Comfort Zones and Making Friends

Study Abroad Blog

Comfort Zones and Making Friends

Summer of 2022, I went way out of my comfort zone and spent 4 weeks abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. As an introvert, I would never imagine that would have been my summer, but sure enough Juneglass blowing 24th I was on a plane to the Czech Republic. I am someone that had never traveled alone before, so the thought of being in a different country with no one from my family, school, or even state scared me. Once I got there, I found 15 other students in the same boat as me. We became quick friends and traveled the city together. Not knowing anybody else made me very willing to make friends. I became especially close with my roommate who was from Phoenix, Arizona. We did pretty much everything together whether it be touring the city, going grocery shopping, walking to class, or late night ice cream runs. It soon became less scary and more fun. I had the freedom to go anywhere at any time and the city no longer scared me. I also got to experience some of the Czech country side. My friends and I went to visit the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand whose death led to the start of World War I. We also went to a place where you can experience glass blowing. The place we visited in particular makes glass art for tons of American movies. 


While in Prague, I tried new foods and desserts and my favorite is something named Trdelnik which is a chimney cooked pastry covered with cinnamon sugar and filled with chocolate syrup, vanilla ice cream, and strawberries. This pastry is one of the things I miss the most from my summer abroad. 




When I was deciding on where I wanted to study abroad, I was choosing between France, Italy, and the Czech Republic. When making my decision, I thought of how much I knew and heard of France and Italy and how little I knew about the Czech Republic. That lack of knowledge sparked my interest and I decided to look more into the country. I looked up pictures of the Old Town Square and the different sectors of Prague. In every photo, I saw beautiful architecture and history. I know there is history everywhere you go in the world, but I felt drawn to go see Prague in person. Another deciding factor as to why I chose Prague was because of its close proximity to other countries. Prague is 3 hours away by train to Munich, Germany and Budapest, Hungary. It's also 4 hours away by train to Vienna, Austria. I traveled to all of these places on weekend trips and even stopped in Slovakia on my way back from Budapest. It was amazing to be able to see the world so easily and whenever I wanted. 




One of the biggest cultural differences I noticed was that nobody ever seemed to be in a rush. Everywhere I went, it was laid back and relaxed. Meals took the longest out of everything. We were informed by our program director that in the Czech Republic dinner can last an entire evening. In the United States, I am used to starting the night with dinner and then go do something else. But in the Czech Republic, dinner can last anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours. This surprised me because at home my meals tend to last maybe 30-45 minutes. It's also common in Prague to see very long lines and wait times at restaurants. Some restaurants would actually stop taking people once all of their tables filled up because the staff new that most of these customers would be there until closing. 


Something else I wasn't expecting was the grocery stores. The place where are apartment was locatedCharles Bridge was not in the touristy part of Prague, so the locals did not speak much English - if any. This made grocery shopping at first very daunting. Not only the language barrier but the currency in Prague is the Koruna rather than the Euro. I was very nervous my first few days because I was not sure if I was getting scammed or paid the right amount because I didn't understand anything and was unfamiliar with their currency. However, after my first week, my roommate and I discovered that the self checkout had different languages you can choose from - Czech, German, and English. This discovery made our lives so much easier. It was unexpected but we greatly appreciated it. 


Lastly, when my classmates and I first arrived in the city, we tried so hard our first week to fit in and find our way to school, the store, and back to our apartments that we didn't really explore the city. But once we settled in a bit, we decided to have a tourist day where we visited all of the things we wished to see in Prague. We walked around 15 miles that day while exploring and it was one of my favorite experiences from my entire program. We went and explored Old Town Square, Prague Castle, the Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, the Lennon Wall, and even visited a cat cafe. It was a packed day but one of the days I think about the most when I look back on my time in Prague. 




There is so much to do in Prague and I didn't even do half of it in my 4 week program. There was something new to see everyday and there is nowhere else in the world I would have rather spent my time abroad. I will 100% go back someday and hopefully this blog post will inspire other UT Tyler students to choose to study in Prague and have an amazing of a time as I did! 


This post was contributed by Syrah, a study abroad alumni from Summer 2022. Syrah is a Communication Studies major with a Psychology minor who studied abroad in the Czech Republic.