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When it’s over.

I had a life changing experience while abroad.  It was fun, stressful, exciting, exhausting, and everything in between.  Once I was finished with my 6 week program at Charles University two of my closest and oldest friends met up with me.  I took my first night train!

Sleeper cars are really cramped…

We spent three weeks traveling through Southeastern Europe and ended up in Italy.

Life at home isn’t this exciting.

The last few days of my three week adventure I spent alone in Rome and in Naples.  I definitely recommend solo travel.  I was able to go see the sights at my own pace and I was forced to speak up in situations where I’d usually let my travel buddies step in.

I found the Trevi Fountain all by myself!

Even though I went through bouts of homesickness while abroad, I’m sad to be home.  I wasn’t prepared to feel like this, but I hear it’s normal.  To fight by coming home blues I am keeping myself busy by meeting with all of the friends who missed me while I was gone.  Every so often I look at pictures from my trip and dream of returning to Italy and Croatia.  Aside from the sadness I feel a new sense of who I am and what I want out of life.  Something I want is more travel!  Next on my list is Japan 2018!  Thank you UMKC for letting me have this experience!


Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Religion, Government, and the Czech Republic: It’s complicated.

***First I want to say that I am not here to tell anyone what to think or what to believe.  I am also not attempting to critique any particular religion.  My goal is to inform those who read this of the complicated relationship between religion, government, and the people within the Czech Republic.***

Last Friday we went to a little town outside of Prague called Kutna Hora to see a bone chapel.  The size of the chapel was underwhelming, but the amount of bones in the chapel was astounding!  I took pictures of the story behind the chapel’s creation.

Page one! Long story short, the ground here will not break down the bones, so someone decided to make a chapel out of them.
Page two!

Now some pictures of the hauntingly beautiful bones: 

The creepy and awesome bone chandelier. It’s the first thing you see when you enter.

The Czech Republic has a long and difficult history with the Catholic Church.  The churches, cathedrals, and other christian symbols remain; however, the current population of the Czech Republic is overwhelmingly atheist or agnostic.  My professor Dr. Robbins, an American, told us that they also prefer to not discuss their religious leanings in public.  Czechs do have opinions and beliefs, but because of the strict censorship laws and brutal enforcement of such laws under communism there is still a hesitancy for expression.  Similarly, we were informed, that Czechs do not like to be a part of any conformist organization.  The history of the Catholic Church in this area includes methods of control over Czech peoples lives and livelihood, much like what they experienced under communism.  Czechs learn their history like the back of their hand from the time they are 6 years old, so most Czechs come to the same conclusions.

The Czech perspective is helping me redefine what I think it means to be an American.  (I will not share my new opinions regarding that.)  I will say that immersing myself in another culture has given me a newly calibrated lens with which to view myself and others.  I highly recommend study abroad.  It will change your life!!


Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Travel is fun but rest, food, and homesick cures are important!

Last weekend my classmates and I went to Český Krumlov, Czech Republic.  At that point I’d been in Prague for a little over a week and had been busy every day since (including an 8 mile hike the weekend before).  I was excited for our trip and optimistic about my energy level for the adventure.  Oh how naive I was. Now, don’t get me wrong.  The trip was beautiful.  Some examples of the beauty.

We hiked up to these castle ruins directly from the train station.
Then we hiked from the ruins to Český Krumlov. Beautiful, right?! (SO tired by this point.)

My classmate Val and I had a mission.  Must find fried cheese.  Fried cheese is a Czech thing.  You HAVE to get fried cheese if and or when you visit.  We HAD to find it.  Our mission began around 8.  We left our beautiful bed and breakfast and headed toward the many restaurants we passed on our way to the hotel.

Our bed and breakfast is the adorable yellow building between the two adorable blue buildings.
The view from outside our hotel.  Love!

