“Blossom – Wherever You Are Planted” (Rachel Gintner)

I’ve been sitting here for the past few minutes trying to figure out what to say. Prague is…an entirely new world.  It is this curious blend of old and new, historic and streamline, ornate and chic. It’s so different than what I was expecting. I have poured over images of the Charles bridge, the Dancing House, the Vltava river, and the red-roofed houses that scatter the hills–but it does not register with these views, these sounds and smells.

When people asked me why I chose to study abroad in the Czech Republic, I would offer my usual reasons: first I would explain that Prague, while not the top European destination, holds a beauty of its own…and then I would recount how my great-great-grandfather came to America from Bohemia, in a region known as Tabor. In my mind these reasons made sense: 1. go to a gorgeous place and 2. have a meaningful reason for going. But now I’m starting to reevaluate and question my motives.

I also came here for a new adventure–to test my boundaries and see who I really am as a person. I still hope to do that. I am not the type of person to back down–I want to grasp every opportunity for all its worth. But a small part of me wonders if changing locations truly changes what matters; I miss my family and friends and the comforts of home very much. I am a classic case of homesickness. I am terrified that I made a mistake in seeking something more in the unknown, when I am so lucky to have these relationship at home. It feels…like I abandoned them or exchanged experiences in the hope of something better.

But, isn’t this just fear? Is it me being terrified of adjusting to the unknown? I think so–at least a little bit. Feeling vulnerable and lonely has never really worked wonders for me, but I know it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and shoulder some of these nagging feelings.

I can do this. Just because I am far, doesn’t mean my heart cannot extend to many places or people. I just have to stretch a little. I have to “blossom where I’ve been planted.”

Here’s to Praha, my new home; my new chance to bloom.

Rachel Gintner is studying abroad at Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic.

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