Full disclosure: I’ve made a lot of stupid decisions in my life. (Honestly, who hasn’t?) But when I was sitting on a plane, preparing to embark upon a week-long journey to Prague, I was convinced that this was the stupidest decision of all.
As a student in the Presidential Honors program in the College of Arts and Science, I have the opportunity to travel to one of NYU’s global study away sites during the January term. As a first year, all of the scholars in the program travel to Florence, but as a sophomore, you have the option to decide between sites such as Prague, Buenos Aires, and Accra. Prague immediately had stood out to me as one of the more interesting options.
However, on the flight over, I started worrying about everything from the language barrier to the frigid climate to the Czech cuisine. With all of these thoughts buzzing in my mind, I just couldn’t bring myself to be excited, and was sure that I was going to have the worst time.
I was, of course, completely wrong. As soon as I stepped into the Old Town Square of Prague, I had fallen completely in love. In the center of the square was an ancient, still operating, clock tower, and it was surrounded by the ongoing holiday market. The holiday market was accompanied by the most enormous Christmas tree I have ever seen, bigger even than the ones in Washington Square Park and Rockefeller Center. To top it all off, everything was covered in a fresh layer of light snow. Basically, it looked like I had stepped into a fairytale. If you don’t believe me, just look at these pictures:
Our week was crammed with historical and cultural excursions. We went on tours of the town’s different neighborhoods; toured the old Prague Castle; visited Terezin, an ancient fortress that was converted into a concentration camp during the second World War; we even went on a Corruption Tour in which we visited areas of Prague that represented current corruption scandals. On three of the nights, we attended the local symphony, opera, and ballet.
Some of my worries did come to life. On my first day, I mangled the word for “hot dog” so terribly that the cashier spent the next five minutes laughing. There were times when I couldn’t feel my toes because of how cold it was outside. But by the end of the week, I could say ‘Hello’ and ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ like a pro, and I discovered the joy that is the trdelník, a traditional Czech pastry.
In just a week’s time, I managed to make fun new friends, experience a completely new culture, and make incredible memories that are sure to last me a lifetime. Prague is now definitely one of my favorite cities in the world. When I remember how stupid I thought I was for wanting to go to Prague, I laugh. If going to Prague was a “stupid” decision, then I need to let myself make stupid decisions more often.