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My first footsteps on Czech soil were the same as many before me and many more to come, as a tourist, excited to explore the winding streets of Prague. I came in early September 2014 for three days and had the pleasure of the late summer sunshine and of being able to see the city a little quieter than in the heights of July or August. A few weeks after this short trip I came back to Prague again, this time to start my life as an Erasmus student with the prospect of living in the Czech capital for 9 months ahead of me. My first few days had been only a holiday, a sample I had decided to take after numerous comments from well-meaning friends, family, and acquaintances questioning my plans to move to a city, indeed country, I had never been to before, knowing absolutely no-one and speaking not one word of the language. To them the move must have seemed slightly mad, and there was probably part of me that thought the same thing, prompting me to do said trip as a sort of test, assessing both myself and the city.

Prague, of course, passed the test and even my slight apprehension of being so far away from home for such a prolonged period could be disregarded at the prospect of living in and getting to know this beautiful city. What I didn’t know, and couldn’t have known then in those early September days, was that that three day holiday in Prague was nothing like what I would experience living here as a student. Even though I admit living as an Erasmus student can be reminiscent of the feeling being on a prolonged holiday at times, especially at first, this city and my experience here have been more complex and more fulfilling than I could have imagined and have developed into something much more significant than a vacation.

I know that my footsteps as an Erasmus student follow the steps of others, and are to be followed by many after me, just as my footsteps as a tourist were. Prague is full of us international students. Yet I still hold on to how this experience has changed and moved me in so many ways, regardless of how many others have done it. Occasionally I find myself walking the same streets as I did on that first trip and the sense of awe and anticipation that I felt then comes back to me. Specific places hold memory and feeling of that first holiday for me still, and I enjoy reflecting on how different things are now as a resident of the city. Where there once was apprehension, now there is satisfaction, confidence and a sense of familiarity that I never would have imagined I could have with a foriegn capital city like this. And I definitely believe it’s not just a case of any study abroad experience, but thanks to this city. A buzzing capital, yet small enough to bump into people I know on the street; tourist heavy, but with enough quiet spots to discover to keep me satisfied; student-filled but also packed with people from all walks and stages of life, young and old. I’ve travelled further away from home than ever before, and I’ve met and befriended international students, native Czechs and expats alike.

I still have four more months of studying here, and already that feels like not long enough. This city has definitely become a friend for life and just as I enjoy remembering my first few days here, I also enjoy imagining what Prague still has in store for me, not only over the next months but, if I dare to indulge in such a dream, as a somewhere I could live later on in life as well. Prague, you are most definitely now a home to me, and not just a holiday.

Author: Hannah Feld

Category: Expat Life Viewed: 500 times
Username: hfeld1 Listing Ref: 1558461875
Date of Listing: 27 February 2015, 16:02:05

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