We made our way back over the bridge into the middle of the town.  I thought to myself,”This is the Europe I signed up for.”  I was overcome with excitement that I was exactly where I wanted to be! (forgetting that all I had to eat that day was two almond bars, yogurt, and a bag of chips…)

The town center. Complete with a phone booth!!

 

Phone booth! (I was way too excited about this.)

Eventually we remembered how hungry we were and how far we’d wandered from the hotel not finding fried cheese!

I’m so hungry-excited!

So, my classmate Val, messages our professor who recommended a place.  Where was this place, you ask?  Here…

Recognize these view?

Yes.  There was fried cheese in the restaurant below our room.  At this point it was about 9:30 and I was feeling the lack of food setting in.  I hoped that my experience with slow service in Prague did not translate to Český Krumlov.  I was wrong.  Just after the sunset Val and I got our fried cheese!

Victory is ours!!

We ate, laughed, shared stories about our lives, and awkwardly interacted with our server.

After dinner, around 10:30, I was fading fast and needed to sleep.  I didn’t quite feel like my usual self, but I thought all I needed was a good night’s sleep.  I happily made it through the first part of the day, seeing art and old telescopes at an old monastery. (I am an astrophysics major.)

Telescope used to look at the sun!

Fun, right?  For a while on this early 7AM day I enjoyed the art, the history, and the physics relics.  After another hike back down to Český Krumlov and up to another castle (twice) I hit an emotional wall.  I needed a break.  I needed to be alone.  I needed to do nothing.  So, I broke from the group, quietly sobbed, and found a calm little cafe.  Through my tears I timidly ordered an espresso and a tiramisu from a barista with an extremely uncomfortable look on her face.

The remains of my sorrowful but delicious snack.

We eventually got on a bus to return to Prague.  I cried half of the way there, missing home, and messaging my friends and my boyfriend.  After words of love and support from the people I love the most I felt a bit better.  New mission: Rest when I need rest!  Now, 4 days later, I feel back to normal.  Plans for this weekend?  I will take it easy and stay in Prague.

Also, when you’re home sick, find a Starbucks.

Homesickness cure.

Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

My first week in Prague I got lost…and so should you!

Oh my how time flies.  I’ve been in Prague for one week to the day!  It feels like I’ve been here just a moment and a month at the same time.  I’m exhausted, excited, and humbled.  I’ve seen the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, and so much more!  So far my favorite outing was getting lost looking for Charles Bridge after venturing out into the city on my own.  I was nervous to go out alone but I did it anyway and reaped the benefits of getting lost in a new city.  I thought I knew exactly where I was headed.  I rode the underground public transportation enough to know my way around, or so I thought.  Now, a few pictures for a frame of reference for you all.  Here is Charles Bridge:

The REAL Charles Bridge.

Apparently more than one building as a roof like this….

The Not Charles Bridge.

If you look closely at the photo below you can see the Not Charles Bridge off in the distance.

Just over the rooftops on the left is where I was headed.

After reading signs in Czech that I barely understood I realized that the sun was in the wrong part of the sky for where I thought I should be.  Fortunately I was in an area filled with tourist information stands.  A very nice Czech man drew lines on my map so that I could find my way to Charles Bridge.  “Hooray!” I thought.  “I’ll surely find it now.”  Not quite.

The streets in Prague are not on a grid and many of the streets in the tourist areas do not have street signs like I’m used to seeing in the states.  Their streets look like this.

Confusing, right?!

It just looks like big mess to me.  So, I got lost again but this time I paid attention to the sun and I looked for the tram lines that run through the city on tracks of which I was familiar.  Within a few minutes I found a land mark I knew and eventually found my way to the REAL Charles Bridge!  I spent the rest of the day with my friends and with a new sense of self accomplishment that I wouldn’t have found if I didn’t get lost. (Mental note: Pay attention to the placement of the sun in the sky.) I wonder what lessons week two will have in store for me!


Lauren Higgins is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, studying Physics with emphasis in Astronomy.  Lauren is spending the summer abroad at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.