CEA had sent us an email before the semester began warning us that our apartment might be smaller than what we're used to, but I think their warning was unwarranted, because my apartment, which I share with two other CEA students, has the perfect amount of space. The three of us share one really large bedroom and one bathroom, and we have a full kitchen and a washing machine. Even though the building is relatively old (by American standards, at least), everything in our apartment is really bright and new, which was a pleasant surprise.
Our entire apartment building is full of CEA students, which makes socializing really easy — you can just knock on anyone's door and see what their plans are for the evening. The building also has a night guard who keeps track of who's coming in and out of the building every evening. We even have a cleaning lady, which was a surprise — I've never had any sort of maid service before in my life, so for me, it's been a treat to have someone come in once a week and clean our bathroom and floors.
Overall, my housing in Prague has been wonderful. The only mishaps I've had have been with the appliances. Our washing machine, for instance, has several different knobs and buttons, all with different symbols but with no explanation of what the symbols mean. For the first two weeks or so, I was afraid to do laundry for fear that I would inadvertently end up ruining my clothes. Thankfully, one of the women who works in CEA's office came to check on us in the first month, and she was able to show me which settings to use.
The oven was also initially a mystery. During the first week we moved in, one of my neighbors knocked on my door, frozen pizza in tow, asking if I knew how to get my oven to turn on. We turned up the temperature knob, but it didn't turn on. We fiddled with another knob that illustrates all the different ways you can heat the oven (I still don't understand the differences between most of them). Still no heat. After about five minutes of frustration, I accidentally turned the timer knob, and all of a sudden the oven started preheating. Success! Turning the timer on before the oven preheats seems a little counter-intuitive to me, but hey, at least now I know how to turn the oven on.
Despite my initial difficulties, I'm now able to bake bread, have clean clothes, and enjoy my gorgeous apartment in Prague.
Anna Walsh — Carnegie Mellon University 2013
CEA MOJO for Prague