Czech it out, but be careful Past Review

By (Psychology, University of Texas - Dallas) for

USAC Czech Republic: Prague - Politics, Culture, and the Arts

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worth it. After the program, too, I stayed in Europe and backpacked for four weeks. It opened my eyes to what's out there and made me so much readier to take on the rest of the world. Prague is such a great, central location and it has such a long, rich history that I fell in love with it. The locals are great, as long as you don't expect them to speak English. If you ask them in Czech "mluvite anglitsky?" they are more likely to say, "Yes, I speak a little" than if you ask them "Hey, do you speak English?" Act like a normal person, not a loud american, and you will be accepted and enjoy your time. Unless you hang out with the Brits, they're loud enough for everyone.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was very reasonable. Grading systems were well communicated and acted upon. However, we were promised a computer lab and internet in our housing; we didn't have internet for half the program in the housing, and the "computer lab" was two computers in one of the classrooms, so they were unavailable during class times and before/after instructors were present. It was very difficult to find time to complete assignments.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program administrator was not very readily available and could not resolve our discrepancies in services promised v. actually received. We did not have internet for weeks, our furniture had been purchased days prior and not fully assembled, we did not have full sheet sets or kitchenware, we had no washer or dryer in 2 of 3 apartments (spread around the city), we could not access school facilities during chunks of the business day, they overcharged us for public transportation passes (between 30 students, they collected an extra $150), and we could not easily settle any of these.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The fact that the apartment was in the middle of the city, separated from the other groups of students, made it great for being immersed in the city. I truly felt like a local, leaving the apartment for the metro, walking along city streets, not standing out as a student or foreigner. Aside from the absolute basics in furniture, we were on our own for sheets, kitchen utensils and cookware (which we left behind). We could not communicate with our landlord, and could rarely reach our program director, which made it difficult. The downstairs neighbors smoked marijuana in the hallway, making it uncomfortable, but, hey, it's another country.

* Food:

We had no dining accommodations, but weren't promised any. We dined around the city and experienced real Czech food (which is effing amazing). The Czech Republic is (was) so cheap, that you could eat dinner (app., entree, dessert and drinks) for less than $5-10 American. Breakfast was often for $1-2 from a street vendor, lunch from a deli and dinner from wherever. All of the food is great and cheap. Bars are also very cheap if you know where to go (aka away from the tourists).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We had a field study for credit which was a 5-day trip to 4 countries' capitals. It was awesome. We also took two day trips. One was to a glass-blowing factory where we blew our own glass piece. The other was to a former concentration camp, which was chilling, but very informative and it helped to round out the cultural aspect of the trip. All of the trips were great and well worth it.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Neutral ratings. We were as safe as the group was. We were in/out/around the city every day. It's a big city and not always safe, but if we stayed in a group, we were fine. I felt comfortable on my own, except late at night after the bar, in an unfamiliar part of town. I am 6'2", 190lbs, so I was ok, but we always had a guy or two with the ladies. Health wasn't a huge concern, we took care of ourselves. I don't know of any help which we would have received, but we looked after each other.

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
Language acquisition improvement?

I dropped the language course, due to conflict with the instructor in clarity of course objectives. You could practice language with every one of the course instructors and program staff. Also, we were placed in apartments around the city (together, in groups) and thus could easily immerse ourselves in the culture and language. Opportunities for practice were endless as we traipsed around the city to eat and drink in local restaurants, ride public transportation and converse with instructors and others in the city.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Do it. Make sure that you stay in touch with your home institution, to help settle any problems with the program. Prague is one of the most amazing places I have ever been, and to live there for a full 6 weeks, was amazing. The culture can't be beat; you just have to make sure that the program delivers. That's where your own advisor will come in handy.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Field Study

Course Department:
Instructor: Program host and guides
Instruction Language: English (Accented)
Comments: It was a 5-day trip through several cities and countries. We visited a Renaissance festival in Eastern Czech Republic, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, back to Vienna and home to Prague. It was an extra $400-500, but for lodging, travel and the experience of it, it was amazing. The only requirement was a 2-page paper to receive one hour of credit.
Credit Transfer Issues: Credit transferred as an Anthropology elective.
Course Name/Rating:

Czech Culture

Course Department:
Instructor: Pavla
Instruction Language: English (Accented)
Comments: Pavla was great. Most classes involved a walk around the city, and time spent in the park or a beer garden. She knew all of the old folktales by heart and loved to tell them. Because the class was all about immersion in the culture, we really did spend 80% of our time outside of the classroom exploring museums, old ruins, churches and historical well as a couple of bars.
Credit Transfer Issues: My credits transferred as an anthropology elective.
Course Name/Rating:

Art and Architecture in Prague and Eastern Europe

Course Department:
Instructor: Miss Black-Hair Art Curator
Instruction Language: English (Accented)
Comments: It was extremely interesting. About 2/3 of the class sessions were spent visiting important buildings around the city. We visited many of the same structures as in my culture class, but the material was all different. Instead of "cultural importance," classes were about the architectural period, and the importance of the builders and architects themselves. It was all extremely interesting. Our instructor also came with us on a Field Study and showed us Architecture in several other cities.
Credit Transfer Issues: Credit transferred as an Art History elective.