Written by Phoebe Porter (Elon University), Student Correspondent for CET Prague, Spring 2023
As crazy as it seems, I’m only in Prague for another week. It feels as though I’ve been here forever, and at the same time, I remember my first night in my apartment as if it were yesterday— hello, first night abroad crisis!
Reflecting on my time abroad until now, I realize that my blogs have only really discussed the major events and experiences I’ve had so far. And don’t get me wrong, those big things do contribute to the amazing semester I’ve had, but I think some of the best days are the average days in this amazing city and how my friends and I are really trying to take advantage of our last weeks here. So, for my farewell tour (what I’ve taken to calling my last blog post), I’ll describe all the ways Prague and Europe have continued to surprise me in my last weeks here.
In front of the Budapest sign on Margaret Island
We end with one final CET traveling seminar to Budapest. This trip was just a long weekend, and Budapest stands out to me as another city that completely surprised me. The weather was perfect, which definitely impacted how happy I was the entire weekend. Still, we had plenty of time to explore the city on our own before our scheduled lectures and walked through Margaret Island, a park on an island in the Danube River, got food at local restaurants, and got to know the city. We had some lectures that explored Hungary’s past and present political situation and spoke to some locals, which is always an interesting look into a new place.
This was also the last structured opportunity for the whole CET program to be together, and I loved getting the chance to be with everyone away from the classroom setting. I felt that the first traveling seminar was an opportunity to connect with everyone in the program whom I hadn’t met yet, and this weekend in Budapest solidified that connection and was a final moment of coming together for the program.
One of the other unique things we did this month was the class barbecue. For our last day before the final exam, my Central European Studies class all went to our professor’s house in the suburbs, where we had some good food and drinks and again enjoyed each other’s company. We all traveled out of the city and into Tomaš’s backyard as another way to commemorate the end of a great semester. The weather was once again unexpectedly beautiful, and we stayed probably past our welcome, throwing a frisbee and smoking fresh fish.
(Left) Enjoying the sun with my CES class at our professor’s house for a barbecue. (Right) Last few days wandering around the city, and always finding something beautiful.
My daily routine has changed, too, in these last few days. Where I would normally try to branch out before class and try a new coffee shop every day, I find myself staying loyal to the “Ukrainian Bakery” below my apartment. Its real name is Pekařství Pánev, but everyone calls it the Ukrainian Bakery, as the wonderful family that owns it is Ukrainian. They are the most kind and friendly people, and I know the coffee and pastries will always be good. It’s also a great place to practice my Czech, even though I won’t need it as frequently after this week.
My commute has stayed the same, however. I make my way to the tram stop near my apartment for my ride to the CET center. The #14 tram is frequently late and always a “hang-on-for-your-life” kind of ride. It’s also full of other CET students, so I get the chance every morning to catch up with some of my friends and be jostled around on my way to class. We get stared at by the locals less than we used to at the beginning of the semester though, so I can’t complain. This ride, though it sometimes makes me late for my 9 am classes, is my favorite way to see the parts of the city. We pass some beautiful places, and I always feel like I’ve gotten the locals’ tour of the city by the time I reach my stop. It’s the perfect amount of time to see the sights and finish my Wordle before arriving.
All my classes are wrapping up with big tests and projects, which is always the biggest stressor of a semester no matter where I am, but with spring finally arriving in Prague, my friends and I have made it a priority to do all the things that the rain and cold discouraged us from earlier in the semester. On May 1st, we went to Petřín, a park on a hill, to see the cherry blossoms and walk (hike) up to the top. The views here are some of the best in Prague—better than the Castle in my opinion.
Additionally, last weekend, I finally made it to the Prague Zoo, which is a phenomenal excursion that I can’t recommend enough. It was so much fun to walk around, take the chairlift to the other exhibits on the top of the hill, and it totally brings out your inner child to see the seals jump out of the water and balance a ball on their noses.
(Left) Walking under the cherry blossoms in Petřín. (Right) The chairlift at the zoo! Such amazing views and it was only slightly scary!
It has caught me off guard how much of the city I still feel like I have to explore before I leave. While part of me knows I’ve been all over, I still have a few half-completed lists titled “Want to Try” or “MUST EAT HERE PRAGUE” full of pinned locations of places I’ve seen in passing or that have been passed down from Prague study abroad kids before me. I know I’ve discovered tons of new favorite restaurants all around the city, but part of me mourns the chicken restaurant in Vinohrady I know I won’t make it to.
The most interesting thing I’ve noticed as the semester ends is how comfortable I’ve gotten calling this once brand-new European city “home.” I can’t express enough how grateful I am for all the memories and experiences I’ve had this semester. From the major events to the average day, I always know I’ll end the night with new memories and experiences I’ll hold forever. Prague will always hold a place in my heart, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to share it with you.
If you’re considering going to Prague in the future, I urge you to choose it. I’m thankful every day that I did. Na shledanou for the last time, and thanks for coming along on this journey with me!