It is almost time to get on the plane that will transport me to a new way of life, and, although I have my visa and about 100 travel books, the fact that I will be a resident of Prague, Czech Republic still has not resonated with me. It seems like a fairytale: a distant adventure. The greatest realization is that this will soon be a reality. No more dreaming what a semester abroad will bring – but actually living it. The closer I get to leaving (August 26th) the more excited I am for the promise of new experiences and a lifestyle outside of my normal routine. There is no trace of fear or doubt in my mind (which will probably get me into trouble in the long run). All I feel is a glorious sense of adventure. I am going to devour all that Prague has to offer.
I’ve recently finished my summer internship, volunteering, and actual job, as well as moved out of Madison to return to my small hometown, which provides some distance from my fast-paced life at school and the many future plans my new friends were making that I knew I couldn’t be a part of. The hardest obstacle for me is that I had to listen to my peers in my major getting cool new jobs for the school year, wishing I could apply for them and advance my career here. Also, by the end of summer, I began to hear new summer friends making plans to hang out this semester, making me realize I would miss out on bonding with people at my own school. Yet, as I think about all the adventures in store for me, and the promise of new friendships and life experiences in Prague, my anxiety about leaving my Madison life completely dissolves. My engagements this summer made for a fairly busy lifestyle, which I was thoroughly engaged in, making the reality of a semester in a foreign country merely a dream. But now, at home, rummaging through all of my poorly and chaotically packed apartment and school things, I’m beginning to immerse myself in my studies of the Czech culture.
Goals: To be flexible and proactive
I recently attended my mandatory online pre-departure orientation in which my advisor abroad made it pretty clear students will not have the easiest time adapting if they have preconceived rigid expectations of their time abroad. This makes total sense, obviously. However, growing up in a fast-paced American society where one is taught and has grown up to have power and control over the course of their life and studies makes flexibility while in an unknown foreign county a little bit intimidating. So, my goal is to let go. Try to let things happen to me. I know this sounds like living in existential bad faith, but for one semester, I can let my existential concerns dissolve and just be immersed in a new, exciting culture and see what I learn.
In regards to meeting Czech people (another one of my goals), my orientation leader stressed being proactive. Czech people, so I’m told, pretty much keep to themselves and aren’t as outgoing compared to Americans. I hope to dispel this stereotype, as well as stereotypes Czech citizens may have of Americans, and actually branch out to make some Czech friends. Wish me luck!