Two Months in Prague

by Elizabeth Ahronson, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

I am currently on a study abroad placement at Charles University, studying Law, in Prague, Czech Republic. After my first two months living here, I have been able to discover Prague’s distinct, Central European culture which is very different to what I am used to at home in Manchester. As well as travelling around Central Europe and meeting some incredible new friends, it has taken some getting used to being totally immersed in a country with many cultural differences, a challenging currency and a unique language.

Even though the majority of locals here speak outstanding English, on the outskirts of the centre, where my accommodation is situated, little English is being spoken (which is to be expected). This has reminded me that we, as English speakers, take for granted how much of the world speaks our language as this challenge has left quite an impression on me.

After living here and learning the patience that comes with finding difficulty in communicating the simplest of everyday activities, I have been completely taken out of my comfort zone. However this is an important lesson and something to keep in mind on your year abroad. Having said all this, after taking some Czech lessons at my University and learning the basics, I have gained more confidence speaking to the locals.

HC Sparta Praha Ice Hockey

After my first month in Prague, when I stopped feeling like a tourist and began to feel more like a local, I wanted to find an affordable routine and way of living. The Czech Republic is definitely an affordable place to live as a student in terms of rent and on the whole, for eating out (depending on the restaurant). However, I would suggest being mindful when doing weekly shops as my friends and I have found that some cheap, standard items in the UK are significantly more expensive here. With the unique currency of the Czech Republic it is easy to be caught out by this. Don’t worry though, you will get used to it! The Czech Crown currency does take some practice at working out, but with some mental maths on the conversion rate while you are shopping, you can make sure you know how much you are spending.

A lovely aspect of being on the Law course on Erasmus+ at Charles University, is that there is a relatively small group of students on the course (as opposed to Law at Manchester), which has led to us forming quite a close-knit group. Whilst on your year abroad, expect to meet some people that will become your closest friends in the most random of ways. My friend and I, whilst standing in a five hour queue for University administration in our first week and with nothing else to do but chat, got talking to the people around us and subsequently met some of our current closest friends here. Stepping outside my comfort zone and speaking to anyone and everyone, has been the way I have met most of my friends here.

Our Icelandic friends we met in the queue
Our Irish friends we also met in the queue

As well as getting used to the culture change, unique currency and meeting new friends, my first two months in Prague provided the perfect base for travelling around Europe. I have been able to travel much more than I expected because prices of trains and coaches around Europe from Prague are very reasonable. This is where the Czech Republic’s Central European position has been useful you can travel without the need for expensive flights.

Oktoberfest, Munich
Budapest, Hungary
Krakow, Poland
Vienna, Austria

This has meant some of my best experiences in the past two months have been made exploring different European cities and cultures on weekends where University work has been less intense. Blogs on travelling around Europe coming soon!

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