April 7th, 2014

At this point, it’s been a while since I’ve had any kind of home. Most people in my program at least knew of another person or went to Prague with few people from their school. So, this week I was very fortunate. First, I spent my Tuesday night with a Drake pal, Katarina! Katarina is also studying in Prague, just with a different program. With school and weekend trips, it took us till this past week to get together which was sad, but real. I cannot express how thankful I was for that beautiful, beautiful meal. Just to have someone to talk about our experiences and how it was going to affect our lives back home was so fantastic. We each understood where the other was coming from, and it was nice just to talk to someone who completely understands where I come from.

            The weekend also brought another friend from Drake, Brenna! I was fortunate enough to spend both Friday and Saturday night with Brenna, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. First, it was exciting to be able to show off Prague to a friend. Second, it was sooo nice to share in some solid DG lovin’ and have a good time with (again) someone who totally knows where I come from. It was interesting to share stories of our different abroad experiences and to be able to still completely relate to each other and how we were feeling.

            All in all, I’m getting really stressed about having to leave Prague. Clearly, I’m very, very happy with my life here and it’s hard to imagine not being in this city everyday. I miss a lot of things about home, but none of them seem to be enough motivation to want to leave this experience behind. At the same time, these thoughts are motivating me to make sure I get everything I want done. I’m going to have a very busy end of the semester. In the next few weeks I will be traveling to Istanbul, Berlin, Cesky Krumlov, and Barcelona. In addition to trips, I have four final papers due for my classes, friends visiting, and I still have things to see in Prague! Sweet Jesus, help me.

 

6 weeks left!!!

 

Na Schedanou,

Lizzie

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^^^Brenna and I at James Dean!

March 26, 2014

Well, it’s been a while. As I was titling my post, I about had a heart attack. MARCH 26TH?!? My semester in Prague is already halfway over? Yes, yes it is. I’ve already had to think about life after Prague, and I am really, really not ready for that day to come.

I decided to finally sit down and write this due to a slightly unfortunate event. I am sick. I’m not dying, but I have been fighting off different illnesses for about three weeks now. It’s been real fun, and I hope it stays forever!! In all seriousness, when I first got really sick two weeks ago, all I wanted was my mom…AND SHE CAME! Yes, Ann, Gary, and Eric have come and gone. I’d like to say that they all enjoyed it thoroughly, but Eric continuously reminded me that he’d rather be watching One Tree Hill on Netflix. They arrived on the morning of Friday, March 14th, and I ran to meet them at the hotel. Oh yeah, about their hotel. It was a small little inn, approximately one minute away from my dorm. My family is so predictable it’s unreal. We spent the first night just talking and eating while I showed off my impressive knowledge of the Prague transportation system. Seriously, I’m pretty good. Saturday morning, we took a train to Vienna, Austria! For some reason, I had this idea that Vienna would be similar to Prague. So. not. true. First of all, Vienna is basically an entire palace. It houses huge buildings everywhere and in my opinion, it’s been way more westernized than Prague. The weekend basically consisted of visiting museums, and then stopping for a sweet treat every five seconds. The weather was not great either, which kept us inside a lot. My family was fighting jet lag and I was fighting sickness, so in retrospect it probably wasn’t the best idea anyway.

We returned home (to Prague, cause it’s my home), on Sunday night. I spent the rest of the week catching up with my family in between classes and seeing them whenever I could. From Cafe Louve, to a river cruise, I spent the week eating like a queen and alongside the best possible company. Even writing about my week with my family makes me tear up. You think you finally appreciate your parents when you leave for college, but studying abroad makes the fondness grow even stronger.

On Friday morning, the CNMJ program (myself included) left for a weekend trip to Brno, Czech Republic. Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, and known for its’ wine and “student culture”. We first stopped at Radio R which is a student-run radio station in Brno. We talked to students about their radio station, and then were interviewed for a segment. I may or may not have taken part in a rendition of “Candy Shop” by 50 cent and it may or may not have been the most uncomfortable and awkward decision I’ve made while being in the Czech Republic. Seriously, why do I do these things? We spent the rest of the day lounging around, and in the evening we went to see “The Great Night” at the One World film festival.

