A Semester in Prague Past Review

By (Iowa State University) - abroad from 01/31/2015 to 05/23/2015 with

AIFS: Prague - Charles University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This semester helped me have more insight into how different things are all over the world. Which seems pretty obvious, but it was very interesting to experience. It was definitely worthwhile, and I would do it all over again if I could.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I know this makes me sound like a baby, but I expected the academic part of studying abroad to be a little easier (which I think it is through different programs). But classes at Charles forced me to put more time into my studies than I would have liked. But it was a small price to pay for being in such an awesome program.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The AIFS were AWESOME! They absolutely made the program fantastic. They were great to work with and you could always tell that they genuinely cared about our well-being.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Some people are a little high maintenance and might have issues with the housing but I thought Masarykova Kolej was great. It was a 5 min walk from the metro (but I could do it in 3), a tram stop was right in front of the dorm, there was a pizza place with pizza by the slice right on the corner next to dorm, and there was a convenience store with plenty of beer, Milka chocolate, AND Jiffy peanut butter. The building itself had a restaurant in the basement with great gnocchi and fried cheese (a lot of other people loved their salads - not my thing), and a pub in the basement with beer for only 30 crown. The rooms were a little dirty when we moved in but that's ok, the shower had quite a few issues (drain getting plugged a lot, shower curtain rod falling down, floor flooding - but that's mainly because some people don't know how to keep the curtain shut while showering). A few side notes: the building is huge and a total maze. I lived there for 4 months and I still don't know what side of the building my window looked out on.

* Food:

Food wasn't directly provided by the AIFS staff or by Charles University, but AIFS does give you a card with 200 euros on it that gets replenished every month. Like I said, the food downstairs in the dorm is great, both in the restaurant and the cafeteria, but the food everywhere is pretty great too if you like heavy food like meat and potatoes (like I do). If you decide on this program, make sure you get the ham and cheese twist (syrovy twist) from Nepak - a little bakery with a white awning across from the Jindrisska school building. Also if you want some killer chicken, go on the Moravia trip. The meal in the wine cellar was absolutely amazing and that was probably the best AIFS led trip solely because of that night in the wine cellar.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I honestly didn't feel very integrated into the culture, but that is my fault. I didn't really go out of my way to make Czech friends. AIFS (or maybe it was the school) did offer an opportunity to have a Czech buddy when we got there, but I didn't do that. Honestly, I just was having such a great time meeting people in our program from all different parts of the US that I didn't feel the need to go out and make Czech friends.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had to go to the doctor for anything, but from what I heard from other people, it went alright.

* Safety:

I thought it was extremely safe. I come from a tiny town in the Midwest, so obviously I was on edge a little and was completely aware of my purse at all times, since I've heard so much about pick pocketing in Central Europe. But I came out of the 4 months with nothing ever happening to me (except one girl in our program did get pick pocketed, but it was after she'd been drinking, so she wasn't really on her game).

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Prague is SO cheap. It's obviously expensive to eat around the touristy areas like Old Town Square and Wenceslas, but once you get out of the city center, you can easily find meals for under 100 crowns (that's like $4).

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Honestly I don't know. Maybe $50 (going out at night is expensive)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Not really. Maybe just create a weekly budget - I kind of wish I did that.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

AIFS staff would tell us the little things to say in certain occasions which was helpful. And we had a two week intensive Czech course through ECES when we first got there, but I still didn't learn anymore than hello (dobry den), goodbye (na shledanou), thank you (dekuji), may I have fried cheese (dam se smazeny syr), and please (prosim). But that was enough to at least seem polite.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Russian 102
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? You should take the full semester Czech language class. The people who took that learned way more than me and could actually attempt to converse with Czech people.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • AIFS excursions
  • AIFS onsite staff
* What could be improved?
  • AIFS pre-departure staff (Lori Naber)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I honestly can't think of anything. I wish I knew to pack more warm weather clothes.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.