My Poor, Neglected Blog… I’m Back!

Wine on the Vltava Riverbank

Wine on the Vltava Riverbank

So obviously it has been quite some time since my last post. Almost 8 months to be exact. But really who can blame me, summer started here and spending a minute indoors in a city as beautiful as Prague in summer is just a punishment to yourself.  It seemed as if every time I tried to sit down and write, I was invited to the beer garden, to drink wine on the river or to go paddle boating. It was really a tough choice, I know.

Berlin Wall with my brother

Berlin Wall East Side Gallery with my brother

Now obviously, I didn’t spend 8 months solely drinking in a park, so what have I been doing the past 3/4ths of the year? A little of this, a little of that and a lot of traveling! Finally! Just a quick overview to catch you all up to speed. This summer was packed with visitors: family and friends (some old and some new). I traveled to Budapest, Berlin, Vienna, all over the Czech Republic (including the Bone church, Kutna Hora (a must see), and a local Czech Village wine festival), was a camp counselor in Italy and still managed to explore parts of Prague that I neglected during the snowy winter months.

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Shoes on the Danube Holocaust Memorial in Budapest with Rachel

Now winter is upon us and i’m back and I will try to pick up where I left off. I’ve officially been here a year (and 14 days to be exact) and I still seem to get quite a few messages about my whole experience. How did I chose a program, is it hard to find a job, do you need to speak the language and overall just really how did I do it? I haven’t forgotten to answer all of these questions, I have just postponed my response, and its finally coming soon!

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Quarter Life Crisis

Reason #5... Need I say more?

Reason #5… Need I say more?

Everyone always talks about the midlife crisis, but what about the quarter life crisis? Although there is no scientific proof that I know of, I fully believe that every twenty two year old experiences the “what’s next” panic that pairs so nicely with college graduation. There are only so many times that your parents can ask you “what are you going to do next” and you not reply with a sufficient answer. If your parents are anything like mine “I don’t know” and “I don’t want to talk about it right now” are only acceptable answers for so long. At some point you all become tired of the dinner table fights, or at least I did. That is what really got my gears turning.

My college major was Family and Child Sciences with minors in Psychology and Hospitality. The combination of these threw me on the path to becoming a teacher or possibly a child’s therapist of some sort. After a semester as a teacher’s assistant I decided I didn’t want to teach, nor did I want to be on the road to becoming a psychologist. I knew I wanted to pursue grad school, but for what? I put off looking into my options all of senior year so that I could live out my senior year stress free and enjoy every minute as much as possible (never missing a party or beach weekend). The reality of graduation didn’t really hit me until my first night at home in my childhood bed. What am I doing here I thought and more importantly what am I going to do next?

Fast forward to August and I’ve been graduated for four months and working for my dad. A trip to Israel rekindled my passion for traveling and made me start thinking about making a change, a big life change. I weighed all of my options and debated the potential move for a while. What I realized was two things. First, if I didn’t attempt this opportunity now, I may end up regretting it for the rest of my life. Second, there was really nothing holding me back. I am a twenty something recent college graduate. I am unsure of what I want to pursue as a career and the only things I was truly certain about were my passion for traveling and my love for Europe.

So then comes the decision of where to go. With over forty countries in Europe, as well as opportunities in Thailand, China, The Middle East and many other places all over the world, the options seem endless. For me it was always Europe. The tough decision was deciding between Barcelona, Florence, and Prague; my three favorite European cities. When I weighed the pros and cons of each city, Prague always came out ahead for a plethora of reasons.

1. Prague is centrally located and somewhat of a European “hub.” I’ve even heard some compare it to the NYC of Europe. Being centrally located it makes it very convenient to travel to other countries, which is ideal (however, I have yet to fully take advantage of this).

2. Prague is not on the Euro and the cost of living here is relatively cheap compared to other European countries. To give you an idea, my unlimited month metro card is CHEAPER than the 72 hour metro pass I purchased while visiting Vienna. Prague has their own currency called the Czech Koruna, or Crown. With the current exchange rate there are 20 Crowns to $1. One thing that really blows my mind is that my rent here in Prague, in a awesome neighborhood, is cheaper than I ever payed to live in Tallahassee, Florida.

3. Prague has one of the lowest violent crime rates in all of Europe. The most crimes reported in the Czech Republic comes from pick pocketing, which is pretty common all over Europe. After living here a few months, I can confidently say I have never felt in danger or felt I was in an unsafe situation.

4. My cousin lived here for two and a half years and swore that she would never have moved back to the United States if it weren’t for her parents dragging her back kicking and screaming, and her admittance to Northwestern¬†Grad school.

5. See above picture. Prague is one of the most breathtaking places in the world. If you ever mention Prague to someone that has been here they will tell you themselves how magnificent it is. Whether it is the snow covered Charles Bridge or the red tulips blooming in the parks there is always some beauty in this city to marvel at.

Everyone has different requirements of what they desire when they travel, how they view Europe, and the track they want their life to take. Had you asked me a year ago if I would be living in Europe I would of laughed. I assumed I would be living in New York City or Chicago in grad school for something or with some awesome job. I can’t lie and say I don’t sometimes think of how different my life might be if I was in the United States living a “normal 22 year old life,” but then that wouldn’t make my story as unique. The main point I think I am trying to make is yes, the world can be full of unexpected twists and turns and opportunities you may not have ever considered. The future can be scary and planning for the future even scarier, but if you have ever dreamt of it this is your time. This is the perfect opportunity, we are only young once. In thirty years you don’t want to look back and say “I wish” or “what if.” You want to be able to say “remember that one time… Wow, that was awesome!”

Ahoj (that’s hello in Czech)

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So you’ve probably stumbled across my blog because you’re a recent college grad with no clue what to do next, looking for your next big move or maybe you’ve already committed to moving abroad and just need some guidance. Whatever your reason, you’ve come to the right place. I am a recent college graduate from Florida State University. I graduated in 2012 with absolutely no idea what to do, moved home with my parents and got a job working for my dad. This was far from ideal and I knew I needed a change, and fast!

I aqcuired the travel bug years ago when I studied abroad in Switzerland and decided to look in to my options. My cousin had done a TEFL program a few years back in Prague and she was my immediate go to. Hours and hundreds of questions later, it was decided I was moving to Prague. Even with the guidance of my cousin there are still so many things I wish I had known before making the move and things I wish I had more help with along the way. That is the key to this blog. I know there comes a point when you may think to yourself, “I am probably annoying this person with all of my questions and wish I had another source to acquire information from.” I am writing this blog to help you transition and gain the best possible knowledge about moving abroad and becoming an expat. I will attempt to cover everything from what to pack to living life abroad to the fullest. So sit back and enjoy as you educate yourself on what it takes to become a euro savvy expat!

Until next time!

Ciao,

Stephanie