My Adventurous Trip to Prague…

     Studying abroad was something that I always had the desire of doing but I was always waiting for someone that I knew to come live the adventure with me. That someone never appeared so, that was when I decided to “risk” and go “by myself”. By coincidence, the same semester I took a photovoice project with Prof. Jana Sladkova (the Professor in charge of leading the program) which gave me the facility to ask questions, and remind my own self my desire for studying abroad.          The reason why I was so interested in studying abroad was because I wanted to experience for the first time how it felt like taking classes without having to work and not having other responsibilities other than studying. I was also interested in experiencing the dorm life (without having to move out of my house), and also being surrounded by people who have the same educational or professional objective than me. On the other hand, I also wanted to expose myself out of my comfort zone since I still don’t feel secure with my second language (English) and I don’t feel comfortable when I am the only Latina in other groups (not because of my appearance but because of my language barrier). I most of the time surround myself with people who speak my native language which only helps at the moment on how I feel but does not help me improve my language skills in English. This opportunity seemed perfect for all these, especially because visiting another country where the official language is not English ensured that I would find other people who would also have an accent, and also because I felt that I was going to be surrounded by open minded people in the matter since we were going to be studying migration issues and all these is related (language barrier, etc.).

    On the other hand, I know that some of my classmates didn’t feel comfortable at the beginning with some of the living conditions where we were staying but I think that’s normal since many of them were out of the country for the first time and they had never been exposed to a different living conditions other than the one we live in the U.S. In my case it was not a “big deal” not having an air conditioner, having to wash my cloth in the sink with my hands for the first few days, learn how to use public transportation, not having WiFi in the dorms or even having a stove but no pans. If you really want to enjoy this you will make it work (I would make grilled cheese sandwiches on the stove and soup in a can!). I was born and raised in a country where the living conditions are quite similar so I had already lived before without an air conditioner or using the public transportation. To be honest I don’t think we should expect more because we are not going on vacation to a five star hotel, in the contrary, I think that if we are willing to study abroad we should be open minded to something as basic as the life style in the country. Experiencing the life style of the country we are visiting allows us to get closer to the culture. After all we are studying migration, and there is not a better way to understand it other than experiencing it.

 

Exploring Prague!

My study abroad experience is Prague is something I will always remember and carry with me. Having the opportunity to embark on such an adventure is once in a lifetime and really opened my eyes to all that I still have yet to explore. Prague is a city with immense history and beauty and there was never a dull moment or a lack of activities to do. We also visited a number of other cities within the Czech Republic so we were not limited to staying just in Prague. This really gave us context on the country as a whole rather than just the capital. Terezin, Teplice, Cesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary each had their own individual cultures and history which made them unique cities. I am so grateful for this study abroad opportunity not only for the cultural perspective I gained but also for the amazing group of people I met and the friendships fostered during our three weeks, which flew by, by the way. Some of the living conditions of the trip were not of the same standards as in the US but after a few days this seemed trivial and I knew it was temporary. The lack of wifi in our dorms, though a slight irritation, allowed us to really connect with each other in a way that technology ironically often obstructs us from doing. I would highly recommend other students to take advantage of any study abroad opportunities presented to them, especially one in Prague!

 

 

Study abroad in Prague!

My time in Prague is something I’ll never forget. It was my first time traveling out of the country and I thought that 3 weeks was going to be too long for me and I would be miserable by the end of week 1. I was so wrong; I didn’t want to leave. I was dragging my feet at the airport.

I loved getting to have 3 whole weeks to explore a different country.  One of the highlights of the trip for me, was seeing my first Opera, Don Giovanni. The theater was beautiful and the singing was amazing. I also loved that it was the same theater the opera originally preimeried in in 1787, that touch of history made the night even more special. Another special moment of the trip for me was visiting Terezin, a concentration camp from WWII.  I really don’t have the words to describe this particular trip.  The best way that I can say it was it was heavy.  I could feel a weight in my chest as we toured the city.

Some of my other favorite moments of the trip was the time I spent just walking around by myself.  I took my time so that I could soak in everything around me and truly commit it all to memory.

If you have the chance, make a study abroad trip happen!

