News - June 15, 2011

Where beer is brewed, life is good

My last days in Prague! Last Friday night we chilled out in the city but I went home alone first because I thought sleep was the best way to recover from a week's hard work.

The dark side of this city
When I got back to the campus, somehow I decided to take a walk around it before going to sleep. I stopped a guy and asked: 'Excuse me, do you know which pub is open?' He not only gave me a patient answer, but also a pat on my shoulder before saying bye. 'He's a bit different', was my first impression.
Unexpected encounter
It was a shame that all the pubs were closed, so I could do nothing but go back to my dormitory. At the entrance, I ran into that guy again! He was reading the posters on the bulletin board.
'Hey, nice to meet you again! Are you an international student?' I said.
'No, I'm Czech. I will finish my Bachelor soon,' he said.
'Will you go on for a Master study?'
'Yes, I'd like to do my master in Netherlands.'  
'Really? Have you heard of Wageningen?'
'Hey! That's the university I wanna go! Shall we take a drink?'
How could I refuse his hospitable invitation? Afterward I went to his room for the next two hours.

International friendship
He's called Jan Jelinek, an Erasmus student who exchanged to Latvia last year, where he made friends with lots of international students, including a South Korean. 'I'm sure he was the first Asian who visited my hometown,' he seemed very proud of this "village record". 'Erasmus changed my life, it made me more open-minded.' I thought, what's most important, he learned to respect the people from different cultures and countries.
Never too late to know
'I was proud to be born in Prague, but I didn't identify her beauty until my friends travelled here,' he took a sip of beer and continued, 'because as a citizen of Prague, I felt stressed rather than satisfied; life was about nothing but study. But my friend's visit gave me a second chance to reread this city'. Jan had seen a volunteer tour guide, a foreigner, giving an enthusiastic talk in public. The guide had only lived in Prague for three years but he told many different stories which most Czech don't know. 'He moved me.' Jans smile told how proud he felt of it. 'I also learned from it: never too late to know the beauty of your mother city.'

In the end I felt a bit hung over after pouring 1L of Latvian beer into my belly. On the way back to my room, a Czech saying came into my mind: Kde se pivo vaří tam se dobře daří (where beer is brewed, life is good). At first I found Prague nothing but ordinary. But the more people I met, the more I came to love this city. Life is like drinking beer, it takes time for brewing, no matter how it tastes at the first sip, finally you will get the sweet from it.

Only two more days left, if only I could meet with more wonderful people and stories.