How to Study Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic, is one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. It is the sixth most-visited city in Europe for vacationers and is home to many historical and cultural sites, such as 10 impressive museums, the Prague Castle and the Old Town Square. It is also home to the prestigious Charles University. Prague is also home to various styles of architecture, making it a dream destination for architecture students and aficionados alike.
If you are planning on studying abroad in this gorgeous city, of course you need to visit all of the beautiful monuments and museums, but there are also some things that you might not think of doing. So, here’s our list of the things you should do while studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic.
1. Get creeped out. If you like to creep yourself out a little bit, head over to the Old Jewish Cemetery. There are more than 100,000 bodies buried in this cemetery. Until the late 1700s, the Jewish citizens of Praque were walled into the Jewish ghetto and forbidden to bury their dead anywhere else except this cemetery. The result is that the bodies were buried on top of each other forming layers of up to 12 people deep. Another fun tradition that takes place in April is Bonfire Night, when locals light bonfires and remember the witch hunts that used to take place in the city by burning an effigy of a witch. Some people like to leap over the flames. Bonfire Night is usually observed more in the countryside, so you might need to find a friend with a car in order to attend. Another creepy tourist attraction that is just outside Prague is the Bone Church, or All Saints’ Chapel, in Kutna Hora. After an outbreak of the plague in the 14th century, a chapel in the church was used to store the dead bodies. In the late 19th century, a woodcarver decided to put the bones to use and now the chapel is decorated with 40,000 human bones and skulls. Personally, I think it is creepy and disgusting, but a lot of people really like it, so you should check it out for yourself and let us know what you think.
2. Drink the beer. Everyone knows that the Irish and Germans think their beer is the best in the world, but very few know that the Czechs think the same thing about their beer…and they might in fact be right. You could ask 10 different Czechs which beer is the best, but you are going to get 10 different answers. Personally, I really like Gambrinus, which also happens to be the most popular and easiest to find, so that works out nicely for me. However, some other popular beers include Kozel’s Medium and Pilsner Urquell. I think the best way to decide for yourself is to try them all. You can make this a cultural activity by going to a different pub each time and asking another patron of the pub what his/her favorite beer is, then ordering that beer. Most likely, you’ll be able to strike up a conversation with this person and maybe you’ll even make a few friends.
3. Visit Charles Bridge. This gorgeous bridge was commissioned in 1357 and features 30 Baroque statues of religious figures. It is 1,700 feet long and has 16 arches. In addition to being historically and architecturally rich, it is also a great place to do some souvenir shopping because vendors line the bridge every day, trying to sell their goods. I recommend coming here early in the morning if you want to really get a good view of the bridge and the Vltava River. If you are really ambitious, then get there before the sun rises and enjoy a breathtaking start to the morning.
4. Party like It’s 1991! There’s a really quirky, underground nightclub in Prague called Bunkr Parukarka. You have to enter Bunkr Parukarka through a hole in the side of a hill (literally) and then go underground to find the party. This graffiti-covered entrance gives way to a really awesome nightclub where you can dance until the wee-hours of the morning while listening to some of the best DJs in the city spinning their tracks. The club is located in what was once a nuclear bunker during the 1950s, adding to the appeal. Just because the Cold War ended 20 years ago doesn’t mean you can’t still party like it’s 1991 in Prague!
5. Make Pinocchio and Geppetto proud. There are many cool puppet shops in Prague. Even if you don’t end up buying a puppet, you should check out at least one of these shops. Many of the puppets are made with a surprising amount of detail. If you do know someone who likes puppets and you bring them a souvenir from one of these shops, I assure you that they will consider you a superhero for life.
6. Take the subway…and hold onto your ticket! Prague has an open subway system, which means there is not any form of enforcement for paying to enter the subway system. You do not have to show anyone your ticket stub to prove that you have paid and sometimes you can get away without paying for a ticket. However, there are undercover police officers who can randomly check to see if you have paid for using the subway. If you cannot produce a ticket, you will have to pay a hefty fine (usually around 50 Euros). The subway is the best way to get around the city and is actually pretty cheap to use; you just have to keep your ticket with you at all times in order to avoid any problems.
Have you studied abroad in Prague? Do you have any tips for other students who are planning on studying there? Share them with us in the comments section below.
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