Donny M., a junior Marketing major at The University of Tampa, writes about his experiences thus far in the heart of Central Europe through the Semester in Business and Economics, Prague program.
It’s unfortunate that the words “adventure” and “eye-opening experience” have lost some of their value after being used countless times to describe study abroad trips (or even long-term travel in general), because that’s exactly what it is. Studying abroad for me has been a self-awareness affair where I’ve put a lot at risk – familiarity, money, safety, time, and even myself. But the risk is worth the reward, and I’ve gotten out as much as I put in to it all.
So currently, I am living in unchartered territory in one of the craziest decision-making points of life and soaking up every positive and even unfavorable experience for what it’s worth.
I was born ‘n raised in Texas where the mentality is usually “home is where the heart is.” So while this mentality generally leaves out any possibility of expanding outwards, I believe that home can stay in the heart, but the body has to be free to roam and the mind free to develop. And thank goodness I’ve let myself put down the barbecue and Tex-Mex, because studying abroad has already been a lot of great things for me.
I’ve seen incredible views of Prague from multiple points in the city such as Petrin Hill, Vysehrad, and Old Town Square. I’ve figured out how the public transportation system works and how to buy groceries (seemingly simple but actually complex tasks when in a different language). I’ve tasted new cultural diets such as a knuckle of pork, goulash, trdelniks, sausages, and rich Czech beers. I’ve wandered countless neighborhoods in Prague and still haven’t gotten close to seeing or experience everything there is in the city. I’ve stood where Hitler and JFK were at the Brandeburg Gate in Berlin (and devoured some delicious currywurst). I’ve traversed 40+ miles through Czech’s gorgeous Bohemian Switzerland national park (and was almost forced to sleep outside for a night). I’ve tasted the mineral waters of Marianske Lazne and the dark beer of Regensburg. I’ve climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night during its glittering illumination in Paris (and enjoyed Nutella crepes on multiple occasions). I’ve put myself in situations to meet people that at first I didn’t think would be my type of person, but Americans and Czechs alike have become great friends and great people to experience the world with.
There have also been a good sum of times where my expectations of studying abroad being glorious 24/7 were let down just a bit (similar to social media where the good things are inflated and the bad things suppressed). But again with getting out as much as you put in, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” So sure, my dorm isn’t beautifully located in the heart of the city. And sure, there are some weeks that I don’t get out as much and I feel like I’m not exploring enough. And there are times where I long for everything being back to normal life because it was easier. But that’s the great part of it, because every experience is something to learn from, and studying abroad is a lot of experiencing and a lot of learning. Unless I had given myself this opportunity, I never would have known what there is to discover.
Even now, I know I needed to come on this trip. Back at my home college, I am an overly-involved, highly-organized, and rooted-in-routine kind of person that likes to be independent and practically in control of everything going on. In other words, I NEEDED this break for myself. Taking this vacation for three months has unexpectedly invigorated new ambitions and brought to life new perspectives for me.
Interested in learning more about study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic? Contact CISabroad and we will connect you directly with our alumni. This is absolutely a fascinating city to study abroad and a semester cost, historically, has been under $9,000.