I’ve been stuck in a dream since last Friday. Or a Harry Potter movie set. I haven’t decided which one yet.
After a few days in the beautiful city of Prague, we finally arrived in the town of Olomouc with our classmates Sunday evening and began to make ourselves comfortable. Our dorms are much like back in America, quaint and smelling of cigarette smoke. We took our time unpacking and unwound from the traveling. The next morning I was anxious to start learning my new home. We took a tram into town for orientation and later had a welcome party arranged at a local pub. If there’s one thing I’ve learned quickly about the Czech Republic, it’s that they love their beer. It almost replaces water here, and our group is currently notoriously known for fully appreciating this difference in lifestyle. The next few days seem like a blur - a long, wonderful, cold blur. I’ve fallen in love with the beauty and history of Olomouc, and this country in general. I still haven’t fully taken in that we get to stay in this place for another 70 some days.
My favorite day so far here has been Saturday, one of the very few Saturdays we will actually be in the city of Olomouc aside from other weekend trips around Europe. After a fun night out at a local club, we woke up early and went browsing at a vintage market. I love antiques in general, but the idea of them being from another culture makes them all the more interesting. I often times found myself wanting to buy items based on that fact alone. It smelt of dust and the rooms were crowded, but I adored every minute. We then took a trip up to Holy Hill. Embarrassed to admit I cried from the beauty of the interior, but if you saw it in person I think you would have too. A group of us then went for a hike up to some ruins of a monastery. I’ll admit, I wasn’t too impressed but I was happy to get out to get some fresh air. The environment was awakening and the sun finally came out to say hello. I will definitely be going there again.
Through our time here so far, I’ve noticed quite a few differences in our cultures/societies.
- Religion isn’t big here, and many of the churches are just for show.
- They don’t have ranch and have never even heard of it. Instead, they use a sauce that is a mixture of mayonnaise, eggs, and herbs/spices. Each restaurant's is different as they all have their own family recipes. What I would do for some Runza ranch right now, but I’m enjoying the new flavors.
- Very few smile here, and always seems to be grumpy. Our professors have often times joked that you have to permanently be grumpy to be a real citizen of Olomouc.
- Beer should be served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as every 10 extra minutes you have in between.
- It seems that very few have cars, but the public transportation system is fairly easy and incredibly convenient. Megan and I have been averaging 12 miles per day, each.
- The bathrooms most always have a towel warmer if a shower is included, and the toilets generally have buttons for a soft flush or strong flush.
- They have a very “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” mentality to them which makes things simple, to say the least. I’m learning America is an extremely spoiled country.
- They don’t give you tap water at restaurants, but instead you have to buy a small bottle of mineral water that tastes like flat flavorless pop.
- Coca Cola is HUGE here. I haven’t seen pepsi products at all, but at every restaurant you can get basically any flavor of Coca Cola you want, Fanta, or Sprite. They even have their own version of Coca-Cola - it kind of tastes like lemony coke.
- McDonalds and KFC’s are present, but other than that I haven’t seen very many fast food restaurants. Their McDonalds has about half of the options we do, and you have to pay for ketchup packets. BUT they have Toblerone McFlurrys and I have to say, I’m pretty jazzed about it.
- Easter isn't necessarily celebrated as a religious holiday, but more so for the beginning of spring. It's tradition for men to whip women on their ankles for good health, and then women decorate eggs in return for fertility.
- You have to pay for the plastic bags at grocery stores here. They're not very expensive, but it’s something we definitely take for granted.
My camera’s been getting a workout in the best way possible. I think everyone’s already sick of it/me stopping every 5 minutes to photograph, but everything is alluring. It’s been a wonderful source of meditation mentally to stop and actually take in what’s surrounding us. It still blows my mind that places like this exist in reality.