On Saturday, we spent the day eating well and drinking even better. CIEE took us to the Velke Bilovice vineyard in Moravia. Moravia is known for its fabulous white wine, and after sampling around 15 wines in less than 40 minutes, I’d have to say the same. In fact, I even bought a bottle to commemorate the event. Naturally, I thought I would bring it home with me…think again Lizzie, think again. Our little group spent the rest of the afternoon chillin’ in a park together and learning some tai chi (spelling?) from strangers. Obviously, I was the worst.

On Sunday, the group got up a little earlier to make a trip to the Moravsky Kras caves! Being from Missouri (Meramac Caverns s/o holllaaa), I’ve seen a fair share of caves in my day, but this was hands down the coolest cave visit ever. Best part? Part of the tour was on a boat. In the cave. I mean yeah, it was pretty cool.

Finally, this week is midterms week!! It also marks the week where my sickness changed from the flu to some cold/throat issues, so hooray! In all seriousness though, midterms here haven’t been that bad. This may be due to the fact that I only have to muster a C out of my classes but…ya never know… My roommate Becca has also been constantly reminding me that this is our last weekend in Prague together. This is mostly due to the fact that Becca is going on 5 trips during the second portion of our stay. So obviously, we already have plans to spend the whole weekend together!

I have a lot more I wish I could say, but since this is my first blog post in a while…I’ll leave it at this. Also, serious s/o to the people who are writing these study abroad blogs in an inspirational manner. I could never be you.

 

Na Shledanou!

xo Lizzie

P.S. Pictures below…obviously

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^One of the only pictures we took in Vienna, Austria. Oh well, I promise we were there.

 

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^Mom and I on our Vltava River Cruise. So, so thankful for everything this woman does for me.

 

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^Zeeee fam in Old Town Square. I should note that I was the only member of the family not wearing any SLU basketball apparel that day. Are we from St. Louis yet?

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^This was taken at our lunch spot on the first day in Brno (don’t remember the name, whoops). A train brought us our drinks straight from the kitchen!

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^A view from the vineyard. The Czech Republic countryside ain’t bad y’all.

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^Most of our small but mighty CNMJ program! S/o to Grace B. for the photo.

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^This was taken on the boat inside the cave!! Photo cred to Maya B.

 

 

March 6, 2014

Well hey y’all. For those of you still with me, I’d like to discuss my AMAZING weekend in Budapest, Hungary. This was my first trip outside of the Czech Republic, so I was slightly nervous to leave. I also traveled to Budapest without my program, so my friends and I had to plan every part of the trip. Paige, Becca, and I left our dorm room at 6:15 a.m, on Friday morning in order to meet our friend Maddie at the bus stop at 6:45. Of course, Maddie didn’t meet us, so we began our trip thinking we would have to leave our friend behind. Of course as I find my seat on the bus, Maddie is just chillin’ on the bus waiting for us…what a relief.

When we arrived in Budapest, we were starving after having skipped getting breakfast in order to search for Maddie. That being said, please forgive me for letting McDonalds be my first meal in Budapest. It was just so close, easy, cheap, and tempting. Don’t hate me. The rest of Friday was spent walking around, napping, eating a great traditional Czech meal, and exploring some of the famous ruin bars in Budapest.

Saturday morning came a little too quickly, but I was uncharacteristically motivated to get out of bed. We met for a FREE TOUR at the St. Stephens Basilica at 10:30 a.m. The next three hours were spent with our tour guide Rudy as he told us fun stories and showed us the “must visit” touristy spots in Budapest. These were places such as Elizabeth Square, Chain Bridge, Fisherman’s Bastion, etc. I know for a fact that I would have never found half of these places on my own, so it was worth it. After the tour, we hurried to the Central Market Hall and bought food from the vendors. When I say “food”, I mean goulash because that’s the only thing I ate all three days…..I might be obsessed…Anyway, my friends and I spent the rest of the day walking around and taking in the sights of Budapest. It was nice to not really have a plan or destination, but just to take in the sights with some great company.

