Blog: Travel Log Winner!

Thank you everyone for submitting your travel logs and photos for our annual Travel Log Competition. We have reviewed all the applications and decided that Iwona Drapala is the winner. She took part in our Prague program that is offered though our Czech division, Study Abroad Czech Republic. Congratulations Iwona! Here you can read about her experience on our summer program in Prague.

Iwona Drapala’s Travel Log

I remember it perfectly: the day was June 3, 2011. Although it started like any other, it was the beginning of a very long, trans-national day. I remember looking at the cars, the pavement and the sky. I gained comfort in knowing that they were all going to be the same. Cars wouldn’t change, pavement is the same, and the sky is the same. Prague even has clouds and a sun! In other words, I was nervous. But, at this point there was no turning back.

The plane ride was like any other. There were stewardesses, food, clouds and movies. Finally, my second plane, going from Munich to Prague, landed. I was here! Now here is where the nerves set it. I actually had to interact with another person! Katerina. From the beginning she seemed friendly, and very non-hesitant, which is great!  For the entire taxi ride back into the city, I studied the surroundings, the city, and tried to keep a conversation with Katerina. For some reason the city immediately reminded me of Toronto, Canada, but I think that was probably because of the tram lines, since the two are nothing alike. However, I think I was just trying to find familiarity somewhere, and happen to find it in the tram lines.

Anyway, the rest of the night was spent exploring the city. Katerina and I started to walk around Old Town and Wenceslas Square for a little, locations which I would ultimately continue and finish exploring! On June 5th, we had a bus tour of the city. The tour was brilliant introduction to the city, as I got a brief view of the architecture, the feel, the culture, and the attitude of the city. I liked it immediately. I loved the atmosphere of the city, the fast paced, up to date, yet seemingly set back in time due to the architecture. The mix of the classic and the modern is what go to me!

A few days later, school started. I could feel my excitement overpowering my nerves, as I walked up to the building, and sat down, ready to participate in the class. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had only attended school in New York. In the end, I ended up thoroughly enjoying the class! The conversations, the people, the assignments, and the very engaging professor made me realize that I made the right decision in coming to Prague and even in choosing my major. I can easily say that the class was probably the most interesting business class I have ever taken, because it tied theory with reality; it put practice to the test, and looked at real world problems from a business perspective. I was very happy overall to have registered for that class.

The rest of my experience in Prague was wonderful as well. I had the opportunity to sample traditional Czech cuisine, which had very distinct flavors, put together brilliantly to make a delicious dish; I had the opportunity to visit Prague Castle, Karlstejn Castle, and Charles Bridge, and to walk along the same paths that people had walked on centuries ago; I had the opportunity to live life like a typical Czech student by shopping, dining and even partying where the Czechs do. I was able to blend in at times, but make known my international origins at others.

The entire overall experience was life-changing, liberating, and lesson-teaching. In the short month, I learned how to blend in, how to stand out, how to think on my toes, act in the company of another culture, live independently, and understand that there are many people out there like me and unlike me, and that’s just the way it is.

Photo of Prague by Iwona Drapala

Photo of Prague by Iwona Drapala

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