My Local Czech Roommate: Living with Diana

Written by Lila Frost, (Cornell University), CET Prague, Spring 2024

Diana was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Wenceslas Square, in the snow, with my backpack and duffle bag on the program’s first night. My flight arrived later than most, so I missed the initial tour of Jaurisova 6. This is the apartment building in Prague 4 where most of my CET class and I live together. 

Diana gathered a group of us who arrived late. She gave us our keys and transport passes, then took us for our very first ride on the 14 tram. “Vodičkova, Lazarská, Novoměstská Radnice…” and so on, have now become familiar landmarks in the city. Still, I remember hearing them for the first time (jet-lagged) and feeling overwhelmed by the language barrier I would need to surmount. 

Diana is one of the Czech roommates affiliated with CET, and I am lucky to share an apartment with her! Soon after my arrival, all of my initial nervousness melted away. Living with her has been one of my favorite things about CET. 

One Czech roommate lives on each apartment floor, and they have helped to smooth our social and linguistic transitions into Prague. They brought us grocery shopping in the program’s first weeks as we adjusted to the new currency and packaging. A common mistake here is buying lard instead of butter. I would have done the same if Diana had not steered me in the right direction. In addition to orienting us, they host conversation tables throughout the semester and “Czechtivities,” which include everything from hockey games to Czech cooking lessons and easter-egg painting gatherings.

My favorite “Czechtivities” have been performances. I was fortunate to get a ticket to see Rusalka, a famous Czech opera with a plot similar to that of The Little Mermaid. I later learned that one of my new Czech friend’s cousins played the leading water nymph! The theater itself is magnificent! My group sat on the upper balcony at such a height that we could hardly see the audience members seated on the ground level. 

I also went to see Lanterna Magika, a multimedia performance art form that is originally from Prague. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before—at every moment, something new seemed to occupy each corner of the stage. After both performances, I stayed to talk with a group of Czech roommates.

It is wonderful that CET places us together in the same apartments as Czech students because it has made it easy to spend time together beyond the activities facilitated by the program. Diana and I have spent many long evenings chatting and eating dinner together. It is fun to describe the cultural differences we pick up on between the United States and the Czech Republic. She introduced me to her favorite coffee shops, answered many of my questions with her tarot cards, and helped me get a library subscription. With several other friends, we went to the Mucha Museum, a sauna, followed by a cold dip in the Vltava.

A few minutes ago, she yelled “LILA” across the apartment. Then, we ran onto the balcony to gaze out at the extra-orange sunset. This semester has been immeasurably improved by her friendship. It will be hard to move away! 

A CET Prague student and her local Czech roommate, Diana on their balcony outside during the sunset
Here we are on our balcony! We spend lots of time here, now that spring is in full force. It overlooks lilac bushes and a park with a playground.

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