The past four months you taught me a lot. I learned more than I thought I would. Through culture shock, language barriers, tough situations, traveling alone, different customs, and much more, I learned to challenge myself and truly grasp what it was like to live abroad.
When I was leaving to go to Prague, I received many curious questions or comments about my city of choice to study in because it wasn’t a well know city such as London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, etc. I wanted to push myself further. I strategically chose Prague. I wanted to see more of central Europe, and it was convenient for traveling. While I did travel to Rome and Barcelona, I am so happy with my decision not to study there. Prague became my home. I knew so much of it by the time I left. I don’t feel this would have happened in some of the larger cities. I would have still felt like a tourist, which I totally did not in Prague at the end of the semester. I found a café to study in, I had my restaurant that I frequented, and I knew the potraviny man downstairs by my apartment.
You go to Rome for the history: the coliseum, the Vatican, the forum. You go to Paris for the Eiffel Tower and the museums. You go to Prague for the city. While it does have some big interesting sites (Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge) the true beauty is found by wandering. You can’t have one photograph that defines Prague. The entire city itself is the attraction. The experience makes it worthwhile. The tourist attractions are nice for a while, but I miss the side streets, the basement bars and clubs, Žižkov, and crowded trams. I sometimes even miss waiting for the tram at four am as the wind makes it feel like it’s a few degrees above zero. It gives you a feeling. A feeling you can’t describe. It’s all around you and other people feel it too. You can’t describe it, but you can look at each other and know. That is my Prague.
Prague Pros: walking around in a real city, walking past beautiful architecture, historical and colorful buildings everyday, the public transportation, giving tourists directions, clubs, cheap food, cheap beer, food stands in the middle of the night, saying ne česky!, easy access to the rest of Europe, the concert in my neighborhood the first week here with free beer and sausages, hearing five different languages as you walk down the street, Spirit Bar, seeing the castle lit up at night, sunrise on Charles Bridge, beer gardens, but most of all are the people I met from all over the world this past semester. They made my experience a thousand times better.
Prague cons: the freezing I think I’m gonna die weather in February and March, walking on ice, paying for tap water, my Nokia Cezch cell phone, and the conversion rate (1USD=22CZK)
So here I am in Guntersville, Alabama. Two weeks back in the US. I have brought home a new perspective of the world. All I have been doing is replaying the past amazing semester over and over in my head wishing it could have lasted just a little bit longer. I have definitely grown from the time abroad.
As for now, I’m czeching out. Picking up where I left off in February. I have about four weeks at home then I’m heading to DC for a 6-week internship. I will never forget this wonderful opportunity I had to live abroad in Prague or the people I shared it with.
So to my new friends that I will never forget and the nights we had together, na zdraví! Na shledanou moje kamarady. Na shledanou Praha!