Night One in Prague: A Beautiful Disaster
When I arrived in Prague, I must note, my life was a complete mess. Not only was I severely jet-lagged (even through our 3-day tour of London), but everything seemed so different. I can honestly say I’ve never been somewhere where English is not the first language, so even just the slight change in street sign dialect left me in an awkward state of confusion. I like to say that, here, everything that could be completed easily in the United States, now acquires another step or two to “get the job done”, so to speak. I can easily back these assumptions up by telling a little story about the doors of Prague and my dorm shower…
If you have ever spent a solid amount of time traveling, you know the effects of jet lag and drowsiness. I’m not talking the “oh, yeah, I could nap” kind of tiredness, I’m talking the “sorry, were you talking to me? I just fell asleep walking” tiredness. I found that functioning here the first few days was troublesome without it being an entirely new country, but the extreme cultural change was also adding up to an outlandish scenario
. After we all finish our mandatory paperwork and finally get to head up to our dorm rooms in Prague 6. Each and every one of us is so excited, not only to catch a glimpse at our new home but also to have a little down time to relax from our constant expeditions.
I take my room key, silver and cold, from my pocket. I quickly insert it into the lock, rotate the tumblers, turn the doorknob, and… Nothing.That’s okay, I just didn’t turn the key far enough! Let’s try again! I take my room key, silver and cold, from my pocket. I quickly insert it into the lock, rotate the tumblers, turn the doorknob, and… Nothing.
At this point, I was highly considered that I am now trying to enter the room of another guest. This did happen once already. You see, my roommate Carina and I somehow managed to be placed in the corresponding hotel space of the Masarykova Kolej instead of the actual dormitory. I learned this “fate” after the first room I attempted to open was Orange 216 in the dormitory section of the building. Being that I didn’t actually believe that I would be living in a different section then the rest of my classmates, despite the directions of the front desk, I proceeded to the dorm section instead and substituted my red color with a similar orange. This happened to be an all male floor of non-English speaking students and a very awkward moment for me.My fears of them putting us on the wrong floor were playing out in my head again as I struggled to get the door open.
“216 Red… 216 Red… This is 216 Red…”, I mumble to myself as I struggled with the door.Down the hall just two doors I spot another AIFS student struggling with her door as well. I head over to see if she could open her room. Without thinking that, yes, I’ve noticed this girl in our tour groups, but I never actually learned her name or even spoken to her, I walked over to her and stupidly said, “My door won’t work.”Fortunately, her door didn’t work either, so my four-word exclamation was not as weird as it first sounded in my head. We exchanged words of confusion until she finally body-slammed her door open!
“How’d you do that!”, I yelled. “I don’t really know… keep messing with the door and it should open.”, was her response. She headed into her room and I went back to my demon door to try and open it again.
My roommate then came strolling down the hall just in time to see me fail at opening the door for the eighth time. I motioned for her to try her luck because, it seemed as if she couldn’t believe I was dumb enough to not be able to open an actual door, but as she stepped forward and failed as well, we both started to laugh about the situation.“We can’t even open the doors here, how will we survive!”, we joked, breaking the tension of the confusing day.
After a solid 20 minutes, we did, in fact, get the door open. Side note, the door knobs in Prague are usually just decorations and don’t actually do anything to help open the door. Instead, you push the key itself to gain access to your abode. (The girl two doors down will find that out later in the week when she and her roommate rip the knob completely off the door itself.)
Keeping with the theme of my beautiful little disasters the first night in Prague, I found out that the showers are equally as difficult to function as the main doors. You see, before we all headed up to our rooms to shower and go to bed, Jenny, our AIFS assistant and the overall life-saving person of the trip, told us to be extremely careful with the showers as to not get water all over the floor.
“If you get a lot of water on the floor sometimes it leaks down into the levels below you and because there are offices down there, you may get angry people banging on your door and yelling at you in Czech.”
“Who is stupid enough to get water on the floor?”, I thought and I am fairly certain many of the other students did as well.
I am that stupid to get water all over the floor… Luckily, no angry businessmen came pounded on our door, but it took two towels to sop up the mess I made while trying to get clean. I’m not quite sure exactly how this slight trickle of water turned into a chaotic pool as quickly as it did, but needless to say:
CZECH SHOWERS: 1
…and that shower would quickly continue to rack up points each time I took a shower…
I think the best lesson I learned that night was that I shouldn’t walk into a new place, a new town, a new country and automatically assume I know everything because I may not be able to complete a simple task such as opening a door or keeping water in the shower.I now know it may take a little time to adjust from being the headstrong American who drives towards a task at full force with no second thoughts into easy going and humble traveler experiencing a country for the first time. Taking the time to step back and witness before acting is a new point of view I gained while studying abroad