An Update

An Update

I’ve officially been living in Prague for an entire month, life is crazy. This is a quick update so that my friends and family know that I’m alive and well and eating way too many pastries. After 4 weeks, I finally feel like I actually live here and it’s not some weird vacation dream thing. I speak enough Czech to survive, can successfully navigate the metro, know what butter looks like at the grocery store and understand that “dort” is Czech for cake. Little victories but big victories. I feel comfortable adventuring on my own in Prague and am slowly learning enough cultural norms to kind of blend in—as long as I don’t open my mouth.


Once a week I volunteer at a local elementary school in Prague assisting in a classroom of Czech 2nd graders learning English. They are actually so perfect and cute and curious and stare at me in awe because I’m the first native English speaker + American they’ve ever met. They ask me questions like if I like hotdogs or what my house looks like and I realize how far from home I am. Their education system is so different from the US and I see posters on the wall of New York City and places that seem very distant from this little elementary school.


American music plays in all of the stores, though most people don’t understand the words. Portions sizes are smaller, on my desperate days I order two meals instead of one and the waitress thinks I’m crazy. Even McDonalds is different here—it’s way better. Post-communist buildings are painted light pink or blue, not torn down making way for something bigger. You have to pay for tap water at restaurants here and if you don’t specify they will give you sparkling water and it’s never not shocking. Beer is cheap, so cheap and the cuisine is built around the beer. They don’t hate Americans here like you’ve heard. Most people just want to ask us questions and assume that we’re from New York because that’s the only city in the US to them. KFC is actually inexplicably amazing in Europe.


Some days it is hard. I just want to walk into a store and understand everything the cashier is saying. Or be able to find the salami. Or ask a question without stuttering. Or sleep in my own bed. Or walk into my best friend’s room. Or not be perpetually confused.


But that’s not most days. Most days I look up in class and there’s a castle outside and nothing feels real. Most days I wander around endless Czech bookshops and pick books up and try to recognize words. Most days I order dessert that tastes like heaven. Most days I notice magnificent buildings that are older than my home country. Most days I take it in and realize how big and small the planet is at the same time. Most days I am in awe that I’m lucky enough to be alive in this exact moment in this exact place.

Berlin Weekend Guide

Berlin Weekend Guide


Berlin is a city that has been badly damaged by history but is more alive than ever. Far from the romance of Paris or Prague, the Berlin Wall paints a jagged scar through the city covered in the paint of a new generation. The bustling nightlife scene and pop punk culture makes the city a perfect weekend destination. Berlin embodies a modern and industrialized version of Europe full of Turkish food and techno for the taking.

Things to eat:



This Cold War dish combines the traditional German cuisine with Turkish influence due to an influx in Turkish migrants. I had these twice in two days, it’s delicious + cheap!

Turkish Food

Again, Berlin is a perfect opportunity for Turkish food because of the high concentration of Turkish migrants. This was my first time trying it and I loved it, ya gotta experiment.

Giest Im Glas


To me, brunch is the most important meal of the day so I was on the hunt for high quality brunch in Berlin. This little place was so unique and had a very young, hip crowd. Probably the best pancakes of my life and their food is inexplicably photogenic so check it out.

Cuoro Di Vetro

We stumbled upon this place late one night, call it serendipity. This local shop offers coffee, gelato, cake, wine; literally everything good in the world. Petition for more places like this in the US or I might never come home.

Things to see:

Checkpoint Charlie


If you’re interested in history, this spot was the checkpoint between the US occupied West Berlin and the Soviet East Berlin. There’s a a museum and a great little gift shop and its especially impactful for an American to see the legacy we have created.



One of the only truly historical areas of Berlin that was not destroyed during the bombing of World War ll, this square reminded me of the traditional beautiful Europe I’ve come to love. A perfect people-watching spot filled with happy old Euro men with their tiny dogs.

Berlin Cathedral


One of the most easily recognizable buildings in Berlin, the Cathedral is a spectacular token of European architecture and genius. Closely located to the popular museums downtown, this monument is definitely worth a visit.

Memorial for Murdered Jews




The Memorial for Murdered Jews of Berlin is a humbling experience. I recommend to actually think about what this giant work of public art means, rather than take selfies, walk on the stones or yell like a lot of tourists in this area. You can literally get lost in the giant stones representative of tombstones and feel the isolation the Jews of Berlin must have experienced times 1 million years ago.

Hackescher Markt


This little market was a peak into the quaint and local culture of Berlin with fruits, flowers, hats and artisan crafts for sale. Right off the metro stop, the square is covered in stands offering souvenirs, juices and desserts.

Haus Schwarzenberg Street Art Alley


This is an example of one of the many times that the internet is magic. We read about this little hidden gem on a blog about Berlin and it was well worth the search. This alley is covered in works of public art and a secluded break from the chaos of the main streets.

