You would think going from a little town of around 11,000 people to a substantial city of about 1.5 million would be a difficult, yet I have found the transition to be quite smooth. I have attempted to embrace these differences as a part of the abroad experience. The variance between these two places allows for great stories, many laughs, and an appreciation for what I have.
To start off, the biggest transition was starting over at a brand new school, like I was again at my first year at St. Norbert College. I had to go around the campus to find my new classes, make new friends, and adjust to the new class structure. My home college has classes two or four times a week with nightly homework. Now at my new school, Anglo-American University, courses meet once a week with only a few assignments counting towards my final grade. This is definitely something new and will require me to be more autonomous with my studying. Now, to add to that the thought of making new friends is overwhelming, especially being a senior in college where I have already formed my group of friends. However, being in our fourth week of school, I found it quite exciting and worthwhile to meet new friends from all over the world.
In addition to a new university, being in a country that speaks a language I do not know is a new experience for me. I have traveled before in foreign language countries, but that was only for a few weeks. Prague is my home for the next few months, so I must learn some basics to get by on a daily basis and also have an understanding when someone does not speak English.
A few of the more trivial things that add to the list of laughs and good stories are the showers, washing machines, and transportation. Beginning with the showers, I do not know how many countless times our bathroom has been flooded with water the first couple of weeks. I finally think my roommates and I have the swing of things and we are able to keep the floor relatively dry. The washing machine is another story. I have not been able to master it, and at times I must run my clothes three times to be able to open the door of the washing machine and then I am finally able to remove my clothes. Lastly, transportation at my home college required me to walk a maximum of seven minutes across campus to get to my next class. Here in Prague, I have about a thirty minute commute, which includes both the metro and tram. At first there were a few bumps as I would get on the Metro going the wrong way or get off at the wrong tram exit, but now I feel like I am one of the locals as I confidently travel from one destination to another.
Finally, the biggest transition I have had is a large amount of free time. At my home college I would have to run to various meetings, jobs, or educational events. In Prague I am able to enjoy my freedom from responsibilities and immerse myself into the city, my travels, and my new found friends. Each day is a new day, and I have to take things one day at a time. These differences remind me of what I take for granted and allow me to open my eyes to new ways of doing things. My study abroad experience has already formed a greater appreciation for the world around me as I make Prague my new home away from home.
Lisa Jordahl is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a senior at St. Norbert College.
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