Author Archives: Katrinasalamoninprague

About Katrinasalamoninprague

I study film cinematography at Temple University.

Reflections on Study Abroad

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It’s hard to reflect on studying abroad in a concise, understandable way–there’s just too much to say, too many of them things that you won’t understand until you do it yourself.

I’ll start with the most important and obvious part: this has been the best experience of my life. I didn’t have any expectations going in because I knew that I couldn’t possibly have a concept for what it was going to be like until I did, but if I would have had expectations, they would have been surpassed. I can see the differences in myself so much more clearly now that I’m home; I am more direct and confident and optimistic, my priorities are aligned and clear, and the world feels so much smaller.

Some things are specific to my experience, and don’t necessarily apply to everyone who studies abroad. I had a language barrier, with a language that I literally knew one (useless) word in. I cannot emphasize how incredibly strange this feels, how alienating it can be, and how much of an idiot it can make you feel like. You learn to avoid the need to speak to people, you pick up on the cultural mannerisms and behavior, you learn the necessary phrases: what people are going to ask you and where, how to answer, how not to appear lost and confused and stupid. Another important, specific factor: cultural attitude. Czech people, at least in public situations, are not conversational or friendly or welcoming. I have met some of the best individuals, who are warm and kind and talkative, but as a whole, in public, the cultural attitude is individualistic and independent, pessimistic, and very quiet. I learned this quickly, and adjusted my behavior without even realizing it (making eye contact with people in public feels foreign to me now, let alone having conversations with strangers). This actually made it easier for me as someone who didn’t understand Czech–I didn’t need to speak nearly as much as I would have had to in America. The point is: you learn. When you are completely immersed, you learn quickly. And, even though it can be difficult, this is an invaluable experience. I emphatically believe that if everyone experienced this first hand, the world would be a kinder, more tolerant, and more empathetic place. It is without a doubt one of the most fundamentally important and formative things I’ve experienced.

Another amazing aspect of studying abroad is the ability to travel. Personally, I traveled a lot–you could travel less than I did (or more!), or just explore your home country; whatever approach you take, traveling is not just really, really, fun, but makes you better at dealing with problems in life by expanding your perspective. Some problems are urgent, and when they are, you deal with them. Some aren’t. And you still deal with them. But learning how to deal with high stress situations not only equips you to deal with other high stress situations–it gives you the perspective to determine what actually is a high stress situation and what isn’t. Plus, the more sights you see and people you meet and languages you hear and food you eat and ambiances you absorb, the better off you’ll be for the rest of your life.

To sign off what has the potential to be a much longer reflection, I’ll just say this: if you are considering studying abroad, do it. If you are not considering studying abroad, do it. If you’re nervous or scared or hesitant, do it (do not ever make a decision based on fear, especially the decision not to do something). You are stunting your own growth and preventing indescribable amounts of future happiness by staying in the safe lane. I’ve spoken about how much living across an ocean helps you grow and learn, but the most important thing, to me, is how much happiness it brought to my life. If your experience is anything like mine or the dozens of people I’ve spoken to who’ve done the same, you will feel more happiness than you even knew you could feel. It will enrich your life with so much joy that  you won’t even be able to put it into words. So please, please just do it.

(Me, at the beginning)

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(& the end)

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Final Consensus on Being Vegan in Prague

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As I’ve spoken about before several times, I’m vegan, and therefore have a different perspective on cities and their food. When I was planning to come to Prague and when I first arrived, I was nervous that I would have an extremely hard time maintaining my veganism with ease. However, after living in Prague for about half a year and traveling to various other cities in Europe, I can make a pleasantly surprising verdict: Prague is a very vegan-friendly city. From the incredible number of fully vegan restaurants (many even have entirely raw menus, or sections that are completely raw, including soups, appetizers, deserts, and main courses, NOT just salads), to vegetarian/vegan restaurants, to restaurants of ethnicities that lend themselves to being vegan friendly, to vegan grocery stores and markets–Here are just a very few of my very favorite places to grab a vegan meal or snack:

