I’ve landed. Immediately when I stepped into the streets of Prague the gorgeous gothic buildings and ancient cobblestone roads overwhelmed me. Granted, I could have been dizzy from the drastic contrast of fresh air to stale airplane air, but everything is BEAUTIFUL. I’m still in the “honeymoon phase” of the supposed culture shock, and really it doesn’t even feel like I am a resident of Prague yet. Maybe that will change once I start classes and actually have a schedule. But as of now, I don’t foresee this feeling of awe and excitement at the beauty of Prague and the Czech culture fading anytime soon.
I snapped a picture of Old Town Square while I was exploring one day on my own. This building is the perfect example of the gothic style scattered around Prague from Charles IV era
This is (so far) my favorite, classic, smoky, artsy, authentic café hidden behind Old Town Square. It is one of Prague’s oldest coffeehouses where Franz Kafka would come to write as well as other Czech surrealist artists. The café helped cultivate the Prague Bohemian sub-culture and is truly an inspiring atmosphere to flesh out all those papers I’ll soon be writing.
So—that language barrier. I hadn’t really noticed too much of a communication divide the first week and a half, probably because I was with a lot of the Americans in my program and Czech buddies who speak English very well, but there is definitely a large percent of the population that does not speak English. I went to the local farmers market one block up from my apartment on my own last week, and fully grasped how uncomfortable a language barrier can be. When I travelled to France, I at least had some understanding of the language and could order food and converse fairly easily. Here, even after preparing with hours of Czech conversational tapes, I feel like a silly, ignorant American.
Thankfully, we’ve started the intensive Czech program, which is helping immensely. It is stressful and challenging, but I can officially pronounce some words in Czech/ order at a restaurant. Progress!
Goal: to be able to pronounce the name of my apartment metro stop – Jiřího z Poděbrad. Give that a try. Impossible.
The first day I landed in Prague, the CIEE Czech buddies (who are all enrolled at Charles University in Prague and are around our age) took everyone out in small groups to an authentic Czech dinner. It was kind of shocking to see that all the restaurants allow smoking. Also, beer is literally cheaper than water at a restaurant. So crazy.
The public transportation in Prague is incredible. I admit—as much as my being thrives in a big city—Prague was quite intimidating the second day when I realized just how far I have to travel to get to my classes, back to my apartment, to Old Town Square, and any other areas of the city I would want to travel to on a daily basis. My commute from my apartment, which is directly in the heart of the city center and conveniently above a metro stop, to the CIEE study center where I will be taking classes, is 30 minutes by metro and a short walk. This seems far away, but the magic of the advanced metro system is that the travel time feels like 10 minutes.
Here are some pictures of the first week of exploring this beautiful city and meeting new friends. Prague is starting to feel like home.
My roommate and some other American friends from the program and I went to experience the famous Lennon Wall on our 4th day. The art is constantly changing and being painted over, so we’ll go back at the end of the semester and see what has changed!
A lovely Czech restaurant right on the Vltava River. I’m trying to go to as many outdoor restaurants and pubs as possible before the impending winter hits! I tried a Czech beer cheese plate here. So yummy.
And for some entertainment- some Czech jazz. There is a pretty big jazz scene here that I have only just started to explore.
Na Zdravi (cheers, or to your health)!