And you took me to Prague and back

I’ve been back in the United States for a week.

That means I’ve been away from Prague for a week.

I’m lying to myself and saying that it’s nice to be home. Yes, I do love the ketchup bottles freely placed on the table and the fact that if I need to pee I can without paying a hundred koronas. I miss the Czech effeciency and the fact that no one speaks to you in the grocery store (but also you couldn’t understand them if they did).

I miss my time in Prague but it will forever be a part of who I am. Heck, I even feel like a whole new person. It was an indescribable experience that has only sparked my love for travel even more.

I have shared many aspects of Prague with my family: I brought them beer soaps and goulash spices and trdelnik mix and Czech garnet jewelry. I cracked open a Kingswood with my family and taught them na zdraví (“cheers”):

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Real quick I’d like to thank my family for supporting my adventures, the Honor Program at Central Michigan University for encouraging studying abroad, Central Michigan University’s Office of Study Abroad for their support, USAC and their amazing and passionate staff in Prague and all my friends that I met who where an essential part of making my experience so extraordinary.

And while I may be saying Na shledanou to this blog, I will not being saying it to Prague. The city now holds a special place in my heart and has imprinted itself on who I am; I cannot wait to return.

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I think I’m supposed to write about Thursday now…?

So, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m not that great at keeping up on my blog posts. I was especially not great this week. Without further ado:

We started off going to class Thursday. Professor Raimanová took us to a gallery and pallace near the Charles Bridge. Funnily enough, it was called the Colloredo-Mansfeld Palace. The palace was under renovations, but Raimanová managed to talk the curator into letting us in. Afterwards, we saw the gallery which was full of very politically charged art which was nonetheless thought provoking. It wasn’t all political though, some of it was in response to how routine and everyday life has become and how we are even immune to the absolutely awful things (like terrorist attacks).

After spending an afternoon in K17, Megan, Brooke, Emileigh and I went to U Kroka. They, the meat eaters they are, all had delicious meals. Mine was eh, but I guess that’s what I get for ordering risotto. The dessert on the other hand was phenomenal.

It was Buttermilk cream with rhubarb, passion fruit and cinnamon crumble.

Brooke then left to go back to the apartment while the other three of us just wanted to walk around (we had heard live music playing and were following it). This ended up being a nice walk along the Vltava River which morphed into a spontaneous paddle boating adventure. We didn’t plan this (hence “spontaneous”) but we were out right at the perfect time to see sunset over the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.

It was even better because Megan and Emileigh sat in the front while I sat in the back. If you don’t know the basic layout of a paddle boat, there are only peddles in the front. I essentially got a free ride so overall it was a pretty good day.

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See the pictures from today here.

I should be dancing but it’s too hot

On Tuesday I didn’t get moving until the afternoon. I joined Jackie and other K17 people who were going to see the Dancing House and then get lunch. The second we stepped outside the building I started to sweat. I’m not going to lie: I debated turning around and going back into the apartment. I powered through, if only for the promise of food.

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The Dancing House was cool and all but it was so hot we were desperate to get inside. I plan to return and get coffee on the top.

We ate at a pizza restaurant before making my favorite stop of the day: Tesco. We were on a mission to buy fans. It is so hot in the city that I feel like I am always sticky from sweat. This abnormally hot day gave us the perfect excuse to get the fans, which we had to lug home on the metro.

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A few people walking by us did snicker but in the end, after a comfortable night’s rest (and by comfortable I mean about as comfortable as I’ll get with the stiff mattress), it was worth it.

Later Tuesday evening I went out with Miranda and Emileigh and met up with a local guy Miranda met through USAC, his girlfriend, and another friend. It was so cool and fun to spend a night with locals and be able to ask questions about their lives and bond over what we have in common.

For example, we all liked High School Musical.

Guess you could say we were connected by a feeling in our very souls.

Getting into the Groove

I spent much of Wednesday with no set plans which was a nice change of pace and also allowed me to get some shopping done. I started late (because I slept in) and went out for breakfast. I took the metro to Národní Třída which is where the Tesco is and then walked around looking for a place to eat before shopping. I ended up at Mama’s Bakery where I ended up eating a sandwich for breakfast (happens when you eat breakfast at noon) and a key-lime tart (which is what the cashier said was her favorite). I now know how to say “Dobrý den” which means “hello” and “děkujuwhich means “thank you!”

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Then I went back to Tesco and stocked up on some things! After having felt confident in my ability to be at least a bit friendly in my conversations and ability to eventually make sense of the Czech language, I was confronted with a massive, foreign store. I at first didn’t understand that I would have to check out each time I left a floor (Tesco is six stories tall!) but luckily I saw someone else try to and set off the alarms so I was saved from that embarrassment. When I went to check out, I struggled to know what the cashiers were saying to me (I found out later they were asking if I needed a bag, you’re supposed to bring your own (which I did) and they charge you for plastic ones) but about the third time I checked out I finally understood (after the cashier made the gesture as if opening a bag and said “bag”).

I also spent way longer than any normal person should trying to kind conditioner and lotion. I found the conditioner but I’m still not 100% sure if the lotion I got is actually lotion…

I spent the rest of the day wandering around Old Town by myself. I took a lot of pictures and discovered a love for photographing street performers. I finally tried a Trdelnik with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. While it was good, I wasn’t in love with it. I’ll have to try it again just to make sure though. On my way home, I got off the metro and there was a large crowd in the station doing a Bohemian Salsa class! It was quite fun to watch and photograph!

Finally, I ended the night eating at a vegetarian restaurant around the corner from my apartment. I’m learning real fast that Czechs like to pickle everything!

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Thursday I had class at 9 am. There are seven of us in the apartment building that have class at 9 so we all went together. For our second day, we had the lovely experience of having the metro we needed be not working so we had to take a different metro and a bus instead. We made it just a tad late but I was so relieved that I was with friends and wouldn’t be the only one late!

Our professor took us to the National Gallery to see the work of Gerhard Richter which was really cool!

Jackie and I then grabbed lunch and came back to the apartment and took naps before going to dinner at a delicious pub down the road! I went to bed early after that because I wanted to get rest before the field tour on Friday.

Having these two days to kind of relax but also get to know the city more was really nice! I feel more comfortable now and I am so excited for the next weeks!