Here I am, sitting in a cozy little café in Olomouc, Czech Republic, thinking “how in the world can I adequately express all that has occurred within the past week?” Every morning when I wake up and realize where I am, it is a fresh reminder how far away I am from home. It all seems so surreal. While the world around me feels and looks so different, I can also see myself calling Olomouc my home for the next three months.
Our first week in Olomouc felt warm and welcoming as we met many of the Czech students, professors, and suitemates. The first encounter we had was with Tereza, a graduate student at Palacký University. She has been a great help to us as we transition to the Czech culture. For our second night in Olomouc, we had a welcoming party with some of the University’s history students. At first, Ashley Florer and I were unsure how to communicate with the Czech students because of the language barrier. Fortunately, they all knew English well enough to have a good conversation. We quickly came to find, however, that not everyone knows English as well as most of the students.
The most trouble I have with the language barrier is when I eat out at restaurants and cafés. Most of the menus are in Czech, so half of the time I have no clue what I’m ordering! While that may be the case, I have not had a single meal that I didn’t like! The food here is delicious, but also not much different from home. Most of the restaurants serve pizza, burgers, and fries. If possible, I try to order something new and interesting. The best meal I’ve had so far was a chicken and pork kebab with mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and almonds. YUM! They also serve a lot of gyros and gelato. The gyros are a great bang for your buck! (or crown?). I already had three of them this week!
When we aren’t eating out, we can cook meals in our dorm. To get groceries and other necessities, Ashley and I ventured out to the nearest department store called Globus, which is basically the Czech’s equivalent to Walmart. Once again, we discovered how difficult it is to purchase things when you can’t read the label. Thank goodness for pictures! When we were ready to “czech” out (ha!), I had to purchase my own plastic bag to put my items in. It’s nothing like the U.S. where we have the cashier put our items in the bags for us, which I found quite unusual. It seems like a great way to reduce the use of plastic because most people here bring their own shopping bags.
One of the nice things about Olomouc is the public transportation system. With our tram pass, we can easily hop on a tram and take it to different parts of the city. This makes it easy to get to class, shops, and restaurants. It is very different from what I am used to in Nebraska where I usually drive myself everywhere. It is convenient in the fact that I don’t have to drive, however, I already find myself sprinting to make the right tram on time!
So there you have it – the everyday life of a study abroad student in Olomouc, Czech Republic! While there are many things I have yet to learn about this new city, I feel very fortunate for my experiences thus far. I cannot wait to see what else this city has to offer!