Preparing for Prague with Anthony Bourdain

I’ve always loved watching Anthony Bourdain’s travel and food show, “Parts Unknown.” Through my TV screen, I’ve joined in on Bourdain’s travels across the world. From a distance, I accompanied Bourdain on his $6 meal with President Obama in Hanoi, Vietnam; his pub meals in London briefly after the Brexit decision; and in Senegal, when he sat outside in a circle around a communal dish eating Thiéboudienne, the country’s national dish. From my screen, I’ve seen the world and its meals.

The time has come for me to turn off the TV and begin my own exploring. This summer, I’ll be in the beautiful Czech Republic (also sometimes called Czechia). The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located smack-dab in the middle of Europe. Its capital, Prague, is where I’ll be staying. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Since Prague was never damaged by World War II, its original architectural beauty has been maintained throughout history.

The Czech Republic sits in the heart of Europe.
The Church of Our Lady Before Týn, a beautiful Gothic-style church in Prague. Photo via Prague’s official tourism site,

In Prague, I’ll be studying at Charles University. Charles University is known as one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Central Europe. I have the incredible opportunity to take classes there as part of their Intercultural Studies Program, where I’ll be spending nearly seven weeks this summer.

This Baroque library hall originally belonged to Charles University in Prague. Now, it is maintained by the Czech National Library.  Photo from Klementium Guided Tours.

Anthony Bourdain never had a “Parts Unknown” episode in Prague, so Prague truly is relatively unknown to me. However, as I gear up for my trip, I’ve learned a few lessons from other episodes that I think I’m going to pack up to bring with me. These are to remind myself of what’s important about travel. While the summaries of my lessons from Bourdain are nowhere near as eloquent as his original thoughts and words, I hope that they, too, find a way to inspire someone.

  1. Never turn down a meal. Meals are an invitation into someone else’s culture. Always be mindful that a rejection of a dish could translate into a rejection of someone’s pride in their home country. That being said, I can’t wait to try Czech food.
  2. Let your plans and your time be flexible. The best travel doesn’t follow a perfect itinerary. The best travel allows for time to stop and smell the roses.. or to stop and buy the street food.
  3. Be open to new things. If you’re only doing things you’ve always done, you’ll miss out on most of what the world has to offer.
  4. Spend time with the locals. No one knows a city or its culture better than the people who live there.
  5. Embrace the uncertainty. This is what travel is about — letting our guards down and allowing the world to let us know that we don’t know as much as we think we do.

With Bordain’s lessons in my back pocket, I expect to honor his memory by soaking in every moment of my time living abroad. When you hear from me next, I’ll be in Prague!

Helene Slinker is a senior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City. Helene is spending her summer studying in Prague, Czech Republic through the Charles University Intercultural Studies program, taking classes that contribute to her political science major and women’s and gender studies minor. Helene is eager to learn more about Central and Eastern European politics through this program and explore the Czech Republic.

Disclaimer:  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.