Falling for Prague
So I’ve finally arrived!!!!!!! I’m on the other side of the map!!
(Side Note: And…. my computer charger arrived… a week later!! I made the classic mistake of taking my computer charger out to fit something else and never put it back in. Although I’ve been deprived of the internet and the safety of normalcy with social media and constant communication, it was nice to be forced to take a break. It allowed me to be immersed in everything around me, especially during the first week! It’s so intimating to immerse yourself in the unknown!)
Anyways, time traveling into the future (the time change from New York to Prague, Czech Republic is 6 hours!), I made it to Prague alone but with support from my friends and family. It was the first time I had traveled by myself and it was over 4,000 miles! I was feeling nervous, excited, regretful, hopeful, and impatient the whole way over. However, I felt myself becoming more free, like I was letting go of something I never knew I was gripping so tight on to. While I was going through these feelings, I found that traveling is not glamorous as what it’s depicted to be in movies or in books. It’s tough. It’s REALLY tough. However, there a lot to learn when you’re going through those moments of discomfort, and I’m going to have to learn.
When I finally made it to my dorm, I found out I was the last one to arrive from my program and hadn’t even realized my flight was delayed. I had slept through the announcement of prevailing winds on the plane before we took off. I met a friendly girl at the check-in desk who had just arrived right before me. As I walked into the area that would be my home for the next four months and to my surprise, the girl was my roommate! It was perfect timing for us to meet but not so great on exploring our new home because of how late we got there.
On my first official day exploring Prague, I was in a daze and quite possibly stunned. I was so fascinated and overwhelmed by everything; the foreign language plastered everywhere, meeting new people, and becoming situated with the city. I just couldn’t believe I was in Prague and more prominently that I would actually be living here. I was eager to learn about everything. I definitely experienced culture shock which was something that I hadn’t experienced much before. I had this astounding feeling of adjusting to everything hitting me at once. Combined with my assimilated to my new surroundings, I was EXHAUSTED! I most definitely had jet lag and it knocked me down. It was a rough first week; figuring out the tram and metro for transportation, finding where to buy supplies, figuring out cultural norms; meeting new friends, and on top of all that, being homesick.
There were things about the Czech Republic that I couldn’t have prepared myself for when trying to assimilate into the culture. The language is definitely a barrier when it comes to communicating. I’m taking my introductory language course now and it is really helping but I freeze and feel like running away! Additionally, in the Czech Republic, it is not okay to do is smile at strangers in a public location. If you do this, it means you’re flirting with them, you’re attracted to them, and you LIKE them. I had no idea! It is so hard for me to not smile! I love to smile at people, it’s how I communicate! And I love to people watch! So this aspect has been difficult but I just have to watch where I’m looking and when I’m smiling. It’s so different from being in America because smiling is encouraged and it means you’re just being friendly. So weird! But I am drawn to the city and end up smiling anyways, I can’t help it!
Prague is unreal. I’m falling in love with the beautiful, quiet streets with hand laid cobblestone that can lead me to alluring and unfamiliar places; our dorm mother who fell in love with her famous fighter husband here; the boundless, seductive castle on a hill that I keep finding myself at; the little cafes tinged with smoke and bitter “kava”; the Charles bridge where I’ll spend sunrises and sunsets; the language that is so difficult yet so beautiful; and the limitless history I’m learning about everyday.
I’m excited for my journey and each day, Prague is taking my breath away.