After a quick dinner, we ventured to a famous touristy party called the “Magic” bath party which is held at the Lucas Baths. To any twenty something looking to visit Budapest:

A) GO TO THE LUCAS BATH PARTY.

That’s pretty much all I’ll say regarding that.

Sunday morning, we woke up and payed 1000 huffs ($4.40) for breakfast at our hostel. After, we walked around different parts of Budapest to see all we could. I noticed that Budapest and Prague share a lot of the same food, so of course I ended up having sausage and beer. We splashed around in the Széchenyi thermal baths for way longer than we should have, and I looked like a raisin for the rest of the day. The Széchenyi thermal bath is the largest one of its kind in Europe and is basically a huge hot tub surrounded by incredible Noe-Baroque architecture.
We then took a nap at our hostel in preparation for our 11 p.m – 7 a.m bus ride home. While the bus ride was a bit creepy and slightly terrifying, I wouldn’t have wished for any other way.

My heart hurts this week because all I want to do is return to Budapest. I keep reminding myself, however, HELLLOOO YOU’RE IN PRAGUE.

I’ve attached a few of my favorite photos from the weekend, enjoy and na schledanou!

-Lizzie

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^The four of us in front of St. Stephens Basilica.

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^A view of the Pest side from the Buda side.

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^Fisherman’s Bastion. An incredible view.

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^ The love of my life aka Hungarian Goulash.

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^The four of us at the Széchenyi bath. (Photo credit to Becca)Image

^ Selfie with my love, Budapest. Thanks for an amazing weekend!

February 16th, 2014

There have been too many times this week when I have to stop myself and ask, “Am I really living in Prague right now”? I cannot believe that I’m on my 4th week of living in the Czech Republic! My daily living seems so normal to me at this point yet I still find myself constantly making new observations about this city, the people, and this experience.

This week was my second and final week of my intensive Czech language class! It really is nice to be able to atleast order food in Czech and say a few fun phrases. My favorites so far are “Nazdravi” which means cheers and “Na Shledanou” which means goodbye! While sitting in a classroom for almost 5 hours a day learning a difficult language doesn’t sound like the most fun time, I grew to appreciate the ample amount of time that I was given to adapt to the culture.

It’s now Sunday at 10:20 p.m. and it’s safe to say I’m exhausted from a fun-filled weekend. From being shoved around in a mosh-pit (I didn’t last too long, let’s be real) to celebrating the end of winter Czech style, I definetly celebrated the “orientation” portion of the program being over.

While my entire weekend was kickin’, I have to admit that my favorite parts of the week were the small moments. While I acknowledge the fact that I’m annoying for saying cheesy things, the little moments truly are the best. From walking home alone along the Charles Bridge to wearing groutfits and running to catch a tram with my friends, I want to make sure I’m remembering the small moments that made this experience that much better.

Classes officially start tomorrow, and I can’t decide whether I’m excited, terrified, or sad.

^^^I really have nothing else to say about that.

Good new is, I found my first “spot”. It’s a bagel place…….(judge me).

Na Shledanou,

Lizzie

P.S. Enjoy some pictures below!

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^Home sweet home!!

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^This is the gorgeous Estates Theatre in which we had our own box to see Don Giovanni!!

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^Some weird people with weird masks at a weird traditional Czech festival. Awesome.

February 9th, 2014

Time files when you’re studying abroad in Prague. I cannot believe that today marks the second week that I’ve been living in this beautiful city! Although I’m pretty much settled in at this point, it still feels like a vacation. This may be due to the fact that I have yet to start any classes besides my Intensive Czech class. If you’re wondering what it’s like to speak Czech, don’t because it’s a ridiculously difficult language. Czech people amaze me with their ability to make an insane language sound so fluid and beautiful. Besides that, my Czech teacher’s name is Ludek and is the most bouncy male adult I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I take the class with my small communications program, and he deals with our loudness and inability to stop talking.

