The end of summer arrived before I knew it, and it was time to pack my suitcase and make sure I was prepared for my semester in Prague. I started packing a few days before my trip. I took a while to decide what to bring for three months, but I managed to only have my carry-on and one checked bag.
My journey to Prague was long but worth it. I had a very early morning flight on September 2nd from Denver to Dulles International Airport so I had to wake up around 3am in order to get to the airport and allow for enough time to get through security and get to my gate. I somehow managed to lose my phone charger cable while going through the security line. After my flight from Denver to Dulles, I had a little bit of a layover so I purchased a new charging cable (for $40!). I did have enough time to get a snack before boarding the plane to Brussels, so it worked out in the end.
The flight to Brussels had lots of people. It was a packed flight, and many people had issues finding overhead bin space for their carry-on bags. I was worried I would have to check my carry-on, but luckily a flight attendant helped me find space in a bin near the front of the plane. I wasn’t flying in first class, but my carry-on bag got to haha.
I had an aisle seat on the fight, which I liked since I didn’t have to crawl over anyone if I needed to get up. The people sitting in my row did not speak much English, but they were friendly. I don’t know if it was because I was so hungry, or if I developed a sudden affinity for quinoa, but the Southwest-inspired chicken with quinoa meal they served on the plane was delicious.
Once we landed, I had to navigate the Brussels airport, which I had never been to before. I followed the signs to the terminal I needed, but an airport official stopped a group of us and had us take a confusing detour, but I eventually found my way. One thing I found interesting about the Brussels airport was the massive shopping areas. I’m used to seeing duty-free stores in American airports, but I had to walk through a giant department store and various other stores before getting to my terminal. Another unique aspect of my airport experience was that everyone boarded the plane based on seat number, not boarding zones like in the U.S.
My flight from Brussels to Prague felt like it took no time at all, mainly because I could no longer stay awake in an effort to avoid the worst effects of jet lag, so I took a lovely nap. I happened to sit in front of a fellow student from my program on the plane, so we walked over to baggage claim together and waited for our bags. Our ISA coordinators met us outside the secure area, and a group of us waited until 1pm for everyone to arrive.
Our coordinators divided everyone up into vans that would take us to our apartments since the apartments are spread throughout the city. The van I was in did not have a large trunk area, and in order to make everything fit, one bag would need to sit on the floor in the front passenger seat. However, the van driver was not having it, and we waited while he argued with two of our coordinators in Czech. It must have been decided that it would be okay to make an exception just this once because six of us piled into the van and we were soon on our way to our apartments.
While the building looks a little beat up, my apartment is great on the inside. It is a two-bedroom apartment and I live with three other roommates. I opted not to request to live with anyone specific and I would recommend it since you get to meet new people from DU and other colleges.
The Prague ISA program has you hit the ground running. After dropping our bags off in the apartment, we were given instructions on how to take the tram to the ISA office for our first day of orientation. The first day of orientation only lasted two hours and was super chill. I met all four of the ISA coordinators and they went over basic information since we were going to have a full day of orientation the next day.
The second day of orientation was my favorite because we took a tour of Old Town Square. Lucie, one of my coordinators, also teaches part-time at a nearby school so she was super passionate about giving us all the historical information. She gave us a brief history of the Czech Republic and pointed out various sites and buildings along the way.
After a full weekend of orientation, I just relaxed and prepared to start my two-week Intensive Czech course on Monday.