The first two days in Prague felt like a weird dream. After arriving at the airport, everything seemed to move so fast. I was driven with other students through the city, moved into my new apartment, and ventured across town for CET’s welcome dinner. I somehow ended my day walking 3 miles around Old Town with my roommates, jetlagged and somewhat lost. We made it past the astronomical clock, Charles Square, and over the Charles Bridge—twice— before we decided we’d had enough exploring for one day. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking “Oh my god. What am I even doing here”. My roommate slept soundly across the room.
The Prague Astronomical Clock Tower in Old Town. It’s a huge tourist attraction, but worth it to see it chime once.
The story of Saint John of Nepomuk is memorialized on the Charles bridge. So many people have “pet” the dog in this panel that it has lost its tarnish.
The following few days were full of getting to know the city and adapting to my new home. Some of my first experiences were better than others. I got scammed by an ATM, laughed at for my Czech pronunciation, and bought a pound of lard at the grocery store instead of butter. Humbling, to say the least.
Studying abroad was always a part of my college plan, but I was never certain about what I wanted from my experience until I landed in Prague. As someone who’s always been interested in traveling but has never actually done much solo travel, I knew that studying abroad would be a huge challenge that would push me out of my comfort zone every day.
Some friends and I exploring Prague on our day off.
I intentionally chose not to do a study abroad program that had a lot of people from my university. I know in that situation I would just find the people I already knew and stick by them my entire time abroad. I wanted to put myself in a place that would allow me to really get out of my comfort zone, make new friends, and be forced to trust myself to navigate a new environment. Obviously, this caused a lot of anxiety leading up to my departure from the United States, and even a few days into the program. What I wasn’t expecting was to fall in love with Prague so immediately. The city is full of so much amazing history, views, food, and people.
After the initial shock of being halfway across the world wore off, the real fun began. In the days before classes started, CET planned a handful of activities that encouraged everyone in the program to get together and explore the city. Scavenger hunts, walking tours, and even a bowling night ensured that my first week in Prague was spent quite literally, all over it.
The top of the St. Nicolas church as seen on our walking tour of the city.
In my exploration, I learned a lot. Definitely about the city’s historical landmarks and cultural importance, but also about the ways of life I’d be following over the next few months.
While Prague is definitely a tourist-friendly city, it’s really easy to out yourself as a non-local without meaning to. No matter how well my “Dobrý Den!” comes out, the response is usually “What can I get you?” No amount of intensive Czech class can fix my American accent just yet, no matter how hard my poor professor tries. Regardless of how confident I am in my ability to take the correct tram to my classes, I still have a nagging feeling that I’m still a tourist in this city full of locals.
It didn’t take much time to realize the anxieties I had about this transition to life abroad were shared by so many people around me. Everyone has the same desire to get out of the apartment and explore, meet new people, and find our own place in this amazing city—even if means 30 of us are all taking the same tram at the same time, or stumbling over the same Czech words while doing our homework.
Views of the city from my tram ride home every day.
Being open to whatever the world will throw at me has brought me a lot of great moments so far. In just 13 days, I feel like I’ve learned so much about both Prague and myself. I’m so excited for what the rest of the program will have in store for me—even if that means working a little harder on my Czech.
Almost two weeks have passed since I landed in Prague for the first time and I’d like to share some knowledge that helped me in my initial adjustments to the city.
- Never pay more than 60 CZK for a beer
- Trdelník is not traditional Czech street food, but it is delicious
- According to Czech people, you can always be a little quieter on the tram
Na shledanou for now, and I can’t wait to update again soon!