The Czech Republic: More than Good Beer Past Review

By (Sociology., Western Washington University) for

AIFS: Prague - Charles University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This study abroad program was completely worthwhile, I gained an entirely new outlook on different cultures and how they create people. I now see how differently we all act as a result of where we grew up and the history we grew up learning, but also the similarities we all have as people. I now want to return to the Czech Republic and possibly live there again for a short period of time.

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.

The workload is very different from American schools, with little homework and then very time-consuming final papers. I would advise students to balance out their work and begin final papers as soon as possible. I was very overwhelmed during my finals week with four lengthy papers due, and I wish I had begun them much earlier. If I had, I could have had more time to enjoy my final week in Prague and possibly turn out better writing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I loved the AIFS staff in Prague, they were amazing and made my trip. They collectively knew everything from the history to the nightlife. I thought the program size was good, there were 43 of us, but in the beginning it was annoying to be herded around in such a big group. Perhaps split us up into two or three groups would be much simpler.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

I love Czech food but not everyone was so open to it. I would advise future students to try everything and not automatically dismiss it because it is different. For cheap prices, in the Czech Republic, I advise students to look at the menu at the beer prices. If they are within a good range, the food generally follows suit. It's a quick and easy way to check out prices.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

AIFS did a wonderful job of offering a range of cultural activities to sign up for. Students should take advantage of as many as possible, they are free with our program fee! The sports games are so much fun, and the operas and ballets are amazing. I really loved seeing Sparta vs. Brno as it is such a huge rivalry and it really shows the patriotism Czechs have.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

In Prague, we did not need to use Czech all that often due to the high number of English speakers but it was very helpful to learn as much as possible, particularly things like please, thank you, hello, good bye, I would like to order.... etc.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think a student looking for a bigger change in their living situation should choose the Czech Republic. There is a fascinating history so different from American history, and the resulting culture as well. The Czech language is nothing like English, as it is a Slovak language. I had a fabulous time learning about something so different from America.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Czech(oslovak) Popular Cinema After 1945

Course Department: CUFA Film 350
Instructor: Jindřiška Bláhová
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I was very interested in this class initially since I had never seen any Czech films or knew much about Czech film history. However, many of us had a very negative experience with my professor. She was very discriminatory towards American students. She patronized us from the first class on, when she found out none of us were film majors, even though all but two European students were in other majors besides film as well. During one showing, the film ran over class time by 30 minutes. We all stayed and watched, I was genuinely enjoying it, and when the film was clearly over (the credits were starting to roll, the main characters literally walking into the sunset) we got our bags ready and prepared to leave, and she very immaturely told us "Well there is just a minute left, but go ahead, leave! Really, just go." We silently sat down, and she continued to sarcastically tell us to leave, opening the door and pointing to it. If she had politely told us to wait, or even yelled, it would have been much better. Many European students had left during the actual movie and gotten no flack, but when the American students attempted to leave at the end we got treated as children who have misbehaved. Another situation that was very unfair to me personally occurred during our midterm presentations. The assignment was to present a comparison of the marketing of a Czech film in the Czech Republic and one other nation. Many people did not do the assignment correctly and also included rotten tomatoes and IMDB ratings, which mean very little. I worked much harder on my presentations than some of my fellow student and I was the last to go. I was the only student to talk about who distributed the film in other nations, I did not include trivial information like IMDB ratings, and I thought I did very well. I then received my presentation grade via email with comments. I was shocked to see that she said I should have included the distribution company, which I did, and that IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings should not be used and "It was a trend among the American students." I was given a B- I emailed her back angrily, for numerous reasons. One, I had indeed included the distribution company and was the only student to do so at that. Two, I did not include the IMDB ratings. Three, European students also included such ratings, not only the Americans. She raised my grade to a B+ after my lengthy email re-describing my presentation, but the sting stayed. I was the last to present and should have been freshest in her mind, but clearly she paid no attention and lumped me with all Americans. This was a pattern which occurred week after week.
Credit Transfer Issues: