I have 11 days left in Prague. Where did the last four months go?!
With less than two weeks left I decided it would be appropriate to revisit the bucket list that I made in my very first post when I was a wee, unseasoned traveler. Let’s see how I did shall we?
1) Don’t look like an absolute fool/American tourist
Well, this one is debatable. I like to think I did fairly well (much to my joy when I keep my American mouth shut, I am often mistaken as Czech) but then I have these incessant flashbacks of me trying to buy postage or trying to explain to my classroom of 15-year-old Czech students what “diarrhea” is in English or the time I joined the gym and couldn’t figure out which locker room was the women’s because I couldn’t understand the signs and had to creepily sit in the lobby, keeping an eye on the locker room doors until a noticeably male or female gym-goer entered or left the locker room…. It’s these little incidences that make it debatable.
2) Get lost. Find my way back.
This sort of became a hobby of mine and it got much easier as I learned the public transportation system of Prague. Procrastinating schoolwork, laundry or blog writing (gasp!), I would set out of my flat with the necessities, my keys and some Coldplay (really, Coldplay is the absolute best city-adventuring music. Putting the ipod on “shuffle” while on a stroll is not conducive because when “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus starts blasting in your ears, it sort of kills the mood of drifting through a chic European city…and yes, I do have Miley Cyrus on my ipod). No maps allowed. Maps are awkward and annoyingly difficult to fold, not to mention they would seriously hinder the achievement of #1 on my bucket list. And after all, Rule #2 of my “Everything-you-need-to-know-to-not-have-“American tourist”- stamped-on-your-forehead Guide” is: One must not be seen frantically trying to close a city map in the unforgiving wind while protectively holding your money belt on a busy street corner. This rule of course follows Rule #1: Bring your voice down about 60 decibels.
Anyway, I would set out and just walk. Wherever I felt like going, I’d go. I followed my intuition, which interestingly enough always seemed to end up near ice cream, and walked until my feet hurt. Thankfully Prague has an exceptional public transportation system, so once I was tired, I’d find the nearest tram stop or metro and take it back to a familiar station and make my way home. I need to remind myself that this adventuring will only work in cities with public transport- the woods of northern Wisconsin may be a little difficult to navigate under this strategy.
3) My sister sent me a postcard once that said “Tender feelings in Prague.” I would like some tender feelings in Prague.
Uh, not yet. I’d say I have rather tender feelings for Prague, which is a start, right? And hey, I still have 11 days—watch out boys, here I come! I’ll keep you posted.
4) Rock my classes. It’s called study abroad for a reason….
I’ll let you know when I get my grades back. But I have good feelings about this one.
5) Take a class at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts.
I failed on this one. I realized once I received my class schedule and planned my weekend traveling, I really had no time for more classes. But I made friends with some film students, so I think that partially counts. I’ll give myself a half check mark.
6) Hold an internship, preferably in a radio station.
If by internship, I meant volunteering, and by a radio station, I actually meant a middle school, then SUCCESS! My advisor wasn’t able to connect with the radio station, but the alternative has been so worthwhile. Talking to 15-year-old Czech students about Lady Gaga and Glee is priceless. My students were in their final year of grade school (in the Czech Republic, once you finish your 9th year, you can either choose to be done with schooling or go on to high school) so they weren’t particularly motivated to learn per se. My supervising teacher was aware of this lack of motivation, so she assigned me topics each class to simply discuss with the students. We talked about hospitals, traveling, holidays, books, films, and music, comparing the US and the Czech Republic. During our music discussion, I brought my laptop and played them popular American songs. I obviously forced them to listen to “Party in the USA” while I sang and danced along. If they learned anything that discussion, it might have been more about my sanity than about music, but hey, I got angsty teens to smile! Now, that measures up to success in my book.
7) Make tons of new friends.
Done and done. And many of them are from cities that are conveniently on my travel list- i.e. Miami, DC, New York City, New Orleans, LA… Can’t wait to visit them! I will graciously return the favor and invite them to the destination hot spot of Grantsburg, WI. It’s the epitome of an equal trade-off.
8) Educate someone on the wonderful culture of Wisconsin who has never heard of it before.
Did this like it was my job. I’ve done my state proud. Especially when doing the obligatory “where from?” introductions when meeting new international friends and having to answer Wisconsin after my friends say LA, New York City, and Miami….I needed to clear the obvious confusion on the new friend’s face and explain the absolute greatness of Wisconsin. I honestly think I should get compensation from the state; I bet tourism is going to double due to my propaganda. You are welcome, Wisconsin.
9) Be realistically sufficient in Czech…. Realistically being the key word here.
See the beauty of inserting realistically in this goal is that it’s subjective and I get to decide. And I’m going to give myself an A+. Because I can. And because my Czech teacher often exclaims “Vyborne (excellent), Maarja!” during Czech class and I trust Zdenka knows what she is talking about, I mean, she wouldn’t say I was doing excellent if I wasn’t! But then again, Zdenka is a very kind person and often apologizes for all of the Czech Republic and how ridiculously difficult they made their language.
10)Travel to Budapest.
Check! Along with London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Krakow, Vienna, and cities throughout the Czech Republic, I definitely put some miles on this semester.
11) Keep up a blog.
17 posts so far. I’d say that is an accomplishment.
So the consensus? I think I’ve done quite well. Not to mention all of the things I did that weren’t on my little bucket list, I got exactly what I was looking for in a study abroad experience when I wrote my first blog post- an adventure. But wait, it’s not over yet! Before I get overly nostalgic, I still have 11 days to get everything else in (hellooooooo tender feelings in Prague)! No more wasting time, Prague is calling to me to get out there and enjoy my last 11 days…never mind the two papers and five finals that are looming like a dark storm cloud over my head. I’ll get to them, I promise….