Abroad in Prague
I am studying at Anglo American University. It is a small, private university that is taught all in English and located right near the city center. AAU is absolutely beautiful. The interior is filled with intricate molding work and large chandeliers. When I’m there, I feel like I’m in a castle or a fancy house, not a school. For the first three weeks, I took The Legacies of Totalitarianism: Post-Totalitarian Europe. It was one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken. During the second six weeks, I took Intro to Czech and Operations Management.
Prague is an amazing city. It was one of the only major cities in Europe left untouched by bombs during WWII, which means that most of the architecture is original and there isn’t a heavy communist influence on almost any of the city.
The public transportation is so well-run. I’m from the Detroit area which has minimal and inconsistent public transportation because of the car industry. Being in Prague (or Europe in general) and being able to hop on a form of public transportation instead of having to get in your car, get directions, find parking, etc. is one of my favorite things. In Prague, I live a block away from a metro stop and from that metro stop I can get anywhere in the city that I need to go by using one of Prague’s three metro lines. I love that Prague is a smaller major city because it makes it easy to get around and to explore. In addition to the metro, Prague’s public transportation system also includes trams and buses. The trams run all night which is perfect for when I’m craving pizza from my favorite 24-hour pizza place after midnight when the metro closes.
The people here are very nice, once you get to know them. It’s not the norm to smile at people in the street or make small talk in line at the grocery store. However, once you actually meet someone at a café or the university, the people are very kind and open. Czechs can come off as rude, but they’re just more reserved – one of the lasting effects of Communist rule. Everyone is very polite and follows social order. For example, if an older person gets on public transport, someone will immediately give up their seat for them. Also, when riding an escalator, everyone who is just standing stands to the right and those who want to walk up the escalator walk up on the left. It’s a really efficient way of doing things and I sometimes wish the US could be more like that.
The local food is very delicious. I usually get potato pancakes, which are basically mashed potatoes formed into a pancake shape and deep fried. There are also a good number of Italian and Asian restaurants, as well as pubs with typical pub food. I have never eaten at the same restaurant twice (except for my favorite pizza place). I always look for something new to try, whether it’s a place I’ve read about on the Internet or a place I just happen upon by getting off at a random metro station and walking around. I have never had a bad meal here.
While in Prague, I took several weekend trips. I visited Vienna, Krakow, Berlin, Dubrovnik, Rome, and Paris. It was so cool to see different places and compare them to each other and to Prague. I really enjoyed going to Krakow and Berlin because my heritage is Polish and German. Getting to immerse myself in the cultures of my ancestors for a few days was really interesting and fulfilling.
I’m really sad to be leaving Prague because I just had the most amazing summer of my life. When I get back I’m going to go through all of my pictures and create a photo album of all of them so I can always look back on the experiences of this summer.