Czeching Out

Last night we took an overnight train to arrive in Budapest this morning. We then moved in to the new hotel and took a guided tour of the city, in which there were many beautiful sights and a lot of fascinating history. After a nice dinner near Matthias Church in the Budapest Castle District. However, before delving too deep into the new city, it’s important to look at the leg of the trip that just ended.

I was somewhat worried at the beginning of this trip about how group interaction would be. On my last program, there were 13 of us before we had started our freshman year. We had our ups and downs. This time, I am one of 21 people from all different points in our college careers, so I half expected the differences to be magnified. Instead of difficulties however, the group has managed exceedingly well so far. We all split into subgroups based on shared interests and personalities for who we spend the most time with, but none of these groups have been exclusionary in the slightest. As such, I have gotten to know a few of my classmates fairly well while still getting to interact with everyone.

Prague was the reason I participated in this program, as it was one of the cities I have always wanted to see. Despite my high expectations, the experience was more than I could have hoped for. We spent the week in a hotel on Wenceslas Square, in the heart of the city. This allowed us easy access to class, excellent local cuisine, and a variety of museums. I went to at least six of these museums, my favorite of which was the Communism Museum that we all attended as a group. It was one exhibit, a timeline of the Communist Regime in the Czechoslovakian region. While the atrocities that took place during this time period were something I knew existed, seeing them laid out so plainly and vividly from a place they occurred was a brutal, yet fascinating experience.

Prague offered a wealth of interesting activities to do aside from the museums. Some of the best experiences came from using our free time for exploration. My favorite thing was probably the beautiful Strahov Monastery Library. While we couldn’t walk through the halls, it was still incredible to see the artwork and books on display. In addition there was a fascinating exhibit on ancient coins and their appearances in the bible. This was the most unique historical collections I’ve ever seen and will stick in my memory for a long time.

The Czech Republic was a wonderful experience that would be enough on its own, but there are two weeks left and two more cities to explore. I look forward to all that is yet to come and all that I will learn.