By Harry Bourikas
When I got off of the plane in Prague, Czech Republic after an 11-hour trip that began in Boston, Massachusetts, I felt tired, hungry, excited and worried.
After collecting my belongings off of the carousel, I got on a bus and traveled 20 minutes to the Czech Technical University (CTU), where I will be studying until Dec. 21.
There was no time to rest once I got to my dormitory, though. I had to sign a waiver for my room, get my student card and transportation pass and register as an international student.
At the end of the day I was jetlagged, but happy to finally be settled into my home for the next few months.
When I woke up the next day, I met up with friends from Union and we had time to explore Prague for the first time. I had been told by friends and family that Prague
is the most beautiful city in the world, but I did not understand what they meant until I stepped out of the subway and into downtown Prague.
From the second I stepped foot on the cobblestone sidewalk, I noticed a completely different culture.
The buildings were tall and extravagant, and the atmosphere was calmer than I had expected.
The change of atmosphere was certainly welcome, since I could wander downtown Prague at my own pace and enjoy the sights while taking a lot of pictures.
Within the first few days alone, I had visited Prague Castle, Charles Bridge along the Vlata River, the John Lennon memorial wall and many pubs. I noticed a couple of differences while walking the streets and entering a few stores.
For example, supermarkets do not supply bags for free, so I need to bring my own in order to carry my items out of the store efficiently.
After the first few days, I realized that bringing a backpack around Prague was the best choice; that way I always have something to carry my groceries in.
Also, I noticed that a lot of restaurants do not bring me the check unless I get the server’s attention and explicitly ask for it. I think that in Europe, going out to eat is more of an experience than it is in the United States.
Just a few weeks into my time abroad, I can say that restaurants have a more relaxed atmosphere than in the United States.
So far, my time here has been chaotic, to say the least. I have been making day trips to the city, going to Tesco (the Walmart equivalent), registering for classes, and getting settled in to a new school system.
Only recently have I had time to think about all of my friends and family that I left at home for four months.
Although I am meeting numerous new people from different countries as well as making new friendships with students from Union, I still feel somewhat homesick.
Union is definitely a place that I have grown to love and feel comfortable at over the past two years. However, I am still excited to get to know the culture better and to explore the European lifestyle.
In general, Prague is the most beautiful city I have ever seen, and I still have so much to explore.