Thursday, February 6, 2014

Odború, Jsem Dobrá, and Other Czech Things

A bridge with thousands of locks on it that represent lovers' bonds. Kind of like a miniature version of the one
found in Italy. This ones for you, Mase. 

View of the city from Charles Bridge, which I cross every day on my way to class. 
I have officially been in Prague for three whole days. I am fully settled into my apartment on Odború street (hence the first part of the title of this post), have started my classes at the University, and have already been to the grocery store about seven times because the food is a) fascinating b) less processed c) superior.
My room! (They said nothing on the walls
but I couldn't go four months without
making my room seem homey!)
When I first arrived in Prague, I was utterly confused and slightly overwhelmed at the new and unrecognizable flurry of language around me. After mistaking the CEA agent (who I was supposed to find to take me to my apartment) for an airport cleaning guy, I finally ended up in the right place and was taken to my now home in Prague.

Prague (Praha) is divided into 15 "districts." I live in Praha 2, commonly known as Malá Strana, or Lesser Quarter. I'm not sure what is so "lesser" about it, because it is incredibly beautiful. My apartment is actually a hostel, and I was expecting a small, cold, dimly lit room with maybe a stove and some cupboards for a kitchen. Wrong. The apartment is GIANT. It has a total of 5 rooms with a shower and then a separate bathroom. I share a room with two girls, Caroline and Brittany, who also go to Chapman. Then we have a family room with a couch and a couple of tables. Two girls, Abi and Lacey, live in the other room, and we also have an adorable kitchen with a washing machine! To say the least, the apartment far exceeded my expectations. My only gripe is that it is hot in our apartment. Not just warm, but hot hot. Uncomfortably hot. We're working on getting the windows unbolted so we can get some fresh air, but for now walking around in shorts and a t-shirt is just fine.

Family room. 
Our little kitchen!
The first couple of days in Prague were admittedly very hard for me. I have never traveled alone, and while I was among lots of English speaking people, I felt isolated. I missed my family and my boyfriend. I missed everything being familiar and easy, as I had become accustomed to over my long six week break. I'm sure a lot of the students were feeling the same way as I was, but I truly felt like I was the only one! One thing I've learned for the future: learn at least the basics of a language before you go to a country! It makes the transition so much easier and the locals respect you much more.

Our first day we took an amazing historical tour of all of downtown Prague. This city continues to amaze me with it's incredible culture and history. Nothing in America (that I've experienced) even comes close to the beauty and strength this city emanates. The buildings are all so unique and each have an interesting story. It seems like every street has at least two or three bakeries (thank goodness I brought my running shoes and have Mason to keep me on track...), and the variety of food here is amazing! I've already had traditional thai food, amazing pasta (for less than $5), and even a burrito. The coffee here is also exquisite. I haven't figured out if they have soy milk here yet, but I'm surviving with just espresso shots and the occasional Americano.

My first Americano at an amazing café right near
my apartment, called Café Mode.  
I also had my first day of school today. As far as I can tell, the classes here are much less lecture based and much more conversational and involve critical thinking. I think I will have quite a bit more work here, but I also think it will be rewarding because of the types of classes I chose to take. I am taking an Intro to Czech Language and Culture course that was absolutely amazing! The professor is compelling, brilliant, and so interesting! Just in the one class period I had today, I've already learned quite a few things that have been very helpful in getting around: Jsem dobrá (like in the title) means "I am good." The language is complex, but the way the professor speaks and teaches makes it graspable. I also had an Intercultural Communications class today. Three hours long. That is an adjustment that is going to take a little while for me to get used to. However, there are students everywhere from Bordeaux to Norway in my class, which offers a perspective I would almost certainly not get in California.

My Roomates! (Left to Right) Abi, Me, Brittany, Caroline, and Lacey

Prague is an incredibly beautiful city. I have already met so many amazing people with so many different life stories. Maybe it is just something that comes with travel, but I find I have learned more about others (and about myself) in these past days than I learned all last semester. Traveling forces you to open you ears, your eyes, your senses to everything around you. It forces you to actively create an experience, instead of passively observing someone else's. These three days have felt like a lifetime and a split second all at once, but I wouldn't change anything for the world.

My first reaction towards seeing the
Charles Bridge....

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