Brandenberg Gate


Another iconic scene in Berlin, the Brandenberg Gate is again testament to the rich history of the city. Great photo ops but pretty crazy full of tourists most of the time.

Things to do:

Topography of Terror


If you’re really into World War ll history (even if you’re not) this FREE museum is a must. I learned more information about the Third Reich and beginnings of the Nazi regime through this exhibit than any history class has ever taught me. It’s very reading intensive but incredibly educational and built upon the original headquarters of one of the most destructive regimes in modern history.

Walk the East Gallery


The wall is obviously a symbol synonymous with Berlin, communism, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain. A barrier now covered in art is a testament to the rebirth of the city and in a world yelling about building walls, more relevant than ever before. This was probably my favorite part of Berlin. To see the physical barrier between freedom and repression was pretty wild and the art was fantastic + FREE.

Museum Island



Berlin is internationally known for its nightlife and techno scene. The best way to venture into this world is by talking to a local. Most of the recommended clubs online are tourist traps and going to be very expensive or even dangerous. Our Airbnb owner gave us some recommendations such as Katerblau or Susswargestern. We also loved a local smaller bar called My House by the Sea that had a rotating dance floor on the lower floor. The vibe at most clubs is more casual than in the states and deep haus is everywhere. Berliners stay out LATE with most clubs opening at midnight and closing in the afternoon the next day so my advice is: nap.


Enjoy the city of street art and broken walls and eat some currywurst for me!

The Barrier

The Barrier

It’s like living in a soundproof hamster ball. There are people talking, yelling, laughing, screaming all around you but you have no idea what they’re saying. There are posters on the walls and you can’t read them. It’s like being 5 again and your parents spelling words over your head.

But I’m 21. And in the Czech Republic.

I’m taking an Intensive Czech Language course right now at Charles University. Believe them when they tell you that Slavic languages are not easy. There are entire sounds that I’ve never even tried to make before and letters that I did not know existed. I’m trying but I’m basically up to basic phrases and words with an accent so heavy it’s probably incomprehensible anyways.

The hardest part of the language barrier is going to the grocery store. There are mountains of bread and millions of things that I don’t recognize. Not only are all the words in Czech but a lot of the packaging is different here too. Like sour cream and coffee creamer come in cups that look like yogurt containers– I don’t even want to talk about how we figured that out. Grocery stores are gigantic mazes of words and packages you don’t recognize and all you want to do is find is the butter!!!

After piling your best guesses of mystery meats, cheeses and various colorful packages into your basket, you make your way up to the checkout to begin the next battle.

Sometimes the cashiers and waiters get frustrated with us. Many don’t speak much English, if any at all and they roll their eyes at my American ignorance. But other times they smile and point and pantomime and I realize how wordless and easy communication can be.

We speak different languages. But in the waves of confusion and miscommunication and frustration, there are flashes of understanding between human beings who cannot even say hello to each other. It’s connection between cultures and lives and continents and I don’t think that we are that different at all. I’m trying to piece together the syllables and perspectives that constantly pull us apart.

While it’s strange to live in a world where everyone is talking around me but I can hear nothing, it’s something like peace. And you realize how much you can say when you can’t really say anything. And how always having something to say might not be that important. And how you can contribute to the music without adding to the chaos.

I think you should go there. Where you can’t understand and all you can do is listen and learn. It can make you feel really far away and close to people all at once. There’s freedom in the noise. And you’ll eventually find the butter.

Things That Are Different Here


I’ve been living in Prague for two weeks. I understand the phrase culture shock. I’ve gotten lost and yelled at and questioned and learned a lot. Things are different here. Small things and big things and medium-sized things. Things you don’t really notice until everyone else in the restaurant is staring at you and things that give life jazz. Here are a few of Prague’s things:

  1. Doors open the opposite direction
  2. You have to pay for tap water
  3. Drinking fountains do not exist
  4. You aren’t supposed to smile at strangers
  5. You might have to pay to use the bathroom
  6. Pastries are so cheap!
  7. Crosswalks are called “zebra crossings”
  8. McDonald’s is better
  9. People walk everywhere
  10. Dogs wear coats a lot


I’m a fan.



I notice more here. Everything is different and new and fresh to me, seeing this world for the first time. There’s Gothic buildings and trams and Czech words covering the street signs and castles. But it’s funny because I notice more of the little things. It’s like waking up. A daughter holding her elderly father’s hand on the escalator down to the metro and a pigeon hopping around covered in sausage grease and little tiny flowers on the side of the road, miraculously alive in February. That stuff you saw when you were little but you forgot to look at once you turned 12 and a phone started buzzing in your pocket and life got covered in things you had to do. The stuff that made you believe the world might be magic. That’s how it feels here. Like magic.