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In Awe of Prague and Beyond

When I first got to Prague a few weeks ago I was in awe; taking everything in and seeing what seemed like a whole new world. Thinking back to then, it is hard to believe I only have a week and a half left. I have become so familiar with this place, the people I have met, and my new routine. It is going to be hard to leave this, but I am so thankful for the experiences I have already had and the people I have met!

The first week of class was mainly introductions and getting to know the other people on the program as well as the area. I was surprised that jet-lag didn’t have much of an effect on me, although it did to my roommate and a lot of other people on the trip. Our first weekend was a “free” weekend that we were allowed to go where we wanted. A group of about six of us decided to all go to Austria (Vienna and Salzburg) together. Although I would do this all over again, it was a very interesting adjustment to stay and travel with people I had really just met. In Vienna, we went to the St. Stephens Cathedral, Parliament and Belvedere Castle (that has the original Napoleon painting)!

St. Stephens Cathedral
Vienna Parliament

The next day we got on a train and went to Salzburg, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been. A group of three girls and I went on a Sound of Music Tour and got to see a lot of the scenes from the movie. When we finally came home we were exhausted and probably pretty tired of each other already, but through this weekend trip I became close with a few people, and those relationships are so important in situations like this.

Sound of Music Tour

In looking back at the first part of my trip I am surprised at how well I have actually adjusted to life in Prague. I was really nervous about the cultural and language barriers, but it has been a relatively easy transition overall.

My favorite thing in Prague so far has been the ease of getting around. Public transportation has been so nice and is everywhere. Even easier, walking from one side of the city to the other is easy and the view isn’t too bad either. I am looking forward to the next week and a half of studying abroad and can’t believe it is coming to an end so soon!


Isabelle Pekarsky is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying political science. Her hometown is KCMO. Isabelle is spending the summer abroad with the Developing Dynamics of Democracy Program in Prague, Czech Republic. Isabelle’s goals are to attend law school after graduating in May 2020 and possibly pursue work in international relations. She believes her experiences studying abroad will help her learn more about democracies in other countries.

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.

All Packed for Prague

It’s the day before I leave for Prague, Czech Republic for my study abroad program. It has been a busy day and it has gone by quickly. I have packed a lot into the day (literally and figuratively).

I pretty much put everything off until today, from packing, to gathering documentation and of course, goodbyes. I got up today with ambition, ready to get everything ready, but this was hard to say the least. Fitting a month’s worth of my life into one suitcase was one of the hardest. This is only my second time leaving the country, and my first time in Europe, and I was not sure what to pack or what I would need. Finally, I got everything packed (Vacuum bags are a lifesaver when it comes to saving space in your luggage).

Halfway through the day my family came over for a farewell lunch. It was a lot of fun to tell them my plans and have them be so excited for me! My aunt brought me a shirt from “Planet Hollywood Praha”, from when she went to Prague around 20 years ago. I got to hear stories about where I am going from someone who has been there first hand, which was a good experience.

Each one of my family members wrote me a letter to take with me to Prague. This is going to be something that I think will really help me when I am feeling homesick. Instead of writing that they will miss me, they decided to write me words of encouragement, which is something I appreciate when I’m feeling down.

Overall, I am so excited to leave tomorrow. I’m excited for the experiences and learning opportunities, the people I am going to meet, and all the places I am going to see. All of this being said, I am anxious. I have never been away from my family and friends for this long, so this is going to be hard. I know I am going to have hard days where I am sad and miss home, but I look forward to the days that I am exploring and am able to remember that I will be home soon, so I have to enjoy the moments I have in Prague!

Even-though today has been a long, crazy day, at least I’m packed!

I look forward to sharing my study abroad journey with all of you and can’t wait to write again when I get to Prague. Until then, Ahoj (Goodbye)!

Isabelle Pekarsky is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying political science. Her hometown is KCMO. Isabelle is spending the summer abroad with the Developing Dynamics of Democracy Program in Prague, Czech Republic. Isabelle’s goals are to attend law school after graduating in May 2020 and possibly pursue work in international relations. She believes her experiences studying abroad will help her learn more about democracies in other countries.

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.

Leaving to Learn in Ljubljana!