Vegan’s:

This is a great, cute vegan restaurant on the hilly side of the river–it has a full restaurant upstairs, and a cute cafe on the ground floor. If you can make it all the way up the hill and then up about 10 narrow flights of spiral stairs, you’ll be rewarded with delish vegan food, everything from Indonesian inspired bowls with rice and tempeh, to amazing veggie burgers, to vegan lasagna, to several veganized traditional Czech foods like svičkova and gulaš. At the cafe downstairs, you can find coffees and teas made with plant-based milk, deserts, sandwiches and salads, and vegan snacks like date bars and chocolate.

Herbivore

Herbivore is an adorable vegan restaurant/grocery store, without a traditional menu (aside from the smoothies, acai bowls, and beverages), instead offering a range of buffet style dishes that change daily. I can’t recommend this little place enough–the people are lovely and the food is AMAZING.

Maitrea

Maitrea is a slightly more upscale vegetarian/vegan restaurant, right off of Old Town Square. The interior is breathtaking, especially when you go downstairs (another Prague spiral staircase); it looks like you’re stepping into Alice and Wonderland. It’s cavernous, and has pink walls and enormous lighting fixtures that look like real flowers hanging from the ceiling–seriously just go for the aesthetic. The menu is large and varied, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Lemon Leaf

Thai is my absolute favorite food in the world, and I’ve actually struggled to find a Thai restaurant in Prague that rivals my favorite from home. Lemon Leaf, a beautiful, open Thai restaurant, is a great option. As is common with Thai, it’s incredibly easy to find vegan dishes, and their food tastes amazing and is obviously fresh and high quality.

Lovin’ Hut

Lovin’ Hut is another vegan restaurant and grocery store. Their selection is great, and you can always count on a fresh bottle of Nemleko–a local Czech brand of almond and poppyseed milk with the purest ingredients list you’ll ever find. It’s a great place to stock up on your vegan essentials, if you like to branch from normal whole foods into fancy specialized stuff, or treat-yo-self snacks.

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Spring in Prague

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IMG_8213.JPGIMG_8212.JPGAfter an extremely long, freezing, and draining but beautiful winter, spring is finally upon us in Prague. Because I’d only known Prague in the winter, I didn’t realize how beautiful it could be (and how much easier life could be when you don’t have to worry about freezing to death!). Although it is a very winter-ey city, Prague really shines in the warm weather, and there are so many great things to do and see that are even more fun in the sunshine. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Petrin Hill

Petrin Hill is a beautiful hillside on the castle-side of the Vltava River, which runs through the center of Prague. The hill is covered in meadows and flowering trees, and has many winding paths to lead you to the top. It’s a popular place to lounge in the sun or picnic, and you’ll often find couples or groups of friends with wine and snacks dotting the hillside. It also has spectacular views of the entire city, so it’s a great place to rest after a hike to soak up the orange roofs.

2.  Charles Bridge at Sunrise

Although Charles Bridge is beautiful, and a definite must-see when visiting Prague, it is absolutely packed with tourists almost all hours of the day; most locals and people who live here know to avoid it when possible. However, I highly recommend walking the bridge when it’s empty, as it really allows you to appreciate the views and the bridge itself. A great time to do so is early in the morning, not just because it’s empty, but because Charles Bridge is one of the best locations in Prague to watch the sunrise. The sunrise in the winter is great (bonus points because it isn’t until 8 am…), but the springtime beauty more than makes up for the earlier call time. You’ll really feel like you’ve stepped back in time if you’re able to experience an empty city.

