After being in Prague for 2 ½ weeks, I have finally started to settle in. However, it only took me about 2 hours to fall in love with the city. In my first blog I told yall how I had dreamed about living in Prague for 6 years. Obviously, this extended wait time left me with extremely high expectations. These expectations are already far surpassed. Therefore, this post will declare the top 6 reasons why Prague should be your study abroad destination:
6. Buddy System- The buddy system is one of the most glorious aspects of studying abroad in Prague. Everyone is assigned a “buddy” to help during the transition period when you first arrive in Prague. After some late night facebook chatting sessions thanks to the 8 hour time difference, I finally got to meet my buddy, Katka, when she picked me up from the airport on February 4th. Without her, I am convinced I never would have survived. She grabbed one of my 18 bags because packing light is not in my vocabulary, and helped me navigate the train, tram, bus, and metro it took to get from the airport to my dorm. She pushed me around the dorm waiting room translating the Czech receptionist’s demands as I sat there blindly, feeling extremely out of place. She was a life savor during orientation week as we tried to figure out the 45 different required forms of student ID. Most importantly, she took me to IKEA, the greatest store in the world.
5. No one speaks English- Sometimes this point could easily be a disadvantage. For example, when I go to the grocery store and buy “milk’ only to discover after a big bite of cereal that it is not in fact milk but some sort of buttermilk. Not a fun surprise. The lack of English once again got the best of me when my roommate and I decide to walk around the city the first week we were here. We brought along every touristy thing you could image: camera, sunglasses (even though it was slightly raining and hadn’t been sunny for two weeks, 2 million Czech Koruna (equivalent to like 24 American dollars), a water bottle, gloves, etc.. except for one vital piece of equipment, a map. We somehow found our way around, however, when it was time to find tram 9 to get back home, we had no idea where the tram stop was. With no English speakers around, it was only by sheer luck that we stumbled across a tram stop 25 minutes later. However, as I said before, the lack of the English is sometimes a benefit. This advantage exists when people are yelling at you in Czech, but you have no idea what they are saying, so it really doesn’t matter. This has happened to me several times. A. Two of my friends and I were riding on a subway to try and find a shopping mall. We three girls were having a lovely conversation when all the sudden an old Czech man started screaming at us for at least 5 minutes in Czech. We looked at him like he was crazy because we obviously had no idea what he was saying, but our whole subway car was starring at us and slightly smirking. We imagined he was saying “Hello Americans! We are so happy to have you in our amazing country. Do you need help getting anywhere?” but based off the looks on all the spectators faces, I don’t think it was something that nice. Example 2: I left my keys in my friend’s room one night and was therefore locked out of my room when I got home at 3:30 a.m. Not in the mood to sleep in the hallway outside my room, I went to the reception area in my dorm and asked the lady who speaks absolutely no English to let me in. After pointing to my dorm card and saying no keys for 20 minutes, she finally got the point. Giving me one of the top 5 dirtiest looks I have ever received in my life, she snatched the spare keys and yelled at me in Czech up all six flights of stares. Once again, I had absolutely no idea what she was saying, so it was a win win situation for me. I got in my room and as far as I am concerned, she was thanking me for giving her something to do during her six hour night shift.
4. Dorms- Alright, so if you are interested in Prague, I am telling you now the dorms are NOT NICE AT ALL!!!! Imagine Jester but a lot worse, especially if you get stuck with Jarov G. Picture a typical communist building (large grey cement rectangle). Now when you walk inside your room, there is no kitchen/sitting area, only one hot plate, a fridge the size of an iphone, an extremely questionable shower, and a bathroom. To continue this virtual tour, you walk into one of two small rooms and notice that there is no mattress but three hard cushions pushed together, a brown duvet and blue pillow that I am convinced are older than me, some desks and drawers, and a balcony covered with faded yellow curtains that don’t cover the whole window. What the dorm lacks in style, it makes up for in personality. In some countries exchange students live in flats scattered throughout the city, so it’s hard to get to meet people. However, I met some of my best friends just walking up the stairs the first night. Also, it is extremely easy to make plans for the night. Instead of having to send a $1 text message, I just walk down to the second or third floor to see what my friends are doing. Also, it is a great talking point the first couple of nights when you are meeting people. It is easy to bond over the horrible living conditions, and it basically becomes a running joke for everyone stuck in Jarov G. Most importantly, there is a bar on the first floor. Yes it smells horrible, and the man who runs it has a cage with four large snakes, but it is comforting to know that a beer is just six floors down.
3. Trams- The public transportation system in Prague is amazing. I have maybe the worst sense of direction in the world. I still get lost on my first day of class every semester at UT, and I am a junior. However, all you have to know is tram 9 during the day and tram 58 at night. Being from Texas, I was not a huge fan of public transportation, but after being in London and Scotland for two weeks, I soon discovered that taxis are where all of my money disappeared to. Also, some pretty interesting things happen on these trams. They turn into little pre-parties as everyone leaves Juve to head down town for the night. I have even seen the tram driver kick a girl in the face after she tried to get on a full tram.
2. Exchange rate – 20 Czech Koruna = 1 American dollar vs. 1 American dollar= 1.2 Euros. Aka go to Prague because everything is super cheap, especially beer! (usually about $1).
1. Juve/Night Life- If you like to go out and have fun, then Prague is definitely the place for you. Right next to the dorms, is a little bar named Juve. By the light of day this bar looks like a hole in the wall, but between the hours of 8-2am, it is one of the busiest places in Prague. You never have to ask what someone is doing before they go out, because the answer is always Juve. It is the central meeting place where four beers is 90 Koruna, the foosball table is always packed, and the TV’s are playing whatever sporting event is live (usually soccer so start liking it before you come to Europe). The greatest thing about Prague is the nightlife! Every Tuesday the buddy system hosts Nations2Nations parties at different night clubs around Prague. If you enjoy drinking, dancing, and meeting new people, then Nations2Nations will be the highlight of your week. I seriously get a little bit sad on Wednesdays (not only because I usually feel horrible and whatever shred of dignity I had is probably now lost) but because I know the next Nations2Nations isn’t for another 6 days.
If you can’t tell from this post, I truly believe Prague is the greatest place in the world. I would never pick to study abroad anywhere else, and I wish I was living here longer than one semester. With the perfect mix of beautiful architecture, amazing night life, and fun people, everyone should definitely consider it when deciding where to study abroad!