Most links below will be to albums of photos I took.
Last Saturday, I packed my bags for a 13 hour flight from O’hare airport in Chicago to the international airport in Prague to study abroad for 5 months at CVUT (or CTU), located in Prague 6, Czech Republic. I am doing this trip with 6 other students from my home university, MSOE.
This has been a week of quite a few firsts. I have had my first plane ride, first step in a new country besides Canada (which was only a trip to Niagara Falls, for one or two nights), first trip to another continent, among many others associated with going far from home for the first time.
Let’s begin with the flight. I don’t know how you felt (or will feel) on your first plane ride, but I was fine 98% of the time; the other 2% of the time (takeoff and landing) was spent hushing the voice in your mind that knows you’re completely capable of falling in the tiny percentage of plane crash incidents*. I was actually quite impressed with the flight experience. It was pretty comfortable, and I was fed dinner and breakfast on the 8 hour flight (Am. Airlines) from Chicago to London; I was also fed lunch on the 2 hour flight from Britain to Prague.
After getting off the plane, grabbing our luggage, and officially making it into the country by showing passports and visas, we were greeted by our awesome “Czech buddies” (students who volunteer through ISC to take an exchange student 1-on-1 for the first few hours in Prague to help the students get accommodated at CTU). They took us from the Prague airport to Maskarykova dormitory, which is our living accommodation. They also helped us setup our documentation so that we could get registered at these dorms and with the school. Finally, they treated us to Czech cuisine and a beer for our first meal in Prague.
The next few days in Prague consisted of meeting many students doing the same as us, studying abroad, from all over Europe, Asia, and North America in a series of games, trips, and parties hosted by ISC (international student club through CTU). The most notable of which include a “Prague Discovery Game”: we found land marks around Prague to earn points; an integration party: all the exchange students meet for dancing and interesting ice-breaking games; various trips around the Czech Republic to notable locations outside Prague: I was only able to sign-up for a day-long trip to Terezín (a concentration camp) and Mělník, because the others were sold out. It was quite moving to see some of the holocaust remains in the museums near Mělník; some drawings from the kids looked like drawings my little brothers could have made.
Overall, the week was awesome, and Prague blew me away. The city is beautiful, and life here is pretty nice. The biggest differences I’ve noticed are the use of transportation (it’s safe to take everywhere in the city and everyone uses it) and the pace of life, which is generally s l o w e r than what I’m used to in the states. There were also parts of my first week’s experience which weren’t so enjoyable. For instance, I’m quite ignorant to world issues when compared to the knowledge of most Europeans. It’s also hard to find a free public bathroom outside the mall. That’s all for now; thanks for reading!
* the statistics show that one is much more likely to have a fatality in a car than on a plane, on average, and I’ve personally had worse luck with cars, as it would turn out.