After just a week in a new city, I’ve explored some incredible sights, and had some insane experiences. The excitement of discovering an entirely new corner of the world is indescribable, and I hope that the brief tales of my own experiences encourage you to travel and adventure for yourself.
There are a few major advantages to studying abroad in a place rather than just visiting it; earning college credit, living in a safe, organized, communal way with people in the same boat as you, and having all logistics taken care of with guidance and leadership are wonderful, but the ability to comfortably settle roots in a place, give yourself what feels like unlimited time to uncover and discover it, have freedom to travel in and around your home base to other undiscovered locations, including to places you’d never think to or be able to go to without the opportunities provided by your study abroad program, possibly learn a new language, and delve deeply into a formerly unfamiliar culture, meet its people, eat its food, and wonder at its art and architecture are experiences that will enrich you as a person and stay with you forever.
This first week, I had the opportunity to explore some of Prague, as well as some rural, mountainous areas outside the city. The old town square of Prague is beautiful; it houses the famous astronomical tower, and has tons of squigely, pastel-colored building lined streets branching off from it. I’ve heard that one of the best ways to get to know Prague is by intentionally getting lost in its streets, and I can now attest to the effectiveness of this strategy! (Although my getting-lost experience was accidental, go figure). After a morning of wandering around, thinking I’d easily be able to make it back to the metro by following landmarks that I’d taken mental notes of, I was left entirely lost, with a dead phone (don’t forget, freezing temps drain those bad boys fast), and a class to make it to. I eventually did find the metro (and make it to class), but even if I hadn’t I think I’d still be satisfied; Prague’s hidden corners are its absolute best quality, and exploring them is like running through a maze.
After another day, this time with friends, of exploring Prague castle and the other side of the river in general, I’m left with the most awe-inspired love of this city. Its history and uniqueness are indescribable.
This past weekend, we took a hike through the mountains of a rural area outside Prague. The small town housed an ancient church which we walked through, before braving the icy devil’s trap of a mountain. The Czech Republic, for those not aware, is cold. Like cold, cold. So you can imagine our surprise when we continued a hike whose first 20 feet were made up of what felt like an ice covered sliding board. But, after making it to the top (barely), the views absolutely made up for it. The expansive mountains and the village and church nestled in them were breathtaking. So was the hike back down (most people fell so hard they knocked the wind out of themselves, usually more than once).
I can’t wait to continue uncovering the nooks and crannies of Prague, and adventuring out into the greater Czech Republic (and surrounding countries). I’ll keep ya posted.