The University of Iowa

Only three months left with still so much to do

February 22nd, 2016

Top of one of the hikes

At the top of one hike, we got to look out over the town.

By Shannon Wright*

I don’t really know how I feel about the word accomplished.

It takes me back to a Jane Austen novel where women were seen as accomplished if they could read, sing, sew and or play music.

Am I accomplished? I am a third year college student, with a decent GPA and two part-time jobs. Also, I am studying abroad in Prague right now. So, I guess that I could say that I am accomplished for my age.

I think that I can say that I’ve only been in the Czech Republic for about a month now and I feel so accomplished because;

I have hiked up two mountains.

Been to a Moravian Carnival.

Walked inside a castle.

Successfully spoken to someone in Czech.

Made a friend from practically every state.

Got lost in Prague at least twice and found my way home.

Saw the last half of the opera, Don Giovanni.

Began my classes in Prague.

And I still have another three months to go!

Yes, looking at that list I think I can say that I feel accomplished in life right now.

Tisa rocks

Me at Tisa rock walls.

I just went to a glass blowing factory with my program the other day and they let us help blow a vase and a mug out of glass. It was incredible. They really make art there. These men – who were all standing around in shorts and flip flops, by the way – made such beautiful art and, because they do it for a living, acted like it was the most natural thing on earth. I heard that they are going to let us take both the vase and mug home once they cool down a bit. I am so excited to see how they turned out.

Oh, and one of my program leaders (Geiger) is hosting dinner at his home every week! So next week a bunch of us are going over to Geiger’s to help cook dinner, eat and talk! I think this week we are making palacinka too which is basically the Czech word for crepe. They are delicious and apparently very easy to make so I am thinking that palacinkas will become a new breakfast at home food for me.

castle ruins

Castle ruins.

This blog post is very scatterbrained. Mostly because I find myself trying to accomplish the difficult task of speaking about every interesting thing that I have done in Prague so far. There are so many things that I have done! It’s hard to put in chronological order all the cool and interesting things that I have done so far.

Every hike that I have been on so far has been breathtaking. Literally. Halfway through the first hike I thought parts of my feet were about to fall off and my legs had died a bit on the inside. But, it was always worth it in the end. The first hike that I went on (where my legs were numb) we found castle ruins at the top of the mountain we were climbing. They were beautiful and had such an amazing view out over the Czech Republic.

All of the students wanted to climb all over them and get great pictures. Of course I myself did get some great pictures but, sometimes it is hard to pull out your camera and try to get a perfect shot when all you want to do is stand there and take it all in. Feel the wind in your hair, as cliché as that sounds… but it is very windy at the top of a mountain. Just embrace the fact that you are in another country, seeing the most beautiful things and that even though the pictures you take will be gorgeous they will never be able to interpret to your friends just how you felt standing in those castle ruins.

It’s an unexplainable feeling.

For anyone who has never traveled to another country. You kind of just have to travel to really experience it fully. Of course I had seen pictures of Prague before deciding to come here but actually standing in front of the astronomical clock, close enough to touch it and see the sun glint off its gold pieces. It’s a completely different experience.

Just for a fun portion of this blog post:

Some of my favorite Czech words that I have learned are; Lekarna – which means pharmacy, Knedliky – which means dumpling, and Na zdravi – which means cheers.

I really like Lekarna because I took four years of Spanish in high school. Learning Czech, which sounds a lot more like German, is difficult for me, but the pronunciation of Lekarna sounds very Spanish. So it was always easy for me to remember. Also, it’s just kind of fun to say.

Knedliky is slightly harder to say but I like this word too because I love their dumplings here. They aren’t like little chicken noodle soup dumplings that we make in the U.S. These are like home-made pieces of bread that sometimes have bacon or other things baked in. I don’t really know how to explain them better than that but they are delicious. So I always look for that word on the menu, Knedliky.

Finally, Na zdravi is just really fun to say. I believe that it literally translates to mean, “To your health”. So people say it like cheers when they are drinking beer or wine at a meal with friends, or after someone sneezes as a sort of, “bless you”. Again, just another fun word to say.

So far, I love living in Prague.

*Shannon Wright, originally from Iowa City, Iowa, is a junior at the University of Iowa. The English major will be spending her semester in Prague on the USAC Studies in the Czech Republic program.