As we returned from Budapest to our home away from home in Brno, all our hearts were heavy as it began to sink in that this would be a final week on the program. The count down was on.
6 DAYS: Monday began as per normal and after lunch a group of us excitedly headed off to an escape room. These rooms are notoriously prominent around Europe, and involve players being ‘locked’ in a room and have to use the elements of the room to solve puzzles to try and escape the room within a set time limit. If in Brno and you and your friends find yourself with a spare afternoon, I would highly recommend attempting one of these rooms. Not only did we immensely enjoy ourselves with the afternoon being full of jumps, of joy and screams of satisfaction after each puzzle was completed, but we also brought a smile to the organisers of the room, as they loved our enthusiasm and aussie slang. That night, Boomi and Karel, two student members of the team assigned to look after us and show us around, offered to take anyone interested to have a guided tour of the 10-Z bunker. This well maintained bunker was a nuclear fallout shelter from the Cold War era located in the centre of the city, right underneath the Spilberk Castle.
5 DAYS: By the time Tuesday rolled around, excitement was high for a majority of the group as on our first night a couple of us had briefly mentioned that we would love to go skiing/snowboarding. By result, Martin and his team thoughtfully organised for whomever was interested to head to the outskirts of Brno to spend the afternoon at the snow. I, personally decided to attempt snowboarding with 3 others and after failing miserably just trying to get to the top of the hill, an instructor on his day off kindly offered to spend a few hours with us teaching us the basics. (I’m pretty sure that with our clumsiness and attempts to snowboard in jeans, he was forced to take pity on us).
4 DAYS: Wednesday was a day full of tension, not only was the following day our final exam, but also our final week was coming to a close. The afternoon and night was filled with study groups and nervousness. To break up the intense study, a majority of the group headed out to a lovely dinner at a French Restaurant ‘La Bouchee’ – it was some seriously delicious food and if in the area, I’d recommend stopping by for dinner!
3 DAYS: After completing the final exam, and the final class. A group of us went off to attempt our second escape room (they are highly addictive and soooo much fun). That night we got dressed up and attended our goodbye dinner, we celebrated the 3 weeks of good times had with each other, our lecturers and the Brno team. It was during this dinner that it was announced that the team had organised a party tram for us around the city.
2 DAYS: Friday morning we packed up all our things, said goodbye to the Brno apartments and journeyed onto Vienna. Once there, we had the amazing opportunity to visit the United Nations, where after a guided tour and lunch, we had two workshops. The first explained to us the UN in general and their objectives and the second introduced the issues and battle surrounding corruption.
Afterwards we checked into the Wombats Hostel and then headed off to the ice skating rink in front the City Hall, which was lit up with amazing lights. Once there we sampled many of the food carts with the hot chocolate in particular being out of this world.
1 DAY: Saturday Morning after a walking tour, which ended sooner then usual because it was rather cold and snowy in Vienna that day, we ventured off in groups. Some attempted the local wiener schnitzels, and others tried a Sachertorte, a famous Viennese cake. Many of us then ended up at the Flea Markets at the Naschmarkt, which was ideally located directly across from the hostel.
The afternoon and night was full of hugs and some tears as the group began making their separate ways to either different parts of Europe or back home to Australia. It was shocking to realise that these people that were strangers only a couple of week ago were now close friends and it was sad to say goodbye.
0 DAYS: Sunday morning, I packed up my life and headed to train station to make the long return journey back home. If you were considering doing this particular program or any aimoverseas programs, I would absolutely recommend that you apply. This trip ended up being a once in a lifetime opportunity, with amazing sights, activities and fast friends.
If I had any advice it would be:
- Prepare to find friends that make you laugh until you can't breathe.
- Prepare to meet people from all over the world whom have crazy, sad and amazing stories to share.
- Prepare to realise that even though Czech people may come across as standoff- ish and non-smiley people, they are actually some of the most thoughtful, generous, funny, kind and out-going people that you will ever meet.
- Prepare to dance in the snow and slip on ice more times then you can count.
- Prepare to start enjoying the cold.
- And lastly, prepare to be unprepared and take each moment and day as it comes and that you can never anticipate and plan for everything and that’s what makes programs and trips like this extraordinary.