The Last Week
The last week of my study abroad experience was a blur. I wanted to do everything I hadn’t done, do everything I did again, see all my friends multiple times, as well as pass all my finals of course.
I ended up studying and finishing papers over the weekend so I could get up early and tour before, between and after classes. I only had a few things left on my Prague bucket list, but I wanted to make sure I had ample time at all of them.
Garrett, Emily and I went to the last hockey game, and possibly one of the best on Sunday night. It was Sparta Praha vs Kladno, the team that the famous Jaromir Jagr owns and now plays for due to the lockout. We stood in the fan section, (see my soccer post) amongst people waving flags and beating drums. The rest of the stadium was sold out, of course, because Jagr is such a Czech hero. It was loud and crazy in the stands. The main difference that I saw between the soccer fan section and the hockey fan section was the soccer fans seemed to feed off each other’s energy, even some that weren’t paying attention to the game. However, hockey fans fed off the energy of the game, which was a blast because everyone was so in tune to what was going on on the ice. The final score was 6-3, with Sparta besting Kladno, a wonderful end to my Czech hockey experience.
Another thing on my bucket list, recommended by Lauren, was to wake up early and watch the sunrise on Charles Bridge. Though I’m not keen on waking up early, and I had failed at several attempts to check this item off the list, in my last week it was now or never. Sunrise was around 7:45, so actually pretty late. The bridge was covered with about 2 or 3 inches of fresh snow, undisturbed by the mass of crowds. It was only me and a couple other photographers hoping to get a perfect shot. The sun part of the sunrise was disappointing due to clouds, and it was hard to see the change in light. However, the pinks, yellows, oranges and reds that lit up the clouds was incredible. The castle shone in the soft light and reflected off the Vltava. Though sunrise on Masada in Israel is still my favorite, Prague was still breathtaking.
Between classes I headed to Kampa Island, an island park with the modern art museum as well as a great view of Charles Bridge. The museum was small and hosted art from David Cerny, the artist who created the babies on the TV tower, as well as other Czech artists and young artists who had not yet been featured. One room featured art by an elephant at the Prague zoo.
Another must-do in Prague, for anyone really, is paint on the Lennon wall. The wall started out as a small portrait of John Lennon just after he was killed. It expanded the length and width of the wall with other portraits, quotes of love, peace, or Beatles music, and rainbow colors. I had been there several times and it changed each time, even overnight. I met my two friends, both named Mallory, and we each painted a little something. I of course spray painted ‘Carpe Diem’ and wrote ‘She loves IU, yeah yeah” to represent Mallory and I. Afterwards, we gave the paint to another group to use and left our art to the public.
Hoo Hoo Hoo, HOOSIERS!!
One of the places I wanted to visit that many other people did not make it to was the Jan Zizka Memorial, rising high on a hill above the city. Zizka was a Hussite and Czech general, and is a national symbol of the Czech Republic. The statue is the biggest equestrian statue in the world, 30 ft high and weighing 16.5 tons. The national monument is also the home of the grave of the unknown soldier, as well as a spectacular 360 degree view of Prague. The view was spectacular.
Jan Zizkov Memorial
The very last day before we left was dedicated to 'CIEE Graduation'. It was early, long, and kind of a mess, but a nice time and fun memory nonetheless. Thursday night, the entire program went to club Radost and stayed out hanging out and having fun on our last night out in Praha. After a couple hours of sleep, we woke up, dressed nice, and headed to the graduation ceremony in one of the halls of Charles University. Just about everyone was hungover or still intoxicated. Even the staff looked rough. Some classes performed traditional songs in Czech, and other students presented slideshows about Czech culture. A staff member played Slovak songs on three Slovak instruments, one that was similar to a Shofar. We were all pretty exhausted and giggly, but had a great time, especially at the giant lunch buffet. It was a great official end to the program to be able to spend time with all the students and staff outside of class.
Of course my friends and I went back to all of our favorite restaurants, Christmas markets, and local spots. It was nice to stay busy and see new things even as the semester came to a close. I checked off much of my bucket list, made lifelong friends, and had a once in a lifetime experience living in the second greatest country in the world (I'm still biased toward the US!). I wouldn't trade my time in Praha for anything.