The rhythmic click of my heavy suitcase echoed off the ceramic tiles as I lugged my large suitcase through terminal 2 of the Vaclav Havel Airport. After 24 hours of waiting in security lines, eating far too many airplane peanuts and spending hours browsing Duty Free to pass the droning hours of my layover, I was finally here. Studying abroad had already been one of the most exciting and nerve wracking experiences of my life and I had only made it past baggage claim. I was filled with anxiety, excitement and curiosity about my new city and what the next six months would look like. I couldn’t stop an endless fire of questions from consuming my thoughts. Who would I meet? Where would I live? What would I eat?!

Admittedly, I didn’t know too much about Prague before I arrived. I had never been to the Czech Republic or central Europe at all for that matter.  I only knew this city for what I had seen in photos or researched online.  I’ve now been in Prague for a week, and each day has been filled with new experiences and surprises. No one can tell you exactly what your life will be like when you leave behind all that is familiar and embark on a journey to a new country, and that's the most amazing part of the studying abroad, putting yourself out into the unknown. Everyone’s experience is unique, but my first week has provided a couple dos and don’ts that may be helpful for anyone visiting or studying in Prague.

 

Do

Check out the local breweries.

I had a chance to travel outside of the city and tour Krušovice brewery, one of the oldest breweries in central Europe. The drive to the brewery was worth the trip alone, it was an amazing chance to see the lush and beautiful Czech countryside and get out, and get out of the city for a day. And if that isn’t enough incentive, there’s a beer tasting a complimentary beer tasting at the end of the tour.

                                                         

Do

Rent a paddle boat along the Charles River

There is nothing like seeing the breathtaking views of Prague from the Charles River. Instead of opting for the expensive dinner cruises, consider packing a lunch and renting a pedal boat for an hour. Of all the touristy excursions, this was my favorite way to see the city and it didn’t break the bank either.

 

Do

Check out the tourist attractions early in the morning or late at night.

During the day the massive amounts of crowds and chaos can really take away from the beauty of the city. Walking the Charles Bridge late at night, and watching the city lights glisten off the Vltava river without the constant fear of being trampled, is in my opinion the best way to see the historic bridge. The city also transforms at night so consider visiting your favorite spots a second time in the evening.

 

Do

Take advantage of Prague’s location.

One of my favorite things about Prague its central location. Germany, Austria, Hungary are all just a train or bus ride away. Living in this city provides an invaluable opportunity to easily see other countries and experience different cultures in just one weekend.

Don’t

Try and sneak on the metro without a ticket.

Or any public transport for that matter, it might seem tempting after riding public transit for a week and never getting your ticket checked. But believe me, the one day you forget your tram pass or try and sneak by without a ticket will be the day you are slapped with a CZK 800 fine.

Don’t

Check out the five story club.

 The largest music club in central Europe is a tagline that’s pretty hard to resist, but much of the charm of the Czech Republic exists in local pubs and bars. Instead try stopping into a neighborhood bar, you might be surprised to discover a local spot where you can get just as many beers and not nearly as many sweaty tourists.

Don’t

Just try the Trdelnik.

It seems like this pastry is a Czech tradition, with a stand on every corner in Old Town but the pastry is actually more recent addition to Czech cuisine. Even though they are delicious Trdelnik screams tourist and they are often incredibly overpriced. Instead, consider trying some other Czech desserts that are just as tasty. My favorites so far have been Strudl, Kolac, and Sweet Fruit Dumplings.

Don’t

Research every place you go to.

Although its tempting to spend your days in the city on a schedule, you miss so much when staring at google maps and only going to places with five stars on Trip Advisor. Although those are good resources and ways to see the main parts of the city, if you are going to be living in Prague for an extended amount of time take some time to explore the city for places you like. Grab a coffee at a local shop, or a beer at a small pub you never know what you are going to find and what places don’t have five stars on yelp just yet.

In the end, everyone will stumble into a few more Dos and Don’t while adjusting to life in the Czech Republic. When choosing a place to study abroad I was incredibly overwhelmed by all the options and cities in Europe, but I set my sights on Prague and could not be happier that I did. In just a week I’ve learned so much about the complex history and rich culture of Prague, and I am so curious to get to know the people and this city more over the next few months.  As I began to settle in I’ve realized my favorite moments haven’t been the places I’ve visited, the food I’ve eaten, or even the beer I’ve drank, but rather the diverse and interesting people I have met and simple moments spent walking home and taking in the sheer beauty of this fairytale city.

 

Don’t be afraid to get lost, an unexpected view in Vyšehrad.


Prague at night.

Don’t be afraid to get lost, an unexpected view in Vyšehrad.