Although they rarely talked about their lives back in the Czech Republic, it never left my mind that they had left their homes just to be successful in another country. Inadvertently, the Czech Republic was filed away in my mind as a must-visit location at some point in my life.
Fast forward 13 years and I'm given the option to study abroad. At first, I shuffled through all the usual suspects: London, Paris, Florence. They were the most popular locations to study abroad by far, and were extremely tourist friendly cities. However, after quietly evaluating what I really wanted to get out of studying abroad, I realized that what I was looking for was an underrated city with significance in my life. That's when I remembered by Czech au pairs for the first time in years.
Although it isn't the only factor that played into my decision to study in Prague, it certainly was a major one. Unfortunately, no one in my family has any contact information or even a last name to help me hunt down my beloved Jana. However, just being in her country and spending time with what used to be her fellow citizens, I feel like I've finally come full circle. Paying homage to the woman who raised me is important to me, and hopefully I'm making her proud. I try and speak Czech when I can, eat Czech food, even sing Czech songs on karaoke night - all in an effort to give back to Jana what she gave to me. I wish I could tell her in person how much I appreciated her being there for me as a child, but what I didn't expect then was to never see her again. Although flying to her country to spend four months studying isn't the easiest way to stumble across someone, I can't help but hope that it happens every day when I walk out of my door.
So Jana, if you're out there and reading this - come find me!
Tansu Philip is the Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a junior at Chapman University.
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