October 17, 2006

LTC Praha October 13-15, 2006

Hi all.

Last weekend I was at one of the coolest AIESEC conferences ever. For the non-AIESEC world LTC translates as Local Training Conference and it's for the new members recruited in autumn.
All the trainees were invited and most of us joined. We went on Friday evening after work to Sec, the conference location, somewhere in the countryside about 100km away from Praha. The trip wasn't one of the most enjoyable, it reminded me of the bus that I used to take to get to my countryside when I was a kid: a dusty cheap bus that ran on countryside roads -just dirt and stones-. It was exactly the same this one, except the road. The bus was filled with dust though and I think it was never cleaned ever since it was produced. And to add to the 'experience' there were lots of curves in the final part of the trip and smog in the village(probably from burning garbage or something like that). The location didn't shine either - a huge Communist complex build for the party conferences, now mostly deserted - but it actually didn't matter as it's was the atmosphere and the people that I went there for and I was really impressed.

There were around 25 newbies and about the same nr of 'oldies' and trainees plus the alumni that joined Saturday. We arrived just in time for the evening plenary and the 'Oskariada' a movie night with a special twist - everyone was in their pyjamas because the pyjama party followed. And the movies were special too, they had to be made by teams on 2 themes and had about one hour to be completed. Although the short time all the teams were really creative and made cool movies on the subjects given. The 'hosts' for the Oskariada were also really fun because of their hmm let's say unconventional pyjamas :p. It's too bad my camera batteries finished and I didn't get to take some compromising pictures. After the awards ceremony and the touching speeches of the winners (best actor was a guy who played an annoying digital alarm clock and was really excited and looking forward to his future role as an microwave oven, quite challenging and time demanding) there was the pyjama party itself which was a blast. Free beer and great people with a taste for party lasted well until late. And at the end of the party I got to witness the Czech AIESEC cheers, which are quite numerous and nobody felt like going to sleep in that atmosphere. I didn't understand them but they sounded pretty cool.
As a conclusion I can say the Czech people work hard and party hard - this was also the movie theme of my team at the Oskariada.

The second day the trainees afforded to get up at around noon (yeah we have gained our privilege all these years in AIESEC :p) and took part in a training by PWC on how to give and receive feedback. It was pretty good as it presented useful tips&tricks and wasn't cluttered with redundant or repetitive information. Then we went for a walk by the nearby lake which was really nice. There were boats on the shores but no place to rent or something similar, only private owned. And it would have been so nice to have a boat trip on the lake :p

Some of trainees left soon afterwards while the best part was yet to come.
After the evening plenary there was the mysterious Night Game. We weren't told what it would be about. We were separated into 5 people teams, blindfolded and put in a room where there was a creepy emergency message and a weird music in the background. Felt like the war of the worlds radio show :p. The planet was infested with a poisonous gas that blinded all people and transformed some plants into man eaters. They were sensitive to all kind of noises so we had to be carefully moved around by the few remaining people who still had eyesight. We had to reach a safe spot but for this we had to go through the 'altered' nature and pass a series of obstacles. The obstacles were actually different things in a playground near the hotel but it was quite an unorthodox approach to climb various nets and metal ladders blindfolded and without talking. Then we were taken through the forest and eventually we reached the safe spot were we were 'cured' by a cup of boiled wine, quite different from the Romanian one. And to add to the great atmosphere of the game there was a really thick fog all over the place and that eerie music that was so inspired.

The whole point of the game was, of course, to enforce teamwork and team leading. Leading because all the time each of the team members took turns to leading the blinded team on the right path making sure nothing happens to them. It lasted for about an hour and it was really a great unforgettable experience. Then there was a final meeting with all the teams in a circle with candles where we all shared how we felt. A perfect ending to a great game :)

And by now we were all deep into the night already feeling motivated for the Spanish party and especially the drinking contest that would heat us up from the cold fog outside.
My drinking team managed to get into the finals after a fierce competition :p but then we lost. It was about enjoying participation after all and we sure enjoyed it :p. Time sure flies when you're having fun and we partied until the morning. Once again, great music, great party, great people.

During the conference I also got to talk with some experienced AIESEC members and alumni who'd been in wonderful places such as Iceland or Tunisia. Actually Fabian who had a traineeship in Tunisia is from Monterrey, Mexico and he knows 2 AIESEC Iasi former trainees that are now working there and with whom I met last November soon after arriving from Lisboa. They were telling wonderful stories about life in Mexico and all the exotic places they visited. It was pretty fascinating and once again I realized how small the world is, especially the AIESEC world :p

Sunday was more of a 'recovery' day after all the partying but the closing plenary was really nice and we all got some interesting packages from the sponsors, like a Rubik cube. On the way back the bus was world class compared to the previous one, and was whole AIESEC.

In conclusion, yet another great experience and the beginning of a beautiful friendship with my LC in Praha

October 9, 2006

Praha - Praga - Prag - Prague

Hello again :)

It's been a while since i blogged and this is a good occasion to start this good habit again.

It's almost a week since I arrived to the Czech Republic, Prague to be more precise, as you probably noticed in the entry title. Haven't had Internet access from home so I'm 'abusing' the brand new computer I have at work* on my first day at Monster , world's biggest job site

Getting here was quite adventurous as I took Atlassib for the trip which is the WORST thing u can travel with. Last year I also used it, was bad but not as bad as this time, so I'm never gonna use it again. Anyway, there were all these 'damaged' people travelling to Prague drinking in all the stations and wearing deodorant 'au naturel'. After a few hours and during the breaks of the air conditioning you don't wanna know how the 'breeze' blew.

So after being 6h late and being thoroughly sedated by the gases in the bus I was pleasantly surprised to see that Dragos, a Romanian trainee from Galati, stoically waited for me for all those 6hours.

Then I got to my current place which is quite a nice apartment, fully equipped and very large (around 100 sqm for 2 rooms and a living room). So it's very good to accomodate potential visitors :p

The second day I visited the town for a bit, got a pass for public transport and I got a Czech phone number from Vodafone CZ. For anyone interested my nr. is +420 776 310 541.