Finding the Comforts of Home While Abroad
There is nothing like the unique experiences you can have in a new culture. However, on occasion, there’s nothing like finding the comforts of home while abroad. As an American (Marylander), studying in Prague, I can share with you a few of the ways I find pieces of home in the city.
Beating the Heat
Firstly: how to deal with the heat during the summer. Mid-Atlantic summers are both hot and humid, so almost everyone back home has ceiling fans and air conditioning to cope with the heat. This is not the case in Prague. While Czech summers are usually milder, when the heat comes, it can be hard to find any relief, especially at night. You can find small-to-medium sized fans at larger stores like Datart, specifically the one in the Anděl mall. A good night’s sleep can be the difference between a good day and a bad day, so a fan for the nighttime heat is one purchase you won’t regret.
Refine Your Palate or Indulge in Familiar Foods
Also, have no fear about the choice of restaurants in Prague. Like most modern cities, Prague has a host a multitude of cuisines in its many excellent restaurants. Although I recommend trying Czech food (it is hearty and delicious) and if you happen to not have a taste for it you won’t find yourself stranded without options. Missing American barbecue? Head to Bad Jeff’s near Náměstí Míru for the tastes of home – you will not be disappointed.
While on the topic of food, there are a few products I especially missed when I arrived here. Gatorade, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and Poptarts are just a few of the things I would have as a treat at home. While completely absent from most stores, I stumbled upon “The Candy Store” that features American and British specialty foods. So, if you are craving something sweet from home, chances are you’ll find it there.
Last food related topic: drinks. Prague is known for both the quality and cheapness of its beer. While this may be at the benefit of some, it makes avoiding alcoholic beverages paramount to dehydration for others. Seriously, I once wandered up and down an entire street festival trying to find a stall selling anything non-alcoholic. In the end I gave up and ordered a mojito as it was the closest to refreshing I could get. Carrying a reusable water bottle is a great way to stay hydrated and to avoid paying for water in restaurants (just don’t drink your water at the table they may not like it) and may save you from drinking the Vltava. That is a joke, please do not drink from the river.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy New Experiences
The last little tip I can give: do the silly little things from home. Nothing keeps homesickness away like small traditions. For Halloween, carve a pumpkin. For Thanksgiving, make a turkey dinner with friends. Sometimes these traditions can help you better appreciate the new culture you are in and provide opportunities for your local friends to share their traditions with you.
Lastly, a word of caution: the comforts of home should not exclude new experiences. Do what you need to make yourself comfortable, but do not shy away from new experiences. You don’t want to reach the end of your stay with regrets and nothing new learned.
Connor Ragan is a Computer Science Major at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He studied abroad with IFSA at the Re-imagining Europe program in Prague, Czech Republic in Fall 2018.