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5 posts categorized "Art"

02/27/2018

SPRING 2018 Issue I

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Getting to know the Czech Republic

During the first weeks of Spring 2018 students' stay in the Czech Republic, CIEE Prague staff organized various different activities which enabled students to familiarize themselves with Czech culture, as it is crucial for students to learn about their host country so that they feel and can adapt better in terms of the culture shock.

Students had the opportunity to learn more about the Czech Republic in two lectures delivered by CIEE professors which were held during the on-site Orientation - Czech History Intro and Czech Republic Inside Out. Both of these lectures provided our students with the necessary background information in terms of Czech history and culture. For many students it was actually their very first time hearing about the creation of our country and our unique traditions and customs.

CIEE Prague staff also prepared an exceptional interactive competition for its students, as part of which they had the chance to test their knowledge related to the Czech Republic. An online orientation quiz was published at the end of the first week and students could compete against each other in terms of the facts covered during the Orientation. The winners received unique goodie bags full of Czech sweets and souvenirs.

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1st place – Klea Kalia (Barnard College)

Mary

2nd place – Mary Koontz (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Sam

3rd place – Sam Rosenthal (Ursinus College)

Another way of introducing students to the Czech Republic was through an active exploration. At the end of the second week of the on-site Orientation day excursions outside Prague, as part of which students visited other regions of the country, were organized. The Czech Republic is often called the "land of castles" since it has the most castles and chateaus per square mile in the world. It is something that Czechs are very proud of and they enjoy spending their free time visiting these spectacular buildings. On the other hand, breweries and beer industry in general are key constituents of the Czech economy and beer itself plays an important part in Czech culture as well. During the day excursions students thus visited one of our beautiful castles and also had a tour of a local brewery. During the castle tours, they learned how the aristocrats lived in the past and also discovered how beer is made and what role it plays in the Czech economy. There were two different destinations students could choose from - the Sychrov Castle and the Svijany Brewery or the Křivoklát Castle and the Krušovice Brewery.

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A lot more activities enabling students to learn more about the Czech Republic will be organized during the semester and CIEE Prague truly believes that students will consider the Czech Republic to be their second home by the end of their study abroad adventure.

 

04/06/2017

INTERNSHIP STORIES FROM PRAGUE

NewsletterBannerPrague686x101My Dream Internship in Prague by Ellen Lechman

When I started the application process for interning in Prague, I was nervous. I had never really had an internship before, and I had no idea what it would be like to work in a foreign country. Now, a few weeks into my internship, I am so glad I chose to do this program. I get to intern with an organization I love, get credit for school, and have an incredible new item for my resume!

After the interview process, I was matched with the National Technical Library (NTK) here in Prague. NTK is the largest science and technology library in all of the Czech Republic, and it’s a popular study spot for students of all subjects living in Prague. I’m working towards a career in library and information science, so getting to intern with NTK is a perfect fit for me.

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In the United States, the stereotype of interns is that all we do is make coffee and answer phones. I’m happy to say I am doing much more interesting work with NTK! I make videos promoting library services, copy edit materials for the website, and learn about the library field from an entirely new and international perspective. Not only do I get to expand my knowledge and experience related to libraries, I’m learning new skills in filmmaking and editing.

In general, interning has added so much to the study abroad experience. I love getting to interact with Czech people in a professional setting and learn about how the Czech work environment id similar and different to an American work environment. This internship has also showed me new parts of Prague I might never have discovered on my own. Lastly, interning while studying abroad helps me feel like I’m really making the most of my experience by getting outside of “the American bubble” and doing more than just typical classes. I can’t wait to see what else my internship has in store for me!

Co-working in Prague – Bringing together an International Community by Shannon Keirsey

Just about two months ago I came to Prague to begin my study abroad and, of course, internship experience. I am interning at Locus Workspace and could not be happier with how it has added to my time studying here in Prague. Locus is an English speaking international co-working space. This means  that people who are independently employed, but still want to have a space to call their office and people to call their co-workers can get a membership and be a part of the Locus workspace community. That is where my job comes in.

