University of Wisconsin–Madison

5 DAYS

Only 5 days left of home. 5 days left of being able to understand the language around me. 5 days of being able to eat my favorite American foods. 5 days of being able to see family and friends whenever I want because were in the same time zone. Only 5 days left until my biggest adventure yet.

Goal 1: Meet as many new faces as possible

This morning I had an orientation with faculty who I will be seeing almost every day during my time abroad. We logged into a chat room and watched a presentation that went over everything from where our apartments are, where our classes will be, and everything in between. I noticed there were over 70 people in the chat. That means I will be meeting 70 new faces in only 5 days. When the orientation was over I found a Facebook group where everyone was introducing themselves, saying where they’re from, what they study, and where they want to travel to this summer. Paris to Budapest, Croatia to Amsterdam and everything in-between. We are eager to get away.

Goal 2: Become an expert at dressing simple while very fashionable at the same time

I realize now I have to do one of the hardest things yet, pack. I am addicted to over packing. It makes so much sense to me to have at least 4 outfit options a day no matter where I go. Now I’m supposed to pack one suitcase for 2 months? Not possible. I haven’t even started because I know it’s going to be depressing leaving 90% of my wardrobe behind. Maybe I’m being dramatic (I’m definitely being dramatic). Fashion is one of my favorite forms of expression. This opens up a new challenge of staying on top of trends while maintaining a simple wardrobe. I’m guessing this will be much harder than it looks. #Firstworldproblems

Goal 3: Pick up the language

Being American, understanding some French and some Spanish is normal. It’s popularly studied in school. Czech? Not at all. Not one bit. I was speaking with coworkers recently who explained the language as one you cannot pick up on like French or Spanish. The words and phrases are SO different I’m going to have to ask everyone to repeat themselves probably 12 times. Real talk, I’m actually nervous about this because sometimes it can come off as an insult if you can’t understand a native speaking in their native tongue. So often back home I can’t even get past some peoples accents speaking English, now I need to get past foreigners dialect in a new language. I’m predicting a success rate of understanding 10% of everything anyone says, max. Crossing my fingers for many English speakers!

Goal 4: Eat

I hear meat is one of the most popular foods in the Czech Republic. Being a vegetarian (pescatarian) I don’t know where this leaves me. Will I stop this summer? Will the meat be too irresistible to pass up? Will I be missing out on prime cultural experience if I don’t try the duck? I don’t want that to be the case, but maybe that wont need to be either. No one exactly raves over how good the veggies are in a particular place so maybe that means I have nothing to worry about. I’m hoping to find fresh vegetarian cuisine daily at local street markets. Also, I can’t wait to find out my breakfast options. I am obsessed with brunch (my favorite meal of the day). I’m eager to see what the most popular and tasty options are in the morning for the locals of Prague.

Goal 5: Get lost

I remember in Italy last summer my guide recommended unplanned wandering. Don’t keep your eyes glued to a map and wander the town with no expectations. This is when you will find the most beauty. Pure spontaneous decisions will ensure wanderlust results. As far as I know, Prague is a fairly safe community with trustworthy locals. I don’t have a problem with letting my guard down and letting fate decide where I end up.

In 5 days I’m going to loading onto a plane alone for the first time ever. Walking into a brand new country by myself. Carrying everything I own on my back.

Goal 6: Survive Prague 2k15

By: Stephanie Sartell