One year ago I really did not expect to be sitting here in Prague studying abroad, and really enjoying all the culture and history Prague and the Czech Republic has to offer. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way humans function, socialize, operate, and travel as a society, and last year I was honestly not so optimistic about studying abroad. However, one year later after many ups and downs with the pandemic and visas, testing requirements, and many forms to fill out, I finally made it to Prague.
Getting back out into the world from the virtual university environment to an in-person environment again at first was a little adjustment, but after attending one class at Anglo-American University in Prague, I fell right back into the old habits of being an actual university student in person once again. I am absolutely thrilled to be back in person, and especially getting to do so at a university in Prague made up of students from all over the world and the Czech Republic. The small size of the university and classes also made a return to the in-person university life so welcoming. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when your university has a view of the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. My classes at AAU are all super interesting, and I absolutely love each and every one of them – including a very cool art history class that I’m taking called “Prague Art and Architecture” that has us do on-site learning at St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and take boat rides on the river, to name a few things we have done in our first couple classes of the semester. My internship and a CEA Class called “Czech Culture, Food and Brewing Tradition'' have also been really amazing reintroductions into the real in-person university experience.
Overall, the pandemic is obviously still very much present in the Czech Republic, with people wearing masks in shopping malls, stores, and on all forms of public transportation, but in all honesty it feels as life seems pretty much back to normal in the Czech Republic (just with wearing a mask when it’s required). Museums, exhibitions, restaurants, cafes, theaters, and all other elements of cultural immersion are open for us to explore, thanks the the Czech Republic’s superb effort with handling the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing us to still really get the same cultural experience as a “normal” semester abroad while still staying safe and healthy.
I cannot express enough how fortunate I am to be able to study abroad in what is hopefully the beginning of the end of very dark and difficult last two years, and I couldn’t be happier to be spending that time right in what just got voted the most beautiful city in the world – Prague.
Justin Duca is the Fall 2021 CEA MOJO Blogger in Prague, Czech Republic, and is currently studying at University of Delaware.