Namesti Miru

Namesti Miru

For our final in our documentary photography class, we were assigned an area around a metro stop to capture the essence of. I found that my stop, Namesti Miru, was a change of pace from the rest of Prague that I was used to. It seemed quieter, with less bustle and fewer tourists. There were a lot of business people going to and from work and a lot of families. The area is dominated by a large church. The bells seem to toll every half hour or so, as the people go about their business.

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The Prague Days Are Over

Through a New Lens

My time here is almost up. My suitcase is packed (barely), and my cab to the airport is scheduled. I’m still in denial, I think. It doesn’t feel like I’m actually going to leave tomorrow!

I can’t even begin to express what a learning experience this study abroad trip has been. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an individual. It sounds cheesy, but I’ve made friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Being a tourist in a new place, armed with a camera, changes the way you look at a scene. Everything I see, I view with a different perspective than I do back in Texas. Things are the same, but also different. It’s indescribable, really. You’ll just have to come to Prague yourself to see!

I want to thank you all for reading my blog and supporting me. The support I get from y’all gets me through those tough days when I’m feeling tired and homesick. It’s truly been a blessing to be able to share my experience with friends back home, as well as people from all over the world (don’t think I don’t see y’all on my stats page!).

I only have one last blog post to make, my final project. I won’t be posting on this blog anymore after that, but I hope that you will continue to follow me and my future adventures. When I get back I will update my personal blog with some more photos from Prague. After that, I’ll blog about wherever my life takes me next! Other pictures (especially ones of food!) can be found on my Instagram. If you want to contact me, you can email me at sgb92@att.net.

Thank you again!

-Shaina Bowen

Personal Blog|Instagram|sgb92@att.net

The God-fearing and the Godless

The God-fearing and the Godless

There is a very big difference between Prague and my small town in Texas that I haven’t talked about yet. It’s an important topic, but one that I’m hesitant to talk about. Because, as Linus from Charlie Brown says, “There are three things you must never discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”

Most people in the Czech Republic aren’t religious. It’s not that they slack on going to church or haven’t picked a particular denomination yet. They don’t believe in God.
They’re– Are you ready for me to say it?

They’re atheists.

The 2011 census said that 34.2% of people claimed to be not religious. 20.6% were religious, and 45.2% simply had no answer. Another statistic I read said that 11.7% of people attend religious services once a month or more.

When I mentioned this fact to people older than me before I left, many were shocked — even a little worried. Don’t worry, y’all, I won’t become an atheist, too.

Honestly, though, the Czech Republic has had a grim history with religion. There was warfare between the Hussites (followers of Protestant Reformer Jan Huss) and Catholics for 12 years after Huss was murdered by the church. And then there was the time of Communism. Communist leaders wanted to bring religion to heel, from what I understand.. They closed convents and monasteries, etc.

It’s not hard to see how many Czech citizens don’t believe in God. Nowadays, it’s not really an unheard of theory. Many people don’t like religion, and the Czechs have a pretty good reason not to like it. I imagine at this point they strongly value their freedom.

It’s strange seeing two different extremes on the spectrum. In Texas, many people take the Bible so literally that they uphold old-fashioned ideologies that create controversial rules. In Prague, the church bells still ring in the morning, but very few people get up to go.

The Market

The Market

This morning we ventured around Prague 6 and 7. One of the notable places we went to was a mostly-outdoor market.

It was essentially the Czech version of a flea market. There were objects for sale that ranged from skeptical watches to inappropriate t-shirts to toys to ninja throwing stars. It was a pretty eclectic array.

The aim of the shopping game here is to haggle. I was looking at a Russian nesting doll, and the shopkeeper told me it was 450 crowns, which is very expensive for that. I didn’t want it anyways, so I shook my head and began to walk away. By the time I was out of hearing distance, the price had gone down to 100 crowns.

It was an interesting experience, but also pretty uncomfortable. The stall owners aren’t afraid to touch you to get your attention or try to keep you there to hear the new haggled-down prices. Not to mention a lot of the shirts and other items for sale had images of naked people.

