Looking back: my year in Prague, Czechia

In October of 2017, I went to Prague for the first time with a friend of mine from Lebanon. It was a five-day trip and I was instantly captivated by the city’s beauty. Who knew that less than a year later I would be moving to Prague, a city I wasn’t even really interested in visiting.

“I move to Prague tomorrow, 31st of August 2018. I’m nervous yet excited. I see my move as a new beginning full of new adventures. I have decided to stop planning ahead and simply do my best to enjoy my year there. Prague, I can’t wait.” I wrote down on my phone a day before taking my much awaited plane ride to Czechia. Little did I know that it would end up being an adventure of a lifetime.

While studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, I remembered seeing Charles University in Prague on the list of universities my school had an Erasmus agreement with. So, I went to the Erasmus office in Prague, while there, in 2017, and asked all the questions I had. Accommodation: check. Free czech language classes: check. Courses in english for foreign students: check. School’s reputation: check. Absolutely no negative point whatsoever.

An absolutely underrated school, Charles University, has been without doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. This is not an exaggeration. It was an amazing experience studying at a school with competent faculty and smart students; where a person’s opinions and thoughts are valued. Students are actively encouraged to engage in class, most of which are seminar based. Professors listen, help and have their offices open to any student with questions. Often with smiles on their faces, I truly learnt a lot from them. In fact, I learnt a lot more in my year in Prague than in my three years in Paris. I’m very upset that the University doesn’t make it up higher in the rankings; regardless, if you’re reading this and are looking for a place to study, do consider Charles University! You won’t regret it!

All international students are guaranteed accommodation — far from the city center though, and I absolutely have no idea why. I stayed in a student residence, Kolej Hostivar, which was 40-45 minutes away from the center, sharing the room with another person. A tiny room. The fridge was in the hallway and the Kitchen didn’t have an oven or a microwave. Oh well. I couldn’t care less; I paid 140 euros a month (you get what you pay for I guess).

Life is so cheap in Prague, that I spent my days in Cafedu, a study-cafe in central Prague. God! I miss that place! I miss their freshly baked Babovka (a piece of traditional cake); though considered a somewhat expensive place in Prague, it was a place I could concentrate on my studies, all the while enjoying the music and meeting cool people from around the world, working and studying there. MamaCafe and Cafefin were other cafes I enjoyed going to. Late night walks in the city, or having cheap and not so good Caipirinha at Alcapones, a very very cheap bar in the center, was truly fun as well !

Though I took an intensive one-month Czech course, my skills in the language were nowhere near the required level to hold a proper conversation with people — I did try though! “ Ahoj, jednou Cafe Latte a Babovka prosim, djekuji !” (Hello, one Cafe latte and a Babovka please, thank you). I’d love to say this sentence every morning again. Luckily, everyone speaks english in the city, and no, contrary to popular belief, people are NOT rude to foreigners (unless you’re at the bank or the police station). Everyone was respectful, helpful and kind to me. In fact, I made quite a few friends; though, my one and only, an amazing human being, a smart and beautiful Brazilian exchange student from Tel Aviv, made my stay in Prague even more worthwhile. We’re good friends even to this day.

All in all, the highlight of my stay in Prague was the real reason I was there, studying at Charles University. Exchange students go to Prague for cheap beer and bar-hopping, but I spent my time learning new things, and I’m eternally grateful to this school for shaping the person that I am today. I hold my memories of Prague close to my heart and will cherish them forever.

Prague, till next time ! I love you !

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