I have yet to find a love like that of traveling.
I once read a quote by my favorite author, Haruki Murakami, that said this: “Anyone who falls in love is searching for a missing piece of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover.” I never quite understood the feeling Murakami was describing in this quote, but as each day passes while I’m in Prague, I am slowly beginning to understand his words.
Whenever people would ask me why I chose to major in hospitality and tourism management, I would respond saying that “I want to live abroad when I’m older, and a hospitality major can be applied almost anywhere in the world.” There’s a certain romance to living abroad that I think many people my age seem to long for, and I have definitely fantasized about it for as long as I can remember. So, when the opportunity to live abroad for a few months finally arose, I took the chance to see if this was actually something I longed to do. I figured that if I enjoyed living abroad now, as a student with little responsibilities, and that if I could handle living in a foreign country, I would be able to handle living abroad when I’m much older.
I think I’m mainly drawn to the mysterious aspects of being abroad. Not knowing what new experiences I’ll have living in another country, not knowing what new things I’ll learn about myself, not knowing anyone there, and most importantly, no one there knowing me. What kind of identity will I have abroad? What will I learn? Who will I meet? How will this experience shape me into a better person? These are all questions that linger in my mind as I spend each day here. I initially came to Prague in hopes of getting a glimpse of what I hope to be my future, but as I walk around this city, I find myself searching for myself, instead. My focus has shifted from looking for my future, to looking for the very person I am. In a crowd of people, how can I possibly stand out? What makes me, me?
When standing in the center of Old Town Square in Prague, many people may not realize that they are surrounded by architecture from nearly 5 different periods. The St. Nicolas Church is from the Baroque period, there are various Gothic style buildings from the 14th century, an astronomical clock from the medieval times, and various other buildings from different periods of time. There’s all of this time that surrounds this one area- so much history in such a small location, and so many different people have walked through this square at different points of time- at different points of their lives. Yet, so many of these experiences will never be known and so many of these moments will be lost with time.
People watching is one of my favorite past times. Whether I’m sitting in the park or sitting in a cafe near my Prague dorm, I get lost in thought observing those around me. What kind of life do they live? Is his favorite novel the same as mine? What makes her laugh until her stomach hurts? Does he also cry every time he watches Up, as they show the montage of Ellie and Carl after Ellie passes away? Is there a point to asking these unanswered questions, you ask? Well, to be completely honest, no. But, I do enjoy giving stories to each person as they pass by me. There’s a comfort to thinking that maybe these people, who all have different backgrounds and stories from me, may also be very similar to me. That maybe these people too, are searching for themselves in this city.
I am all of the emotions one feels when they are in love. I am nervous, excited, scared, and anxious; but overall, I am hopeful. To experience this time, to eat new and delicious food, and to be able to live in this historic and breathtaking city, has been a dream. I hope to continue to learn about myself while exploring this beautiful city, and to also, hopefully, fall in love.