View from inside the castle

Pensive in Prague: Examining Identity Abroad, Week 3


This is the third in a series of summer blog posts where the author reflects on her time as a first-generation Latina studying abroad in Prague. You can find her previous blog post here.


My third week here has been the best by far. Finally getting in the swing of classes, getting used to all of the people here – sixteen people is a lot to get used to for someone who’s very introverted – and coming to feel like Prague is much more than a city I’m just visiting: Prague is starting to feel like a home away from home. While I’m separated from the people I’m used to seeing every day, the streets I’m walking are starting to feel more and more familiar.

Yet, the reason this week has been my favorite is because of my cohort’s trip to a town named Český Krumlov, a tourist trap breathtaking town a few hours away from Prague by bus. While there was a slight hitch in the plan – the professors accidentally made a hotel reservation for the month of July, and not June, and we therefore couldn’t stay the night as planned – this past Friday spent there was perhaps the best day of the trip thus far. While everyone else went rafting, I decided to explore the town on my own.

This blog is supposed to be about examining my identity as a first-generation Latina abroad, but at the same time, sometimes it’s just a relief not to have to think about any of those parts of my identity for a while. To feel so comfortable in a place, to get so lost in moments of serenity and tranquility that it makes it easier to forget who I am and where I came from. While identity has the potential to be a simultaneously oppressive and empowering construct, it’s nice to be so caught up in experiencing life and enjoying what moments I have that I can forget about who I am and everything I’ve been worrying about. Exploring Český Krumlov alone allowed me just that opportunity. So, while for most of my blogs, I will be exploring my experiences here
being a poor, first-generation Latina student, I found it fitting that for this week, I just try to celebrate what opportunities I do have.

Yet, even as I sit here, reflecting on what a great time I had, I can’t help but feel the survivor’s guilt that comes with making it out of poverty, while the rest of my family has not. It’s hard for me to enjoy being here while the rest of my immediate family struggles to pay bills and put food on the table. The only thing that helps alleviate this guilt is my burning determination to create this life and these types of opportunities for my family in the future.

Often I get lost in my depression and the sinking feeling that my family will never have this, but moments like this past Friday ignite an optimism and passion that inspire me to try and make this a possibility for my family. If not for my mother and siblings, then at the very least for my nieces and nephews, whose futures shouldn’t be as bleak as the pasts of the generations before them.