The Czechlist: Reflections

There’s a quote from the series finale of “The Office” where Andy Bernard reminisces: “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” 

That quote, and to a greater extent that mindset, has been running through my mind like an earworm the last couple of weeks. It’s weird to know that you’re living in an unforgettable period of your life. 

I’m having a bad day today. This weekend marks my final trip in Europe, where I’ll be hitting Antwerp for one day and Amsterdam for two. I currently find myself on the train from Brussels to Antwerp, silently sulking after going through three frustrating travel mishaps this afternoon en route to my final destination. Between sentences, I’m looking out at the Belgian sunset with my headphones on like a moody European teenager.

In a few years, I’ll be having another bad day. I’ll be staring at a different sunset in an unknown city. I’ll be swearing internally at a boss I haven’t met yet about a project I don’t know, and I’ll drift into escapist thought. I’ll be wishing I was back on this train.

I came into this semester with a mixture of emotions, ranging from excitement to curiosity to pure, unfiltered exhilaration. If you’ve been following along with me for the past few months, you won’t be surprised that all of my emotions were fulfilled, and then some. Europe has made my wildest dreams a reality, and Prague has become my second home. I’ve made unforgettable memories this semester, most of which I’ll carry for the rest of my days. At the same time, it will  be the memories that fill in the cracks, the smaller moments, that complete the picture. 

It’s the cramped metro commutes to class. It’s the cappuccinos I drink while studying. It’s the rare smile I get on the street surrounded by the now-familiar Czech stone faces.

It’s this train ride.

I’ll end my column with a story from the beginning. On my first night in Prague, my roommate and I went to the local potraviny (corner store) near our dorm to get various groceries and shampoo. We got there, snagged our stuff and checked out. “Děkuji (de-koo-jee, the Czech word for thank you),” I said to the cashier, as I loaded my stuff into my bag. She gave me a brief look of confusion, which I chalked up to my obvious fresh-off-the-plane American student aura.

A week later, we started our Czech-intensive language course, and as you might assume, one of the first words was “děkuji.” However, it wasn’t pronounced “de-koo-jee” like my American brain guessed – it was “die-qui.” I wasn’t even close. Every sound was wrong, and the cashier’s look of bewilderment suddenly made sense. I smiled in my seat, and I’m still smiling now.

Děkuji, Prague.  


Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.cohn@uconn.edu.