3. Jogging

Running in Prague can be tricky if you’re not used to cobblestones (correction: walking in Prague can be tricky if you’re not used to cobblestones), but if your foot and ankle muscles have gone through a strength and balance bootcamp like mine have, Prague is a great place to enjoy a morning run. I definitely recommend jogging in the morning or late evening, when the crowds have thinned, but there are also some great parks that are run-able whenever’s convenient for you. Running also gives you a great appreciation for the accessibility of the city; Prague is a very manageable, walkable city, and going for a jog is a great way to get your bearings for sight seeing later in the day. I love to run from my apartment to old town square, across the Vltava, along the river to the lesser town, back across the river and back again. You can also take advantage of the massive, Budapest-esque hills, and get some extra leg action by incorporating them into your route.

4. Picnics

In the warm weather, a great lunch or dinner option is grabbing some fruit and hummus and picnicing in one of Prague’s beautiful parks. Petrin Hill, that I mentioned before, is a great option (you can also work up an appetite on your way up), but there are also several other parks dotted around the city. A favorite of mine is right across the Charles Bridge on the Vltava; it’s also where you’ll find the giant-faceless-baby sculptures. There’s also a beautiful one on an island in the river, easily accessible from the center of the Legion Bridge.

5. Markets

On Easter weekend, Prague explodes with markets in every square and park, and many stay throughout the spring season; grab a trdelník, beer, or sausage, and experience the festival culture in Prague.

Vegan In Paris

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As you probably know from previous posts, I’m vegan (and a bigtime foodie). I’ve included my experiences maintaining this lifestyle while abroad in these blog posts to help others who live with dietary restrictions make their own study abroad plans–but, mostly, to assure them that travel does not have to be inhibited by your dietary choices or mandates.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Prague, although known for very meat and dairy heavy local food, is actually a very vegan (also gluten-free)-friendly city. Paris, on the other hand, I found to be more difficult. From what I could tell, there are a few reasons for this. First of all, the cafe culture is extremely strong. When you hear the “cafe-on-every-corner” stereotype, it’s actually not an exaggeration. Cafes are central to Parisian culture, and they’re kind of used for everything, whether it’s socializing, grabbing a quick meal, a coffee, a sit-down-and-relax meal, whatever, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Furthermore, because this is such a “French” thing, most of the food is very French– which means most of the food is not vegan-friendly.

Most of these menus are heavy on things with meat, milk, cheese, etc. either foundational to the dish or cooked into it, so it’s hard to find things that you could even modify when you order. The most reliable things in cafes/french restaurants were usually vegetable soups, fries, or a side salad (most normal salads are laden with cheese, meat, or fish). As is very common in Europe, if they have a modified section of the menu, it is for vegetarians (AKA covered in cheese). These are often fine for lunch, however, if you’re either starving or looking for a larger meal, consider going to a restaurant of a different ethnicity.

My favorite food in the entire WORLD is Thai, and we easily found several options on that front. Italian restaurants are also easy to eat vegan at; pasta with tomato sauce, olive oil and chilies, vegetables, etc. are common, Mediterranean food is also a great option (hummus, falafel, etc.), Mexican food (often called “American Latino” in Paris, for whatever reason…) can be made vegan easily, Indian food is naturally very vegetarian and vegan friendly, etc., etc. Because Paris is a big, diverse city, there are tons of world-cuisine options that you can take advantage of.

Fortunately, the classic baguette and most bread-y products are vegan naturally, so you can get a taste for the stereotypical French food experience in that way. I’ve been told about several vegan restaurants that have veg-ified French food, which I’m excited to try on my next trip there in a few weeks.

And, as I always say, if you have the option (as in your dietary choices are not for strictly health or religious reasons), one very special and consciously chosen “cheat” (maybe a little Nutella crepe…?) won’t hurt anyone…;)

As I am returning to Paris in a few weeks, like I said before, I plan on visiting more vegan/vegan friendly restaurants and cafes. I’ll be able to give a more well-rounded assessment of the vegan scene in Paris, and hopefully have some delish typical French food while I’m at it. I’ll keep you posted.

