozumejte pres Frankfurt a Mnichov jsem letela loni. Pokukovala jsem po Amsterdamu a Zurichu, ale ceny a casy byly krajne nevyhodne, protoze cestujeme dve. Tudiz jsem slevila ze svych naroku a alespon pro cestu zpet si dobrovolne pridala prestup ve Washington DC na hodinku. Vse negativni je k necemu dobre, a tak budu mit dostatek casu na spravny duty free shopping ve Frankfurtu pri ceste tam a Washingtonu pri ceste zpatky ;-)
4. Zavazadla - dostavame se pomalu k vecem, ktere jeste nejsou uplne dopilovany. Veci, ktere si chci vzit sebou mam sepsany ve vecnem seznamu - uz asi 3 roky pouzivam jeden diar :D Pripisuju a prepisuju. Nezalezi mi totiz na datech, ale na poznamkach, a tak kde je volno neco pripisu. Svete div se ja se v tom vyznam :-) Jednou ze soucasti je i seznam veci na cestovani - pokazde ho updatuju a doplnuju. Timpadem je to ten nejvychytanejsi seznam na svete. Pokazde se pousmeju nad nekterou polozkou, kdyz si vzpomenu na prihodu diky ktere se na seznamu ta vec objevila! Nicmene uz asi mesic davam veci dohromady na stul a pred dnem odletu akorat pridam nejake to obleceni a bude to.
5. Status student - diky tomu, ze jsem v poslednim rocniku mela bych dnem uspesneho vykonani statnic prijit o status studenta. Bohuzel jsem v dubnu neuspela u zkousky a byla na poslednim pokusu tento tyden. Kdyz to dopadne pozitivne pujdu ke statnicim v zari a jsem kryta po cely program Work&Travel. Tohle je pozitivum, protoze jakmile nemate status studenta musite zacit resit pracovni urad a placeni zdravotniho a socialniho pojisteni. Mam to na seznamu ke zjisteni, protoze me to bude trapit pokud pojedu i do Kanady od listopadu na Working Holiday.
6. Dokumentace - vsechno nekolikrat okopirovat - od pasu, pres viza, smlouvy - proste vsechno. Mnohdy je to zbytecne, a tak se kodrcam s extra kilem papiru v kufru, kabelce a pamalu i v kapse. Jsem hold radeji opatrna. Zalohuju i oskenovane kopie na Google Drive nebo dropbox.
7. Skola - totalne nedoresena vec na kterou cekam a svira se mi z toho zaludek. No tak jsem v pataku to preci nejde :D
8. Ubytovani - bud budu bydlet tam kde loni nebo si najdu neco blize praci. Popravde receno jsem se zamilovala do predstavy bydlet primo v Tiburonu. Ani ne tak kvuli tomu prostredi (v Sausalitu je taky hezky), ale mela bych to o dost jednodussi a komplexnejsi. Po lonsku mam oblast vcelku zmapovanou a jedine co potrebuju sem tam do samoobsluhy (Safeway), ale mnohem casteji do Bloomingdales v San Francisku. Z Tiburonu by to slo lepe - sice z vetsim usilim po svych nebo na kole, ale o to mi prave jde - se hybat a ne vsude autobusem, popr. autem ;-)
9. Staz na Working Holiday - tu jsem si slibila resit az budu mit vyresenou skolu, ale myslim na to!
10. ... pokracovani priste.

Departure is fast approaching day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. I can't wait to be back with the 415 area code :-) What's solved and what remains?

1. Visa - this week I was at the U.S. Embassy in Prague at the interview because of the J1 Work & Travel visa. Well I'm in my last school year, but my visa was after a few questions approved. The handsome Mr. Consul asked me these questions:

