My First Week in Prague in Review

For months leading up to my time abroad, I spent hours daydreaming about all the places I was going to travel to, all the classes I was going to take, and all the days I would spend roaming and exploring the streets of Prague. But as I sat in my room a couple days before leaving, I was met with the realization that I had no clue what I was going to be doing throughout my first week abroad, and had no idea what it was going to be like.

If you are like me and are curious about what to expect, I’ve got you! Here is my orientation week in review.

Orientation week at NYU Prague is pretty involved compared to many other global sites, mainly because the country has such a different culture, and the people speak a completely different language that sounds very foreign to the average American. However, everyone at NYU Prague is so friendly and welcoming, and it ended up being a really memorable week!

Day 1: On Sunday, the first full day in Prague, we had a welcome lunch in some gardens near Máchova, where we played bonding games with everyone in the program and met all the RAs and administrators. We got an amazing view of Prague and free food!

After this, my friends and I spent the rest of the day exploring different restaurants and bars around Prague.

Day 2: The first day of orientation! I’m not going to lie, it was a very long day filled with a lot of information. NYU Prague is next to the Old Town Square, which is an action packed place with lots to see and do- think of it like the Times Square of Prague. The highlight of the day was definitely the talk from Janek Rubes, creator and star of the popular “Honest Guide” Youtube channel. He gave us and “honest guide” of Prague, but with his signature sarcasm and dark sense of humor. Extremely entertaining. He also recommended a coffee shop frequented by locals (including himself!) across the street from campus, and I actually ran into him there!

Day 3: Our Czech lessons started on this day, which was genuinely one of the most helpful parts of orientation. Even though a good amount of people in Prague know English and you can get by without Czech, it is nice to know some basic phrases and words to make yourself feel comfortable in your surroundings. Locals also really appreciate if you at least greet them with dobry den, dekuji, and na shledanou!

We also learned a lot about Czech history by visiting the Lucerna palace and speaking with NYU Prague professors who had firsthand experience in major historical events in the Czech Republic.

That night I also went to a Hozier concert, which so fun and a really great way to see other districts of Prague that NYU Students don’t visit very often!

Day 4: We had another day of Cultures and Contexts and our Czech language class. The highlight of this day was our “field trip” in Cultures and Contexts. My professor took us to the rooftop of the Lucerna Palace, a restaurant that was set up like a communist era cafeteria, and a Jewish synagogue. Each place had so much history and character, and it was a really cool way to see cool things in Prague that aren’t necessarily “touristy”.

Day 5: This was our last day of our Czech and Cultures Classes, so we were at NYU Prague for most of the day. In the evening, I went to the opera with NYU, which was one of the cultural events we could choose to go to. Opera in the Czech Republic is an experience- everyone gets dressed up, goes with their families or loved ones, drinks champagne in the intermission, and is generally very classy. It was really special to experience Opera for the first time in a place that values it so much.

Day 6: Friday of this week was one of the most fun experiences of our first week. We went on an interactive scavenger hunt all around Prague. Everyone got pretty competitive, because the winners received a free 3 month tram pass, which is usually pretty expensive! The coolest moment of the hunt was when my group members and I were struggling with a question, and we were able to use our basic knowledge of Czech to stop a local, speak to them about the question, and get it right!

Day 7: We went on the wild Sarka hike with NYU, which was pretty intense, but a beautiful hike and great bonding experience. The wild Šárka reserve is in the outskirts of Prague, so if you do not get to go on this trip but still want to hike, I would highly recommend because it is easily accessible through Prague public transit!

Day 8: We went into the Old Town Square Square for an Underground tour with NYU. Underneath lies a ~city of the past~. I’m only partially joking with that statement-the street level hundreds of years ago was a lot lower than it is today, so there are still structures of houses that have since been built upon. It was fascinating to see the differences between what used to be there, and what the streets look like now.

Day 9: We had our first day of classes! In the evening, the whole program went on a boat cruise on the Vltava river, where the winners of the scavenger hunt were announced. We also got to see the sun setting and Prague slowly lighting up, which was stunning.

Orientation week was an action-packed week filled with countless memorable experiences! I got the chance to talk to so many new people at NYU Prague that I never would have met, and really realized how tight-knit the community is. Orientation week really set the tone for a great semester at NYU Prague, so get excited for it!

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