Brandon Shaffer-D. photo courtesy of www.state.co.us
As a study abroad student, I am frequently making new acquaintances, and in a city that is awash with expats and travelers from all parts of the globe, each new encounter is unique, albeit there is one question that seems to emerge in every conversation.
That question, in one form or another, is, "Why Prague?"
With each new acquaintance comes a new answer to this unassuming inquiry and although the answers may vary, the satisfaction of making the right decision appears to be unanimous.
My initial preference was to study in Madrid, but as I conducted more research, I learned more of Prague's attractions: The city is centrally located in Europe, the beer is cheap and it has great history, but the true allure of the city runs much deeper than that. In recent years, Prague has evolved from Europe's best-kept secret to one of the most talked-about new haunts for curious expats and camera-toting tourists. Trust me; it lives up to the hype.
Perhaps you are considering a semester abroad, and if you are not, you should be. I would like to take this opportunity, then, to pitch the beautiful city of Prague to all those students contemplating prospective destinations.
To do so, I will share with you, in descending order of rank, the top 10 reasons I love Prague and am confident you will too.
Number 10: The Infant Jesus of Prague. It is believed that this 19-inch statue of the baby Jesus once belonged to Saint Teresa of Avila and that it has mystical healing powers. Today, people from all over the world flock to Prague in pursuit of the small effigy's powers.
Number 9: Real castles. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world.
Number 8: David Cerny. Cerny is a modern sculptor whose controversial and eccentric work is featured all over Prague. In 1991, Cerny was arrested for "hooliganism" when he painted a decommissioned Soviet Tank, registered as a national monument and war memorial, pink.
Number 7: The Prague Zoo. In 2007, Forbes ranked it as the seventh-best zoo in the world.
Number 6: Beautiful people. The only thing more beautiful than the city itself is the people who inhabit it.
Number 5: Two-liter bottles of beer. Forget the 40; in Prague you can purchase two-liters of beer (roughly the equivalent of an American six-pack) for about $2.
Number 4: Forum 2000. Forum 2000 is an annual conference in Prague that brings together people of intellect and influence to discuss global issues, and admission is free.
Number 3: Street Meat. Whether it's 3 p.m. and you are just getting out of class or it is 3 a.m. and you are just leaving the bar, a sausage from one of Prague's acclaimed street vendors is cheap, filling and delicious.
Number 2: Easy travel. You can fly round-trip to cities like London, Milan, and Amsterdam for as little as $100. Cities like Krakow, Poland, Budapest and Vienna can be reached by bus for about $70 round-trip.
Number 1: The students. Each semester, Prague hosts students from every continent, not including the one that is covered in ice. This semester, the University of Economics, my surrogate university, has more than 600 students from 62 countries. The eclectic abundance of peers ensures that your semester in Prague will be a truly global experience.
- Alexander Armani-Munn is a sophomore journalism and political science major and a reporter for The Mirror. Armani-Munn will contribute weekly columns about his study abroad experience throughout the semester.