  • Where am I going: Tiburon, CA
  • Whether I was already there last year: Yes
  • What do I study: Information Systems
  • In which year and which university: Technical University, Master's sophomore year
That's it. A simple interview in English. He was very pleasant ;-) The embassy was pretty crowded, so I had to outrun  the queue to catch a train. It was a close call, but I managed it all.
I had to leave my passport back at the embassy again. According to their directives they have 2 weeks to deliver it back to me. They have now a little rush of pending departures of students, thus giving not only the extra dates  to request an interview, but also promises shipping within 4-5 working days. I expect my passport on Monday, or Tuesday. Otherwise I'll be nervous again :D
2. Insurance - I have one within the agency Czech-us paid for the duration of J1 visa. That's the time when I'm legally entitled to work in the USA. If I then still want to travel within the grace period or ESTA I have to pay the insured by myself. Normally it costs under the program around 1 € / day, so it is not thet terrible, and it is included in the program fee, which was $399. For my travels I will have to look either at Generali or AXA.
3. Airfare - Lufthansa again. After the fiasco that I had suffered with LOT (my first year of Work & Travel) I swore that never again :D to the USA with LOT. So far I'm sticking with it. As a passionate traveler, I have long considered Airlines and been looking for a combination that would show me something new. Via Frankfurt and Munich I flew already last year. I had Amsterdam and Zurich on my mind, but prices and times were extremely disadvantageous as I don't travel alone. So I compromised to my standards and at least for the return journey I voluntarily added a transfer  flight in Washington DC for an hour. All negative is good for something, so I'll have enough time to for duty free shopping in Frankfurt the way there and Washington DC on the way home ;-)
4. Luggage - we are moving slowly to things that are not quite set up yet. Things that I want to take with me are listed in my eternal list - for about three years I'm using one diary :D Constantly rewriting the lines. It does not matter what happened on each day, but the notes matter. So wherever I have a little bit space I'm adding my notes. I'm still keeping strack with every single one :-) One of the main things in my diary is a list of things important for my travels - I update this list every time. That means: It's the best list of things in the world. Each time I look at all the items I smile because I remember why and how they ended up on the list! Nevertheless, I'm collecting things for my big trip for almost a month already. So right before departure I'm just going to add some clothes and that's it.
5. Status student - because I'm in the last year I should lose my student status with my final exams. Unfortunately, I failed the exam in April and tried it once again this week. If it turns out positively'll go to the state exams in September. So I'm going to be covered for the whole Work & Travel.
6. Documentation - everything copied several times - from passport, over visas to contracts - everything. Often it is useless and so I travel with extra weight in every single luggage. I also do a back up to Google Drive or Dropbox. 
7. Schools- this is a totally unresolved thing. 
8. Accommodation - either I'm going to live in the same apartment complex as last year or we find something closer to work. In fact, I fell in love with the idea of ​​staying directly in Tiburon. Not so much because of the environment (in Sausalito it's also nice), but it should be a lot easier and more comprehensive. After last year I have the whole area mapped, and all I need is the supermarket (Safeway) and sometimes Bloomingdales in San Francisco. Tiburon would be better!
9. Traineeship for Working Holiday - I'm going to work on that after my school is all set up!
10. ... To be continued.

May 16, 2013

Hatrick

Takze pristi tyden si jedu na americkou ambasadu v Praze pro posledni Work&Travel vizum. Formulare mam vsechny vyplneny na posledni chvili diky agenture Czech-us, ktera to letos nejak nezvladla a misto 4 tydnu jim to trvalo dvojnasobek. A to se jeste chovaji jako lazo plazo. Muj obdiv ma samotna ambasada za pristup k vznikle situaci, kdy ma naval studentu, kteri diky cekani na formular DS2019 (formular diky, kteremu je vam vydano vizum J1) resi pohovor na ambasade na posledni chvili. Proste napisi email o prebookovani pohovoru, protoze uz ted je kalendar navstev az do pulky cervna plny a oni vam vyhovi a jeste ke vsemu takovym milym zpusobem :-) No fakt ode me maji 5 hvezdicek z 5. Takze jsem zvedava zda se i ve stejnem duchu ponese samotny pohovor a vydani viza.
Muj odlet je planovany na 3.6.2013. Kdyz to porovnam s ostanima rocnikama, tak se drzim plus/minus jeden den porad kolem stejneho odletu. je to az k nevire, ze uz jedu po treti! Coz je doporuceni samo o sobe ne? Jestli mate moznost - jedte taky! Cely pobyt splyne v jedno, protoze sice pracujete nekdy do uplneho vycerpani (@workoholici), ale na druhou stranu jste v uplne jinem prostredi. Nejistota a strach prave z tohoto zmizi jakmile vysednete z letadla. Proste se hodite do vody (za oceanem) a placat se nejde.  Proste vam to vase osobnost nedovoli. Zabrednete do kolobehu vydelavani zelenych papirku ($$$), placeni najmu a planovani vyletu. Kde je hacek? V navratu :D Vratite se domu (ani vas nenapadne se navratit, protoze to berete jako soucast hry) a sednete na zadek :D