Only two days until I leave for my study abroad trip in Ljubljana, Slovenia! My name is Katrena Smith, I am a junior at UMKC, majoring in psychology. I will be finishing my sociology minor at the University of Ljubljana, continuing my education toward becoming a Child Life Specialist. For those of you who have no idea where Slovenia is(I wouldn’t know if I weren’t about to live there for 6 months), it is a very small country to the right of Italy. What language do they speak, you ask? Slovene. Do I know how to speak Slovenian? No, no I do not. I have researched a few key phrases, but luckily most everyone will be able to communicate in English. There is so much to learn about and ways to grow as a person on my trip, I am so incredibly excited and nervous for my adventure of leaving my home of KCMO to study abroad in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

      Let’s talk about Ljubljana. First of all, I know I did not pronounce this city correctly the first many times I read it which is a pity because it is a gorgeous sounding name. In the Slovenian language, J’s are pronounced as Y’s. Ljubljana is actually pronounced [lyoo-BLYAH-nuh]. Amazing, right? Well, I know I am not even there yet, but all the photos I have seen have been breathtaking. I’ll update with pictures I take later, I promise. The population of Ljubljana is 270,000, which is tiny for the capital of a European country. In comparison, the population of Kansas City is 488,000 and Ljubljana is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts! One of the reasons I chose Ljubljana was due to the small town feel. Everything in Ljubljana is accessible by foot or by bicycle which I am extremely thrilled about. I can rent a bike for €3 for an entire year, and you better believe I already have that budgeted. Ljubljana is adorable and I can not wait for it to become my home away from home.

I have always had a thirst for travel, yet I have never been outside the United States. I look forward to stepping outside my comfort zone and being challenged. Turns out I am actually flying into Slovenia on a national holiday. First challenge of the trip has already happened! Since it’s a holiday, all the offices are closed and I won’t be able to get my dorm, so…. I had to get an AirBnb for the weekend unexpectedly. Honestly though, the host seems super nice and accommodating and maybe as a local, she will have some great advice for me regarding the city. It’s difficult not knowing what dorm I will be in or where exactly I will be, who I’ll be rooming with, or what it looks like, but it’s alright, I am ready for anything! As long as I have a bed and my roommate doesn’t steal from me, I’ll be just fine. See? I’m already going with the flow and I haven’t even gotten to Slovenia yet. Weirdly enough, I can’t wait to face all the challenges that await me.

Thank you so much for reading, I am excited to update you once I have been in Ljubljana for a while. Wish me luck on my flight!


Katrena Smith is a junior at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying psychology. Katrena, a Gilman Scholarship recipient, will spend her spring semester in Ljubljana, Slovenia as part of the UMKC exchange with the University of Ljubljana. There, she will be complete her Sociology minor, adding to her education in pursuit of becoming a Child Life Specialist.

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.

Sevilla’s Little Taste of Home

When people ask where I’m from, I tell them I’m “East Coast born, but Kansas City raised”. My birthplace is very near and dear to me but my hometown, Kansas City, has my heart and soul. Since living there, this is the longest I’ve ever been away from KC in my life.

We spent a weekend in Sevilla. It’s the fourth largest city in Spain, and for good reason. It’s home to some real history and some iconic imagery. One of those iconic images being La Giralda, a giant tower attached to the Caterdral de Santa María.

La Giralda
La Giralda – Sevilla

It might look familiar because there’s an exact replica of it on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.

La Giralda - KC
La Giralda – KC

Sevilla and Kansas City are Sister Cities for cultural exchange. The Plaza was built to mirror the architecture in Sevilla. There’s an ‘Avenue de Kansas City’ in Sevilla. Just from that alone, Sevilla looked more like home to me. Not to mention there were three Starbucks’ within walking distance from our hotel.

Even in Spain, the baristas get your name wrong
Good to know that even in Spain, the baristas get your name wrong

I got homesick for the first time in Sevilla. Seeing more “American” restaurants and buildings that looked more familiar to me really made me think of summer days on the Plaza sitting in front of the fountains and listening to the city bustle. Sevilla had all of those same qualities.

There's a replica of this outside the Cheesecake Factory in KC
There’s a replica of this outside the Cheesecake Factory in KC

What really got me was climbing to the top of La Giralda and overlooking the city. One of my favorite things at home is going to the World War I Memorial in DTKC and looking out into downtown. A wave of homesickness hit me hard when I looked out into Sevilla. The top of the cities don’t look alike in any way, but it felt like a familiar moment I’ve had at home.

Sevilla
Sevilla
KC
KC

But I think it was a good moment to have. I wasn’t homesick because I was unhappy or because things were so foreign, it was because things were so similar. Of the forms of homesickness to have, I think a nostalgic one might be the best of them all.

The top of La Giralda
The top of La Giralda