Well the end of my time here in Prague has finally come. It seems as though I have been in the Twilight Zone, living in a dream. The past four months have flown by. In the past 100 days I have been to a grand total of 9 countries 15 cities! (I literally had to count and recount cause that seemed so crazy)… This has hands down been the most challenging experience I have ever been through. I have been blessed with so many great moments but equally some very trying moments. It wasn’t until my mom got here, and I was showing her around that I realized I really have accomplish somethings during my time here. I’ve learned how to; embrace change, solve problems on my own, accept that people are not always going to agree with what you have to say and you have to let it roll off your back, you are responsible for your own happiness, I cannot live away from the beach, not to judge a book by its cover, who the people are in my life I can rely on and most importantly family is forever.
When I first arrived to Prague I was excited and naturally wanted to talk to everyone I saw. The first few times I had been out in the city I was shocked at how stone cold people expressions were. For instance on the tram I would make eye contact with someone, naturally smile and not be acknowledged in return. However that is the culture here, I have come to learn that people are more reserved. It is not that they are rude, but from their perspective they are respecting your space.
As I mentioned before this experience has not only allowed me to make new friends but reflect on the relationships that I already had in my life. Before leaving for Prague I didn’t want to leave with expectations of who would write and who would drop off the face of the earth and I’m glad I did so because I have been more than pleasantly surprised and touched by the people who have made it a point to stay in contact. There have also been old friends that I have been able to reconnect with. Being so far away I have been able to take a step back and see certain relationships for what they are/were. That has been a big part of my growing process here. Relationships in general are a two way street it has been interesting to see who has and who hasn’t continued to maintain the “traffic” if you will. I admit in the recent year or two I have not been doing the proper maintenance that I should be. I am looking forward to changing that, taking the time to take a break from my constant go, go, go, and see my friends. I mentioned in another post that in Europe it is expected of you to sit for an hour or two at a cafe and just talk. I really have enjoyed that here, so I am going to make it a point to show the people who are important to me.
Prague you have been good to me. I am really going to miss my walks along the river, tram rides, popin champs, trying to speak Czech, hot wine, most of all the wonderful people I have gotten to know. I will forever remember this experience for it has helped me grow into a stronger person. Till we meet again…
As I mentioned yesterday the semester has finally come to its end, and today we had to check out of our apartments (wah). It was bitter sweet, I really enjoyed living on my own. I loved having my own space to cook and entertain in. I am really going to miss having my girl friends over for sleepovers. The majority of the students in my program left Prague today to return back to the states. As you know my mom and I are having a European holiday. So from my apartment I literally walked around the corner to the hotel we are staying at for the rest of the weekend. Which let me tell you was so convenient its a pain in the you know what lug heavy suitcases from point A to point B. If you know my mother you know she is an over-packer. Even that is an understatement. I told her before coming her “PACK LIGHT! Think of light, then pack lighter than that, then think lighter than what you imagined and pack half of that.” Did she listen…? Nope. It was comical to watch her though.
After we checked into the hotel, which is beautiful by the way. We were upgraded to a suit on the top floor with an amazing view of the river. I wanted to show her the place that have meant the most to me. To give her a real feel of Prague not just the touristy things. Although that’s what I have planned for tomorrow. Before anything we had to get coffee, we came across a shabby chic cafe, where we were able to sit and talk for about an hour. From there we visited Museum Kampa located near the Charles Bridge. Then for lunch I took her to my favorite soup place (mentioned in a previous post). It’s so funny to see her react to this new city. Back home we don’t have a great public transportation system, we drive ourselves everywhere. I’ve just become so used to taking trams and the metro, I forget she isn’t so I have to keep an eye on her cause there’s been times she’s almost gotten ran over. But it’s an adventure as we always say. From lunch I took her to Wenceslas Square (New Town Prague) where we explored. We made our way back to Old Town got more hot wine and did a little shopping at the Christmas market. Then window shopping down Prague’s Rodeo Drive. We ended the night at my favorite tea place (mentioned here). If you’re in Prague I recommended visiting it they have the best exotic loose tea from all over the world and great shisha. I have enjoyed going there and getting to know the owner Emily. Who is half Czech half French, she came over and talked with us for a bit. I really appreciated that cause it gave my mom the opportunity to talk and interact with a local. Something we may not have gotten to do had we been here on strictly vacay. Well, I’m getting sleepy so that’s pretty much all you need to know about today.
