I was not sure what to expect on my journey, as I would be leaving the United States for the first time. I was especially anxious since I know being American is not always received well by other people in other countries. Many of my friends and family members did not even know where the Czech Republic was.
It turns out, I had nothing to worry about.
Although not as many people smile in Prague as in San Diego, I’ve learned not to take it personally. Luckily, during the time that I have been in this country, I have not experienced a culture shock — but I was not immune to the jet lag. In the time I have spent here thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the dark and tragic times during and leading up to The Holocaust, explored various places of worship and admired the glorious architecture of this city.
The welcome dinner for the Music and Culture in Prague program was held at Kolkovna Savarin.
We had a choice among a few traditional Czech dishes, and I chose the traditional Czech beef goulash, which consisted of bread dumplings, potato cakes, peppers, beef and the delicious sauce of goulash. It was a very filling comfort food.
We visited Prague castle, the biggest castle in the world. Here we are standing in front of the main entrance on Deer Bridge. This fortress is where the Czech president conducts his business and is guarded by uniformed men specially selected and have to meet certain criteria.
A portion of the Prague Castle excursion was through Golden Lane, named for the goldsmiths who used to inhabit the homes. It is mainly now a quaint tourist attraction where many postcards and souvenirs can be purchased.
St. Vitus Cathedral — only a potion of the beauty that is Prague Castle.
After our excursion to Prague Castle, all the students in the Music and Culture in Prague program pose with Professor Yale Strom, our faculty leader.
After Prague Castle, we ventured to the famous Franz Kafka museum where many of his written works and letters were displayed, bringing his feelings to the surface. The museum is dark and reflects the anxieties he and others faced.
Directly outside of the Franz Kafka museum is a sight like no other. There are two sculptured men (only one pictured above) peeing into a surface in the shape of the Czech Republic. I was told it is appropriate because Czechs have a great sense of humor and can make fun of themselves.
The Giant Bronze Babies are a bizarre attraction that can be found in Kampa Park. They would definitely be frightening in the dark as you can see that the faces are intentionally smashed.
Me and my sister, Briana, stand in front of the famous Lennon Wall. Locals and visitors like to come here to pay homage to the great life and work of John Lennon.
A group photo of all the students in front of the historic Lennon Wall.
Since Charles Bridge is extremely crowded (unless you arrive at sunrise) I decided to get a photo with it in the background.
About an hour train ride away from Prague, Kutna Hora has a wonderful cathedral called Saint Barbara’s Church.
Also in Kutna Hora is the Bone Church, displaying the real bones of the dead. It was surreal to see more sets of bones being taken out of the dirt right in front of our eyes.
A small group of us went to Vysehrad Cemetery and Basilica Manor.
We also viewed replicas of the barracks at the Terezin concentration camp help to visualize what it was like for victims of the Holocaust. You can see the Star of David in yellow, a color that marked the prisoner with shame for being Jewish. After actually visiting the old Terezin camp, I can say the space is accurately depicted.
Kiana Wiley is a fourth year psychology major. They are traveling with the College of Extended Studies program Music and Culture in Prague.
I absolutely LOVE how you’ve captured Czech humor and beauty. Well done!