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The “study” part of “studying abroad”

Filed in Blog, Czech Republic by on February 26, 2019
by Emily W.
An ornate lobby with chandelier lights, checkered marble floor and a staircase leading downstairs.

The main lobby of Anglo-American University.

I go to school in an old palace. No really – I’m serious. The classrooms are lined with gold accents and there are chandelier fixtures above the desks. There is also a backyard garden with pet peacocks. This is Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic.

One of the oldest private universities in the Czech Republic, it is housed in the old Thurn-Taxis Palace. The Thurn-Taxis was a German noble family that came to the Czech Republic from northern Italy. The building sits just a couple streets away from Prague Castle, in the area known as Mala Straná, or “Lesser Town”. I live about two miles away, so I take the metro (subway) to and from school. It’s quick, easy and my favorite part – no traffic!

Let’s talk academics. I really do study here! I promise! All of my classes are in English. I am enrolled in twelve credit hours, but each class only meets once a week for two hours and forty-five minutes (woof). While it sounds like a lot, the professors make it interesting. We debate, we discuss and we take breaks.

Going into this semester, the most daunting part of the experience was the thought of having classes with students from Europe, Asia and Africa. I had a terrible fear that the American education system had not prepared me for debating with the enlightened global students. However, we stand on a similar level, though I have noticed that they are bolder in their opinions and are fearless to share it. That is an observation that most of the American students in my program have also noted.

Yes, I have homework! There are readings assigned following each class to prepare the next week of lecture. Each of professor assigns anywhere from 20 to 60 pages just for his or her own class that week. Some professors have a “reading check” you fill out on the European equivalent to Canvas. In a couple of my classes we have one reading presentation assigned for each student. Instead of filling out a reading check for that week, you put together a presentation about the reading for the week to lecture to the class.

Here’s a hurdle for which I was unprepared: night classes. I have two classes that are at night, 6:30-9:15 p.m. I thought I would love it – I can sleep in, I have all day to do my homework, I get to enjoy my day! All of which is still true, but it is harder than I expected to keep my attention when the sun has set outside and half of the campus has gone home. It is manageable, though, and I have wonderful professors who do their best to keep our brains awake.

I have a purpose for telling you all of this. While I take the occasional weekend trip, spend time exploring my city and take time to be with my friends, I am still a student. There are still weeks that my coursework feels extra heavy and that I have to cut myself off from outings to get a couple of projects completed. There is so much to learn from taking a trip to the country next door, but there is just as much value in listening to your fellow global classmates’ thoughts and ideas. This is your challenge: use your time abroad to listen and learn in every way available. You are here to “study” after all, right?

 

About the blogger

Emily W. studying abroad on the CEA: Full Curriculum in Prague program in Prague, Czech Republic.

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