By Kendra Hale
The first day of our study abroad kicked off in Prague, a city in the Czech Republic! Some students arrived today, while others chose to come a day or two early to spend some more time in the city. Personally, I came a week early to spend some extra time in Europe to visit Paris and Berlin. I even had the opportunity to go to Disneyland Paris. Students had the flexibility of determining how they wanted to get to Prague. Many decided to fly into the city, while others chose to explore the public transit system. During my travel to Prague, I had the opportunity to take an international bus between Germany and the Czech Republic. Most students teamed up in small groups and came together.
Kristen, Sam, and Emily in the airport
Our first day was a rather relaxing day, as many students were still making the transatlantic journey to the Czech Republic. When each student arrived, we checked in and were able to meet our roommate(s) for the night. Most students decided to go out and tour the city in several smaller groups. Prague is known for its beautiful architecture and large number of spires. Students were able to tour famous sites, such as the Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle, the John Lennon Wall, the Municipal House, and the famous Old Town Square. Many of these areas are pedestrian-free, which is becoming more popular in Europe as a way to decrease the usage of motorized vehicles. We were also able to witness another common form of travel in Prague, which is cycling. They had bike-share programs, where individuals could borrow bikes and use them throughout the city. We enjoyed our afternoon of walking around and seeing the beautiful city and streets of Prague.
As we were to learn more about later in the trip, Prague is also an industrial city. As students studying sustainable policymaking, we were excited to learn about the environmental impacts of industry. We also had the opportunity to view the waterways in the city, which are pictured below. As with any body of water, there are certain concerns and issues about pollution, flooding, etc. Later on in our course, we were able to view waterway concerns in another city – Venice, Italy.
Students enjoying paddle boats in Prague
At 6 p.m., we gathered in the lobby to meet each other and to walk towards our restaurant for the evening. During this walk, we were able to walk near some beautiful buildings. Our meal consisted of some amazing food and we even had some very lively entertainment!
Outside and inside views of the dinner restaurant
Dessert and Entertainment
After the meal, students were free to spend their time however they wanted. Many students continued to explore Prague, while others (including myself) came back to the hotel and tried to catch up on some sleep for the busy days ahead.
Old Town Square in Prague
While there was not formal learning on arrival day, students had the incredible opportunity of exploring their own interests in the beautiful city of Prague, while meeting their fellow students. Prague provided evidence of several environmental and policy issues that students were going to experience later on, such as water issues, sustainable transportation, and the intersection of industry and pollution. This city provided strong evidence of the difficult balance between the environmental, economic, and social issues of sustainability. Students were excited to gear up for tomorrow and our trip to Ostrava to explore a more industrial region of the country. Over the next several days, we will have the opportunity to continue to explore the many facets of sustainability.
Beautiful views in Prague