Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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The study abroad experience is often discussed between friends and strangers alike as the epitome of the college adventure. I landed in Prague with two guidebooks, and countless stories from UPCES alum about all the good times that were waiting for me in this post-iron curtain oasis. Though I headed into Prague with detailed instructions about where to find a decent burrito at 2am and a warning about my over friendly nature, I found myself running around Old Town like a chicken with my head cut off.

When I listened to my friends recount their time abroad they used language that brushed over the mundane, as if every minute was filled with pure ecstasy. Rather than question their enthusiasm, I drooled over every syllable and prepared for when my day would come.

I do not know if it was my over confidence – or just my inability to fully comprehend what my time in a new city, not knowing a lick of Czech, surrounded by complete strangers was going to be – but I found myself wildly overwhelmed. Luckily the time of utter insanity was fleeting and forgiving, as I made friends, learned to successfully count to 25 in Czech, and stopped grinning at strangers.

I accidentally bought buttermilk twice, got lost trying to find school on three separate occasions, and ate an obscene amount of fried cheese. I also had my breath taken away by the beauty of the city, went to a club where Rihanna filmed a music video, laughed uncontrollably, mastered public transportation, and all around was welcomed by such an incredible place.

Prague is in a time of transition, with a population still processing the aftermath of communism while simultaneously opening their arms to the complex modernization that is in full swing. It is a metropolis and a haven, with a rich history and gracious population.

I expected my relationship with Prague to be love at first sight, and though the city is very easy on the eyes, it has been a slow process, as everyday was met with new trials and triumphs. I feel confident saying, on the cusp of my six-month anniversary with the Czech Republic, that I am very blessed to have spent a semester in Prague’s sweet embrace.

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