This past week in Prague has been quite the experience! To start off, it’s incredible to have a room in Wenceslas Square which is the center of the New Town. Everybody in the program and myself stayed in the Ramada. I was lucky enough to have a roommate who I’ve been friends with since elementary school, which made the rooming aspect a breeze. The location is definitely the best part of the hotel in that it is one block away from where our classes were, along with just a 10-15 minute walk to the Old Town or the Charles Bridge. The culture of the city is something I am not new to. I see lots of similarities to my previous trips to Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia. The people are very friendly and welcoming!
In terms of classes, it has been very intriguing to learn about Czech Republic’s history and economic standing. Rather than feeling like a regular course back home at Pitt, it feels like we are getting a walking tour where history is being tied to economics. Before this week I thought I had a general grasp on communism and the economic impacts it has, but being here and learning more from people who lived through it has taught me way more than I had expected. We had a history professor come in and share with us her experiences in the Czech Republic when it was a communist state. Learning about how there were only 1 option of children’s shoes, milk, etc. was something I had no idea about. The government owned everything and gave very little options to their citizens. Along with that, she shared with us her experiences with the Velvet Revolution in 1989. This was a non-violent demonstration mainly filled with students or young adults that grew up to 500,000 people. This revolution resulted in the Czechoslovakia dismantling the one party state and having their first democratic election since 1946.
Before this week I had no idea about the Velvet Revolution and how the people managed to change their government forever. From this I have expanded my knowledge of how political parties can have incredible impacts on an economy. Along with that, I feel I have expanded my global knowledge which is something I am always striving to grow. We are now going to Krakow and I am ecstatic to expand this knowledge even more with Poland.