Time to Think

A Journey to Prague

Wow. It has been an incredible first week in Prague. From meeting a bunch of Germans and Austrians to a hostel and grabbing drinks, to going to 10 different Vietnamese grocery stores looking for sweet potatoes, to say Prague has been an adventure already is an understatement.

Prague is a busy city, but it’s also a slow moving one. Buildings older than America continue to see new businesses open in them everyday, while bridges from the middle ages see new travelers each and every day. As an American, Prague feels incongruous with the US. We in the US can’t last more than 50 years without the compulsive urge to tear down a building and build a new one. Prague, on the other hand, is in no rush to replace the old. In fact, they’re more likely to try and fix the old, and bring it into the new than abandon their history; even if it means for some stores with really, really weird layouts.

My adventure to Prague is the first time in a long time that I have had the time to just relax and take the world in. Back in Arizona, I’m used to always being on the go. 18 credit hours means I’m always busy trying to keep up with the next assignment. 20 hours a week at work (now more like 50 in the summer) mean I’m always working on a new problem with little time to celebrate previous successes. And being in a fraternity means my free time is already planned out, whether I like it or not.

In contrast, my first week in Prague was a breath of fresh air (literally, the lack of smog is a blessing on my lungs). For a while, being able to get lost in the city with no obligation to be anywhere was scary. Not because I was in a new city where I didn’t speak the language, but rather because I felt a constant urge I had to be somewhere. I’m not used to having complete freedom to do whatever I want, and I still feel that strange feeling that if I’m not busy I’m forgetting something.

My first few days of work have been a reflection of this. I’m used to moving fast and testing new ideas out. Or spending hours reading up on new algorithms or marketing techniques and implementing them at work. Today, my boss told me to go out to lunch for an hour because it was a slow day and she would rather I eat some of the local food than sit at my desk doing nothing.

Before Prague, I considered myself a person who already took a large chunk of time to think. I was an active reader, I meditated every day, and I always tried to learn something new each week. But coming to Prague showed me that I wasn’t really “thinking”. I was actually obsessed with moving fast. I did what I did and moved on as fast as I could. I didn’t think about why I did what I did. I didn’t take time to reflect on what I learned and how it might be helpful in the future. I didn’t even celebrate my successes. There was always something else to move onto.

This has led me to my theme for the summer: Time to think.

I want to slow down and really appreciate the culture. I want to think about the joy of using buildings as works of arts rather than for utilitarian purposes. I want to think about the social norms of the people of the Czech Republic, and how they may have certain mannerisms that are superior to ours. I want to enjoy each meal here, and try not only the Czech foods but the wonderful foods from all over the world.

My theme is as much about really thinking and understanding what I am experiencing as it is slowing down and living them. Instead of doing as many things as possible, I want to really take the time to truly live out a few to their full potential. I want to fully appreciate what I am doing by truly learning as much as I can. I want to avoid to the best of my ability snap decisions and judgments that we use to avoid thinking.

This theme might be wide, but I already have some ideas on how to approach it. I know I want to spend time enjoying the cuisines Prague has available. I also want to get out and capture pictures of some of the beautiful architecture around. I also hope to do as much reading as possible (thank god for the long public transit commutes). And of course, do the best I can at my internship.

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