So next week I'm going to the American Embassy in Prague for the last Work & Travel visa. Forms are all filled in at the last minute thanks to my agency Czech-us, which did not manage it this year, instead of 4 weeks it took them twice. And still behave like nothing bad happened. My admiration alone has the embassy how they are dealing with this situation - being flooded with students who, because of waiting on Form DS2019 (you need this form to get a J1 visa) are trying to get an interview at the embassy at the last minute. You just write them an email to kindly change the appointment date because the calendar is fully booked. The answer is quick and very polite/positive :-) So they are getting 5 stars out of 5. I'm curious if they can keep the score at the interview and when they issue my visa.
My departure is scheduled for June 3, 2013. When compared to the years, I'm keeping the departure date plus/minus a day the same. It is hard to believe that I'm going for the third time! Which speaks for itself  doesn't it? If you have the possibility - go too! The full program is going to merge into one, because sometimes you have to work until full exhaustion (@workaholics), but on the other hand you are in a completely different environment. Uncertainty and fear will disappear once you get out of the plane. You are going to be thrown into the water (the ocean) and can't behave like a crybaby. Your personality won't allow it. You find yourself in the cycle of making green money ($$$), paying the rent and trip planning. Where's the catch? In the return :D You go home (that's completely natural to you, because it's part of the game) and you won't believe where you ended up :D


Embassy confirmation - version 2013

May 8, 2013

Lysa Hora, Czech Republic

8. 5. 2013 - 30.090 steps; 22,27 km; 1.429 cal

Pred par hodinami jsme se vratili z vyslapu na Lysou Horu. Je treba si jeste uzivat kras Ceske Republiky dokud jsem tady. Dnesni statni svatek byl ve znameni strmeho vystupu na nejvyssi bod Moravskoslezskych Beskyd. Musim rict, ze je to nadhera. Vyslap zacal v pul osme v Ostravici. uz takto casne rano nam svitilo slunicko a na nebi ani mracek. Predpoved pocasi byla smisena. Ze zacatku tydne predpovidali prave toto pocasi a vcera vecer mi na mobilu blikaly bourky. Dobra vec se podarila a trocha deste nas zasahla vlastne az skoro u domovnich dveri zpatky doma :-)

Ale zpatky k te Ostravici! Jak se ukazalo pul osme neni na vyslap zas az tak brzo jak jsme si myslely. Pri ceste nahoru po cervene stezce, ktera zacina primo u vlakoveho nadrazi, jsme potkavaly plno lidi jdoucich smerem dolu. Coz znamena, ze museli jit nahoru uz nejmene kolem pate/seste - blazni pomyslely jsme si :-) To jsem, ale jeste nevedela, ze ze me muze byt takovy blazen take ;-) No co vam budu licit ... Je to makacka. Nejakou tu kondicku diku nordic walkingu mame, ale toto je strme a 8,5 km dlouha cervena stezka nas nechala poradne vypotit. Po ceste je videt plno krasnych panoramat, a tak jsme videly dokonce i polskou a slovenskou stranu nasich pidi velehor Beskyd.
Dolu jsme zvolily modrou stezku po druhe strane hrebene (?) smerem az do Frydlantu nad Ostravici. Cedule slibovala prochazku dlouhou tentokrat 11,5 km a protoze uz to melo byt jenom 'dolu' to vypadalo jako hracka. Dolu to sice skutecne bylo, ale bohuzel 11,5 je 11,5 pres Malenovice, Novou Ves az dolu do Frydlantu nad Ostravici. Rada vyplyvajici ze zazitku cloveka, ktery vysel Lysou Horu poprve? Nahoru po cervene, dolu po cervene :D Musim rict, ze me to chytlo a rozhodne to stoji za to v techto krasnych jarnich dnech!

I've returned a few hours ago from a hike to Lysa Hora. I decided to enjoy the beauty of Czech Republic while I'm here. Today was a bank holiday, so we decided for a steep climb to the highest point of the Beskydy Mountains. I must say that it's beautiful. Our hike began at half past seven in Ostravice. Early in the morning the sun was shining and not a single cloud in the sky. Weather forecast was mixed. In the beginning of the week the predicted weather supposed to be sunny and just last night a storm icon came up on my cell phone. A bit of rain hit us actually almost at the front door back home :-)

But back to that Ostravice! As it turned half past seven we begun our hike. It turned out that it wasn't that early as we thought. On the way up the red trail, which starts at the train station, we met a lot of people going down. Which means they had to go up at least around five / six - fools we thought :-) Which I don't think about them anymore, because I'm going to be the same fool ;-) Well, I'm not going to lie to you ... It is hard work. Somehow our physical condition wasn't that bad thanks to Nordic walking which we are doing almost every day, but this is a steep 8.5 km long red trail. On the way up you can see many beautiful panoramas, and we saw even polish and the slovakian part of the Beskydy Mountains. To walk back we choose the blue trail on the other side ridge (?) in the direction up to the city Frydlant  nad Ostravici. The signs promised a walk of 11.5 kilometers. Because it was meant to be just 'down' which is easy to handle ;-) While this was really only down but unfortunately 11.5 is still 11.5 km over Malenovice, Nova Ves down to Frydlant nad Ostravici. What comes at the end out of my first hike to Lysa Hora? Go up using the red trail, go down using the red trail as well :D I must say that I'm hooked and it's well worth it in these beautiful spring days!

