The Inevitable Journey Home
It is unbelievable how fast this semester went by. As my semester of studying abroad was drawing to a close, I found myself reflecting back on all that happened and all that I accomplished. Even looking back before I decided to study abroad, it seemed like a fantasy, something that I could only dream about but not actually experience for myself. I am so happy that I made this choice and went for it. There were so many doubts in my mind that could have prevented me from doing it but I pushed myself and just committed to it. And BAM!! Now, I spent almost 4 months living in Europe, depending on myself more than ever and figuring out things for myself. I cannot be more proud of myself for all that I have learned about different cultures and people and about myself. I know that what I learned from studying abroad I will always keep with me. It’s changed my life.
It has been a challenging semester and although I found a second home in Prague, I found myself with overwhelming homesickness. I longed to be home to see my family and friends again. It had been tough for me with being away from home and having to rely a lot on myself. Regular, ordinary things are different here like not being able to read signs, not knowing what other people are saying when you pass them on the street, the different kinds of food, the way of transportation. My classes were also structured differently which focused more on independent work and group discussion and participation. It doesn’t mean that this things were bad, and I didn’t like them, it’s just that they were different and just took a lot for me to adjust to. I am grateful that I was able to learn about these differences and apply them because it ultimately opened up my mind.
I know that I would miss my friends that I made here, the convenience of living in a city, the freedom of exploring this beautiful city, meeting new and interesting people, traveling all over and having endless possibilities. I didn’t know how I would adjust back to the U.S. and my home. Maybe it would be easier because I’ve spent most of my life there? Would I feel homesick for Prague? I’ve heard of reverse culture shock and I felt like that was something that would happen to me! But I was overwhelming excited to me home. I guess I would find out when I’m finally back!
My program ended May 21st but I planned on staying for 5 extra days so I could so some traveling without having to worry about classes. I decided to go to Berlin for 2 days with my friend who was also in the program and then head to Paris! (I ended up going alone to Paris because my other friend wasn’t able to make it!)
Berlin was an amazing city and I’m glad that I was able to go there and experience it for myself because everyone said how awesome of a city it was. It reminded me a lot like Dresden, where I took a day trip (by coincidence with the same friend!) I traveled there by myself and met my friend at the hostel. As I got off the bus and tried to make my way to the metro, I noticed that there were crowds of people flashing yellow and black. A German Man started talking to me about how there was a huge football match between two of the German teams: Dortmund and Bayern. They both made it to European finals and the final was being held in a stadium near the city. It seemed like everyone was rooting for Dortmund because as I was walking through the city, I only saw the yellow and black for Dortmund. My friend and I explored the city, just walking around near where our hostel was. We ended up watching the game at a restaurant around the locals and Dortmund ended up losing… It was a close game though!!! They went into overtime and lost through penalty kicks. I could feel the disappointment of the city.
Anyways, the next day, we rented bikes and went all over the city! We biked along the river and the Berlin Wall. We got some German sausages and even went to a German Beer Garden. It was so sunny and we went along the different bike routes. If you’re ever in Berlin, I definitely recommend renting a bike. It was so much fun!
The next day, I made my way to Paris. I went by myself which was kind of nerve-wracking but I had always wanted to go. The day that I got there, it was constantly pouring and it was not letting up. I decided to go to the Louvre. There was a massive line and I was not caving in to buying an umbrella from the random street vendors so I was getting soaked but I was in line next to Italian art workers who gave me some of their umbrella to share. They were waiting for their friend whose girlfriend lived in Paris and they were visiting him. They were very nice and we talked about my travels and different things around Paris which didn’t make the long line seem as long. We finally made it inside and I spent most of the day there. It’s a good thing that I went that day though because the next day was closed. Then, I explored the rest of Paris, just walking around to the different places I’ve learned about in my french class from high school. I made my way from the Louvre to Les Champs-Elysees. I got crepes and my favorite pain au chocolat! I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and I was so happy to actually be there! I never realized how big it actually is! It’s crazy though because now there is major flooding there!
I made my way back to Prague and then had my flight the next day. Home. I never thought I would be on my way back to the States! I was so excited, I could barely sleep. I got on the plane and was on the what seemed like endless journey home!!