Celebration of Czech Independence

It is hard to believe, but our time in Prague is quickly coming to a close. What feels like one month has really been three. I have gone from not knowing a single word in Czech to being able to sustain a conversation at restaurants, grocery stores, etc. My roommates and I really did not know what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to study in the Czech Republic. We knew that Czech residents liked their hockey and loved their beer. After spending three months here, we know both of these facts to be entirely true: the Czech Republic consumes the most beer per person within the entire world. What we did not know was that Czech residents care deeply about their history. Just last week was the Czech Republic’s 30th anniversary of independence. In 1989, the Czech Republic separated from the Soviet Union and communist rule. Over 200,000 people filled the streets of Wenceslas Square and Old Town! Every one of my professors warned us of the event prior to its occurrence. However, the event was entirely peaceful, and in fact, incredibly up beat. It was the biggest parade I have ever witnessed; people were cheering, singing, covered with red, white, and blue, and overall having a blast. There were concert venues set up in various parts of the city with speakers lined up for over five blocks! All forms of public transportation were shut down as even walking through the streets was a challenge. Speeches were giving various times throughout the day, and although we could not understand them entirely, the reception of people listening allowed us to comprehend the point of each one. People were joyous; they were happy to be celebrating their liberation from the Soviet Union, and it was obvious that, as a nation, they were proud to be celebrating as well. It was somewhat of an eyeopening experience. Looking back on my first week here, I honestly thought Czechs were boring and somewhat rude. The reality is the Czech Republic experienced over 30 years of communist rule and oppression. Now, I have come full circle. My Czech professor implored that, as a country, people are still adapting to different lifestyles! She explained how people are simply more honest in their daily activities: if someone is having a bad day, they will not fake a smile just to make YOU feel good; it’s simply how it goes in the Czech Republic. When people are having a good day, like last weekend, Czech people are as exuberant and joyful as any one else. Overall, it was truly amazing to witness this celebration first hand as it opened my perspective on Czech culture in an entirely different light.