The Czech Republic is a place of beautiful Gothic architecture with a deep history that goes back and forth between communism and democracy. Though the people seem very blunt and intimidating, they are very friendly once you get them to open up to you. This can be hard to understand at first but once you get to know the history of the Czech people you can begin to understand why they are the way they are. Just like any other country, its people have been through something that, in some ways, defines their actions. One of these things being the betrayal of their own country when the government fell under communism after Hitler was dead. Just as the people were trying to heal from the wrath of the Nazis, they were thrown right back into torture. This was also not as long ago as some people might think, the Velvet Revolution to protest the communist government was just in the 90s. This put everything into perspective for me. I understood why the people I had begun learning about seemed so intimidating at first. They had lost trust in everything in the past, and each generation is learning and relearning to trust their own society to this very day.
During my time in Prague, I learned about this history and the psychological factors that could be researched as these people went through the Nazis and communism, and how far they have come since those times. I think learning about this while being there and being able to go to certain places and see where these historical events took place helps the mind understand the depth of a country’s history. I think this was something that stood out to me, though when I first went into studying abroad I did not think this was going to be something I was going to take out of this experience. I knew that a country’s history was important, but now I know that a country’s history can be something that defines someone’s actions and reactions. It was quite interesting to think that something from twenty to thirty years ago can still affect someone to this day.
Something else that I thought was interesting was the way that the people of the Czech Republic saved and preserved its architecture. Prague is known as, “The city of many towers” because of all the old cathedrals and castles that were built. I also had the chance to look at a library from the Baroque times, which was added on too in the Renaissance era. It is very refreshing to see that a country cherishes and upkeeps its architecture to use it as a way to show its own history.
My advice to anyone studying abroad would to be look into the history of the place you are going. Find things and places that have meaning or something that happened at those places. Then when you go to those places you can almost feel what they had experienced and now you can too.
Rylie Alvis (BS Psychology) spent the Summer 2023 semester studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic through CIEE. Rylie had the following to say about studying abroad, “Study abroad! It’s a once and a lifetime experience with new people, in a new culture! What’s not too love?!”
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