Last Updated on June 21, 2019 by Katherine Canan
After an amazing weekend in London, I arrived in Prague. I can most definitely confirm that I had never felt more exhausted in my life, but exploring London was so worth it. We stayed at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington, a great spot for hopping on the tube and exploring this wonderful city. I’m feeling thankful for my new friends who navigated while I attempted to adjust to the newness of it all.
My first culture shock moment in Prague was my experience at a small Czech grocery store. This was my first time stepping out of my dorm alone, which the experience in itself was very frightening to me. I made my way through the store and grabbed all the items I needed. I reached the checkout line and everything was going smoothly until the cashier picked up the bananas and began waving them at me. I asked if she spoke English and she said no. I couldn’t understand what she was saying until she decided to take matters into her own hands. It turns out I needed to weigh my bananas at a station and print a receipt stating the price. Meanwhile, her co-worker stared at me thinking I was a total idiot. She finished the transaction and began putting the next customer’s items on top of mine.
I experienced another culture shock when I visited a traditional Czech restaurant for lunch the other day. After sitting down and receiving a menu, we realized that there was no English translation. Well, how American did we look? Our group discovered that the Google translate app has a photo-taking function that will translate all of the words for you. I didn’t go through the trouble of all of that. Instead, I picked something that ended up being potato pancakes. They were delicious. Sometimes, you just have to take a risk and hope it ends well!
One of the everyday struggles that I hope to soon become used to is the lack of smiling among the Czechs. In fact, it is seen as rude to smile at somebody you don’t know. When using public transportation, it is your best bet to keep quiet and avoid eye contact. What a change right?
After some time adjusting, I am feeling more at ease with this city. These are all learning experiences that truly make this semester what it’s supposed to be – a complete change. The first few days felt like a lot to navigate, but I’m so excited for what’s to come – and you will be, too.
This post was contributed by Katherine Canan, who is spending her study abroad experience with AIFS in Prague, Czech Republic.