When I first decided to study abroad, I had no idea what it all entailed. Next thing I know, I’ve been thrown into this crazy process of preparing to go abroad. I decided on the Czech Republic for 9 weeks. I had no idea what to expect. Frankly, I didn’t think a whole lot about what it was like once I got over here. I was too preoccupied trying to make sure I had all my paperwork and everything turned in. Many were shocked I chose such a long program even though I didn’t know anyone and had never been to Europe before, but I’m incredibly happy with my decision. My first piece of advice? Don’t wait on friends to commit with you to go.
Force yourself completely out of your comfort zone. In my third party program’s words, “You paid to come over here and immerse yourself in a completely new culture. You’re going to be uncomfortable at times, and that’s ok. It’s how you handle being uncomfortable that helps you grow as an individual.” It’s two days in, and I have already made numerous friends within my program and we’re all having a blast! I have toured many parts of the city already including the Lennon Wall, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle. Most of the other students came by themselves as well, so we are all looking to make friends on the fly. My second piece of advice? Go on spontaneous adventures! Whether it’s to try a new restaurant or visit a historical site, the spontaneous adventures have a tendency to be the best adventures!
Although Europe has some similarities with America, it most definitely has its differences. In housing, we have no clothes dryer and no A/C. The bathrooms are much smaller, but it makes you realize how “extra” America can be with housing. At first I thought the Czechs seemed stand-offish, but I learned they simply don’t interact how Americans do. As Americans, we tend to smile a lot, show lots of emotion, and be friendly to strangers. The Czechs are not stand-offish at all, they simply have their own day to go about and respect that you do too. That being said, whenever I have needed help with the tram or public transportation, they have always been very willing to help me out! There is a lot more English speakers than I expected, but I’m of course trying my hand at Czech. It’s a bit of a struggle currently, but I’m hoping I’ll get there. My third piece of advice? Do your best to learn the native language! You may feel like you’re butchering their language (I know I do!), but they seem to truly appreciate our efforts.
I’m already loving it here, I can’t wait to see where the rest of this adventure takes me!