Reaclimating to America

This posting is late because life has been crazy since returning home. The Bryan College MBA team arrived in Atlanta Thursday afternoon around 4:30. It took an hour to get through customs and security. I think it’s crazy that we had to pick up our checked bags and send them back through screening as well as taking our carry-on bags through security. One of our members got selected for random screening, and it took a long time for his checked bag to be returned, costing us an extra hour. But, finally, everyone was able to make the trek home through rush hour in Atlanta. I got home after 9.

I worked Friday, though my body was craving sleep. I’m tired today, but I feel like I’ve nearly caught up on sleep. That compares to the trip over to Europe, when it took nearly a week to get over jet lag.

I need to compile more of my thoughts and post more photos to Facebook, but I’m busy, so that will have to wait. I’m glad to be home, and I’ve been partaking of American food!


Thursday departure from Prague

The Bryan College MBA team is looking at a Thursday departure from Prague. We are booked on a 6 a.m. (local time) flight from Prague to Frankfurt. From there, we should fly to Atlanta and return home that afternoon. We’re hoping there will not be too many problems, although we realize the airlines are still sorting through the mess left by the volcano. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have a nice hotel to stay at here in Prague, versus the alternative of living at the airport like so many unfortunate travelers.

Video reporting from Prague

I am uploading videos that I recorded in Prague. The videos will be available this afternoon (Eastern time) on my newspaper’s Web site, The videos are a record of some of the Bryan College MBA team’s experiences in the Czech Republic these past two weeks, from exploring Prague to touring Majak, a Christian ministry in Brno. I worked with two other MBA students, Josh Rule and Julian Bennett, to examine Majak’s operations and suggest changes.

Fighting homesickness in the Czech Republic

These are some of the students I led in a group discussion on the newspaper industry at Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci.

These are some of the students I led in a group discussion on the newspaper industry at Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci.

The Bryan College MBA team is waiting for our Thursday flight out of Prague, pending no further problems from the volcano in Iceland. We’re hoping the EU opens airspace before that and starts to clear out the backlog of stranded fliers.  Our travel arrangements could change at any time, so stay posted to this blog for updates.

WRCB and WDEF profiled our team on the news Sunday.

Many in the group are worried about their jobs since our 10-day trip has now extended to 11+ days. And we all want so desperately to return home to family and friends. Prague is a beautiful city, but it’s not home. I headed out early to exchange some currency, explore the city and work on the computer – basically, just to get out of the hotel for a while to slow down the process of going stir crazy. We are blessed, though, to be staying at a nice hotel at a reasonable rate.

One of our students has a friend from Denmark who will be here in Prague today. I’m glad that they will be able to visit, since the volcano disrupted our student’s plans to visit Denmark on a side trip last week.

Despite the travel complications, this pilot program has worked out well. I don’t know what shape future Bryan College international internships will take, but this one has been worth the investment in time, money and effort.

I especially enjoyed interacting with students at Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci (Palacky’ University in Olomouc). I’ve posted a couple of photos of my students from that experience. I should have posted these photos sooner, but I’ve had Internet connectivity problems throughout this trip. I plan to post more photos soon.

MBA team hoping for Thursday departure

The Bryan College MBA team in the Czech Republic is hoping to leave Thursday. We have reservations with Lufthansa for 6 a.m. local (noon Eastern). We would connect through Frankfurt to Atlanta. Lufthansa has safely tested flights through the volcanic ash and is pressing the EU to loosen flight restrictions. If that happened before Thursday, it could help us get through. Otherwise, I’m not optimistic that Thursday will work out since there are so many stranded travelers in Europe. We’re praying here and just trying to keep a flexible schedule in case things change. We’re booked at a good hotel in Prague, so we have a great base of operations.

Czech culture

Here is a blog I wrote Friday on the train from Brno to Prague. This was before we realized the havoc caused by the volcano in Iceland.

9:50 local time: I don’t have wireless Internet, so I’m recording my thoughts. We’re riding on a train from Brno to Prague. Parts of the countryside a while ago reminded Josh of the Highway 411 area in McMinn County; it reminded me of Loudon County. Now it definitely has a European feel, with ancient houses and train stations. It’s hilly and forested. I’m sitting in a compartment with Julian and a stranger.

Sitting in small spaces with strangers, and being crammed into trams shoulder to shoulder with people is one of the most foreign things about Europe. After a while being a non-native speaker isn’t too bad…you start picking up on bits and pieces of the language. But it’s always good to have a phrasebook.

This is one of the very few downtimes we’ve had on the trip, and so I can write up my thoughts. Here are a few observations on the Czech culture:

They can be shy when you try to engage them. I’m sure that having lived under Communist rule has influced this. But others are very friendly. The man in my train compartment helped me load some heavy luggage into storage bins.

The people in Brno put on a neutral, blank face when riding the public transport. I’ve started doing that myself, because when you’re pressed into strangers you have to cope somehow. Czechs are sometimes mistrustful of too much smiling and platitudes, which again may result from Communism (American optimism isn’t something they buy into.).

But again, they can be so friendly. The Christian ministry that ran the Brno hotel we stayed in bent over backwords worrying whether we ate enough at breakfast each day. The first morning of our internships, we were too busy to eat, and their feelings seemed to have been greatly hurt. Czechs eat large meals, and it’s impolite to decline food. The students at the college where we helped teach were very eager to meet Americans and were extremely friendly. They guided us around the city in the rain all afternoon.

Young children here freely take public transport or walk around the cities without adult supervision. American parents are much more protective, in general.

It’s hard to arrange business meetings here because plans can change at the last minute. You have to learn to be flexible in times and negotiations. That took some getting used to, but things worked out in the end.

(I deleted a reference here about leaving on Sunday since that’s not going to happen. …)

Stranded in Europe

The Bryan College MBA team is evaluating its options now that our flight home to the US from Frankfurt has been canceled. Stay posted for updates, and please pray for us and everyone else having travel problems.

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