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Home is Where English isn't Spoken

One of the greatest benefits about studying abroad is the ability to travel to other countries and places with relative ease. Traveling from the Czech Republic to other European countries is fairly easy due to its central location and the fact that due to proximity, plane tickets and buses are often affordable.

The more I think about it, the more it blows my mind that within two hours or so on a plane, I could be virtually anywhere in Europe. When compared to the fact that traveling through one state in the U.S could take upwards of five hours, this becomes all the more amazing. And I believe that traveling to other places outside of Prague have allowed me to really see how diverse Europe, and the world in general, really is.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, and the first thing that I noticed, as did my travel companions, was how refreshing it was to hear English. I try and be as observant and attentive as possible in Prague, but I sometimes forget how nice it is to understand what people are saying, even if it is just the bus stop being said in English.

When I realized just how great it was to hear English spoken all around me, I realized how much I took it for granted in the States. The ability to communicate with ease and understand others was something I’d grown accustomed to not experiencing.

The second thing I noticed, though it wasn’t completely unexpected, was the rain. During my time in Prague it has probably rained (or, more accurately, drizzled) no more than three or four times. When I first arrived in Edinburgh, my coat was practically soaked through with my hair matted to my face. I didn’t mind, though, as the rain was a refreshing change of pace (though, a very cold one), and it added to the overall environment of the vibrantly green city.

That’s the other main thing I noticed, and that over my short weekend, I grew to love. Edinburgh is a city with many buildings and cars and buses and the energy that cities have, but there was also an incredible amount of green where buildings weren’t.

The cemeteries I walked through were breathtakingly vibrant with color and the old buildings with moss and vines along their sides added to this. The most wonderful part of the city, though, was Arthur’s Seat. A group of hills located in the city, it offers the most breathtaking view of the city and a fantastic hike.

The more I travel, the more I find how different cities are and how each has its own unique aspects. In Prague, the view from the castle is incredible, and just a short walk away is the Charles Bridge which offers another view.

In Edinburgh, though, to get the view from Arthur’s seat, a nearly forty minute to an hour hike is necessary. While walking up the castle steps in Prague, architecture can be admired, beautifully designed and intricate buildings can be seen, but hiking up to the peak of Arthur’s seat, fresh air and mother nature are at her finest.

Traveling to Scotland was amazing and I think everyone should take advantage of seeing the world should they have the chance, but it was returning to Prague that made me realize how much I love this city already. As soon as I stepped onto the Metro, it didn’t matter that I didn’t speak Czech; I knew my way home.

Amanda Palomino is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a junior at Hofstra University.

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