Dobry den! My study abroad trip has been off to an interesting start as I unfortunately came down with COVID for the first time ever just a few days after the long flight to Europe. This also meant that I had to quarantine in Austria for five days before taking the train to Prague, where my program is taking place. Although I was sad about missing the first few days of the program, it gave me some time to reflect on what I have learned about the ingredients of culture and what I am most excited to explore upon my arrival to Prague.
As I have quarantined for the full five days, I am now on my way to Prague via train. I must say it was a bit nerve-wracking navigating the train system for the first time, in an unfamiliar country, with an unfamiliar language. My time spent in Austria has motivated me to learn German! It is such a gift to be able to speak the language when traveling through a different country. It helps to better understand the cultural norms, connect with locals, and simply feel more at ease when trying to navigate a new space. This was my first time traveling alone and I definitely felt the difference. Instead of being able to rely on someone else to help figure out where to go, it was all up to me. I must say it’s been a very rewarding experience thus far as each step towards the right path reminds me that I am capable to getting through uncomfortable situations by trusting my intuition and looking back to previous experience traveling abroad. I have also learned not to be afraid to ask for help. People are often very willing to offer help when needed, and so far I have gladly accepted their kind gesture.
After a long six hour train ride, I finally arrived in Prague. A small group of my classmates were kind enough to meet me at the train station and help me navigate the public transportation system to get to our apartments. Still recovering from being sick, I was exhausted and hungry. I got in pretty late so I quickly dropped off my things in my apartment and set off for a Czech Pilsner beer and any food I could find. It felt so satisfying to finally be in Prague and observe the multicultural environment I found myself in. As I paid close attention to my surroundings at the restaurant, I heard multiple different languages being spoken. There’s nothing quite like watching people out with friends sharing happy memories and laughing. After two years of isolation, this was an experience I had been longing for.
After filling my tummy with tasty beer and quick bar food, it was time to sleep. Tomorrow would be my first day of activities with my study abroad program, in which we are headed to Terezin which was a Jewish ghetto during Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. I know this is going to be a very heavy, important, day. More to come about this experience tomorrow!
Cau for now!