Why did you choose this program? I chose this program primarily because I knew I wanted to go to Prague, Czech Republic. There were course topics that interested me and everything about the program fit neatly into my needs and wants.
Describe your favorite class abroad. My favorite class abroad was "Contemporary Czech Culture." This class was really neat because I was able to learn so much about the society and culture that my fellow classmates and I were completely immersed in. It was a valuable course to take abroad because it helped me get accustomed to many differences between the US and the Czech Republic. It was also really exciting because we took many field trips, like graffiti-ing in one of the only legal sites to do so in Prague.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? All students were assigned apartments and about 3 other roommates. The apartments varied in location, but I was lucky with mine being close to campus and transportation sites. I lived with two other US students and one Czech student. The bedrooms were shared with two people.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Learn about the culture and the language before arriving abroad - it will definitely help with transitions you make during your stay. Be as open-minded as possible. Try any new or unique opportunity you get. Take photos of the things you eventually take for granted while you're abroad; even though they become so normal while you're there, you will wish you could remember them that vividly forever.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memories from studying abroad are all of the amazing places and countries I got to visit in addition to Prague, and the friendships I made while I was there.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? One of the biggest surprises for me was getting used to the fact that nobody in the Czech Republic is friendly. It is considered very weird to make eye contact or smile at anyone you pass on the sidewalk, and in fact is typically taken as flirting in some way.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. The aspect of culture shock that got to me the most when I arrived in Prague was trying to learn and understand the transportation systems (trams and metros, primarily). It was difficult figuring them out since I do not come from a city where those are a usual mode of transportation. Reverse culture shock hit me the most when I came home in realizing how tacky, obese, and rude Americans are in general compared to Europeans.
“If I could do it over, I would…” If I could do it over, I would spend less time with friends at my apartment and more times with friends exploring the city and surrounding areas.
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? I feel like I learned a lot about my own American culture while I was abroad. I also am now completely confident traveling on my own, especially after mastering the transportation systems.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? Do it all.
What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge was probably trying to learn the basics of the Czech language. Czechs were not very sympathetic with Americans not knowing their language, and it is one of the most complicated languages I've experienced so far.
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” If one has the opportunity to go abroad, doing so is a no-brainer. Studying abroad has been the greatest experience of my life thus far. Although by staying on campus I may have been able to have an internship at home and gain experience that way, being abroad allowed me to gain completely different and unique experiences that are not available in a campus setting.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? And the conversion from US dollars to Czech crowns is greatly in our favor; USD go really far in the Czech Republic.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I got $500 for studying abroad. I had a terrible time finding any scholarships because I personally do not meet the requirements of most funds.
Would you recommend other students pursue any specific scholarship opportunities? I would recommend trying to find anything you possibly can for scholarships because every bit helps - it's a pricey experience for sure.