My dearest Prague,
I miss you. I miss your winding streets and stained glass windows. I miss your history
and charm. I miss your late nights and early mornings. I miss your rustic simplicity and grand, evolving complexity. You were a mystery when we first met. I had no frame of reference for our relationship. I didn’t know what to expect when I entered your borders. But you took me in, taught me your lessons, and loved me. During my time in Europe I learned how to love you as well.
Now that I am back in the States, I realize how much I grew to appreciate you. I loved how I was able to hop on a tram and see the city. I loved how I could listen to conversations in twenty different languages without knowing what the speakers were saying. I would learn the context of the conversation by listening to the intonation of their voices. That was how I got to know you. When we were first introduced, I knew nothing of you or your language. I did not know how to interact with you. I did not know what you expected from me. But after I listened to how you spoke to me, I began to understand your true personality.
I listened to the people walking your streets. They hurried from pace to place, unaware of my existence. It was exciting to be invisible, for as I did not register in their eyes, I registered in yours. I listed to the trams and trains rumble down the tracks. I could feel the nervous, expectant energy of the people at the tram stops. As they were waiting for their transportation to arrive, you were there with them. I could hear you in the quiet book store in the old town. I could hear you tender, knowing voice in the ruffling of soft pages, in the coos of store patrons. I could feel the gentle pull of your history as descriptions of the city came to life on dusty book pages.
Prague, I didn’t expect to fall in love with you. I knew that I would enjoy Europe. But I didn’t know that I would fall in love with you. Now that I am home, I want you back. I traveled to Prague in search of my family history and to gain business class credits. But what I gained from my European experience was more than I could have planned for.
I learned how to appreciate life from the perspective of an outsider. I was able to understand how Europeans view Americans. I had expectations about what the people would be like, but I never considered that they would also have
expectations of me. I learned to communicate in ways that I had never previously attempted. Although language barriers are frustrating, they are invaluable tools when learning how to empathize with someone from a different background. I loved the unique interactions in which you placed me, the people you forced me to meet, and the culture you helped me to understand.
Now that I am back in the US I wish I could return to your borders. I wish I could find myself wandering through your countryside, down your elaborate pathways, and across your notable bridge. I was able to lose myself in you once, I would like to get lost in you once again.
It will probably be some time before I can return to Europe. Soon the thought of college bills will be all-consuming. My time and finances will be exclusively dedicated to my education and I will have little left to travel with. Education makes the mind rich and the student poor. Yet, it is worth it, it is the reason I was able to visit you. It will have to wait to revisit you, but maybe, in the future we can be reunited.
My dear Prague, I miss you.
I will always love you.
Collegian writer Nataleah Small can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NataleahJoy.