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I am a community event intern, so I help to organize, promote, and facilitate different community events within the workspace to improve the overall quality of co-working. I have worked on events like “Embodied Leadership,” “Negotiate Like a Pro,” and “IT/IP Business Operation – Legal Aspects.” At each of these events a professional speaker on the topic came in to hold a professional development type seminar to refine skills within their topic. Other types of events include “Weekly Coffee Break,” “Hump Day Pump Night” and “Locus Mafia Night.” It is at these get togethers that members have an opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal and fun level. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work behind the scenes as well as to participate on all of these events.

Working with other professionals is both interesting and beneficial to me as a business major. Having the chance to meet and talk with the members, each of which has a distinct international personal story and entrepreneurial spirit, is a huge perk of the job. I think that much of the cultural perspective and true immersion I am getting here in Prague comes from working and talking with the different Locus members. I’ve learned a lot in this position already and look forward to continuing to implement best practices around community event planning and expanding relationships with the uniquely interesting businessmen at Locus.

Gaining an Old Appreciation by Cece Thomas

At first, the abandoned looking warehouse on the other side of the tracks took me aback. I couldn’t figure out the vibe MeetFactory had when I first walked through the door. It was unlike anywhere I’d ever worked before and I genuinely started to second-guess my internship experience before it even began. What I didn’t know though, was that it would help me to realize just how much I missed working in a creative field.

I’ve always considered myself a creative person, and throughout my life my creativity has changed with me. When I was five I was painting with my grandfather, at ten I was playing piano, and at fifteen I was dancing during football game halftime shows. By the time I got to college though, my creativity was focused solely in my schoolwork. I got further and further away from the things that I loved as a kid because I didn’t have the time. It never occurred to me that my future career could have an artistic outlet until I started my internship at Urban Space Epics here in Prague.

The first couple of weeks weren’t really anything to write home about. I went through an orientation, learned how the studio functioned, and helped run the communication aspects of the studio, which included editing web content. It was relevant to what I was studying, but I wasn’t excited about what I was doing. My mentality totally changed once I got to document the Open Studios event. This event is where MeetFactory opens their doors to the public to experience what the artists in the studios are working on, present new installations, and view experimental concerts. It was by far the liveliest, funkiest, and most eye opening experience I’d had so far in Prague. The feelings of appreciation I’d had for art when I was younger, the wonder and need to create something of my own, bubbled back up. I realized that art can take on many different forms and that I could easily incorporate it into my career. I’d have never considered working in an art gallery before, but my internship has helped me see that it really isn’t so different from what I want to do. I could have a career where I’m exposed to art every day, and still work within the world of communication and business.

Shannon

Getting out of my comfort zone, and working at a place that I would never have considered before helped me to realize that there are many paths that lead to the same place. I don’t have to choose a career where I paint, play an instrument, or perform to feel like I am participating in an artistic way. Even though the exterior is a little rough, Urban Space Epics has already helped me gain back the appreciation I had for art as a kid and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store.

11/04/2015

The Czech Republic's Banksy

written by Graham Marema (Davidson College)

My parents decided to take advantage of my semester abroad and came to visit me last week. They’ve  always wanted to go to Prague but it’s not something they’ve ever been able to prioritize, so this trip was big for them. I’m sure seeing me was a perk.

 They came armed with Rick Steve’s Guide to Prague, where they read all about the sights - the Prague Castle, the Lennon Wall, the Charles Bridge, the astronomical clock. When they got here, I said, “Yeah, yeah, that stuff’s cool, but here’s the game plan: I’m going to take you around the city and show you all of David Cerny’s artwork.”

 

When I first got here, it took a manner of days before I heard David Cerny’s name. Now he seems to be everywhere. To me, this is something that defines the city just as much as the Prague Castle sitting perpetually in the background every time you look up at the skyline. His art represents a lot of what I think is cool about the Czech Republic. Cerny’s first big stunt was painting a huge Soviet tank - a memorial to the country’s liberation in 1945 - bright pink. Since then his stunts have gotten bigger, crazier, and, nowadays, a bit more legal. But no less shocking.

 The Czech Republic has a history that is dark at times, even darker at others, and constantly under change and reformation. While to some it may seem that David Cerny just takes every possible opportunity to thumb his nose at society, I see his art as a new way to commemorate the past, making it brighter and more noticeable, humorous and honest.

 I’m sure my parents raised their eyebrows at a few of the things I showed them. But it’s important, when visiting a new city, to embrace the strange, lesser-known parts of the culture - the giant babies with screens for faces clawing their way up the TV tower, the sculpture of a dead upside down horse ridden by St. Wenceslas, and a few others which the reader can Google on their own time. And afterwards my parents managed to see the castle and the John Lennon Wall as well.

