A Semester in the Heart of Europe! Past Review

By (Biochemistry, Trinity University) - abroad from 09/05/2016 to 12/16/2016 with

AIFS: Prague - Charles University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that there are a lot of little things we take for granted. Every culture is different, and no culture has all the answers. It is only by experiencing other cultures that we can begin to understand why we approach life the way we do.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Courses were academically challenging. The attendance policy is very strict, but there is plenty of time for weekend travel because there are no Friday classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The AIFS staff in Prague was simply amazing! They are incredibly friendly, and they can help with just about any problem you may encounter.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

Czech food is very heavy, and it's definitely centered around meat and starch. That being said, it is incredibly delicious and cheap. There are also quite a few vegetarian/vegan options popping up around Prague if that's a concern, and international food is very easy to find.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Czechs are very closed off to initial interactions with foreigners, so it was sometimes hard to initiate contact. I felt that with the help of the program, I was able to interact with the locals. Taking the semester long language course was incredibly helpful in breaking those initial barriers.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Prague is a very safe city. There is public transportation running all night, and I never felt threatened. There are one or two streets to avoid late at night, but otherwise it's a very safe city.

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

The staff in Prague was simply phenomenal. The city is incredibly beautiful and holds so much historical significance. The courses offered by the program were both interesting and diverse. It was all around a wonderful experience. Prague is also centrally located for cheap travel around Europe.


* 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)

If you eat out at every meal, you can get by on a budget of $100 a week. If you're willing to do a little bit of cooking in your dorm or even just make a sandwich for lunch, you can get by on even less than that.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Take advantage of the student cafeterias. Charles University has many throughout the city. Ask someone to take you there and explain how it works. (You have to load money on your student ID, and the staff speaks very little English) Another good option is daily lunch specials at restaurants or cafeteria style eateries aimed at the working crowd. Whatever you do, stay away from the major tourist areas when eating.


* 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

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? None
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? Make an effort to go out alone sometimes. Try to order your dinner or coffee in Czech. Sometimes the staff will switch to English, but most people were willing to let me practice my Czech if I asked.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • N/A
* 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • History of the city
  • Prague Staff
  • Course offering
* What could be improved?
  • American staff was terrible
  • Dorm kitchens are small
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It goes by so fast. If you want to travel, make a list and book your flights or buses or train tickets early. You've only got 14 weekends in Europe, and you want to spend at least a few of those getting to know your host city, so make the most of the rest.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'