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Travel: Paris

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This weekend, I traveled outside the Czech Republic for the second time while studying abroad. This time I traveled to Paris, where my twin sister is studying. (Again, it’s always a great idea to take advantage of people you know who are living abroad at the same time as you–even a good idea to try to schedule your studies for the same semester intentionally! You’re going to want to travel (and should while you can), and this is an excellent way to save money, time, and enjoy yourself even more while traveling abroad). I arrived in Paris early on Friday morning and left late Monday night (again, I don’t have class Friday or Monday), so I had four full days to explore and immerse myself. My best friend (who is also studying abroad) also came with two of her roommates–so the five of us got to explore together.

Paris has an incredibly unique energy to it–it actually does feel like the classiest, most glamorous place on Earth in real life. Even though, visually, Prague is much more ‘beautiful’ (more unique, specific architecture and more consistency in the niceness of areas), Paris has a very specific culture and energy to it that I absolutely loved. I also really felt like I was on a vacation being surrounded by a language I could understand.

My sister lives with a host family, so when I arrived I met them. They were so incredibly kind and welcoming and hospitable, and, even though my French is basic, it was wonderful actually being able to understand what they were saying to me. Before meeting up with our friends, we went to see the Eiffel Tower. The first time I saw it was from the metro window; we just rounded the bend and there it was. My sister was cracking up; my jaw was on the floor. It’s one of those moments I’ll never forget, it was just more than I could have imagined. It’s so much bigger in real life than a person can accurately picture. It’s stunning. After walking around and gaping for a while, we met our friends and set off for the Arc de Triomphe.

This is also stunningly beautiful (I also got a little reminder of home; the memorial in Valley Forge national park, where I’m from, is modeled after it). We climbed to the top (surprisingly fewer stairs than I thought), and saw the most beautiful views of Paris. I’ve heard that the views are the best there, and I would recommend them as well–I’m sure the view from the Eiffel Tower are beautiful, but the Eiffel Tower itself makes the view.

That night, we went back to the Eiffel Tower to see it lit up, which was beautiful (especially when it sparkles…). The next day, we walked along the Seine all the way to Notre Dame, which was a beautiful walk (with an amazing conclusion). Notre Dame is imposing and beautiful, and although it is not the most beautiful or amazing cathedral I’ve ever seen (for that, visit Hungary), it’s energy, the energy that Paris just exudes, makes up for it.

Finally, the next day, we went to Shakespeare and Co., the famous English bookstore and hangout spot of the ex-pats. It was my actual happy place–I could spend my entire life there and never leave. It’s perfect.

Oh, we also saw the Mona Lisa. No big deal.

Paris was lovely, and in my next post, I’ll talk about being vegan there (not so lovely…but workable!)

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Documentation II: Written

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The second part of my discussion of documentation of study abroad/travel/life is written documentation. Keeping a journal (or even an agenda, scrapbook, book of lists, whatever!) is a great way to preserve memories in a more specific, detailed way. Actually writing out what you’ve done and how it makes you feel is a much different, more visceral way of approaching memory preservation than just taking pictures.

Yet again, I’m in the lucky camp here; I’m a writer. Aside from writing creative things, which I’ve loved working on while study abroad, actually–I also journal almost every single day, and have since I can remember. Here, I’m going to talk about some ways to encourage yourself to document your experiences, making it as easy and personal as possible.

I started journaling on my laptop a few years ago–I found that when tight on time, it just takes way too long to write things freehand. I would also cut things out or forget to include things in a pinch, and that kind of defeats the purpose of journaling at all. So, I just started a word document, which I’ve kept going for probably three years. It’s been the easiest, fastest way to keep up with documenting my life. I’m constantly on my laptop for school anyway, so I’ve found that right before bed, it’s super easy to just jot out my day before putting the computer away, or just doing it in between assignments or when I have a spare second. It’s also easier to add in things you forgot and fix mistakes– no crossing things out or drawing arrows. It’s also super easy to go back and read what you’ve written–you can even search keywords if you’re looking for something specific. It’s a great way to hold yourself accountable to documentation with total ease and flexibility. Plus, you can include pictures!

