Immersive Cultural Experience Focusing on the Arts Past Review

By (Rice University) - abroad from 01/15/2013 to 05/30/2013 with

SIT Study Abroad: Czech Republic - Arts and Social Change

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My ISP was one of the first times I interacted with the concept of “arts based research.” As an art and anthropology double major, I was able to combine my two disciplines by conducting an ethnographic study used as source material for my visual art practice. When I returned to my school in the United States, I used this methodology for my thesis project.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I was drawn to this program because it gives you a rare opportunity to conduct an independent study project program as an undergraduate. During this time students conduct fieldwork and engage in immersive cultural research that is of truly their own design and interest. Because of this, the final projects usually move beyond the realm of an analytical paper and take on larger social value to the community and student. For example, the result of my ISP was an exhibition of large-scale drawings resulting from a period of solo travel in the Czech countryside and was displayed in a local café in Prague where our class ritually met.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff is very committed and generous. I developed a great relationship with the program leader who wrote me a letter of reccomendation that gave me the opportunity to continue my project and travel after this program ended.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family was perhaps the coolest family in Prague! I still keep in touch with them today and had an amazing experience living with them. They welcomed me into their home with great generosity.

* Food:

The Czech are known for dumplings, sauerkraut, goulash, and beer, but Prague is filled with amazing diverse cuisine. Whenever I meet up with my cohort for a reunion we always seek out Czech food to reminisce.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

This program empowered me to think about the value of community relationships as a way of understanding place and site. While I had friends traveling around Europe to a new city every weekend and only grasping the surface level of each place, I was deeply investing my time becoming a resident of Prague by exploring places in my neighborhood, attending cultural events unknown to the average tourists, and growing friendships with actual residents of the city. As an anthropology major, this affected my approach to understanding culture for future research projects.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had few health issues, but I felt supported by the staff and my peers if I were to encounter any. I did not need to plan for any vaccines or special medication before I left.

* Safety:

Prague is a very safe city and I would travel around alone at night on public transit without thinking about it.

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

The Arts and Social Change program in Prague is a unique opportunity for students to witness first hand how impactful art is for a culture’s politics, history, and community. Rather than learning about Czech culture from afar, students will become a part of it by participating in different aspects of the arts and living in the community. Because of this learning style, years later I still maintain friendships with my fellow students and feel deep gratitude and connection to Prague and the Czech Republic.


* 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
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Czech is a difficult language to learn but if you put some effort in learning a little bit will get you far. The program will focus on conversational dialogue to aid everyday interactions. That being said, many Czech people speak some English and will help meet you half way in order to avoid miscommunication.

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? Intermediate Conversational German
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? Have patience, humor, commitment, courage, and make it fun!

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

  • Local 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?
  • host family
  • fellow students
  • independent research project
* What could be improved?
  • can't think of anything!
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Plan travel to other places in Europe before or after the program. There won't be time or space to do this independently while participating in the program because it is immersive and important to spend time with your host family and living as a resident of Prague.

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.'