Czech-ing out: Reflections on Study Abroad
It’s hard to believe as I write this, I’ve only got less than two weeks before my flight home. Four months sounded like forever when I got here, but they’ve flown by far too quickly. As I face down the rapidly approaching end of my college study abroad experience, its impossible not to reflect.
I’ve learned a few things, like how to say “hello,” “do you speak English,” and “I’m sorry” in several languages. I like to think taking a Czech class has made me more passable here in Prague – it’s nice not to always feel like a tourist and even sometimes be mistaken for a Czech person. I’ve also learned how to navigate any public transportation using my wits, the help of the people who work there, and the handy Google Maps directions.
I’m much more confident in my ability to live on my own in a big city, and for the first time I actually feel like an almost adult. My planning skills have gotten a major boost, along with my sense of direction. I used to get lost in New York City, which has a grid system. Now as long as I’ve walked somewhere once, I can usually orient myself and do it again, which takes away a lot of the stress of traveling in a new city.
Before I came here, I was worried I wouldn’t be independent enough to do things on my own in Prague. For the first week, I was so intimidated that I thought I’d been proven right. Once I adapted, it was reassuring to learn I could be on my own, and it was also nice to learn I didn’t have to be. For some people, traveling alone is cathartic and self-realizing. For other people, like me, it’s better to have someone to share it with. Learning that it doesn’t actually matter which side you fall on helped me to enjoy my abroad experience much more.
I’ve definitely been inspired to travel more back home and see as much of the world as I can. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I don’t think I’ll be happy staying in one place forever. I’ll also leave Europe with the goal to be more open to different perspectives and cultures, and to unlearn my assumptions about different places. These were things I had in theory tried to do before, but now I’ve seen how hard it is to actually learn about other places and overcome your biases when you stay in one place.
Lindsay G. is the Spring 2018 MOJO Blogger in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a Junior studying Screenwriting at Chapman University.