Ever since around October, people have asked me, “Why did you decide to do a semester in Prague.” And every time someone asked me this, I responded truthfully. “Process of Elimination.”
You see, unlike many college students, I don’t have a burning interest in one specific country. All I knew was that I wanted to do a semester abroad, and I wanted to spend it somewhere in Europe. The only question was, “Where in a continent of 48 countries and 700 million people am I going to go?” I’ve visited France and Italy, and liked them both, but neither of them struck me as The Place Where I Want to Spend Four Months. England seems interesting, as so does Germany, but neither of them particularly stoke my imagination. Unlike some people who breathlessly spout off their lifelong love for Madrid or Vienna, I can’t say that I’ve always wanted to live in BLANK city.
Nor do I speak any language fluently. I know enough French and Spanish to order in a restaurant, but not enough to take a class on Cervantes or Flaubert. I also wanted accommodations in a student dorm as opposed to a homestay, access to other European countries that I might want to visit, a wide variety of classes, and a location that’s more exotic than the lands of our English-speaking brethren, but less exotic than a city controlled by the Russian mob.
And so I realized that the program in Prague met all of my personal conditions: no language requirement, no homestay, and no hitmen named Boris in $600 Bruno Maglis. I also learned that the exchange rate is fantastic (thank you, Czech Korun), so I’m now much better off in terms of spendingthan my pals in Euro countries.
Once I decided to go to Prague, it was just a simple matter of applying for a student visa. Or so I thought it would be simple. The story of how I got my visa is not worth going into detail, but it was about as much fun as a Civil War-style amputation. Actually, the amputation would have been over in a few minutes, whereas it took nearly two months for me to get a single piece of paper.
But I disgress. I’ve been in Prague for nearly two weeks now, and I’m enjoying myself thoroughly. I might not have gone because I want to become fluent in Czech and work for Czech-American NGO, but I’m here, and I’m looking forward to my time overseas.