Another thing I’ve LOVED doing is journaling by hand. Lately, it’s kind of reversed the cycle and taken the place of laptop-journaling. I bought a small Moleskine journal a few weeks ago; it’s a hard cover 5″ by 8″ ish sized notebook, with dotted pages. This is great, too; you can write in it every which way you want, draw, tape stuff in, whatever, but still be organized. I carry it with me everywhere; it’s super durable and so easy to take out no matter where I am. (This is a great recommendation for writers in general–the easier you make it to write, the more you’ll write. Having a place to put an idea that popped in your head, something someone said that struck you, reminders, images, random thoughts, anything, is a great way to use all the potential in your head towards a creative project.)

Because this journal is so small (but still easy to write in) and durable, I can take it with me everywhere and use it whenever I’m called to. One of my absolute favorite things to do is go to a favorite cafe, have a coffee or some tea, and write. For me, this environment lends itself to total concentration and involvement in what I’m writing–I don’t have the distractions of being home, there’s no to do list, it’s just specific time I’ve set aside to write. I’ve come to look SO forward to it. Plus, having a physical object that you’ve filled up with your life just feels good.

Try a few different approaches and see which sticks for you. Again, you will never regret writing down your experiences. Just taking a few minutes a day or every few days could make a huge difference in your memory. IMG_6822.JPG

Documentation: Visual

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As you may know from my bio, or the photos I attach to my blog posts here on Temple U Abroad, I’m a photographer. I study film cinematography at home, and my passion for visuals and life documentation translates itself into photography naturally. For me, traveling presents the perfect opportunity for me to just go crazy with my camera; everything is so new and beautiful that I just never want to put it down (and rarely do).

Having this as a hobby/artistic passion isn’t just fun for me–it’s really convenient. I get to spend time in a beautiful place doing what I love, while at the same time capturing moments and memories that I can keep forever, and share with friends and family (and you!). I thought I’d take these next two posts to discuss documentation of travel and life, both if you naturally enjoy the process and if you don’t (but still want to make sure you’re documenting)–starting with visual documentation.

If you do enjoy taking photos (I don’t mean just fancy, artistic photos–phone photos are fine!), a great way to make sure you’re both living in the present moment and documenting is to pace yourself. If you’ve just arrived and are exploring for the first time, especially if you’re with friends, take pictures sparingly, and only of things you know you’ll care to look at later. There’s no need to take up every ounce of phone/camera memory and totally overwhelm your future self with pictures of every little detail; plus, this takes your attention away from the experience in the moment, and puts it on the picture.

When you get home, go through your pictures, see what you like and what you don’t, and use the pictures to help you decide what your favorite areas of the city are. After you’ve organized your preferences mentally, you can make a point to return to those places alone, with the specific intention of taking photos.

One of my favorite things to do is take a weekend day to purposely get lost, giving myself the challenge to only photograph things from a unique, deliberate perspective. This forces me to really see and appreciate my surroundings and the nuances of the city; it’s also really fun and creative. It’s a great way to force yourself to go out and deliberately appreciate where you are. Plus, the photos you get will be so much better than the ones you arbitrarily snap as you’re walking with friends or distracted by conversations.

If you don’t like taking pictures, but still don’t want to come out of the experience with no records, a great way to make sure you’re preserving memories is to just rely on your phone. So many people invest in a new camera before they travel, and for some people, this is great. But, if you know you’re uninterested, or if you feel like it will just weigh you down and be another thing you have to worry about, don’t bother. There’s nothing wrong with slightly less artistic pictures–whatever helps you remember your experience in the most convenient way possible is what you should do.

