As the semester is coming to a close, I’d like to give a few tips and tricks that I think would be helpful before coming to Prague. It’s been an amazing stay here in Prague, and while the experience has had its ups and downs, I would never regret coming to Prague as my study away site. After approximately 15 weeks in Prague, along with traveling around the Europe almost every weekend, Prague has become a home away from home. A home that I might not come back to anytime soon after I leave, but certainly somewhere that I will always consider home to a degree. So, if you’ve decided to come to Prague as your next study away site, or are considering studying away in general, following are a few tips that may come in handy.
1. Don’t really pack any summer clothes.
I made this mistake while packing for Prague. Though the semester starts in a relatively warm season, the temperature drops within a few weeks of you staying here. You’ll be wearing jeans and long sleeves in no time, as well as regretting bringing a scarf or a heavier coat, especially if you overpack in terms of short sleeves and shorts. I’d say only pack about 3-4 outfits of summer clothes, maximum.
2. Buy and pack everything you need before you come.
When I mean buy and pack everything you need, I mean it. The shopping in Prague is pretty limited, so besides basic toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, etc.), you shouldn’t count on buying anything here (especially if you care about brands). The fact that I brought cold medicine, tea, face wash, makeup, chargers, adapters, and more from the U.S. has been my saving grace. At the same time though, definitely don’t over pack! I definitely brought just the right amount of stuff (3 suitcases of varying sizes) to Prague, but I’m 100% not looking forward to packing at the end of the semester.
3. Prepare maybe $4000 – $8000 worth to spend in total.
I know $4000 to $8000 is a pretty big range, but it really depends on how frugal you’ll be, how many places you’re planning to travel, and basically how you plan to conduct your lifestyle abroad. If you’re going to be traveling minimally, always sharing cheap Airbnbs, always traveling on budget airlines and buses, or always cooking, you’re probably going to need an amount of money closer to $4000. Meanwhile, if you’re going to travel every week, staying in better Airbnbs, traveling on more reputable airlines, going out every night, or always eating out, you might land closer to $8000. Overall, Prague is pretty cheap; you can buy a giant bag of groceries for less than $10. But in the end, it’s really about how you’re planning on living.
4. Bring cash and a card.
Or bring a card that you can withdraw cash with as well as an international credit card. It’s important to have two ways to pay on you at all times especially in case one doesn’t work. It’s also a good idea to have a backup card and cash that you can keep at home in case you get pickpocketed. Also, whether you can use cash or card varies quite a lot depending on what country you’re in as well as what store you’re visiting. For example in the Netherlands, barely any stores took Visa or MasterCard. Instead, they take a more local or European version called V-Pay and Maestro. We were stuck scrambling to withdraw cash all the time, which, to be honest, wasn’t the best experience. Plus, cheap and local restaurants often don’t take card at all. It’s hard to get the best of both worlds, you know? You either have to go to a more expensive restaurant to use a card, or use cash if you want cheaper meals.
5. Bring a camera. Take pictures.
You won’t regret it. If anything, you’ll regret not having taken more pictures. Pictures will stay with you for a lifetime, but over time, your memory will get fuzzy. The semester has passed by so fast that I can’t remember all of it. I wish I had recorded every second if it, every meal I ate, every place I went. You should definitely take as many pictures as you can and record all the memories you make. It’ll definitely be incredible looking back on it later, and just reminiscing about your time traveling the world (or Europe) in 118 days. Plus, they’re basically free souvenirs! There’s really no need buying insanely expensive souvenirs at tourist shops (unless they’re going to be gifts) when you have the ability to just document everything with a single click.
6. If you want to go somewhere go! Don’t put it off for later.
Now that the semester is coming to a close, I’ve realized that I haven’t gone to everywhere I’ve wanted to go and that I probably won’t have the chance to especially with the limited time I have left. If one day you pass by a cool place or find an interesting place you want to go online, go to it. Don’t be lazy and put it off for later. Use your time wisely, because you probably won’t have the time later to go.
7. Have fun.
My final tip is one that’s pretty obvious. Be prepared to have fun, have fun, and don’t take a single second of it for granted. This experience will probably never repeat itself. You’ll probably never surround yourself with the same people in the middle of Europe, nor will you probably travel to a different country every weekend with your friends just because you can. You’re never going to be a college student traveling the world like this again, you’ll never be able to relive the crazy nights and adventures you’ve experienced while abroad. Studying abroad will be one hell of a ride, so live it to its fullest.