And by eagle I mean Ching Chong-aka my mom! She got here this afternoon after about traveling 22 hours. Her phone had died when she left the airport so there was no way of telling me she had arrived and was on her way. Naturally I began to worry watching the time get past the time I figured she should’ve already gotten to my apartment. So I get a gut feeling to head for downstairs and go outside to look for her. At my apartment there is a buzzer system however there are no names/numbers at the main door, therefore you can’t tell what apartment you’re calling. But I figured out I can pick up my phone and listen to see if anyone is at the door. I happen to pick it up and hear my moms frantic voice asking the a couple of students in my building; “Excuse me! Do you speak English? Do you know Ashley? Is she here?”. So I ran down the stairs to get her, apparently the cab driver brought her to my building and she couldn’t believe from the outside it was apartments. So they drove on until he convinced her it was the correct place. So there’s my mom who has never traveled outside the states just so lost and in shock from how different the Czech Republic was. It was quite comical. Anyways, today was the commencement ceremony for my school so we cleaned her up and went to the lunch. It was so funny to watch her take in this new world, I’ve just become so accustomed to. Around every corner it was “Oh, ah, oh my gosh… Ash!”. It was cute. We’ll be in Prague through the weekend so I’ll be able to take her around to my favorite spots, then were off to Italy for Christmas! I cannot wait Italy is my FAVORITE place to travel. I’m also looking forward to showing her around there too. It feels so surreal that my mom is here. Having a piece of my world in this place I have experienced completely on my own feels strange. But more importantly it feels so good to have that piece of home/familiarity here.
Came across this outside a cafe near the castle – way to advertiseI decided to take a break from studying for finals and pay the Prague Castle a visit. The weather was great so I walked, got a coffee, took a few pictures and explored some side streets. The castle is about a 15 minuet walk from my apartment, I know life’s rough. This was actually the first time that I had been to the castle since I arrived here. This will be my final week here I figured I better get my ass up there to see it. I hadn’t been up there yet because at the time my class had a tour I was actually really sick, but I can officially say I’ve been to it. I didn’t go inside because I am waiting for my mom who is flying in at the end of the week, so we can see it for the first time together! I’m really looking forward to showing her around Prague. Hope you all are enjoying this Sunday – take the time to visit a place you’ve been telling yourself you are going to.
The weather today was actually pleasant, I decided to skip taking the tram and walk to class. It has been freezing here in Prague so it was nice to be able to go out and walk around without looking like Ralphy’s little brother in A Christmas Story. What can I say, us SoCal girls aren’t made for weather below 60. Anwyas I can’t believe the semester is coming to an abrupt end. Funny how life works that way; you start to get used to something and then it’s time for change. Though I am looking forward to getting back to my real life. I’m still learning and discovering things and places here in the city. In fact last night, like today, was fairly warm so I was out walking home and passed by this tea/hookah place right around the corner from my building. They were closed at the time so I told myself I want to go there. There’s been many times where I’ve heard and said that but it gets put off, and never ends up happening but this time I really meant it. I was shooting a scene for my acting class and decided to take my director who had never been to a hookah cafe, or shisha (that’s what they call it here). I love sharing things I enjoy with other people, there’s always some excitement about watching someone experience something new for the first time. The atmosphere was great reminded me of my favorite lounge back in Cali. The owner came over introduced herself, chatted for a bit-she by far is the nicest person I’ve come across here. It’s a shame there’s only a week and some change left.