When you’re out and about, just try to be aware of your thought processes. Whenever you gasp, gape, or swoon over something, that’s your cue to take a picture. I know how common it is for people to return from a trip and only then realize they have no pictures–if you just try to consciously be more aware of your thought processes, associating awe with preservation, it will be easier to remember to just whip out your phone and snap a photo every once in a while.

Also, use social media to your advantage. Many people are quick to snapchat their days to share with their friends–if you take a snapchat, save it. It’s a perfectly fine way to help yourself remember your experiences later.

Make your documentation process as fun and doable for yourself as you can–don’t underestimate how much you’ll value the memories captured for the rest of your life!

First Traveling Experience

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Since I wrote about my plans to travel last week, I thought I’d give a round up post about my experiences this past weekend. This was my first trip out of the Czech Republic, and only my second out of Prague since I arrived, and, for me, the timing was perfect; I’ve been in Prague for long enough that it’s become comfortable and feels like a secure home base, and I feel comfortable coming and going from it logistically. I’m so glad I took the opportunity to travel– I had an absolutely amazing time, and I’m so thankful for the ability to take advantage of the easy access I have different parts of Europe while I’m here.

My flight to Scotland was less smooth than I would have hoped; I had a connecting flight, and although I theoretically had plenty of time to make my next flight after going through immigration and security again, the airport was extremely slow moving and took forever, even though it wasn’t crowded. I literally sprinted through the airport to make my flight after getting through security, and only made it by the skin of my teeth, the point is that I made it, and arrived in Scotland safe (and stressed) and sound.

After meeting my sister at the airport and taking a train from Glasgow to my friend’s university, we got a little night-tour of her town and had dinner in a favorite place of hers. Another great part of studying abroad at the same time as friends, is that you get to meet their new friends as well–my best friend got SO lucky with her new roommates and friends. We had a great time together, and I’m thankful to have more friends scattered around the world.

We traveled to St. Andrew’s University (where Prince William and Kate went…bucket list item checked off for me) and bopped around the town, enjoyed the coast and sea, and admired ruins and graveyards in the area. It was absolutely stunning, and felt like a real Scottish experience.

The next day we went to a soccer (sorry, football) game, which, although we were told it was “not that big a big deal” because it wasn’t a close game, was SO much fun. The U.K. soccer craze is real.

We also met most of my friends family, who live in Scotland, and got to explore Glasgow and Edinburgh and their respective universities, as well. Both cities, though very different in feeling, architecture, and even personality, are gorgeous. I already have plans to return.

Although the scenery and history was amazing, the best part of this trip, and honestly every one I’ve ever taken, is the people. Both getting to see my best friend and meeting new faces were the best parts of the trip, and it’s reaffirmed my commitment to living a life that prioritizes loved ones, experiences, and travel rather than material.

My flight home was smooth sailing (but intensely bittersweet), and I can’t wait to jet off to my next destination (after enjoying some down time in my beautiful new home, Praha.)

Prague Legends

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I’m taking a class here in the Czech Republic called “Images of Prague”, which is a literature based class that discusses Czech art: a mixture of (mostly) literature, art, and history. It’s been so interesting so far, and it’s a great way to learn about the culture of the Czech republic and Prague by familiarizing myself with their history and cultural identity.

We’ll be reading Kafka (obviously), Capek, and other famous Czech writers and works of literature, and, as a sort of introduction to the class and city, we’ve started by reading Czech legends that detail the conception of the Czech Republic and Prague. I thought I would share them because I found them so interesting–I would recommend anyone studying abroad to read into those of their own cities, even if they aren’t required by a class. They’re a great, fun, entertaining way to learn more about your new home.

Legend has it that Pagans settled in the land of the Czech Republic in ancient times, and those who came to prosper built themselves castles and lived happily among their growing population. When the most well-respected leader, “Father Czech” died, disorder began to spread, and the people yearned for a new leader. Pace, who was another wealthy citizen, took the position and reigned for many years. He founded schools where magic, religion, prophecy, and hymns were taught, and found a suitable spot on the river to build a new castle, as the Gods guided him to do, and called it Vyšehrad.