Little bit about the mountain to be found here!

This is where it all begins - my sister & niece

The not so steep part at the bottom

First beautiful stop



'Are we there?' - me

Girls power - me, my sister, Fuji & my niece

Fuji is exhausted

Almost :-)

The beauty of the Czech Republic

Still not there!

And the TOP!


May 3, 2013

Miles and beyond

Presne za mesic odletam na svuj posledni (treti) Work&Travel USA program! Zpatky do San Franciska, zpatky do Tiburonu, zpatky Kalifornie. Protoze se nejakou dobu uz poohlizim po zajimavych letenkach a kombinacich prisla jsem k velice zajimavemu clanku, ktery me dohnal k tomuto premysleni 'nahlas':
I’ve spoken up in the past about how I define travel hacking, and it got me thinking about the approaches other people take to saving money on travel. What I found surprised me: some people use miles and points for free travel, some use them with cash to make luxury travel more affordable, and some don’t use miles at all. This interview series was intentionally left open-ended to allow people to share what’s really on their minds. ~Scottrick
Konkretni otazka? Sbirate mile za nalitane lety? Napadlo Vas je nekdy sbirat?

Ve Spojenych statech americkych je to fenomen. Vsadim se, ze i jinde na svete, ale USA maji nejvice civilnich letist na uzemi jednoho statu, takze referuji o nich. Lidi maji pomalu nekonecne moznosti sbirat letecke mile nejenom za uskutecnene lety, ale treba i za kazdodenni utraty v samoobsluze nebo za donaskovou sluzbu, atp. Pri mem male pruzkumu jsem se dopidila jedine banky pusobici v CR, ktera by nabizela neco podobneho (nebudu delat reklamu - kdo ma zajem necht pohleda ;-) v kooperaci s CSA. Vyustenim tohoto mi vznika dalsi otazka: Kdyz sbirame jsme pysni, mame byt na co pysni s CSA, aby se nam to oplatilo? Ja sama 'sbiram' v ramci mych moznosti jen za uskutecnene lety a sem tam za nejaky nocleh v ramci prave miloveho klubu jedna americke spolecnosti, protoze si myslim, ze u nas se to nevyplati. Ac mnohem mnohem mensi zeme nez-li USA bychom stejne vyhody a benefity urcite uzivili. Problem je v tom, ze u nas sice lide zacali letat opravdu dost a poznavat nove kouty sveta, ale spise jednou za uhersky rok a tim padem na ne pada cast citace nahore: 'and some don't use miles at all'. Byt toto normalni pristup v USA, tak si poklepou na celo a mysli si, ze jste blazni, protoze tak prichazite o mnoho vyhod a cestovani za hubicku. 

Proto se priste az budete bookovat letenku pred tim nez ji odkliknete zkuste zamyslet nad tim co patri do pole FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM NUMBER ;-) Nejaky jiny nazor?

Exactly in a month I'm going to start my last (third) Work&Travel USA program! Back to San Francisco, back to Tiburon, back to California. Because I've been looking a few weeks around for a suitable flight ticket I've bumped into a very interesting article which ended up in this 'post':
I’ve spoken up in the past about how I define travel hacking, and it got me thinking about the approaches other people take to saving money on travel. What I found surprised me: some people use miles and points for free travel, some use them with cash to make luxury travel more affordable, and some don’t use miles at all. This interview series was intentionally left open-ended to allow people to share what’s really on their minds. ~Scottrick
My question? Are you collecting miles? Did you ever thought about collecting them?

In the United states of America it's a phenomenon. I bet that there are also other parts of the world with the same gear for miles, but I'm going to stick with the USA as they have the most airports in the world. The US citizens have almost endless opportunities how to earn miles. Not only for flying, but also for buying groceries or spending money in a restaurant, etc. After a small research of mine I found out that in the Czech Republic there is exactly one bank that offers such a loyalty program (I'm not going to advertise them - if you are interested Google them ;-) in association with CSA. Which lead to the question: When we are collecting we are proud, so is there anything to be proud of at CSA? I'm earning and collecting miles by flying or sometimes for my hotel stays, that's all, with and american loyalty club. I'm doing it this way because I believe that it's not worth it to collect miles in the Czech Republic. Even we are much much more smaller than the US we still could make a good use of all those benfits and pros gaining from earning miles. The problem is that many Czech started to travel and being active in this way but they are going on their adventures only for a few times. So with this they belong to the category: 'and some don't use miles at all'. Using this in the USA would cause laughter why are you wasting so many good and almost free things.

Therefore next time before booking a flight try to figure out what belongs into the FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM NUMBER fiels ;-) Any other thoughts?

The streets of Santa Barbara, CA

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