 

06/05/2014

Ahoj from Prague!

written by Ashley Schulte

Exploring a new city exemplifies living in a state of exhilaration.  The city becomes your playground, your place to experience a culture other than your own. 

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Old Town Hall Tower  

 

You can get to know its essence by sitting quietly and observing the residents passing by, or you can try your hand at speaking the language and interacting with the locals.  Both of these are a form of immersion, and though sitting back while the city is full of life around you may seem at first glance to be a static activity, it is actually quite dynamic.

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Wenceslas Square 

By definition, “dynamic” refers to a person or process characterized by progress, energy, and/or new ideas, and an activity that may be passive in other contexts is engaging when in a previously unfamiliar land.

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You must be present in the moment while traveling as you observe your surroundings and take note of the differences between your home and this new area.  There are differences related to the senses, such as the scent of the air, the aesthetic layout of the blocks, the architectural style of the buildings, and the native tongue being used by the locals.
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St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle

 

On top of these variations, there are differences that do not stand out as quickly as the fragrance of a local market may.  How did history unfold on the very ground you’re standing on that led to the current moment? How did the groups of people inhabiting this area change over time, and what are the traditions and norms of the current population?

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Crosses marking where 27 Protestants were executed after the Battle of White Mountain in the 17th century

 

It is this requirement for constant engagement that has me viewing travel as a remedy. Experiencing a new culture softens a closed mind and expands an already open one.  Walking down the street in a foreign city brings with it a sense of magic whereas doing the same at home may seem like just another part of your routine. Traveling reminds you that the world is much bigger than the little bubble that you occupy on a daily basis, which brings with it a sense of comfort.  Travel is a remedy for a closed mind, for a routine, for the mundane.

 

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View of the city from Prague Castle 

 

I personally find myself feeling antsy if I stay in one place for too long, needing new experiences to nurture my mind. Though I’ve only been in Prague for a week, I feel accomplished knowing that I’ve made the most of each day. Here’s a rough outline of what I’ve been up to the last seven days:

 

5/26/14: Arrived in Prague after a 3-leg fight.  The airport is small, and I was easily able to find the CIEE staff who then had a cab take me to my flat. I have 3 other roommates- two ladies in the program with me, and one flat buddy who is a student at Charles University. After meeting the other girls, I put away some of my luggage and rested in the flat for a little bit. Our apartment is in a great location, and is beautifully designed.  I wasn’t expecting such a renovated apartment, and I can say with full confidence that this is a more than comfortable place to stay for the next few weeks. Once we were all feeling rejuvenated enough to walk around and fight our jet leg, our flat buddy took us around the city to explore. We became acquainted with the area around our apartment, walked through Old Town, and ended up at the John Lennon Wall.  This piece of ever-changing art is particularly interesting because people began tagging it during the Communist regime here in Prague. The graffiti covering its surface started as a resistance against the order, and people have been writing on it since the 1980’s.

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John Lennon Wall

 

5/27: During our first day of orientation, CIEE staff taught us about Czech customs and helped us understand the layout of the program. They have so many activities planned for us, including cooking lessons, trips to museums, cultural events such as seeing a ballet at the National Theater, and more. We went on a walk around the city after orientation with one of the flat buddies, and met at Petřínské Terasy, a restaurant, for a buffet-style dinner.

 

5/28: This was our last day of orientation, and we learned more about Czech history after going on a three-hour walk around Prague.  We were guided by one of the professors, and her knowledge really helped us picture historical events that usually seem to be too distant to understand. 

 

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Astronomical Clock Tower with my roommates, Casey and Emily

5/29:  Thursday was our first day of classes. I’m taking Psychoanalysis and Art and Survival Czech, both of which are extremely interesting. It’s remarkable how much more “at home” I feel in the city after taking just a few classes on the language! After our day at school, my roommates and I went to a department store to shop before getting dinner at The Louvre.  We originally chose this restaurant based on a dessert recommendation, but ended up enjoying food + drinks on top of a raspberry sundae.

