Prague, will I miss you? Will I miss these long nights drinking with friends and dancing with strangers? Will I miss Tram No. 9? The one that cuts through the city like a gorgeous wound, the one we always take to find our way home? Will I miss the International Business classes that dragged me through the day like a small child walking a stubborn St. Bernard across Central Park?
Will I miss the young couples stealing kisses in the streets, on the trams, in dark alley ways, and in broad daylight? Their affection is passionate, mesmerizing and unapologetic, their smiles unforgettable.Will I miss the stories whispered at the early hours of the morning between drunk, wide-eyed roommates? She kissed him. He loves her. She tried to hold him back. He danced with her. These are the little things in life that make our time more meaningful.
Will I miss the long train rides that took me to foreign destinations? Will I miss sitting on the floor of a noisy freight car for hours when there were no available seats? Will I miss watching my friends doze off as the sun came through the window when we traveled home from Berlin? Will I miss the sharp political exchanges between strangers as the train steadily trudged onward? At home, in the United States, people rarely use trains to commute from place to place. It is a lost art form. Here in Europe, it is still alive and well. The trains, a romantic mode of transportation that take energetic travelers where they want to go.
Late nights, will I miss you? Will I miss sitting outside on the ledge of my concrete dorm room veranda? Will I miss listening to the cicadas buzz through the night air when my mind is attempting to relax? Will I miss the low, orange street lights that shine through my bedroom window? The nights were full of excitement, happiness, and expectation. The nights were young, lively, and awake. The nights were marked by drunk students blissfully waltzing through the streets singing songs about everything and nothing. The nights were full of seduction, magic, and memories. The night, the time when I should be asleep, was when I came alive.
Will I miss my International Business classes? Will I miss the stress that comes hand in hand with writing a lengthy essay during the late night hours? Will I miss preparing presentations on topics I must pretend pique my interest? Will I miss my professor’s irritated gaze after he asked a question that no one was willing to answer? Coming into this trip, we all knew that we were going to study. We signed our waivers, we brought our notebooks, we prepared our critical academic minds, yet when the time came to study, few of us found the motivation to care. When we did find the motivation to care, it was late at night under the cloak of darkness, shuffling through papers, unable to escape a mounting sense of anxiety.
Will I miss the grumpy shop owner on the corner who never enjoyed giving me change when I was only able to pay in large bills? Will I miss the aisles of wine and vodka next to the chocolate and apples? Will I miss the mountains of bread that serve as staples of the Czech diet? Will I miss the late night runs to the liquor store to find a simple solution for a more permanent problem? Will I miss Kaufland, the large grocery store at the end of the tram line, where none of the employees speak a word of English? If I made a small mistake, they would yell at me. If I did something correctly, they would look on with disdain.
Will I miss the joy of traveling between countries without giving a care in the world? Will I miss being able pack a day bag and cross a border? Will I miss the freedom of exploring without inhibition? The border between the Czech Republic and Austria was lovely and well-marked, but the inspection officers did not need to check my passport when I crossed over. Their passiveness bordered on apathy, yet their apathy bordered on trust. Their trust made me feel comfortable, and it is always reassuring to feel comfortable in a foreign country.
Prague, I will miss you. Europe, I will miss you. Study abroad, I will miss you. This past month has been wonderful and I have enjoyed every moment of it. I would not trade this experience for anything in the world. I have made so many beautiful memories. And what are we, besides our memories? My dear Prague, I will never forget you.
Collegian writer Natalaeh Small can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook here.