It has snowed in Prague!!!
I’ve been in Prague for three weeks now and it still feels so unbelievable. I feel myself getting sucked within the walls of the city around me like I’m clinging to the surface, absorbing the culture of this unknown world like a like a Czech dumpling absorbing gravy in a svíčková dish. (Svíčková is a classic Czech dish that incorporates a beef sirloin in a creamy gravy with cranberry sauce and whipped cream on top and a side of dumplings. Dumplings are not like the typical dumplings that are filled with veggies or meat; this type of dumpling is more like a spongy bread.)
While I’m still adjusting to the culture and figuring things out on my own, I’ve been busy just trying to get involved and do as much as possible in Prague before I get even more busy with classes and weekend trips. I love to just walk around the city and discover new things. A couple of days ago I was supposed to meet up deep within the the old town of Prague and go for a walk. We were supposed to meet at “Power Tower” which is a huge tower that separates the old town of Prague from the rest of the city. I had seen the structure before and knew the general location so I thought I would have no problem getting there. I was totally wrong… I got lost and felt so embarrassed especially since there was a sign that pointed to exactly where it was. I just wanted to figure things out for myself and rely on my own since of direction. I felt terrible for making my new friend wait but I think this was a wake up call; to think about what I’m doing and understand the consequences for my ignorance. While I messaged her and told her I couldn’t find it, we planned to meet another day. Then, in an attempt to find my way back, this gave me a chance to explore around where I was and take different streets to discover new places. Although it was an inconvenience to get lost, I had to find my own way without google maps to guide me. I had my own intuition guide me. For me, that is where the adventure lies; the in-betweens of getting somewhere, the journey along the way. It’s not always the destination.
On top of spending my free time getting lost and exploring, I’ve had the opportunity to go to cool events that were happening around the city. I went to the Czech Philharmonic concert in the Rudolfinum named after King Rudolf, located right next to the Charles University Main Building. It was such a lovely event because it gave me a chance to dress fancy and feel a bit classy! I love classical music and it was absolutely a great experience. They are all so talented! Although my view was somewhat affected by a column (see picture below), it gave me a chance to fully listen to the music. Additionally, I didn’t realize that there would be a lot of clapping. At one point I think we were clapping for ten minutes and my arms were able to fall off. Still amazing though!
In addition, I had the chance to go to a modern ballet at the Estates Theater. I’ve never been to a ballet but always wanted to be a ballerina so I was so excited to finally experience it. The ballet was so different from what I expected because it was a modern dance but I loved it! The theater was so beautiful too. Again, a lot of clapping!
Yesterday, I went to a farmer’s market down by the Vltava river. I saw so many different foods and I wanted to try them all. However, I opted for a crepe, which is french and not Czech so I felt like I was cheating all the Czech food around me. As I’m waiting in line, I saw that there is an option to get a type of crepe filled with cheese, spinach, and walnuts. I was interested in this because I’d never seen one before so I might as well try it! I found out it’s called a galette. Although it’s french, it was something I felt like I needed to indulge in and it was definitely worth it!!
I went with my program to Kutna Hora, a town that developed due to it’s abundance of silver. It was great to get out of the city and see a different part of the Czech Republic. The drive showed the flat lands and fields of the Czech country, so different from the city. The Bone Church, which is decorated with 40,000 corpses, was something I’ve seen on the history channel so it was awesome to actually be there! It was a lot more creepy actually being there- I wasn’t expecting that. Then, we went to St. Barbara’s Cathedral which was stunning. Its design was constructed by overlaying the pattern of circles.
Our latest trip was to Terezin, a Jewish ghetto. It was a haunting place to be. It hit me all at once when I was hearing the stories and how many people suffered and lost their lives. It’s one thing to learn about the history of World War II and the Holocaust in classes but when you’re actually there, it is eerie and memorable. I will not forget that experience.
I have finally completed my Czech language course and I feel like I surprisingly learned a lot during these past two weeks. Now, I am always listening to the foreign language that always caught me off guard before. I read every sign, every store front and try intensively listen to people’s conversations in an attempt to decode it or know what is meant as it it were that easy. But it’s getting easier and I can actually have basic conversations in Czech. I really try to use the language whenever I can and I try to look like I’m not lost in the headlights. But I do I miss just hearing someone randomly in public and just understanding what they’re saying and feel what they’re feeling. I’m learning to look at different things now besides language that do to people communicate.
I start classes tomorrow and I’m excited and nervous! I’m ready for the semester to finally start!!