Seeing Home Dried My Tears was originally published on an expired domain created for the Kent State and Anglo American University‘s Journalism Program sponsored by Prague Freedom Foundation that I participated in during the Winter Semester of 2014-2015.
Kicking and screaming on a cold winter’s day in 1996 was how I reacted when my parents first introduced me to Prague. The city looked no more appealing than an endless dark pit through my three-and-a-half-year-old eyes, and I feared that I would never stop falling. I missed Kiev and I cried through my several months at the Prague British School and then at a Czech School, and I didn’t stop until I walked through the doors of the rainbow-logoed International School of Prague in 1998. I became quiet as soon as I walked through the door, and left with a smile. I realized that I was finally home.
In my 13 years at the International School, I was plunged into a different world than I was used to. I started out as a girl who spoke one language and played with the kids who grew up in the same building as I did. The school and my life in Prague turned me into a multilingual individual surrounded by more nationalities, races and religions than my friends from back home could even imagine. I was exposed to a new culture on a practically weekly basis and my hobbies changed from playing dolls to traveling, collecting foreign coins and trinkets, and sampling new food – the more strange-looking, the better.
It wasn’t until middle school that I first lifted my head and looked up while walking through this city where I grew up. I was shocked to notice how unbelievably beautiful it was. I became as interested in exploring the city as I did to explore the rest of the world. Eighteen years later, and I’m still walking around in wonder snapping pictures. There is always something new left to uncover.
This time two years ago, I had a difficult decision to make when my parents told me they were finally going back to Kiev, wanting me to come with them. But Prague was now my home, and will forever be, and as hard as it was saying goodbye to them, I knew that the only way I would ever leave would be by force – kicking and screaming.