PRAGUE, Czech Republic—Prague reminds me of the Boston-Cambridge area in many ways. There are the cobblestoned streets, which are a constant threat to my ankles in heels. Though the city is also very walkable, the roads contain some crazy drivers who navigate narrow streets with reckless abandon. The lack of affordable housing and the large homeless population sadly also make me think of our campus’ surrounding urban environment. Although these characteristics may be associated with any major city that has been around for some time, finding these similarities have been a source of comfort while calling Prague home for a little while.
I’m two weeks in though, and I feel as if I may take my own personal version of “when in Rome…”—when at home, do as the homebodies do—too far at times. After classes that last more than two hours, all I want to do is go back to my room and nap. Once I am in bed, going out and experiencing the city feels like quite the task. It was not until a friend in the program returned from a recent trip to Budapest, attesting to the lasting vestiges of war and communism that Prague mercifully avoided almost entirely, that I realized I may be taking it a bit for granted.
Yet it amazes me how beautiful views that take your breath away on something as banal as a tram ride to class can become normalized in a person’s day-to-day. But alas, it happens and I am a testament to it just after two weeks. Imagine the outlook of Prague natives, who were born and raised here. No wonder they rarely turn their heads to look out the window on tram rides. They have seen it all countless times before. Nevertheless, I am inspired to do better as a somewhat-long-term visitor and traveler.
The similarities I found between Prague and the Boston-Cambridge area also remind me of the beauty in our own city that we all call home, at least during the school year. How often do we get through each day with the thought of the next school break to keep us going rather than considering our limited time at Harvard? I feel moved not just to live more in the moment and be mindful abroad, but also when I get back on campus in August. I want to make an effort to experience all of the things that make Boston-Cambridge unique. What is the point of living here for four years if we never leave the Harvard bubble? Being a tourist in your own city is underrated.
Ifeoluwa T. Obayan ’19, a Crimson Editorial Comp Director, is a joint concentrator in biomedical engineering and social anthropology in Leverett House.
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