One Hundred and Five. That is the total number of days that I will have spent living in the Czech Republic and traveling around Europe. After arriving on August 28 blindly unaware of both the joys and struggles ahead, I have grown in many ways, including my understanding of the world, people, and who I am personally. In these past 3 months, I have slowly begun to view myself as more of an adult than a child. Through many long nights, bus rides and flights, I’ve had situations that both stretched and challenged me to make the most of unexpected situations, and although I can recount a few of these off the top of my head, I will leave them for another day. Instead i will share with you the lessons that I have taken from this crazy semester abroad.
Things that I Have Learned While Studying Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic
- The World is so much bigger than America and Western Europe.
- Did I ever imagine myself visiting Poland? Or be interested in Eastern European countries such as Slovenia, Montenegro or Romania? Had I ever before heard of countries like Belarus, Moldova or Bosnia and Herzegovina? The answer to all of these questions is no, because to be honest, before studying in Prague I had no idea of the many beautiful countries and capitols existing outside of the typical tourist city. Paris, London and Rome may have some grand attractions, but I am consistently surprised by these places that have such little hype. Meeting people and visiting these less touristy locations has been a great reminder that the world is so huge, and when it comes to traveling, I have barely scratched the surface.
- In contrast, everyone [I mean EVERYONE] feels affected and personally involved in American Politics.
- I am not joking when I say that in every single country I visited, I met someone who inquired about for whom I would be casting my vote on November 8th. The conversations became so dull to me, and the converser so passionate about their view, that I often found myself just agreeing with whoever they declared I had to vote for. It is very clear that the news stations in Europe are just as skewed as they are in America, and many European citizens are equally as uneducated about economical information and the opposing side as Americans. Despite this frustration, it is interesting as an American abroad to realize just how important the homeland is. What we do actually affects everyone, and people from other countries definitely pay immense attention.
- It is possible to live without data or a cell phone service.
- Yep, you read that right. I have officially gone 3 months without the ability to talk instantly, text when i’m in a bind, or google up directions in the blink of an eye. With this once considered ‘necessity’ out of my life, I have found it surprisingly, easy. Wifi hotspots are fairly prevalent, and I have learned to look up directions before I leave my apartment. Going three months has taught me more than preparation however, and I actually enjoy the fact that I cant mindlessly scroll through facebook while on the tram- because instead I enjoy the beautiful passing views. Instead of turning to my phone when bored, I have gotten comfortable with being uncomfortable, and am okay with being still for once, not occupied elsewhere. This all being said, I will be grateful to return back to service in a few weeks, but in the meantime will enjoy a few more moments of peace and a few more opportunities to prove to myself that I can find the way back without an online GPS.
- Public Transportation is amazing.
- Did I ever imagine myself saying that? Nope- but I am absolutely amazed that I have gone my whole life dissing public transportation and only now am realizing its value. I wrote a lot about this in my other blog , Prague, Praha, Prag, Home. , but definitely feel as if this is an area in which I have learned that if done well, public transportation can make cars unnecessary. I don’t desire to live life without a car, however it is a nice alternative option that I will look back and dream about when I am miserably trying to find parking in Los Angeles next semester.
- I love cooking!
- Haha okay that sounds so cheesy, but I truly have learned this semester how rewarding grocery shopping for myself and cooking my own meals is. Due to my previous college experience including a meal plan, I never cooked more than toast. Now, however, I am excited to cook my own meals, and definitely think that my newfound ability to cook has contributed to my view of myself as a ‘semi’ adult.
- The value of a Christ Centered community.
- I considered doing a post about things that I have missed about America but in reality besides dumb little things like acai bowls, and a smoothie maker, the main thing that I miss are the people! And one of the reasons that I so often miss the people from back home, CBU and camp, is that I have been very blessed in my life to be in relationships with people who reflect the love of Christ. Friends and family who members consistently pray for me, love on me, and challenge me to become more like Christ are very absent in Prague, and I am elated for the time when I will return to those who are intentional about our relationships. This semester, I have also found myself craving those Sunday mornings, Chapels and bible studies that I used to take for granted. Rolling in to church, just to be overcome with the love from so many friends and elders is something truly powerful, that you cant find everywhere. I also miss worship immensely, which became clear when I got to visit Hillsong London. I am so grateful that I get to return to a university that cultivates love for each other and sharing Jesus in so many ways.
- I love structure.
- I discovered over the course of this semester that I am definitely happiest when in a routine. I so highly appreciate going to bed early and waking up early, in order to make the most of my day. After a few weeks of non consistent bedtimes and sleeping till 12, I realized that I value consistency from day to day. Even beginning classes was enjoyable to me, because I had a daily task that forced me to be productive before and after. This being said, I still consider myself spontaneous on many levels, but structure in my life is so necessary and something that I think will be easier to uphold when I return from Europe.