I was lucky enough to have a couple of friends from home visit me here in Prague for their spring break. Everything went according to plan: flights were on time, COVID tests were negative, and the weather was perfect everyday. Of course it was fun to catch up with them and see them in person for the first time in four months, but it was also fascinating to watch them in “my” city.
I felt like I was watching my past self from the first week I arrived. To them, everything was new and exciting and confusing. It reminded me how quickly all of my CEA friends and I adapted to this new environment. It even boosted my confidence, I felt like a local showing them how the tram stops worked and the conversion rate from korunas to dollars! It was so rewarding to see them adapt just as quickly as I did.
This triggered a lot of self reflection, remembering the months leading up to my semester studying abroad. I was convinced that it would take me at least a month to even conceptualize the city. I was imagining getting completely lost and not being able to find my way back home. I also worried about making new friends, and was counting on my visiting friends’ trip to see some familiar faces. However, that wasn’t the case at all. I arrived late, which came with the silver lining that everyone around me already knew a thing or two about living here. I had help finding the grocery store, got advice on which tram to take to school, and received tons of restaurant options.
Having friends visit was also the perfect excuse to be a true tourist in Prague. We went to Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square, the Jewish Quarter, walked across the Charles Bridge, and ate chimney cakes. It was the first time I felt like I was looking at the city through the eyes of a visitor instead of a new home. It is a treat to have both perspectives! It was such a gift to share this new piece of my heart with them; I took them to Letna Park where I walk everyday (gorgeous sunset pictured here), and took them to all my favorite restaurants that I’d been describing over the phone. My friends from home learned a lot about Czech culture in just a week, and I learned a lot about myself and how far I have come since the last time I saw them back in Iowa City. Next time we catch up it will be back in the States, I can only imagine how much we’ll all grow by then!
Kathryn Hilt is the Spring 2022 CEA MOJO Blogger in Prague, Czech Republic, and is currently studying at University of Iowa.