The views expressed in the following article are the opinion of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Newswire staff as a whole.
Prague is an intimate city with a noble bearing that borders on austerity: It’s a small, pensive place, quiet and solitary, wreathed with sunlight on the red-tiled roofs and cream curlicues of buildings rising from grey cobblestone. Truly, Prague is the city of fairytales, preserved across the centuries in one timeless place. The architecture of Prague bears insignias of German rule and Jewish conquest, of a culture seeping with legends and vestiges of mythologies, of long-past empires, the grip of communism and the flourishing art scene, all kept in a debonair and unassuming countenance. Prague, as I have experienced it, holds a dignity that is reflected in the old-world architecture, in the faces of Prague passersby and in the currents of the Vltava River that shimmers its cool music in the cerulean notes of the afternoon.
I studied abroad in Prague this past summer through USAC’s summer semester program for about a month, studying Czech language and literature at Charles University. I was apprehensive before entering the city because I was going to be entirely on my own: I only learned a few phrases beforehand, and I did not know what to expect. I gradually felt at ease, falling in love with the city’s strange and marvelous beauty.
I loved the walks I took in the afternoons, seeking new cafés for coffee and restaurants for fresh mint lemonade. I loved my lunchtime meals of Czech sausages with sauerkraut or meat and bread dumplings, with zmrzlina (ice cream) for dessert. I loved my afternoon snacks between classes, getting coffee with my new friends and enjoying overly small plump cakes smattered with chocolate and strawberries. I often explored the streets of Prague on days I didn’t have class, meandering along the banks of the river to the Charles Bridge or through Malá Strana by the Kafka Museum, in Staré Mesto to streets lined with shops, by the Národní divadlo (the National Theatre where I saw Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro,”) or to the Café Louvre (the legendary café for artists and bohemians).
The afternoons I spent riding the tramcar while watching the city unfold before my eyes were extraordinarily precious and inspiring to me. I will always treasure those moments when I felt utterly immersed in the infinite possibility and beauty of life. Throughout my time in Prague, I befriended people I never would have encountered otherwise. I exchanged ideas, shared stories and created works of art reflecting all of the awe and inspiration I felt in Prague.
I feel grateful to have been given an opportunity to transfigure myself by the new lens through which I view the world in my mind, in my art and in myself. Now I can remember the soulfully-gorgeous times I spent there as I return to school, feeling utterly in communion with others who yearn to think, to imagine, to create, to love and to give as I aim to. I feel inspired to transform our world by creating art that reveals our prowess and our coherence by encouraging others to cultivate their minds through seeing and understanding the way others live. I continue to envision a world filled with both the works of paint and pen that speaks of truth and beauty and the works of generosity orchestrated by human hearts who seek to traverse, to create and to understand.
I implore you to travel there — travel anywhere — to this land of fairytales and communist architecture, and beyond it, to places where every turn, every streetcorner, reveals an encounter with history and beauty. I implore you to walk the paths of arboretums on the hills of castles and quiet forest paths filtered with sunny summer golds, emptying into groves of crab-apple trees and wildflowers. I implore you to walk these paths in wonder at such a beautiful place that maintains its beauty over centuries filled with joy and anguish and holds a quiet radiance that belongs to all of humanity, just as the sunlit arboretums stretch from the verdant hills to the soft arches of the sky.
Sofia Ordoñez is a junior English major. She is a copy editor for the Newswire from Cincinnati.