Prague changed my outlook Past Review

By (Economics., Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/03/2014 to 01/06/2015 with

IEF - International Economics and Finance Program (CERGE-EI, Charles University)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The overall experience was amazing. I was exposed to an entirely new schooling system and challenged in a way I have not though possible. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and now I believe my comfort zone has grown. I have not been home in a long time and while it makes me miss and appreciate the things at home, I know that when I return, after a month or so, I will simply want to travel again. This has increased my appetite/urge for traveling and mobility. It was an awesome experience.

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.

IEF was a combination of two UPCES classes and three classes at the economics institute of Charles University. The UPCES classes were very similar to American style classes in that the teachers engage with the students in small class venues, there are midterms and homework throughout the semester, and more collaboration among the students. The classes at the economics institute required a much more independent student. There was hardly any homework, midterms, or papers, and almost your entire grade was based on the final exam. This was somewhat unsettling because there is so much pressure in the end of the semester, and no assignments during the middle of the semester to ensure you are on track.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IEF team was great, very helpful and supportive.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Cheap, great location, I should have paid a little more for more space though.

* Food:

Hearty food like meat and potatoes, but where are the vegetables/green?

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated. I was living with four other Czech students and I learned so much about their culture and lives. It was very enlightening and eye-opening. Recommend living with natives so you get out of your bubble.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have too many healthcare issues, but when I did, the doctors were smart and the care was swift.

* Safety:

Americans are the most dangerous things in Prague. :)

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)

Lived comfortably on $200 per week.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Find cheap rent. I paid 200 per month while I know people who paid way more. Ask the natives to help you out because Czechs charge Americans more for everything.


* 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

Classes were great, but we didn't really need to speak Czech because everyone speaks English here.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginner
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? Force yourself to speak it as much as possible. This is difficult in Prague because everyone speaks English there.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Independence
  • UCPES Team
  • Exposure to foreign academics
* What could be improved?
  • Final Exam Scheduling System (not UPCES)
  • Less emphasis on the final exams (not UPCES)
  • Nothing else
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Czech language. I can understand a lot now and I wish I knew it from the start.

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.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

European Economic Integration

Course Department: Economics
Instructor: Professor Dedek
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This is a class of over 100 students. Less than half of the students attend class after the fourth class. During lectures, the professor simply lectures and there is no student engagement. During the first few seminars, there is a lot of student engagement, but starting with the fourth seminar, all students are required to present on a certain topic. These student presentations carry on until the end of the semester. The presentation is worth 20% of your grade and the final exam is worth 80% (written and oral exam). Since there is not a lot of homework, papers, midterms, leading up to the final exam, no one studies until the last minute. There is so much information to memorize for this course, it takes about 2-3 weeks to fully know all of the material for the final exam. Don't procrastinate! It's about 280 dense powerpoint slides to remember and all of the other European students have been learning this material their whole life. American students are at a severe disadvantage here. Also, the scheduling system for final exams is ridiculous at Charles University. You are promised three chances to take an exam, although sometimes the professors will overbook the course, and there will simply not be enough space for every student to take the exam three times. This can cause for some stressful situations. Also, if you are not first to sign up for exams, you could be stuck taking the final exam in late February (fall fall period). Highly recommend to take the pre-exam in December before the exam period so you do not have to deal with this. Overall, after I studied all of the information, I do feel like I know a lot about European Economic Integration. I just simply do not prefer the structure of the class.
Credit Transfer Issues: I am not sure. Grades transfer once this review is complete. :)
Course Name/Rating:

Financial Economics

Course Department: Economics
Instructor: Brushko
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I learned a lot during this course. It was very applicable to careers in finance and I enjoyed the content. Professor Brushko was intelligent and very helpful when I need extra assistance, although she did lack organizational skills. She did a good job at engaging the students. Homeworks were difficult and so were the exams but Brushko is always fair. Solid class but hard work is required.
Credit Transfer Issues: I am not sure. Grades transfer once this review is complete. :)
Course Name/Rating:

Institutional Economics

Course Department: Economics
Instructor: Schwarz
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Very interesting reading in this class. I learned a lot. Class was not too challenging, which was a nice break compared to the rest of my schedule. Engagement during lectures was minimal. Paper and a final exam were administered. Spend a lot of time on the paper, because he grades this difficulty. Lecture slides are easy to memorize for the test.
Credit Transfer Issues: I am not sure. Grades transfer once this review is complete. :)
Course Name/Rating:

Kafka in Prague

Course Department: UPCES
Instructor: Kristina Förster and Richard Stock
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Great course to get to know about Kafka. Teachers are very knowledgable about him. Classes were engaging and it requires students to talk. I looked forward to the weekly story. Graded based on two papers and a presentation, higher weight on the papers. Drawback: classes would last 3 hours and discussions would often lose their substance. We spent 3 hours one day discussing three pages of Kafka's work... Great teachers though. Very enthusiastic and nice.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not sure yet. Transfers are predicated on this review.
Course Name/Rating:

Intermediate Czech Language

Course Department: UPCES
Instructor: Silva Prevratilova
Instruction Language: Czech / English
Comments: Great class. Silva is an amazing teacher. I did a one on one class and she is extremely nice, patient, and helpful in teaching me Czech. I admit I am not fluent now, but I am better than I used to be. She even customized the course so that I could learn topics that I wanted to learn more. Highly recommended.
Credit Transfer Issues: Not sure yet. Transfers based on this review.