Now that I have completed my two months in Prague, I am left with such a bittersweet feeling. There is a strange aspect to studying abroad, and that is that the friends you’ve spent eight weeks getting to know, going on adventures with, and exploring Europe with go back to their homes all around the world. The first session was pretty large and everyone became quite close, and lots of these friendships carried on through the second session as well. It is difficult saying goodbye to people who, in some cases, are the only other people who know this part of your life, or have experienced these life-shaping moments with you. It can be hard to think about the fact that it is not definite that you will see these friends again.
I believe that is an added long-term benefit of studying abroad, however. Having shared such significant and amazing experiences, that is a big incentive to stay in contact with study abroad friends and keep up the relationships. I also feel that everyone will be more inclined to travel either together or to see one another, now that we mastered the act in Europe and share the same desires.
One friend in particular that I am thankful to have made is Paula. Paula is from Beirut, Lebanon, which is also where she attends school. We both went on a trip to Vienna, Austria our very first weekend in Prague with a few other new friends, which is when we really clicked. The funny thing was that Paula and I were so dissimilar in many ways and had very different lives, but it was also in that way that we complimented each other. Her outgoing personality encouraged me to do things that I may not have otherwise, and definitely played a part in making my time in Europe so unforgettable. I expected to make lots of friends all over the U.S., but had not anticipated starting such a unique friendship with someone across the world.
I have been so thankful to have chosen Prague as my study abroad destination. I had always wanted to visit Prague, and studying abroad there was a great opportunity to get acclimated to the culture and life in a foreign country. Being a vegetarian, I was a little apprehensive about diving into an unfamiliar culture’s cuisine. All I had heard about Czech food was that it is creamy, dense, and primarily meat-based. This proved to be very true! However, out of all the countries I traveled to, the Czech Republic had the most vegetarian-friendly food options. The most popular Czech vegetarian dish is fried cheese, which is essentially a giant Mozzarella stick-like square, with Edam cheese instead of Mozzarella, and it is quite good! I did need more than fried cheese in my diet, though, and became a regular at the nearby Burrito Loco, which was the closest thing around to a Chipotle. The fact that Prague is full of a variety of ethnic restaurants really helped me to find meals out. I had some great Italian food and discovered noodle bars. That being said, I am happy to be coming home to veggie corndogs and burgers.
This summer has been the most important one of my life. Having the opportunity to grow in so many ways and creating friendships across the globe has already had such a positive impact on my life and my future. From mastering city public transportation systems, to learning just enough of each new language to get by for our stay, I have gained knowledge and confidence that I don’t think I could have gotten elsewhere. My time studying abroad in Prague left many impressions on me, one in particular being that one day I will return.