Study Abroad: Mid-Semester Review
Time has flown by as I am now halfway through my study abroad experience here in Prague! At times, it still feels surreal to be living in a different country, but has also started to feel like a second home. I’ve grown to love the cobblestone streets, the hustle and bustle of the city, and cute cafes on every corner.
Studying abroad has given me a greater world perspective, and I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world both in, and outside, of the classroom. I’ve grown to love the smaller class sizes, especially since they’re each three hours long as we often do interactive lessons and have opportunities to really get to know each other and our professor. Collaboration is emphasized in my course curriculum here, and working with students from multiple different backgrounds has been a really unique experience. I’m taking a lighter load this semester, as I really wanted to be able to focus on my experience abroad. My schedule includes two business-oriented classes, a Czech language class, and a photography class. The business classes will fulfill some of my Isenberg requirements, while the Czech and photography class will transfer as free credits.
While I was the only student from UMass Amherst to attend the University of New York Prague program this fall term, I have met a handful of other Americans from different universities, including: Suffolk in Boston, Texas Tech, and Northern Arizona University. At first the idea of being the only UMass Amherst student was a bit terrifying, but it really pushed me out of my comfort zone to make new friends and get to know people from different places! Not only have I connected with other students studying abroad, but also full-time students at the university.
During my travels, I’ve also met numerous people from different countries through staying in hostels, going on group tours, sitting in laundromats, and on public transport. While my conversations may be as short as five minutes, or as long as a train ride from Poland back to the Czech Republic, they have all been very memorable in their own way and I’ve always learned something new and interesting!
Life on the Weekends/My Travels
With the way my class schedule worked out, I only have in-person learning from Monday-Wednesday, giving me an extra long weekend which I’ve been using to travel around Europe with. I chose the Czech Republic for a number of reasons: with a central European location being one of them. European transportation is phenomenal, and I’ve been taking advantage of their public transport as much as possible! Especially with my student discount, I am able to travel for very cheap within the Czech Republic. Even outside of the Czech Republic, being flexible with longer commute times and earlier wake-up calls, I’ve been able to travel on a student budget and use my international student card for discounts along the way. Destinations I’ve visited outside the Czech Republic thus far include Budapest, Hungary; Krakow, Poland; Crete, Greece; and Salzburg and Hallstatt in Austria.
When I’m not traveling across countries, I still aim to explore on the weekends as much as possible — as even in Prague alone there is so much to see! Some of my favorite spots in the city include the famous Prague Castle, historic Old Town, and Smichov Waterfront. Even little adventures, such as checking out a new café, or finding a new route to walk, are ways I’ve been able to experience life in the city.
Studying abroad has been the most exciting and also one of the hardest things I’ve done. While I love my new life abroad, I do miss my family, friends and familiarity of home back in the US. When I’m feeling down or homesick, I surround myself with things that remind me of home: I cook a good American meal, put on my favorite songs, or hang out with my other American friends. The highs always outweigh the lows and I wouldn’t have it any other way!