Prague: An Opportunity of a Lifetime

I found out about the study abroad trip to Prague about the same time I felt the desire to travel to somewhere-anywhere!-for a personal reboot.  I was fortunate in that I’d already spent several years living in Europe but I was eager to return again.  I never made it to Prague my first time around Europe, but this trip was well worth the wait.  Prague is an amazing city!  It has amazing history, it’s easy to navigate and it’s relatively inexpensive.

Our trip consisted of several evening events including the opera and the orchestra.  We had organized trips to Karlovy Vary, Teplice, Terezen and Cesky Krumlov.  My friends and I also booked an additional trip to Kutna Hora Ossury to see the “Bone Church”. Although, all of these short excursions were interesting, my favorite, by far, was Cesky Krumlov.  This lovely little 13th century town is a UNESCO World Heritage Center.  It’s referred to as the “Little Prague”.  The centrum of the town is just a 15 minute walk from the train station.  The narrow roads curve between tall buildings and there’s something wonderful to see around every corner.  I could have easily spent a few days just exploring this wonderful city.

My only regret in taking this trip (or any kind of study abroad program) is that i didn’t take it when I was first in college 20+ years ago.  I’m a firm believer in that everyone should travel to different places and experience new things.  What better time to do that than when you’re young and in college.  My advice is this:  If you have the opportunity to study abroad, no matter how long the duration, take advantage of the opportunity.   You can learn so much when you step out of your comfort zone.  I did.

This is the view from the tower at Cesky Krumlov.

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We See What We Look For

My trip to Prague was something I will never forget, I saw some of the most beautiful places in the world and was lucky enough to meet the most beautiful people. There were some kinks in our trip, such as the condition of our dorms (The beds were terribly uncomfortable, though there was a kitchen there was nothing to cook with, and there was no wifi), but throughout my time there I began to realize that experiences are what we make them.  At first the dorms were a real issue for me, I was uncomfortable there and I hated that there wasn’t wifi.  After the first few days I began to realize that instead of complaining about not having wifi or a comfy bed I should be looking for the best in the situation and truly the good greatly out weighed the bad.       While in Prague I met some of the most interesting and beautiful people I have ever met. The friends I met over there made me feel at home when we were all so far from it, they made me laugh and cry but best of all they made me feel accepted and proud to be me.  I have never met a group of people who embraced one another so wholly and selflessly. There is so much I took away from this trip, too much to possibly put in a blog post, but I will say this: life is what we make it.  In any situation we have a choice, to see the best in it or the worst in it and truly the choice is yours and yours alone.

First Journey out of the Country

I am what most call a non-traditional student and this was my first time studying abroad. At 41 years old this was something I that I didn’t have the opportunity to do when I was younger. I had never been to Europe and was looking forward to learning about different cultures and how they live. When I arrived in Prague I was excited to see this beautiful city and study at one of the best Universities in Prague.  I did not realize I was going to be so homesick and want to go home. Everyone said it’s just a culture shock and give it a few days. I stayed in the dorms for about a week till I decided I wasn’t into the group thing and living in the dorms. I really like my own space and alone time. I rented a flat closer to school and right in the center of everything in the city. It was the best decision for me and helped with my homesickness. One thing that helped was all of the dogs in Prague.  Prague is dog friendly and welcomes dogs everywhere. Every day I traveled to school I would see dogs walking along side of the dogs off leash. They are allowed on the public transportation but have to be on a leash and some have to be muzzled.

Opera in Prague

Getting around Prague was really convenient. You don’t really need a car here, the bus, tram and train are all on the honor system and you buy a ticket validate it and if stopped by an inspector you show proof. I met some great new friends that go to school here and work here in Prague and took the time to sit and listen to them about what life is like living here. I walked around the city for a few hours and took the subway and the bus to see the city. The things that I noticed about here was the people on the public transportation didn’t speak to each other or text on their phone, instead they all read books. The other thing I noticed was how clean it is here. There is graffiti on the walls around certain parts of town but there is not trash on the ground. They take a lot of pride to keep their city clean. The culture here is very different. People go out in the evening, get dressed up and go see the opera or watch the orchestra play classical music. The opera was the highlight of my trip and I am looking forward to coming back to see another one! Although I was looking forward to coming home, I will come back and visit. It is truly a beautiful city and I have new friends in the Czech Republic and it was a great experience.