Have you ever noticed that one song can store a dozen memories or associations of something you once lived? The other day I was out and about in Prague (which is fuh-freezing by the way) with some friends; we went to my favorite soup place-Polévkårna and we got to talking about music. Music is certainly something I cannot live without. Being here in Prague has created a greater bond between me and music. There’s something about the quietness in the city, people here aren’t extroverted like in the states. You don’t get smiles from others on the tram, people are just in their own bubbles minding their own. Anyways we got to reminiscing about our first memories of music and what songs were the ones that stuck out and where we were, how old we were, who we were with. Looking back at my childhood I associate jams to spending time with my dad. He had this huge boom box we called the “Ghetto Blaster” and we would take it to the pool, the river, the beach you name it. The two songs I can first remember were Bob Marley’s Buffalo Solider and TLC’s Waterfalls. TLC recently preformed this year on the AMA’s which marked 20 years since their first AMA debut. When I was younger we would have these dance parties in the living room, just jamming out to music videos on the big screen. We also had a wooden coffee table I remember making my stage. It’s funny how something so simple was so fun and able to bring us together. I must have been no older then three. It had been a while since I remembered those times, it felt like it was yesterday. It was nice. What is the first song you remember?
…a lyric made famous by Billy Joel in his song Vienna, never really made sense, until this past weekend. The cafe culture is really big in Vienna, in fact it’s expected that you’re probably going to there at least an hour or two. Coming from the California where everyone is constantly moving to avoid wasting time, I’ve really had to slow down and dig for patients. Which has been nice, but as it is my attention span can be short and when the espresso kicks in I’m ready. But in Vienna, like Italy, its part of the culture to go to a cafe and “rent” a table and hold a conversation with a person; who actually sits in front of you. Gee, what a concept. To think people actually still communicate face-to-face. Okay, all sarcasm aside that is one of my favorite things about Europe. Grab a cup of Joe and enjoy some more pictures from my weekend in Vienna. Continue reading →
…goes a long way. Today I received a couple cards from my family back home and it made me very happy. One of my cards was from my mom, who sent me the cutest picture of our friends little nugget Rozlyn. The picture below was from her first birthday party which I wasn’t able to attend cause I am obviously here in Europe. But from the pictures it was the cutest party – the kind you envy on pinterest. The other card was from my best betch who sent me some Cali sunshine and some giggles! Being abroad and away from the people you know and love really puts certain relationships into perspective. Today in one of my classes we were reflecting on the areas in which we’ve grown since starting this experience; being more aware of a new culture and perspectives, learning about yourself, etc. Something that I shared is that when you are preparing to go abroad all these people are so excited for you, they tell you all these wonderful things you’re going to gain from doing this, but what I’ve learned is that no one tells you about the things you loose. You really are able to see who is there for you and what relationships may be fictitious. This journey has certainly been a roller coaster so getting things cards meant a lot!
Today when I went to Starbucks it hit me- Christmas is coming! Christmas music was playing, decorations were out along with their holiday edition product. This seems to happen more and more as I get older, that I find the holiday seasons to come up all of a sudden. It was just summer and now already Christmas. Who’s fast forwarding the clock? Tell them to slow down so I can catch up. It was funny cause I had gone in for a pumpkin spice latte and they said they no longer had it. I couldn’t believe it, how could they not have it through November? That’s the best part about this season, the holiday flavors. Anyway settled for a gingerbread latte instead-it tasted like Christmas. What’s your favorite holiday drink?
Today I had my picture taken by Andrew Turski, another fellow blogger I met here in Prague. Andrew has a blog called One person a day and he shares photographs of a new person he meets and converses with on that particular day. I really admire the drive he has behind his blog because it has pushed him to approach strangers and learn a little bit about them. Being in a big city with all our personal technologies meeting people is not like it used to be, it can be very surfaced and nonchalant. Also difficult to get a stranger to have an open conversation. Something I find so ironic when there are people openly adverting each time the are off to the gym and other random things via their personal profile for their online audience. Which is why I appreciate the approach to connect and document his world. It was a bit intimidating at first, putting yourself in a moment of vulnerability. Not being the one to depict the moment or determine its essence. I’ll admit it was a challenge for me because I can be a little bit of a control freak. (Now I know how it feels to be the in the shoes of the people I’ve asked on a whim to photograph.) However he did a great job at keeping it real by just having an ongoing conversation. That’s the beauty behind the blog in itself – a raw moment of interaction from anothers perspective. So thank you Andrew for choosing to include me, it was an honor.