Abroad in Prague: Week Four

Letna Park by night

Prague from Letna Park at night.

I spending the month of July in Prague, Czech Republic studying abroad. My goal is to write one of these a week for the month that I’m here, but if you want a better day-to-day look at our time in Prague, check out Claire’s blog. She’s way better about keeping up with blogging than I am.

If you just want to see all the pretty pictures I take on my trip, check out my Prague Flickr set.

My month-long adventure abroad has come to an end. My trip to the Czech Republic was an unbelievable experience. Not only did I get to live in and see a unique corner of the world and absorb it’s culture, but I also got valuable real-world experience and some incredible new friends to boot.

THE CLASS

Our final week in Prague blew by. Much like Week 3, the fourth week comprised mostly of our culture class at Charles University. We had a few more lectures on politics, culture and architecture in Prague and the rest of central and eastern Europe.

Monday’s lecture was, in my opinion, the most fascinating of the week’s lectures. We had a guest speaker from a Czech NGO that provides aid to political prisoners in Cuba. The lecture was an interesting first-person account of what Cuban life is like for the average citizen. It was an interesting perspective on a topic that we’d never get in the U.S.

PORNO PARA RICARDO

Porno para Ricardo

During Monday’s Cuba lecture, our guest speaker told us about a concert that evening featuring a Cuban dissident punk rock band. The band, Porno para Ricardo (yes, that translates to exactly what it sounds like, “Porn for Richard”), has made a name for themselves over the past decade or so by performing songs that explicitly speak out against Cuba’s communist regime. These guys are the definition of punk rock. Each of the band members has spent time in jail for speaking out against the communist government, and the band even created their own recording studio (using equipment smuggled into the country by our guest speaker’s NGO) for other Cuban bands banned from performing and recording in Cuba. There’s a great video online of the band performing on their balcony in Cuba until a few neighbors, led by a crazy old man chanting, “Viva Fidel!”, ruin all of their fun and call la policía.

The premise of the band sounded cool and the concert was cheap, so a few of us decided to check them out. Porno para Ricardo was playing at a venue called the Meetfactory. The Meetfactory is a little art venue and bar, built in an abandoned meat factory, on the outskirts of Prague. Admittedly, the band doesn’t sound great on their recorded, but they put on a great live show in the tiny venue. Though this isn’t exactly the type of show I would normally go to, it was a lot of fun and definitely a highlight of our last week.

FINAL SIGHTSEEING

Peacocks in the park

Peacock in the park.

During our final week we scrambled to see the last few sights we had yet to see in Prague.

On Monday, our culture class took us on a tour of Prague’s Jewish Quarter. The main attraction of the Jewish Quarter is the Jewish Cemetery, a tiny cemetery used from the 15th-19th centuries that contains over 12,000 headstones and is estimated to contain nearly 100,000 bodies.

Over the course of the week we hit a few other sights including a public park with wild peacocks, a brief walk through the inside of the St. Vitus Cathedral on the Prague Castle grounds, and a visit to the Franz Kafka museum.

Prague is actually a fairly small city, and after our tours in our last week, we had pretty much hit all of the major sights in the city. By the end of the week we were struggling to find things on the map that we hadn’t yet seen.

THE END

last night in prague

Our view of Prague on our last night.

Friday evening we met up with a few of our Czech friends for dinner and night visit to Riegrovy Sady Park. The park sits on a hill above the city and provided an awesome view for our last night in Prague and the perfect place to say our goodbyes to our new friends. On Saturday morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and headed to the airport for our 14 hour journey home.

As I sit here typing this last post in my room in Columbia, Missouri, I can’t help but wish I was still in Prague. My month abroad was an absolute blast and a truly once in a lifetime experience. I’ve never had a month go by so fast. This trip exceeded my expectations in every imaginable way.

Until next time, Prague.

THANK YOU

na zdraví

Na zdraví!

I’d like to end this post by thanking some of the people who made this experience what it was.

First off, I’d like to thank Prague’s X51 late night bus driver. You are easily one of my least favorite people on this earth, but your unreliable timing, cold heart and bus that decided to break down in the middle of a rainstorm at 3am miles from our dorm has provided with me with experiences and stories that I’ll laugh about forever.

Next, and more seriously, a huge thank you to our Czech friends. You guys put up with all of our American nonsense and showed us an awesome time in your beautiful city. You guys really made us feel like locals. I owe all of you guys a Pilsner next time I’m in town.

Another big thank you goes to all of my new American friends. I jumped into this trip without really knowing any of you, and I came out with 12 awesome friends. You guys made this trip (and my 21st birthday) an experience I’ll never forget.

Finally, the biggest thank you of them all goes to my incredible parents. Without you guys this trip never would have happened. There aren’t words for how much I owe you guys after this one. Thank you so, so much.