The Ultimate Immigration Experience

Class was in session the moment we moved into our dorms. We were a group of American students who did not speak Czech and the dorm staff didn’t speak English. In order to make my way throughout Prague with ease, I decided to take the initiative of embracing the culture and learn a little bit of the language. I did not know any Czech before coming to this program. However, the common phrases that I learned proved to be very useful throughout my stay. I learned how to say “please, thank you” and “excuse me”. I also learned how to ask “do you speak English?” and of course how to order a cappuccino.


While the extent of the language that I learned was very limited, I felt it was appreciated by the locals. Appreciation definitely comes from the initiative to meet people half way. For example, I got lost a few times and was able to politely greet someone, then ask them if they spoke English (in Czech) and most of the time they would say “a little” but a little goes a long way! My point of my post is that this trip was an immigration experience in itself because we were immersed in this new culture and throughout the three weeks stay it felt like were finally starting to integrate, but then it was time to go home.I would highly recommend this study abroad program.

 

Prague is a beautiful medieval picturesque city. The cuisine is very international. A surprisingly large amount of young people speak English, so that helps so much! In class your taught by the top professors in their field. I appreciated the excursions that we did as well which got us out of the classroom, but at the same times was relevant to our studies.  Everything that you do here will be a learning experience, but ultimately it will be what you decide it make of it! I am so grateful that I was able to have this experience.

Adventures in Prague

I had an amazing time in Prague! Certainly I had embarked upon this trip of a lifetime with certain expectations or thoughts on how it was going to go. None of these were met, but blown out of the water! At first it was a major culture shock to be staying in a place still scarred by the Communist era, since the Velvet revolution happened in very recent history. There is no wifi as available in the States, water is not free at restaurants, and there is a vague stigma against westerners. Despite these differences in culture, it is the forgotten romance city, with beautiful architecture, rich history, and of course amazing food! Besides the city itself, the class I had taken there was very informative as well! We had lecturers who were the top in their respective fields and had also heard personal migration stories. I would highly recommend this study abroad experience for anyone looking to learn a lot and have a blast while doing it!

**View of the famous Charles Bridge from a walkway next to the river Vltavska.

Being in the Moment

My journey traveling to the Czech Republic was a trip I will always remember. It was interesting to see how the group of students we traveled with adapted to the living situation with out access to WiFi. Personally, I would not of had it any other way. Not having access to the internet allowed not only myself but the others in the group to be in the moment and enjoy one another’s company, which to me was one of the most important experiences through out the trip. If it was not for the people that I had met, being in the moment would have been a lot more challenging. It is important to put down the cell phone and view the city from within and without.

Learning about migration was also extremely interesting, especially because we were partially living as immigrants ourselves. I was able to put into perspective all of the information we were learning since we were experiencing it first hand. Since the communist era, I noticed the older generations to be a little less accepting of us compared to the younger generations. However, it is all a learning experience and there is honestly no better place to learn. There is much history to be taught and having the opportunity to go on excursions to other cities was beneficial to the learning experience. It was a true journey getting accustomed to the different culture, it seemed as though once I finally became accustomed it was time to leave. I can effortlessly say that Prague is a city I will be returning to.

Take Advantage of Tours!

Studying abroad in Prague for the past three weeks has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. I loved studying migration, considering we were participating in a small migration ourselves. I met an amazing group of students to travel with. Without them, this trip would not have been half as wonderful as it was.

My favorite moments were spending time at Prague Castle, and climbing to the top of Powder Tower. I was happy that the trip included an excursion to Terezín, where we visited a WWII concentration camp. My advice to future students would be to spend the time and money on guided tours throughout Prague and the Czech Republic. I recommend going on a guided tour of Kutná Hora to visit Sedlec Ossuary and St. Barbara’s Church. That was the highlight of my trip. I am sad to leave the Czech Republic, but I know I will be back!!

Also, Czech beer is as good as they say it is.