This summer I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in the Czech Republic for a month. Bouncing of three cancelled trips to Europe because of COVID-19 in 2020, I knew I needed to use this opportunity to take back what was originally supposed to be mine.
When deciding which program to attend, I knew I wanted to take the road less travelled by. Somewhere that isn’t too popular, somewhere I am free to be anyone and no one will recognize me.
I wanted to feel the culture, the lifestyle, eat all the food and immerse myself in an environment I was not used to. When I decided Czech Republic, my friends and family scolded me with scrunched eyebrows and questions like: “What are you going to do there?”
It was up to me to find out when I got there.
My trip started on May 8, when I said goodbye to my parents and older brother at the Newark Airport. I tried so hard to keep my emotions contained, but once I start seeing other people cry I’m done for.
Filled with emotion, I met three girls who were on the same trip and we boarded the flight together. A quick eight hours later, we landed a continent over in Vienna, Austria.
Remember the emotions I mentioned earlier? In that moment, they amplified.
We landed around 8:30 a.m. and our bus was scheduled to pick us up at 12 p.m., so we had some time to kill. What else was there to do then head straight to the mimosa bar to celebrate our successful landing?
We used this opportunity meet each new person we would be spending the month with and my anxiety started to melt away.
Telč, Czech Republic
We rode the bus about two and a half hours away to a small, Renaissance-looking town in Czech Republic called Telč, where we would spend our first week. With a population of around only 5,000 people, it was easy to get adjusted to as it wasn’t overbearing like some big cities can be. Our time there included visits to chateaus, castles, historic churches and so much eating.
Brno, Czech Republic
After our time in Telč, it was time to head to Brno, still in Czech Republic, where we would be living and attending Masaryk University for the month. Brno is special to me because we made it ours.
We made it our own, put our own spin on it, and made sure to do absolutely anything and everything for the month we called it our home.
Each weekend of the trip included trips to other countries, which was by far my favorite part. On our first weekend we took a trip to Krakow, Poland.
This was by far my favorite place we travelled to.
Wherever I went, I felt immersed in the Polish culture and learned so much about their ethnicity and history of the city.
While in Poland, we visited the Auschwitz Concentration Camps, visited the royal castle, toured an underground salt mine, ate so much delicious food and much more.
Prague, Czech Republic
The next week, a few of us took the train to Prague and tried to squeeze in all it had to offer before the end of the day. We made so many new memories by being the stereotypical “dumb tourists” and made many friends that we still keep in contact with.
Right after Prague, we headed to Budapest, Hungary, for the weekend. This was by far the prettiest place I have ever been to.
From castles lining the river, beautiful salt baths all over the city and amazing architecture with every look, it was breathtaking.
I’m not sure if it was the unlimited Prosecco boat ride or touring the Hungarian Parliament building, but I had the most fun on this trip out of any of them.
Brno, Czech Republic (again)
Towards the end of the trip, we had a beautiful barbecue on top of the hills of Brno, overlooking the Spielberg castle to celebrate the last day of class.
This also happened to be on my 21st birthday and my best friend from home came and visited for a few days.
This was by far one of the most special days of my life. It felt like a scene from a fairytale.
We ended our excursions around Europe by heading back to the place it all started: Vienna, Austria.
This time, we rented boats to hangout on the Danube River. Except, it ended with all of us spontaneously jumping into the Danube River with all our clothes on.
Best. Memory. Ever.
With guided tours around the city and winery hopping on top of a mountain, this experience was nothing short of perfect.
As we headed back to the United States the next day, I couldn’t help but think how grateful I am for the opportunities that arose on this trip. Because of what I learned while abroad, I look at the world with a more global perspective and consistently treat people in a better manner.
These lessons I learned show the impact of where you decide to study abroad, because one factor can change you whole experience. My experience studying abroad in the Czech Republic was absolutely perfect and I owe all my personal improvement since then to that trip.