I was cleaning out some computer folders recently and found some interesting word documents. I found an essay I wrote for a friend for her graduate studies. She was compiling a book of people’s personal study abroad experiences.
Apparently I had a lot to say and wrote 7 pages. I will share it with you all in parts. Here comes Part 1.
Second semester of my junior year of college I spent a semester abroad. There was a great deal of pressure to choose the perfect place to study. I had been concocting fantasies since I was a little girl about where I would study abroad. Would I be a chic fashionista in Paris sipping red wine wearing a Hermes scarf, an academic clothed in tartan in England discussing the rhetorical theories of Plato, or a free spirit in Italy stuffing my face with pasta and sweating in the disco techs with handsy Italian men? With so many possibilities how was I to choose? Finally, I tossed away my childish fantasies and logically reasoned that I should be a bourgeoisie hippie debating the merits of Kafka in Prague, Czech Republic. What was the big decision making factor? My brother heard it was cool. Ok, that may have not been the best reasoning, but frankly, it was better than some of my other ideas. I knew next to nothing about Prague before I went, I didn’t even know that spoke Czech there (which is possibly the ugliest language). Two bright pink suitcases later, I was there.
I may not have been debating Kafka, or even channeling my inner hippie, but I did manage to do some very Czech things. Mainly, drinking cheap beer.
As American students, we would spend our nights at the local bar drinking cheap Pilsners, dancing to American 80’s and 90’s music, and fending off hangovers with fried cheese sandwiches from the stands in the middle of Wenceslas Square. None of this ever involved Czech people, except for the bartender that kept our steins full, the dj who had to deal with our obnoxious screams every time he played “Come on Eileen,” and the lady at the cheese stand that had to interpret my “Dam si cislo piet” (I want a number 5). In our defense, it was not entirely our fault. One thing I learned early on was that Czechs are not known for their overwhelming friendliness. Whether it’s leftover from the Communist days or the intense cold of that winter, I’m not sure. The entire time we were there, zero Czech men offered to buy any of the pretty American girls drinks. After a few weeks, I did not even really care that I hadn’t met any Czech people. I was having a wonderful time anyway.