How I Discovered My Calling to Live Abroad One Morning in Prague
I am not a morning person. The snooze button is my best friend, and I’m not worth talking to until I’ve had my fix of coffee. There are very few things that will make me willingly drag myself out of bed early when I don’t need to. However, sometimes even the worst morning person finds something worth waking up for.
At the beginning of my time living abroad, over two years ago, I spent five weeks studying in Prague. I was experiencing a whole mix of feelings. I was at a difficult crossroads in my life and feeling a little lost. The city was the perfect place to be distracted, however; it was magical, exciting, overwhelming and, deep down I knew it was the place where I would begin experiencing an important change.
It’s strange how one moment can make you see your life with absolute clarity, and make all the confusion just disappear.
I chose to study abroad in January–possibly the coldest time of the year for Prague. Temperatures regularly reached as low as -17 degrees centigrade, and I spent my spare time shivering through the city, drinking mulled wine and marveling at how every street looked prettier than the last. Having visited Prague many times, at different times of the year, I personally believe it is best at wintertime–hauntingly beautiful when dusted with snow and darkness.
Studying in January also brought other benefits; it is widely noted that Prague has lower levels of tourists earlier in the year. Lower, but not low by any means. It’s a city admired by tourists all over the world all year round, but I did notice a significant drop in January. The Charles Bridge, however, one of Prague’s most famous sights, was still full of tourists for most of the day, taking photos, listening to buskers and jostling one another. I’ll give you an example of what it looks like on an average day in the year:
I longed to see the bridge with as few people as possible, to drink in the peace and quiet, and to see how it looked without being pushed along by strangers. This is why I and three of my friends woke up at 6:30 AM on one frosty January morning, bleary eyed and exhausted, wrapped up in coats and countless scarves as we wandered out into the bitter cold. The city was still half-asleep and dark as we navigated our way through the subway, hoping we were the only ones with this idea. When we finally reached the bridge, we were in luck.
One or two other people drifted by, but the bridge was almost entirely deserted. The sky was tinged with the baby pinks and blues of sunrise, as clear as only a sunny winter’s day can be. Statues gazed over us imperiously from each side. The air draped over us crisp and cold, and I had never felt so at peace.
I wanted to live abroad, to see new places and meet new people, and experience times like this. And most importantly, I could.
I think it was at this moment, standing at one of the most beautiful places in one of the most beautiful cities I have known, with three of my favourite people, that I realised that I was making the right decision to change my life. It was my calling was to live abroad, to see new places and meet new people, and experience times like this. And most importantly, I could.
It’s strange how one moment can make you see your life with absolute clarity that I wanted to live abroad, and make all the confusion just disappear. I gazed out over the water, happiness swelling up inside me. I was tired. I was unkempt. It was so cold that icicles formed on my scarf. But it was worth it. Sometimes, the early morning is the best time of the day.