Having been in Prague a little over a month now, I have definitely come to several conclusions. First of all, when sharing an apartment with five other guys, things get messy. A single refrigerator is not designed to hold enough food for six men. The person who cares the most will end up loading and unloading the dishwasher and taking out the trash. It is best that the same person not be the one who cares the most about everything, or they will be doing all the dirty work.
I have learned that time away from these five people, who you do everything with, is essential. Having just returned from a solo trip to Vienna, I feel rejuvenated and ready to face another week in our loud, slightly squalid, and up all night apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I like these guys, but sometimes you just need a break.
I discovered that solo travel is amazing on multiple levels. First, you get to go where you want to go. There are no conflicts about where to eat or what to see. You don’t waste time looking for members of your group. You can start and end your day whenever you please.
In regards to classes, I have learned that it sounds great to have class only 4 times a week (that would be 4 classes meeting once a week, each for 3 hours at a time), but in actuality, it isn’t as great as it sounds. Furthermore, it becomes less great when there is a bank holiday and a professor decides to make up your class during a time that you already have a class and he doesn’t consider that a good excuse for missing his make up class.
I have found the metro to be a wonderful thing! Once you figure it out, you are never far from a station and a quick way home. You don’t have to rely on anyone to get around and you can leave someplace whenever you choose. You don’t have to worry about where to park or whether you will get a parking ticket for parking there.
I have discovered that I must look like a local, as I have had several people come up to me and ask for directions and have had two women on buses strike up conversations with me in Czech. I have found that the best way to handle these awkward conversations is to nod my head, mimic their facial expressions and laugh when they laugh. So far, so good!
Most of all, I have discovered so much about myself. I have learned that I can survive in a foreign country. I can navigate the transportation system, the grocery store and a dishwasher with Czech directions. I can travel to other countries in a pack of 12 or I can head off on my own. I can balance school, domestic chores, and a plethora of festivals, and still get a good nights sleep.
All in all, it’s been a good month. Time flies when you are studying abroad, especially when it is for just one semester. Seize opportunities, get out of your room and then get out of your country, but most of all get out of your comfort zone and make memories.