Cobblestones, Dort, Art, Pivo, and Social Change Past Review

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 02/06/2016 to 05/21/2016 with

SIT Study Abroad: Czech Republic - Arts and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of a country and of a culture in a part of the world that I knew nothing about. I could have read about it in a book, and I did, but I also had the opportunity to go outside and experience what I was learning about and reading about in the the classroom. That is such a special way to learn about anything, particularity another culture. Through learning about and experiencing another country, I was able to place my passions and academic experience at my home institution in an entirely different context. It was without a doubt, a worthwhile experience. In addition, traveling to a new country by myself without speaking the local language, did wonders for my personal growth. I feel like I became much more confident over my months abroad and I learned more about myself and what I want to do in the future. I learned how to be more independent, flexible, open-minded, adventurous, resourceful, assertive, the list goes on.

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.

My semester with this program was by far the most valuable and memorable educational experience I have ever had. This program really emphasized experiential learning which was a perfect method to help us fully learn about and integrate into Czech culture and society. While this program was at times quite academically rigorous, much of the learning was done through excursions and activities outside the classroom which helped create a nice balance between traditional school work and fun exploration. The regional stays and trips were definitely a highlight of my educational experience in the Czech Republic. It was so amazing to have the opportunity to travel with the program outside of Prague to the Czech countryside and neighboring nations. It helped provide perspective and hands-on experience to what we were learning in the classroom. The final ISP assignment, while challenging, was an additional experience that was unbelievably valuable. Having the opportunity to draw upon the knowledge I had gained throughout the semester and create my own self-driven research project was an amazing way to end the semester and further explore aspects of Czech culture that I found the most interesting.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My homestay was wonderful and an integral part of my study abroad experience. While I was initially concerned about living in a stranger's home, the program administration placed us very thoughtfully and it turned out to be a highlight of my stay.

* Food:

There's a reason why Czech cuisine isn't exactly famous, but Prague is a city like any other with a many different dining options. It's not all meat and potatoes. There's a little of something for everyone if you know how to find it.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Cultural and social integration were a key part of this program. They really did a great job of exposing us to Czech culture. We had the opportunity to learn the language, live with a Czech family, meet local activists and leaders, travel around the country, listen to historical lectures, read Czech literature, attend art exhibits and performances, do personal research on an aspect of Czech society, etc. By the end of the program I really felt like I had a deep and intimate knowledge of Czech culture that I gained through firsthand experience. Because this program emphasized experiential learning and therefore really forced us to not only learn about but also participate in Czech culture, I'm not sure that I would have had such a complete integration had I attended another program.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Prague is a very safe city. I rarely ever felt uncomfortable even late at night or when I was alone. Furthermore, the program did an excellent job of informing us about safety and they gave us a contact list of resources to turn to if we ever felt uncomfortable, threatened or had any kind of emergency. For example, we all had the personal number of our Academic Director and were encouraged to call if any sort of crisis or emergency were to arise.

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 very affordable. The key is to avoid the super touristy areas. Outside of the tourist hotspots, you can easily go out to eat and spend under $10 for a meal and a couple drinks.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't eat in the touristy areas, they'll overcharge. In fact, doing anything in the tourist hotspots is sure to be more expensive. Of course it's important to do all the touristy things at least once, but definitely wander outside the main parts of town. You'll probably be able to find a lot of things that are cheaper (or free) to do and chances are you'll also encounter a more local and authentic experience there. Make sure to use have your student ID when you go to museums, oftentimes its free or at least discounted.


* 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
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? Even though a lot of people may speak English at least try to use the local language. Just putting in a little extra effort to say hello, or order your meal in the local language can make a big difference in how well you are able to pick up the language. Plus the locals will appreciate it.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
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?
  • Experiential learning
  • Regional stays/excursions
  • Cultural integration
* What could be improved?
  • Timing/spacing of some of the bigger assignments
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That this was going to be one of the best months of my undergraduate experience.

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!