Besides my Czech language class, this week I started to run errands and prepare to actually make a home for myself. While doing so, I’ve begun to notice some very interesting things about this country and its people.

Observations

1) Dogs. They are everywhere. People take them on the trams, in grocery stores, and on their daily walks. They’re usually not on leashes, yet somehow never stray from their owner. As Ludek says, “They’re not dogs, they’re people”.

2) Grocery stores are small and scarce. You have to pay five korunas to use a cart instead of just using a basket. I’m still trying to figure out what people really eat here…

3) No one likes to talk on public transportation. If you want to fit in, don’t talk on the trams. Czech people are very warm and friendly but are very quiet compared to Americans.

4) Sweatpants are not an option. I have yet to see a single person look slightly casual. Czechs look very put together while I tend to wear groutfits on a daily basis.

I’m obviously still getting used to the Czech way of life, but I’m feeling more and more comfortable everyday. I’ve used the trams by myself several times and I now know how to order my favorite beer in Czech. I’ll add a few of my favorite pictures so far to the bottom of the post!

Na Shledanou (Bye!)

-Lizzie

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Me in front of the John Lennon Wall!

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Just a quick selfie in Old Town Square!

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A gorgeous view of my side of the city and the Charles bridge!

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The Prague castle!

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The view from a rooftop restaurant in Praha!

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The most beautiful place in the world.

February 2, 2014

Well, I guess I’ve been traveling for a week now. I don’t really remember a more insane week than this, so it’s safe to say I’m loving every second of it.

After missing my first plane and every consecutive flight after, my luggage got lost. While normally I would have probably had a screaming/crying/panic attack about the luggage, I picked myself up and tried not to let it affect me. I know it seems like I’m writing a lot about lost luggage, but it’s a really big deal (also they found it and delivered it to my dorm so yay!!) My first day consisted of a long nap, walking around my dorm, and eating. Solid.

The rest of the week pretty much went as follows:

-Orientation at the CIEE study center from about 8 am- 2 pm

-Czech Buddies taking us around the city to familiarize ourselves

-Dinner somewhere bomb

-”Czeching”out some local clubs

The CIEE study center which is where I’ll be taking most of my classes is about a 5 minute walk from my sweet, sweet dorm room. My wonderful Czech buddy Tereza has been so helpful from helping us with the metro to showing us the best beer in town.

The only exception to this was on Saturday when I toured around with two friends for the first time. Even though we didn’t have a Czech buddy with us, we were able to maneuver around the city by ourselves without getting lost (a first).

I realize how lucky I am to be in my position. The people in my program are fantastic, and I am so in love with Prague already. Even though I’ve been running on little to no sleep this entire week, I wouldn’t have skipped any moment.

Tomorrow, my intensive Czech classes begin so maybe I’ll be able to say more then Dobry Den (Hello) and Dekuji (Thank you!)

 

January 24th, 2014

…I know, never thought you’d be reading my blog. And if you did, then congrats, you knew I would succumb to peer pressure from EVERYONE around me…and also my mom. Also, if you’re actually reading this…I’m really surprised…please…only read this if you’re dying of boredom or if you’re my grandparents (HI YOU GUYS).

Well, in just two days I’m off to live in Europe for four months. I just finished cramming every possible item of clothing into my bulging suitcase and I feel ready to go! In all seriousness, I’m fully aware these next four months might be some of the most challenging, painful, and difficult times of my life. The thing is, I’m also optimistic in believing that the next four months will be life changing.

Studying abroad is something that I’ve always wanted to experience. It was even a factor in where I would attend college. I’m extremely grateful and proud to be a student at Drake University and so happy to have such a supportive (and slightly neurotic) family to back me in my travels. As for my friends, they make up everything I am. So, I’m quite surprised that I’m doing this by myself. Then again, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to go alone without the undying support from my friends back home.

So, here I come Prague. ’bout to show all these Europeans whazzzup!

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