After talking about some general first impressions in my previous post, I would now like to focus on a specific topic:
An exchange year is generally designed to help you gain new experiences, but in many situations lately, I’ve been surprised by the things I’ve tried and the things I’ve actually enjoyed.
Always say “yes”
As a general rule, I haven’t said no to any activities recently (except for time reasons, of course), and this has paid off in several ways. I’ve experienced many wonderful moments that I won’t be forgetting any time soon and found a new hobby. And I did it quite simply by trying things that I would normally have told myself „That’s really not for me. Others might enjoy it, but it’s not quite my cup of tea“, instead trying to say „Why not, you could give it a go“.
I’ve realized that this is actually the only right attitude if you don’t want to spend your year abroad sitting at home constantly. You have to be open to new things, just give it a try. Whether you like it or not is almost irrelevant – it will always be an interesting experience.
Another thing I have realized is that often the most boring activities can become the best days with the most peculiar experiences, as the following stories show quite well.
An unforgettable piano concert that I never saw
All the exchange students in Prague were invited to a piano concert and of course, although it didn’t sound particularly exciting, I accepted… As we didn’t know how strict the dress code was for the event, one of the exchange students spontaneously decided to buy a dress for it the afternoon before the concert. Of course, that took a while, which meant we were extremely late in the end.
In the rush it somehow happened that we entered the wrong one of what feels like hundreds of theatres in Prague into Google Maps, so we ended up standing in front of the National Theatre, not the Rudolfinum, at seven o’clock sharp. It took us only a good ten minutes to realize this.
After more wandering around, we finally gave up and went for dinner at a very cozy bar that we found by chance. We talked, enjoyed the food and refreshments, and were delighted to have turned this chaotic evening into something so enjoyable! In the end, the three of us who missed the concert all agreed that it was a day we wouldn’t be forgetting any time soon.
How I accidentally became a Swiftie
Another extremely fun trip and a great memory was watching the „ERAS“ movie, a recording of a full Taylor Swift live concert, in the cinema with two other exchange students. It has to be said that I’m generally not a big pop fan and knew exactly one Taylor Swift song by name (two or so by ear).
However, the enthusiasm of all the Swifties (Taylor Swift fans) was simply irresistible, especially that of the exchange student who invited me to see it in the first place and was one of the biggest Taylor fans in the cinema (which is saying something).
Mate in the park in Argentinian style
I also spent an afternoon in what I was taught was the typical Argentinian way: I drank mate, a special Argentinian green tea, in the park with an Argentinian exchange student. Among other things, we talked about the differences between our two cultures, and she found (as one might have guessed) that people in Argentina are much warmer and more passionate and that many Czech people (which can also be applied to Germany to a certain extent) seem very cold and sometimes a bit rude. I feel the same way to some extent, even though we Germans are certainly quite similar to the Czechs in comparison to Argentinians.
Films for language training
I have also watched many films on my own and with my host father, who is a great film lover. Original Czech films (with German/English subtitles) as well as absolute film classics (with Czech subtitles, which I sometimes had to use because people sometimes spoke a bit indistinctly).
Before that, I was never a huge fan of films and preferred books and series, which in turn means that I can still watch a lot of classics that are really good for the first time (e.g. Back to the Future). I really enjoyed that and it’s also really helpful with the language, which I’m determined to learn as well as possible.
A new hobby
Probably the most surprising thing (even for myself) that I’ve tried and that I’ve enjoyed much more than I thought I would is knitting. Yes. You read that right, I started knitting and am currently in the process of making my own (not particularly pretty, but still!) scarf. How it came to this is actually very simple: a friend of mine, who generally likes crafts and needlework, talked to another friend about knitting and the three of us ended up going to two textile shops in two days. T
he first time I thought to myself „That’s not for me. They might enjoy it, but it’s not really my cup of tea“ so I didn’t buy anything. Then, on the second day, we were sitting in a café, the two of them knitting, going on about how relaxing it is. So, I gave it a try and before I knew it, I had bought my own wool and needles and was introduced to the fundamentally not-too-difficult art of knitting.
That was quite long for just one post, but I hope the stories were as interesting to read as they have been for me. As soon as I have enough new stories, there will be a new post!
Until then, Ahoj (which means both hello and goodbye) from Prague!
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