The Experience of a Lifetime Past Review

By (Political Science and Government, Wartburg College) - abroad from 01/30/2015 to 05/29/2015 with

AIFS: Prague - Charles University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much from my stay in the Czech Republic. Every day I experience something new and different about the culture that I was living in. I loved living like a local and seeing the world through their eyes instead of my own. It has taught me greater patience, understanding, and a willingness to let go and experience life in a different way than I ever had before. I would go back in a heartbeat if I could.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes that I took were everything that they should have been - challenging, insightful, and eye opening to the culture and history of the Czech Republic. The political science classes that I took explained Czech culture more than I ever thought it would and helped me transition better.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

What a fantastic program! AIFS was well organized and the staff were helpful every step of the way with whatever I needed from them. Would go through this program again in a heartbeat.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I did a dorm for my living arrangements, was placed in an international dorm that was suite-style. Location was good, only a couple of blocks from the metro and tram stops which made it very easy to get around the city. My only complaint would be that the kitchen was small and the burners were not that great for cooking (especially since there wasn't a meal plan).

* Food:

Food was great! I didn't have a meal plan so often times I would make my own meals and go to the local grocery store or eat out. The experience of going food shopping was interesting and different from that back at home, loved trying to figure out what the different items were and getting things that you wouldn't see back home. It was during times like this that I felt less like a foreigner or traveler and more that I was really integrated into the culture.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

In all honestly, I actually find this to be a complex question because of the country I went to. Czech culture in and of itself is much more private than other places I've been to and because of that it's not as easy to integrate into in comparison. What I would say is experience the every day pieces of Czech life, go where the locals go and do what they do and enjoy the slow process of really being integrated into their culture. If you have the patience to do this, the rest will naturally fall into place! I ended my semester with a great love and understanding for Czech life and would do it again in a heartbeat.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had needed to go to the doctor once during my stay in the Czech Republic and the experience overall was good. My program set up the appointment for me and helped me get to the doctor's office day of. Once there, I received good health care and the staff were professional and helpful, the same I would get in my home country.

* Safety:

I always felt safe in Prague. I would say that as a foreigner I did need to be cautious and aware of my surroundings in general, but I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe when I was wandering around the city. The public transportation system is great, the city is overall very clean, and the police were always around in the busier areas. Pick pocketing is probably the only safety concern you might face, and your program most likely will warn you about it, but I never had an issue.

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)

Compared to the United States, prices were a lot cheaper in the Czech Republic which made it easier to budget and still get a great experience.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Out of pocket, I probably spent around $50 per week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would be aware of how much the cost of living is in the country you're thinking about going to. One of the reasons why I chose the Czech Republic compared to other places like England or France is that it is more financially affordable. I also would recommend buying groceries instead of eating out all the time, prioritizing how much you really should travel instead of going to a different country every weekend, and only buy as many souvenirs as you can actually fit into your suitcase and not more.


* 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

Czech is a very difficult language to learn and a semester is not enough time to be anywhere beyond the basics. The program encouraged us to use it when buying things or ordering food, but a conversational level was difficult and not expected since the language is so hard.

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? I had no experience with Czech language prior to departure
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? Take it day by day and don't get too overwhelmed! Czech is a difficult language to learn and the locals know this- just trying or saying a few words can go a long way in showing them that you appreciate their culture. I would recommend having one conversation in Czech a day with a local, both your confidence and language skills will improve if you do!

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

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

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • How well they helped integrate us into the culture
  • The classes I took
  • Cultural opportunities/events
* What could be improved?
  • More information on how the public transportation works in the beginning
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Personally, I wish I had studied Czech more before going. It was overwhelming at first trying to read street signs and figure out public transportation but once I had a basic understanding of the language it was easy.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!