Upon his death, his three daughters, Kazi, Teta, and Libuše, survived him–they were all well loved and talented: Kazi in medicine and herbs, Teta, as a priestess, and Libuše in prophetizing. Libuše was chosen as the new leader. It was she who prophesied the creation of a new city, on a cliff by a river, where they would find a man building a house, and instead build a castle and call it Praha (Prague). She also premonised the existence of her future husband.

This is a brief summary of the basic legend, which exists inside a maze of a whole slew of other legends. The existence of Prague is legendarily attributed to Libuše’s ability to prophecise it’s future existance.

After reading these stories, my class took a field trip to Vyšehrad, which is just one metro stop away from my school. The views are absolutely beautiful, as the castle is situated on top of a cliff over the river, as the legend details. We visited statues and large wooden figurines that tell the story of the legends we’d read, and discussed the origins of the legends and what they reveal about the times in which they were written or in which the statues were built. Oftentimes, legends were either created or dramatized in the 19th century, when the Czech Republic was trying to “catch up” to, or legitimize/dramatize itself and it’s history next to Germany, which is interesting and culturally telling.

We also passed through a graveyard in which many famous Czechs are buried, and a beautiful church (where a movie was being filmed!).

Both reading about and visiting the sites where legends supposedly took place has been so interesting and valuable for me. I look forward to reading more Czech literature during my time here, I know it’s going to increase my appreciation for this city. IMG_6570.JPG

 

Cognitions

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As I wrap up another week, I thought I would take this post as an opportunity to talk about my life here in Prague without any real structure or purpose, other than giving some insight into my day to day life. While it’s been great sharing some “tips and tricks” that I’ve discovered over the past few weeks in themed out blog posts, I think a bit more free form, laid back chat is in order.

My actual full-semester classes started last week, and I’ve just finished up my second week of them. I’ve really enjoyed all of them so far; I think they’re going to be great classes that I’ll really like. I had enough space in my college-long four year schedule that I was able to take all elective classes while abroad; this has given me an awesome amount of freedom in not only selecting my classes here, but selecting a study abroad program to begin with. Having the freedom to chose a program without worrying about classes counting towards my major was one less (big) thing I had to worry about; it would have been especially difficult for me to find a program I could do because I have a unique major. Saving elective space for study abroad is a great way to increase your freedom of choice and decrease stress levels overall.

My program is structured so that we only have our classes once a week, with the exception of the full-semester length language class. Not all students take this class, as it is as optional as the rest, but I am so glad I enrolled in it. This schedule works great for me because, as I talked about in my last post, I have the freedom to travel or explore Prague on my long weekends, but I’m also able to have my language class twice a week, which is a great, more efficient way to learn a language than having one long class once a week. The more exposure you have and the more often that exposure occurs, the more you learn, and I’ve been learning so much helpful information that’s made living in Prague easier and easier.

I’ve discovered some favorite places in the city, as well, and I’ve developed a kind of weekend or free time routine that I always look forward to. I always like to find a good coffee shop or quiet space to write or read in, and I’ve found a few spots that are ideal for the artistic-introvert. There is an adorable English bookstore here in Prague, which has tons of gorgeous (and tempting) books, plus a cavernous basement that’s a great place to hide away and do work, write, or read. I also have two (so far) favorite coffee shops; one is open and sophisticated-French-looking and, with lights that are dimmed for the perfect relaxing atmosphere and windows showcasing the narrow winding streets that seem to branch from it, and the other is a teeny tiny (and I mean TEENY tiny) coffee shop with the nicest owner ever, unique, Wes Anderson-esque art on the walls, and the perfect mixture of jazz and classical music for relaxing and enjoying the ambiance or following some creative endeavor.

I can’t wait to uncover some more of Prague’s gems to enjoy and share with you in the weeks to come! IMG_6255 2.JPG