Over the past few weeks, I’ve had my mother visit me and one of my best friends as well. During their time in Prague, I was able to show them around the city I’ve come to call home for the past two-and-a-half months. In that time, as I took them from Old Town Square to Charles Bridge and the castle, I realized that Prague has always been more than some seemingly magical place I’ve wanted to visit.
Showing them places that I’ve grown to love (along with feeling pride at not being a tourist), made clear to me that Prague has been the fulfillment of a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl – imaging myself gallivanting all over the world.
I believe that living in this city, going to school here and simply being here is all the fruition of hard work and determination to make a dream come true. The fact that Prague happened to be the place I landed (another goal fulfilled) matters little when compared to the fact that as much as I hoped to travel the world, I had my doubts from an early start.
First of all, how on earth would I be able to afford something as extravagant as Europe? Secondly, how could I possibly organize it with my university for credits, grades, and courses to transfer over? And, thirdly, how would I ever adapt to a new country, culture, environment, and language in the course of a few months? When taken as a whole, all of these things seemed incredibly daunting and, quite frankly, vastly overwhelming. But, with a bit of determination and a lot of planning, I somehow made it work (along with copious amounts of help from my parents.)
The fact of the matter is that coming to Prague helped me validate myself as a detail-oriented person, an organizer and a competent traveler. It’s all these things that makes Prague so special to me. While being here I’ve learned to grow accustomed to so many changes like the language, grocery shopping in another language (a challenge, I assure you,) my school schedule and just generally having complete independence.
There’s a degree of self-reliance that I’ve learned to embrace while abroad here along with forming relationships with other students going through the same thing both from the states and from other countries.
In retrospect, I don’t think Prague was ever really an “end-goal” for me but, rather, a place where I could continue to grow in all areas of life. In order to realize my full potential as a traveler, student and writer, I’ve had to look at Prague as a learning opportunity, as a place where I can keep challenging myself to go out of my comfort zone.
Prague has become so much more than just a destination, but rather, the start of a journey into boldness and into pursuing things that matter to me. It’s the start of learning how to embrace every experience that comes my way, good or bad, knowing that, in the end, it will make me a stronger and wiser.
|The symmetry of doors in
| Last remnants of sunset
on the Charles Bridge.
| Clear skies and beautiful
buildings; a great spring
day on the bridge.
| Art and architecture meet
with statues and beautiful
| Blue skies, yellow buildings:
The perfect day on the bridge.
Amanda Palomino is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a junior at Hofstra University.
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