Hello everyone! I’m finally in Prague and have experienced an overwhelming but very exciting first couple of days. After a relatively painless journey to Prague, I was met by the CIEE staff at the airport who were there to greet everyone that had arrived around the same time as me (there were about 50 of us altogether). We waited as the CIEE program staff called off people’s names to get into their respective taxis. Once my name was called, I got into a taxi where I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to communicate with my driver. I didn’t know whether or not I should help carry my luggage into the trunk, and I didn’t even know how to say please or thank you. I suddenly felt silly for not bothering to memorize these words prior to coming here.
Driving into the city from the airport was really cool—seeing all the pictures from the Internet come to life was pretty surreal. After we dropped off the other girl who was in my taxi at her dorm, we proceeded onto the route toward my apartment. Carrying my luggage up the few flights of stairs to my apartment was a struggle, to say the least. But oh my god this apartment was not what I was expecting. It is large, modern, and beautiful. Everything, from the kitchen to the sofas, seems to be brand new. All of us share a room with one other person. My roommate is Megan, and my flatmates are Liz, Kate, Cassie and Lucie. I got the one queen sized bed, even though I was the last to arrive. I think it’s because no one wanted to be the one to claim it and look selfish. After I unpacked I had an hour until my Czech flat mate, Lucie, would take us all for a little tour around our neighborhood so I decided to take a quick nap, as I was pretty tired. We live quite close to the city central, which is nice. Lucie showed us where the nearest bank, ATM, pharmacy, and grocery store were and also showed us where the tram and metro stops were. For dinner we met up with another group of girls who are living in the same building as us and we all went out to dinner at a Czech restaurant nearby. I had pasta with tuna, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and pesto (which isn’t really Czech food, whoops… it was good though!) I also had my first Pilsner beer and it was actually delicious. I didn’t think I would like it that much since I don’t usually like beer, but I guess when you’re used to drinking Natty Light anything even a slight step up tastes great. But seriously, even the foam of Pilsner was delicious. After dinner I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep since I had not slept for over 30 hours. Needless to say, that sleep felt amazing.
Day two of Prague was a long day of orientation. We woke up and took the metro to Charles University. We basically were lectured on safety, Czech culture and opportunities for immersion and such. After that we all went over to a big restaurant for dinner and on the way we walked through Old Town Square, where we saw the Astronomical Clock. The square was beautiful and so picturesque. It felt like I was on a movie set, it was so unreal. The restaurant we all went to (there are 200+ of us) was huge. We had a buffet-style dinner with LOTS of meat. There was some good cheese and dessert so I was happy. After dinner Lucie took us around and we went to Charles Bridge. It wasn’t so crowded since it was the evening, and it was really pretty! It is super old and has lots of statues along the sides of the bridge. I’m looking forward to going back during the day since I’m sure it looks a lot different in the daylight. Then Lucie took us to this bar called Usudu that was basically a tunnel and led to a bunch of different rooms and went on for what seemed like forever. The rooms just kept going and going, leading into the next. After a couple drinks we went back to the apartment and Liz and I decided to meet up with other people in our building and go out with them. It was a fun first day of orientation and first night out!
On day 3 we met a bunch of other CIEE kids downtown and the Czech buddies split us into groups and took us for a tour. They showed us the main bus terminal and train station for domestic and international travel. We then went to a café and then onto the CIEE Study Center, where I got my Czech cell phone! I was pretty happy about that. After a tour of the study center and a few information sessions we were free to go. We got back to the apartment and discovered that our WiFi was finally working so we all sat around and checked emails and replied to friends for a bit (like 2 hours..). After we were caught up on the internet, the whole apartment went out for dinner at this restaurant that is actually part of a club. It was all vegetarian and meant to be healthy. I’ve found that it’s quite common for clubs here to also function as restaurants and bars, which I find interesting. I got the avocado salad which was delicious. After we got back, two other roommates and I decided to meet up with some other CIEE kids that live in a different part of town and go to the club Retro together.
Day four was another day with an early start as we woke up and went to meet the others to do a scavenger hunt around the city. Since it was so cold, about half way through my group decided to take a break and go for a coffee at a café. The cafés here are so cute and delicious, I love them. If I could try every café in the city I would. After an afternoon of more orientation, another girl that lives in my building and I decided to go for a run. We were pretty nervous since we are still new to the city and a little unsure of where to go, not completely confident that we would be able to make it back on our own. The first half of the run was great as we ran alongside the river and took in the view. We decided to go up the hill that is actually really close to the CIEE study center, but we somehow took a wrong turn on the way down and ended up running in the complete opposite direction of home for a couple miles. When we finally decided that we should probably look for a map and redirect ourselves, we realized that we were basically on the edge of the city limits and far from home. At this point we were tired, frozen, and nervous that we’d never make it home. It was starting to get dark so we quickly searched around and found a tram stop, took it into the city and eventually found our way home. It was quite a first run, to say the least. We were thrilled when we finally got to our street, home safe and sound. I think it was actually a good thing that we got lost since we had to use our own knowledge to find our way back and we saw a part of Prague that we probably never would have otherwise. I’m excited to continue to go for runs and get to know the city.