5/30: After classes, the Psychoanalysis and Art students stayed in the student lounge to watch a screening of “The Witches Hammer,” a Czech film based on a book of the same title. This is preparing us for our trip to Moravia this weekend, where we will see Freud’s childhood home and the site of the 17th century witch trials. We went to a club called Lucerna later in the evening, and much to our delight, danced to 80’s and 90’s music until the early morning. I obviously had to get the traditional Czech treat of fried cheese on the way back to our flat.  I would try to put into words how delicious smažený sýr is, but will refrain from doing so because I will not be able to do it justice.

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Lucerna with my classmates and new friends Nikole and Anna :)

5/30: My roommates and I slept in to fight the never-ending jet lag battle, and went to the Communist Museum in the afternoon.  The pieces in the exhibit tie together the past with modern day Czech Republic, culminating in the film room.  The TV was playing a movie with powerful footage from protestors and cops during the communist regime up until 1989.  The film showed fighting on Wenceslas Square, and it was crazy to see how different the dynamic of this area was just a little over 20 years ago. This added to the balcony exhibit on communism in present-day North Korea to make for an overall heart-wrenching museum trip.  I feel like I learned a great deal on how communism affects a community, and the many parts of the museum helped put a real-life context to a subject that I’ve only read about in text books up until now. On our way out of the museum, we saw a brochure for an underground tour of Prague starting in 15 minutes, so we rushed over to the ticket sales booth to join in.  I love how it’s easy to be spontaneous here in the city- there is so much culture to experience, and there’s always something going on. The tour turned out to be fascinating, and we learned that the Old Town Hall used to house a prison in the cellar. Apparently people have weddings in the hall now, and the tour guide said that someone in one of his previous tours assured him that marriage was essentially the same as prison anyways.  Coincidentally, my dad made the same joke when I told him of the tour. I would say “great minds think alike,” but I don’t think that phrase really fits this situation :D We had planned on going home after the tour, but got caught up in the street entertainment in Old Town Square. There has been some form of art-whether it be music or some performance-every time I’ve been through the square so far!

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Postcard from Muzeum komunismu

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Musician performing on Old Town Square

6/1: On Sunday, I went with my roommates and flat buddy to Costa Coffee to study and do readings for our classes. It was a nice and relaxing, but still mentally stimulating, day :)

6/2: Woohoo- one whole week! On our way to lunch between classes, we discovered an entire wall of flowers going down one side of the park by our school.  What a gem to find! This stands in contrast to the cemetery that my roommates and I walk through every morning on the way to class (which, for the record, I find equally as interesting as the flower wall.) After classes, my roommates and I got Vietnamese takeout.  We have been super tired, and have needed a rest day after all of the walking and exploring we’ve been doing.

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Vyšehrad Cemetery

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Part of the flower wall

Well, that’s all for now. I apologize for the length of this blog- I shouldn’t have waited a whole week to make an update! I plan on posting every couple of days from now on. 

Na shledanou, friends :)

 

Franz Kafka Exhibition

written by Danielle Corcione

After staying in Prague for a week, I finally got to venture over the Charles Bridge to the Kafka Museum. In fact, the famous writer inspired me to come to Prague years ago. Through his morbid stories and recounts of living in the city, I learned about Czech culture and history. Although the museum was only two floors, there was undoubtedly more than I had ever known about the author. As Kafka pursued his literary career as an adult, he simultaneously worked at an insurance company. Eventually, he earned a prestigious and authorities position within the company under accident prevention division, a rather difficult department compared to the rest. The museum collected a series of letters to his employer about temporary sickness that prevented him from working, even for extended periods of time. He frequently felt overworked. It was this relentless exhaustion that influenced his writing.

 

Interestingly enough, his short story, A Hunger Artist, is more reality than fiction. During the late 1910s, Kafka starved himself from a crippling disease. Food would not ingest in his stomach. He admittedly did not have a desire to eat. On top of this, he was also a strict vegetarian. Kafka often joked that vegetarians never went hungry, because they were too busy eating their own flesh.

 

Like Kafka, I, too, am a vegetarian. Prior to my departure, I researched traditional Czech cuisine and figured it rather challenging to maintain a balanced diet. However, I have made it work so far. A couple days ago, I found a vegetarian place not too far away from my apartment, called Beas. It specializes in Indian cuisine. My goal this week is to explore and find more with restaurants vegetarian-friendly dishes!

 Ahoj!

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