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Produce at the farmer’s market.

One place I loved though, was the indoor farmer’s market. I wish I’d discovered this place at the beginning of the trip! There were all kinds of fruits and vegetables imaginable, as well as plants, bread, meat, and pastries. The prices were also much better than the corner store we’d been getting groceries from. I finally got a kolache, or koláček, too! I’d been waiting the whole trip for that!

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A young girl shops at the farmer’s market in style.

Aquapalace Adventures

Aquapalace Adventures

My last weekend here in Prague has come to an end. I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed! It doesn’t seem real that we’re leaving in just a couple of days. I can tell denial has set in, because I haven’t started to pack at all, and I still have a lot of souvenirs left to buy.

But I’d say this past weekend was the perfect goodbye to Prague. I got to spend it with the awesome friends I’ve made here, and it even felt like vacation!

Yesterday we went to the Aquapalace, which is the biggest water park in central Europe. I armed myself with sunscreen, donned my bathing suit, and prepared to be thrown around in the human rapids.

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Professor Darling’s kids challenge each other to a game of chicken.

Yesterday it really sunk in that very soon I’d be leaving Prague, and, in a way, leaving the awesome friends I’ve made here. Even though we all come from the same university, so we’ll be able to hang out when we get back, it still won’t be the same. Never again will we all be together in Prague. After spending a month with this group, it will be weird not seeing them every day. But I’m thankful I got to go on these great outings with them on our last weekend!

A mixture of Documentary Photography and Reading Prague folks.

Prague Zoo!

Prague Zoo!

Yesterday I embraced my inner child and went to what was possibly one of my favorite places in Prague so far: THE ZOO!

This was a place I’d been looking forward to since I heard about it’s existence. For a little while I was worried we wouldn’t be able to go, since the animals were evacuated for the floods. But most of them are back, except the otters, which is sad since they might be my spirit animal (one of the girls instigated a quest for us all to find our spirit animals this past month), but most were there and they were all wonderful!

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The monkey got right up against the bars, to the delight of all the onlookers.

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Lana (the spirit animal enthusiast) watches the hippos relaxing.

I can’t remember the last time I’d been to a zoo, so I can’t compare the ones I’ve been to in the States (or one, I don’t know how many I’ve been to) to this one here, so I imagine they aren’t too different, besides the impressive size of this one. Since most animals at zoos are exotic to the region, I would imagine a lot of the animals are similar. There were elephants, giraffes, a tiger, and lots of birds. There was even a room with lots of reptiles, and a jungle-esque place you could walk through to see an orangutan. Even though it probably wasn’t too much different from a zoo in America, it was just a special experience being at one in Prague.

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Dogs are allowed at this zoo! This puppy got too tired and had to be carried around by its owner.

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There were a lot of cool birds to enjoy.

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A young boy watches a snake in the reptile room.

It was really, truly A LOT of fun. If it wouldn’t have been so hot, I probably would have been running (or skipping) from place to place. I’m glad I got this opportunity to go to feel like a kid again!

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Our last stop was the seals, and they definitely put on a show for us!

Terezín

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Can you imagine being cramped in a small room with around 60 other people, with only one bucket as a latrine between the whole group that was changed only one a week, probably with only minimal, if any, food, and that window being your only source of life?

I can’t even begin to fathom it, even after visiting that room yesterday.

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The room is in Terezín, once the largest concentration camp in the Czech Republic, which is now partly redone as museums and partly preserved for history. We got to explore the town, the museums, and places where prisoners in the concentration camp lived.

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We also got to meet a survivor of Terezín, Doris. One of the sweetest and cutest ladies ever! We got a firsthand account of what life was like there from her.

One of my favorite moments was when we were talking about the current state of politics in the Czech Republic — there’s a bit of a scandal going on right now. She told us that she didn’t really like the president. Then she smiled and said “And today I can say that!”

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Doris and Helen Darling