Yes, I had to fly for 23 hours to get to Prague. Yes, it was incredibly exhausting. Yes, I did have possibly the worst jet lag I had ever experienced.
Coming from Melbourne, Australia or “down under” as some people call it, I am blessed with some of the longest, most draining flights in the world. I thought that my 21 hour flights to New York were bad but this was something else. I had 2 layovers – one in Singapore, another in Dubai – making my entire transit time close to 28 hours. At times, I questioned my choice of studying abroad in Prague. I mean I could’ve just chosen Sydney and been done with a one hour flight but no, I HAD to choose Prague. All jokes aside, my first two weeks in Prague quickly reminded me of why I chose the incredibly beautiful city of Prague.
The very first day I arrived, my roommate and I decided to rent bikes and traverse the entire city of Prague without a map. It was a spontaneous decision that resulted in one of the most spectacular experiences of my life. Despite my exhaustion from my transit to Prague, we quickly peddled towards the city centre. Upon reading the statement “we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more” stated by Pico Iyer in his article “Why We Travel”, I couldn’t help but think about my first bike ride through my new home. As we weaved in and out of the flowing streets of Prague, it was a struggle to keep my eyes on the road as all I could do was gawk in amazement at the stunning architecture that surrounded me. As we rode past each building, I slowly began to fall in love with this city.
Now, I guess you might be wondering why I chose NYU Prague to begin with. I mean I was technically already studying abroad by being in New York. My answer aligns with Pico Iyer’s reason for travelling: “…for me the first great joy of travelling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home”. In some ways, I travel to run away from my mistakes at home and to make new ones abroad. Making mistakes is only part of being a normal human being and also a great way to learn. So, I travel to make mistakes! You’re probably thinking, “wow, this kid is really depressing”, but it is honestly one of the main reasons I like to escape from the safe confines of my home. I travel to learn about life and how to live it.
“We travel, then, in part just to shake up our complacencies by seeing all the moral and political urgencies, the life-and-death dilemmas, that we seldom have to face at home” – Pico Iyer
I think everyone at some point thinks in their life: “A fresh beginning would be nice”. Travelling offers me just that. Each city I travel to allows me to reevaluate myself, as I compare myself to the eclectic cultures and personalities which each city holds. Each city I travel to enables me to be free from existing characterisations and opinions of who I am. And each city I travel to reminds me that I will never truly be content with the experiences I have had in life, because there is most likely something better to come.
“We travel, then, in search of both self and anonymity” – Pico Iyer
In the end, we live in a beautiful world and we should explore it regardless of our reasons for travelling. Last weekend, I went to Vienna and saw a city which screamed of beauty. I met plenty of kind-hearted people who embraced my peculiar Australian-asian identity with open hands. It is truly special to be accepted by people of completely different cultures – it reminds me that we are all people and that travelling is a safe activity that everyone can participate in, regardless of their identity.
Ahoj Praha a Evropa!