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Communism, Torture, and a Busted Knee

Communism, Torture, and a Busted Knee

First blog post of the semester!

I’ve officially been in Prague for almost a month and let’s just say it feels as if I’ve been here at least 2, but in the best possible way. The first days were  jam packed with city tours, pastries, illness, and an intensive course in the Czech language. But as a result, I have fallen in love with this beautiful place that is unlike any city I have heretofore experienced (and remember).

First of all, Prague has plenty of its own twists and quirks. The streets, for example, are set up in an unsystematic jumble. Some cities such as Chicago are built upon a grid with a neatly organized system, which makes finding your way around relatively easy if you have a general idea of where you’re going. Praha, on the other hand, is all, “Grid? Nah, sorry. Good luck with that. We prefer the winding, cobblestone set up of the 16th century”. I have wandered back and forth between my apartment in Praha 8 to Old Town in Praha 1 (which, fun fact, is around 1,100 years old) and still have no idea how I got there. Thankfully, my roommates have a better sense of direction than me.

Another eccentricity of this old city are the random English words spray painted in the most random of places. “Ladder” was plastered on a wall, “time” carved in the snow, but my personal favorite is “crab salad” on the side of a building seen on the way to class. There’s speculation as to whether the artists knew what those words meant or just decided to use random English in order to confuse the general population. But most of the younger generation speak English rather well.

Since I have been terrible with updating this blog so far here’s a quick rundown of the first month:

Since Prague doesn’t use the euro prices here are pretty fantastic. Well, at least when it comes to groceries. Walk through any of the touristy areas and suddenly a 35 Kr cup of coffee skyrockets to 85 Kr. I spent the past weekend in Venice and it nearly broke me. Seriously. I’m so happy I chose to live here.

Although our program directors insist that we aren’t tourist, we’re students, there are touristy attractions that are impossible to resist. The Museum of Communism is a big one for, as most people know, the Czech Republic operated under the Communist Regime from 1948 until the Velvet Revolution in 1989. It’s amazing how this centuries old city managed to retain it’s identity after years of oppression, including Nazis and Communists. The Museum of Communism runs through what it was like to live during the Communist regime and includes a video of demonstrations and the police brutal handling any sort of protest. Another more grotesque tourist museum I’ve visited was that of the Medieval Torture Instruments. Let’s just say I’m glad I live in the 21st century and not the Middle Ages. Some of the inventions were so simple, yet so terrible. The graphic pictures and descriptions are not for the faint of heart.

Prague is not a terribly large city, which means walking most places isn’t totally out of the question if you know where you’re going (I usually don’t). However, a lot of walking isn’t necessarily good on the knees if you aren’t accustomed to it because at one point I was pretty sure I broke my knee. Not literally but it wasn’t happy with me for about a week and a half and I don’t blame it considering I kept walking on it, up and down incredibly long escalators and uneven cobblestones.

One of my favorite parts about Prague though are the pastries. The best, in my personal opinion, is the koláč, which is a round pastry with fruit filling in the middle. I can’t even count how many I’ve had so far but I strongly recommend to anyone who visits this beautiful city to buy one in a bakery or from a street vendor because it will change your life. Well, maybe not but you’ll never be satisfied with a mediocre bread product ever again.

That was the TL;DR version of my first weeks here in Praha. As hard as it may be to live in a country where I have only a weak grasp on the language and in a city whose streets continue to disorient me, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. Every stone and brick contains a secret story of rich history that maybe, with time, will reveal itself to me. 1013952_10151844347196883_153189941_n



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