Week One: Classes and Field Trips

I have been in Prague for a little over a week and I already feel like I know some parts of the city so well, yet there are others areas of Prague I have yet to venture too, like the Jewish Quarter. I have become quite comfortable with taking the metro (subway) from our dormitory down to the center of the city. The tram (similar to a trolley) is still a little confusing to navigate. Much of the tram system is consistently re-routed due to continuous construction around Prague.

The Tram in front of the Metro stop at Malostranká

For the actual “study” portion of this trip, classes are held at the historic Charles University, which is the oldest university in Europe east of Paris. Charles University has a prime location right on the Vltava River, and a stunning view of the Prague Castle on a hill in the distance. We have class Monday through Thursday, with two classes each day. In total, we are in class for about four to five hours each day. It sounds like a long period of time, but the teachers utilize the city as their classroom, and most class curriculums encompass multiple field trips. While in Prague I am enrolled in an Introduction to Photography class and a 20th Century Art History class that focuses on Czech artists and artwork.

Every Friday we have field trips in the morning. This past Friday we visited the Czech Parliament building and Senate building. We learned a little about how the Czech government operates as a unit. On Saturday we had a group day trip to two locations outside Prague. One was to a town called Lidice, which was virtually destroyed by the Nazis on June 10th, 1942. There is a large memorial in place of where the town once stood, as well as small museum dedicated to the event and the citizens living in the town at the time. It was a deeply moving trip, as I saw firsthand the effect of World War II on a European country. After visiting and learning about the event at Lidice, we then visited Terezín, which was a Jewish Ghetto or settlement operated by the Nazis. Terezín was originally a military fortress and later used as a prison. However, when the Nazis invaded the Czech Republic during World War II, it was used as a ghetto, where Jews from Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Germany and Austria were sent to live. Although it was not an extermination camp, many people still died due to crowded conditions and disease. While the day overall was not filled with usual excitement and giddiness we have in Prague, it was very moving and important to experience. I for one learned a great deal that day, and it was a very eye opening experience into the history of the Czech Republic.

Where the town of Lidice once stood


Jewishl Cemetry outside Small Fortress at
Terezín

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