COLUMN: Start to Prague semester goes from bad to worse to great
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 03:09
Greetings from the Golden City! Alas, after months of mounting anticipation and a two-week stress-inducing escapade in the Big Apple, I have finally made it to Prague.
My arrival midday Saturday elevates me to a whimsical sense of being. In a daze, I marvel at the many spires and cobblestone lanes that beckon to the days of monarchical glory.
I quickly embrace the months ahead, confident in those moments that the debilitating stress of the last two weeks now is thousands of miles away, left to digest in the bowels of New York.
Now, I confess, that my submission to the surreal atmosphere of this beautiful city left me vulnerable to my own chronic
ignorance. That evening, again my first in the city, I realize that I have lost my debit card. It is most likely that I left the card in the airport ATM where I had earlier made a hasty
withdrawal of 2,000 Czech crowns before running off to catch a departing bus to the city. I know, a careless and absent minded
blunder, yet one that is easily made after 26 hours of inter-continental travel.
After the realization that I no longer had access to perhaps my most crucial resource, I set off in a state of indelible bile. I boarded the number nine tram, which would take me back to my dormitory.
However, my overwhelming incense
prevented me from recognizing that I had boarded the westbound number nine rather than the eastbound number nine. My awareness of this mishap peaked when the tram ride that was only supposed to take 15 minutes was bordering on 45. Finally, I decided to get off. As if my night had not been bad enough with the loss of my debit card, I now found myself on the unfamiliar outskirts of western Prague.
There are a couple of four-letter expletives that would thoroughly express my feelings at that moment, but I will vie for something more appropriate, perhaps just unhappy. I consider myself to be a fairly experienced traveler; of course, the term I prefer is “seasoned wanderer.” Nonetheless, my first day in Prague was epitomized by amateur mistakes.
I woke up Sunday morning once again weary with the stress that I had so enthusiastically parted with in New York, but I soon found solace in a series of familiar comforts.
A friend of mine, a
fellow Bear also studying in Prague, contacted me around midday to tell me some guys from the dorm were meeting up for some pick-up soccer. Nothing eases the mind like a friendly round of the
beautiful game with 20 blokes from around the world. To my surprise, I even met a student from Colorado State who born and raised in the fine city of Greeley.
I digress, the world shrunk a few sizes as me and my new acquaintance compared restaurant preferences.
That evening, I joined a group for an outing to a sports bar to indulge in some classic Americana: chicken wings, football and beer. I had another small-world experience, when I found out that a student from Baltimore and I had a mutual friend in the States.
Travel is an invigorating endeavor, an opportunity to free yourself from the mundane cycle of regulatory daily life. I will always encourage people to use travel as a means to step outside their comfort zone and broaden their horizons.
However, I now find that when the ugly side of traveling has you down, there is no better remedy than a semblance of home.
— 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.