Impressions After Week One (Alex Leitheiser)

Wow, I can’t believe I have already been living in Prague for an entire week!  Then again, when I look back, saying goodbye at the airport last Friday night seems like forever ago.

I have gone through some pretty strong culture shock over the course of my first week here.  I went through a couple days where I had the feeling that I could never adjust to living in a place so different from my home.  While I have been away from home since beginning college, I have never lived truly on my own before, as in having an apartment.  Trying to figure out all the little things needed for life in an apartment, an already foreign setting to me, has been made much more difficult by needing to do it in an entirely different culture.  I am slowly but surely beginning to look positively at all the differences I see around me when compared to my life at home.  I have found that this positive attitude is helping me feel like this can really be my home for the next 15 weeks.

Grocery shopping was also a challenge at first, with not knowing what types of foods to buy being amplified by the fact that everything at the grocery store is in Czech!  I am becoming much more confident with this as time goes on. When you can only buy what you can carry you find yourself at the supermarket almost every day.  The plus side of this is it encourages me to buy fresh produce and avoid buying any food that I won’t end up eating.

This semester as a whole will hopefully cut out some of the wasteful habits that come from living in the US.  My apartment does not have a dryer, so I will be sacrificing having comfortable soft towels in order to save energy.  So many people live without access to even a washing machine, so I figure a few months without a dryer won’t kill me.

Now that classes have started I am really starting to feel at home here.  I was able to switch out of my Friday class, so hopefully that will give me more opportunities to travel on the weekends.  I have been spoiled at SNC with being able to perfectly understand my professors during lecture, so I suppose my time has come to have an extremely fast speaking Italian econ professor with a very thick accent!  I guess its all part of studying in another country…

Today I had homework to do for my Prague Art and Architecture class, visit the Museum of the City of Prague, and the Vysehrad.  The museum was very interesting, covering the city’s history from the first hominids in the area 750,000 years ago up until the present day.  The gem of the museum is a 1:500 scale model of the city made during the 19th century.  It includes over 2000 buildings, each of them accurately constructed down to the window!  A woman who worked there approached me as I was looking at one of the exhibits, attempting to tell me something.  She started by speaking to me in Czech, and my confused look must have quickly signaled to her that I wasn’t from around here.  I must look German, because that was the next language she tried.  ”Nerozumim.  Anglicky prosim” (I don’t understand, English please)  She continued to speak to me in German nonetheless.

Vysehrad was a beautiful, quiet area to spend my Saturday afternoon.  Legendarily the first, but historically the second, castle of Prague, the fortress is built up overlooking the Vltava, offering incredible views of the city.  I spent a couple hours wandering around.  While the majority of the castle no longer stands to this day, a small Basilica remains.  I paid the 10 crowns to go inside and enjoy the heated pews.  There was even a painting of St. Norbert on one of the walls!  I am glad I visited the area on a cold, cloudy day, because it kept most of the tourists away, allowing me to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Alex Leitheiser is studying abroad at Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic.

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