A New Home for the Next Four Months

My thoughts and Preparation for Studying Abroad in Prague

I am the most organized procrastinator you will ever meet. I love making a plan and laying out all the different things I have to do. Oh, and lists, I love making lists. I am obsessed with organization. However, when it comes to actually check items off the list, I take a while. I always get everything done. Sometimes it’s just not until the last minute.

The same has happened as I prepare to set out on my adventure in the Czech Republic in the city of Prague.

http://awesomebryner.com/prague-world-map/

As you read this, there is less than a day before I leave.

During the summer having two jobs, class and trying to hang out with friends made prepping for Prague not as high of a priority as it should have been.

It was nice to have a roommate who has been to Prague. She told me stories of her adventure there and shared little snippets of information I should know. It was a good way to start preparing myself during the chaos of my busy schedule.

Rick Steves has also been my little buddy on learning more about the culture. I have skimmed through his books and watched his videos.

A video by Rick Steves about the city of Prague

Thanks to Rick Steves I learned that until about 1800, Prague was four separate and fortified towns: The Castle Town — for a thousand years the home of the Czech ruler. The Little Town — where nobles would live to be close to the king. The Old Town — with its magnificent market square. And the New Town — with the grand Wenceslas Square providing a stage for this country’s tumultuous 20th-century history.

This stood out to me because just like how Prague used to be separate cities, Bellingham was also separate cities that merged into one. It reminded me of home.

The hardest part of this all and what I am most scared for is the people I am leaving behind. These last few months I have found a home in Bellingham. I love my roommates and my friends. I love the city. I feel like I am at a good point in my life. To walk away from all that, all of them, makes me sad.

While I am away I will have to work on maintaining a balance. I will need to experience my journey in Prague to the fullest, but I want to make sure I take the time to speak to those I love back home.

There are a lot of things I am nervous about besides leaving my friends and family.

I have little experience in travel.

I grew up in Olympia, Washington and moved to Bellingham, Washington for college. I can count the number of states I have been to on one hand. The longest trip I took was only a week and a half in California. So, the idea of being in a whole other part of the world for three and a half months has been a little crazy.

Navigation and the language barrier is something I am nervous about. I have downloaded plenty of recommended apps to help me get around and to try to make everything as easy as possible. I have an app called Duolingo to help me learn Czech, a metro app, and plenty of map apps.

Screenshot of the apps I will be using abroad.

Food will be another challenging part of studying abroad. I have been vegan for two and a half years. I don’t plan on giving up that lifestyle when I’m abroad so it will be interesting to see where I can eat out and how to communicate my dietary restriction. I do have an app called Happy Cow. This app shows you all vegan or vegetarian-friendly stores, restaurants, and cafes in any city around the world. While I plan to keep up the Vegan diet, I also don’t plan on being too strict on myself. I want to be able to fully experience the Czech culture, and if that means eating a non-vegan pastry every once in a while, I will.

Screenshots of the Happy Cow App.

As the date of my departure grows closer, waves of excitement followed by fear and sadness come and go. At first, when I started getting sad I wasn’t sure why. I have looked forward to this trip for so long.

Later I realized this sadness was a good thing. I have four amazing months ahead of me, getting to see parts of the world I never thought I would get the chance to explore. And after the journey, I get to come back to a place that makes me happy, filled with amazing people. The sadness of what I am leaving is a reminder that I am blessed.

Besides being scared and nervous, I am just as excited. I am looking forward to finally seeing another part of the world and immersing myself in a different culture. I am excited to meet new people and hear their stories, and of course, I am excited about all the food I am about to eat.