If you’re anything like I was a year and a half ago, Eastern Europe is a pretty mysterious place. It’s the part of the world that once fell under the Iron Curtain and, really, still remains a seldom travelled part of the continent. When I decided to go to Prague, Czech Republic for a year and teach English I didn’t know anything about the country or the people there. It was news to me that it wasn’t called Czechoslovakia anymore and I couldn’t have found it on a map if my life depended on it. I started to do research, though, and found out that the Czech Republic is probably one of the most awesome and original places on the planet. This notion was only solidified in my mind when I finally arrived there and began to see the sights, meet the people, and learn new things every day about my new home.
When I’d talk to people back home I’d get frustrated that they didn’t know things that, to me, had become common knowledge. They were simple things that even I hadn’t known before moving to Prague, but couldn’t imagine not knowing now. Coming home I was thrown for a loop to hear people ask me how I enjoyed my time in Russia or if the government listens to everything people say over there. Seriously? I thought. Are these people retarded? When I began to show them pictures of things I saw there or tell them stories, they were amazed at the famous people they knew of who came from this country or the landmarks they’d seen in pictures but never knew were in Prague.
I’ve had friends who’ve visited Europe since I’ve been back and have asked me “Where are some places I should go? I know you travelled a lot.” It’s true, I went to lots of places and I saw lots of things, but there was no place I went that could compare to the city I called home. Some people will tell you that Paris is magical or that if you don’t see Florence before you die you’re missing out on the experience of a lifetime. It’s true that these are great places to see, but if you ask me, there’s no place in the world that can compare to Prague. So to the people who’ve asked me, I tell them: “Go to Prague. See everything. You’ll never regret it.”