I have always talked about going out and seeing the world. “When I was older, professional, wealthier, etc,” I thought. However, I didn’t know it would be so soon. The concept of studying abroad had always floated around in my brain, but I hadn’t truly thought about it until one of my professors brought up an opportunity to me: to study Digital Media in Prague, Czech Republic. This was an opportunity to do two things I love: travel and learn more about digital media. This quickly became an opportunity I could not pass up.
Dealing with Fear
However, I had a lot of fears regarding studying in a foreign country. I had never left the United States before. I had never been in areas where the native language wasn’t English. I didn’t know how I would be able to communicate, and how I would learn to get around the city of Prague. Despite these fears, I committed to the study abroad program because I wanted to further my skills with digital technology and media which Prague College would help me do.
The first few days were tough. I didn’t know what to say when I ordered food or drinks, I didn’t know how to approach people, and I did not know how to get ANYWHERE. Thankfully, as each day of orientation went on, the more I learned about the city and the Czech culture. I learned simple phrases to say such as “dobry den” which means “hello” in Czech or “prosim” which means “please” or “sorry”. I learned that street names are pasted on the buildings and NOT on street posts. And I learned many other things from the introductions from orientation.
Getting Around Prague
Each day I am here in Prague I learn something new from the things I see, the people I meet, and the simple interactions that I have. As I became more comfortable with living in a foreign country, I grew so much as a person. My independence in doing activities and maneuvering myself around has developed in ways it never had before, or never would have if I were to have stayed at my home university this semester. Despite my fear of foreign transportation systems, I have learned how the metro and tram system within Prague works and have successfully (and sometimes unsuccessfully) used it to get to where I want to go. I have learned to ask people in public questions in Czech (such as if they speak English).
Live and Learn
As it becomes mid-semester at Prague College, I feel I am completely immersed in the culture and customs of the Czech people. Although I do not know all rituals in which to follow, I feel that I have a pretty good grasp on how to fit in and not come off as a tourist or a foreigner. Living in Czech Republic for the last two months have made me want to further my travels to new countries and destinations to see what other skills I can develop. If I wouldn’t have moved to Prague for this semester, I never would have gotten over my fear of living in foreign places. I am eternally grateful for this experience and getting over the “hump” and I hope I can continue to travel and experiment with foreign countries in my future. Living in Prague has sparked a travel bug and my curiosity for the world. This experience has inspired me to pursue jobs (and any opportunities) abroad or in any area which is foreign to me.
Cassidy Ward is a Digital Technology and Culture major at Washington State University and studied abroad with IFSA on the Reimagining Europe program in Prague, Czech Republic in Spring 2018.