My Experience Studying Abroad in Prague, CZ Fall 2015:
Prague, the Fairytale City, was an incredible experience for many reasons; however, what made it unforgettable was my Host Family. I lived in a town called Jinonice - the last stop on the red line of the Metro - with a family of four. My host parents, Tom and Iva, allowed me to experience parts of Czech culture that I would have never have discovered without them. Tom took me to parks, pools, and zoos that he himself designed as an engineer. Iva taught me how to make traditional Czech dishes, and told me about her childhood from growing up on a farm during the communist years to performing Opera with her father at the National Theater. Their children, Matej and Elishka, 7 and 3 respectively, taught me how to play Czech games, sing Czech Christmas songs, and showed me the best Czech children's' movies.
Living with a Czech family was certainly nerve-racking at times. Before I left the States, I was worried about feeling like a burden, or not being able to communicate with them, about missing out on living in the heart of the city. But what I gained from my Host Family was indelible. Two years later and I still get pictures of Elishka's first day of Kindergarten and Matej's soccer game. Personally, my Host Family was the best part of Prague because they gave me a home 3,000 miles away from St. Lawrence. We actually literally lived on Pod Vavřincem, or Lawrence Street. But I also learned from them: stories of life behind the iron curtain, opinions on the Velvet Revolution, and comments on their 27 year old democracy. I was able to bring these stories back to the classroom to help enrich my own and my peer's understandings of Communism and the Post-Communism years. And, as a history nerd, that is priceless.