One Month In

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.

Day Trip

Soon after arriving in Prague, I traveled with a group of 12 to Budapest Hungary. The trip was not well organized and it seemed that we spent more time looking for members of our group or trying to make decisions about where to eat than we did on sightseeing. So today I decided to try a solo day trip. I chose to schedule a guided trip to Kutna Hora, about an hour by train from Prague. I got to the tour office and was given a voucher and told where to wait. I then waited a while until the tour guide told us to head out. I was planning to stay by myself for the tour, but as luck would have it I was approached by a girl. She was from Australia and was traveling around Europe for a gap year. She then introduced me to two other girls she had met at her hostel the night before. One was also from Australia and the other was from Germany. They were all traveling around Europe and planned to be in Prague for some time. We walked to the train station and boarded the train. I sat down next to a guy on the tour who was from Australia and had just graduated from University. We chatted for the entire train ride and he was very nice. While on the train, the guide told us about lunch and I decided I would go as it was reasonably priced and I like what I saw on the menu When we arrived in Kutna Hora, we were in the suburbs and had to take a tram to get to the Bone Chapel. We stopped in front of the chapel in the graveyard. We learned about the chapel being constructed because of the silver rush in the area and how it was viewed as being connected to the HolyLand, thus leading to many people wanting to be buried there. However, they decided to build the chapel in the center of the graveyard, which led to them having to dig up some dead bodies. They stacked the bones in a pyramid fashion in the basement of the chapel. Later, the king bought the chapel and commissioned an artist to make art from the bones. We then learned that the chapel is currently sinking into the ground and because of this they are going to have to remove the bones and fix the church and then put the bones back. So essentially, it won’t be the original Bone Chapel, as most of it will end up being replaced. Also, the tour guide told us that they are eventually going to stop allowing tourists in the graveyard and cameras in the Bone Chapel. So if what she told us is true, then I am lucky to have had the opportunity to go before all of these changes go into effect. The inside of the Bone Chapel was not at all what I had imagined. I had purposefully avoided looking at pictures online so that I wouldn’t ruin it for myself. It was cool, but it was a bit of a let down from what I had imagined. After exploring the Bone Chapel, we took a bus to Saint Barbara Church. It is by far one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. It is gothic style and it slightly resembles the church at Prague Castle. I learned that it was built because of the silver rush also, with the wealth of nobles. I then got to see some amazing views of the city and St. James Church. My group took a selfie and then we headed to a restaurant to eat lunch at 3. I had duck with lard dumplings. While over here, I have come to like red cabbage and today I got to eat a lot of it. The duck was good and it looked big, but in reality there was not a lot of meat. The lard balls, as I call them, were disgusting to look at, but okay to eat, or so I thought. I really enjoyed the meal and talked to the two Australians I had met, as well as a women who worked at a college in California and some newlyweds from Canada.
The next place we walked past was St. James Church, which was built by the donations of peasants We then walked to what used to be the Royal Mint for the country. It was really cool looking and in the center was a fountain. According to our tour guide, if you threw a coin in you would get good luck. Seeing how I like good luck, I was game. I threw in a 2 cent coin and have now gained eternal good luck. We were then shown an amazing place to take great pictures of St Barbara Church. Unfortunately, the sun was out and kind of ruined the amazing picture opportunity. Finally we went back to the train station, where we split up from the group and I went back home. I enjoyed my solo trip and will head to Vienna, Austria next weekend for another solo trip.