Time Flies When…You Move Across the World
How I have been adjusting to my new life in Prague
First and foremost Prague is amazing.
The bustle of everyday life fills the streets, and main squares, throughout the city. The foreign languages buzz around me. I am clueless to what people are discussing and can only pick out a few words here and there. While the buildings of Prague are big, old and beautiful the city is also full of hidden gems.
I am happy that I chose Prague for my program abroad.
I’m concluding my fourth week here. It is crazy to think that I have been in the city for almost a full month now. This is the longest amount of time I have been away from the state of Washington.
When coming to Prague I really didn’t have too many expectations. I hadn’t traveled before so I didn’t know what to expect. I just went into it with an open mind with the idea that anything and everything is possible. The good and the bad.
I think it was having a lack of expectations and being an independent individual that I didn’t experience culture shock.
However, that doesn’t mean I didn't experience any difficulty. I had to learn my way around and adjust to my new surroundings.
The hardest part was adjusting to the time difference when communicating with friends back home. We are always on opposite ends of the day. While it made me feel disconnected at first I have gotten used to the pattern and still talk to my friends frequently. I truly appreciate each and every one of them. They make it easy to enjoy my time here and to be excited to return home.
One of my friends even came to visit. She was traveling Europe for a week before school started back up at Western. It was good to see her and catch up. She also understands what it is like to be away from friends and family for several months. She did an internship in Europe last summer. Hearing her advice and knowing she is someone I can count on to understand what I am feeling, is comforting.
This is my first time living in an apartment. So far it reminds me of freshman year in the dorms, but I don’t have to go down the hall to use the bathroom. I live with five other girls. Three of them are from Seattle Washington while the other two are from Ohio and Nevada. There is three rooms total, so we each have a roommate. The apartment is nice, however, it is on the fifth floor of the building. The four times a day I go up the stairs is currently what I am counting as my daily exercise. I could use the elevator, but it can only fit two people and it is honestly a little scary and makes some sketchy noises.
Grocery shopping is different here. At home, I am used to shopping for the whole week. Here its more common to just shop for one or two days. This means I am constantly at the grocery store. When checking out people only have a few items, there is no bagger, and you feel super rushed to grab your things and get out of the way. This caused a lot of stress the first few trips to the store. I have gotten good at putting my food away quickly, but sometimes I am still forced to shove my groceries into my arms and find the nearest counter to put it all down and organize it into bags.
Another adjustment I had to make and figure out is social cues. Socially, while Americans are expressive and chatty even to strangers, Czechs are quiet and straight-faced. As someone who is expressive with their facial features not smiling at random people is hard and still something I am getting used to. It is also best to speak as little as possible while on any type of public transportation. This is easy if I am riding metro on my own, but when my friends and I chat I can tell we are being disruptive.
To help with adjustment to life in the Czech Republic the program makes everyone take a two-week intensive language course to learn some basic phrases. I am able to order food, ask clarifying questions among other things. It is a cool experience to learn a language and then walk out of class and be immersed in it. After the first two weeks, I knew how to communicate basic needs and how to get to wherever I needed to go.
Along with continuing the Czech language class, I am also taking Alternative Culture, Art Photography and Censorship in Law. I just finished week two of my regular class schedule. So far, all my classes are interesting and I can tell I will be learning a lot.
I am excited to be in a real photography class. I have only ever taken a film photography class in high school. Seeing other peoples work as well as getting mine critiqued will help me learn new ways of looking at the world through the lens of my camera.
Censorship in Law is challenging, but not because of the workload, because the teacher makes us think about hard situations where there are so many blurred lines. This is the type of class that can change peoples views and shapes them into different people. I am excited to see where I will end up after several months of the class.
Overall things have been going well. If I could have done some more research on one thing to better prepare myself it would have been to look into different restaurants, cafes, museums, and other excursions to visit. I feel as though sometimes I have been spending more time planning and looking places up than just exploring. It hasn’t been that bad and travel is about exploring and stumbling into the unknown, but for any travel in the future, I will make a list of my must-see places before I arrive.
I have a lot planned in the upcoming month. I hope from here on out I will be posting on a more weekly or bi-weekly schedule to keep everyone updated and to share my adventures.