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5 posts categorized "Orientation"

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)

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

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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.

 

09/15/2016

Fall 2016, Issue I

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Welcome dinner

What a better way to celebrate the beginning of the new semester than by having delicious dinner on a cruise boat on Vltava River? Due to its success it now became a tradition to hold fall semester welcome dinners on the boat. Welcome dinner is a first event for the Central European studies students, it is their chance to meet each other, CIEE staff members, buddies, and homestay families and spend time together in more informal environment than classrooms space.

The event took place on Šumava boat which is named after one of the regions in the Czech Republic. It is one of the largest boats of the Prague Steamboat Company with a capacity of 390 people. The river cruise took two hours and during this time schnitzels, apple strudel and other traditional Czech dishes were served. The weather was at its best which allowed guests to spend time on the deck and enjoy one the last summer days.

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City orientation walk with buddies

As a part of our orientation walk students explored Prague with their buddies. This semester a new concept for the walk was created. Students were divided into small groups according to their housing and their buddies showed them the most important places they will need during their study abroad in Prague. Students visited the study center, a local post office, a health center, train and bus stations and number of other essential locations. They had a quiz that they were to complete during the walk and they had an opportunity to participate in a selfie challenge. Many of them took part in the selfie competition and CIEE Prague Instagram was flooded with photos of full of energy students exploring a beautiful capital. The team which posted the highest amount of selfies and got the most points from the quiz won a sweet prize.

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Meet up party

We added a special twist to our traditional first all program get together event of this semester and it was a great success! Almost all students from all four programs visited our Meet up party and had a chance to meet buddies, staff but also other study abroad students and locals. All visitors were given a half of a card at the entrance and their task was to find a person who had the other part during the evening. Once they found each other they had to introduce themselves and find out more about each other. Meanwhile, everyone could be involved in a bowling tournament and win Czech souvenirs. The rest of participants could play billiard, darts, table football and many other games. We are looking forward to our next get together event and hope it will be another awesome evening!

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03/17/2015

Spring 2015, Issue I

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Orientation to Prague

As soon as students land in Prague, we start orientating them to their environment. This term, orientation, is appropriate, since it is not a process of mastering or being completely comfortable with your surroundings, but rather just being able to know where you are and why. Orientation is an important time for students. It is when they gather their first impressions of the city, staff, fellow participants, and buddies. As we all know, first impressions are important.

Our orientation lasts for about three weeks, going through several stages, but at the beginning the most important thing is to force students to recover from jet lag as soon as possible!

We have three programs here in Prague, and each program’s orientation is a bit different. Some activities are done together, some are done separate.

Central European Studies Program Orientation

Each semester we review and improve our orientation programs. This semester our orientation was our best yet!

The first day is arrival and students are taken from the airport directly to their housing. Students receive introductory information from their Charles University student buddies or Czech host families.

On Tuesday, students meet all staff for the first time and sessions start. We cover the basics: housing, safety, survival Czech, local transportation and we give cell phones to our students. The whole day is topped off by a welcome dinner and students can try typical Czech cuisine.

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n  This picture is from the first session of the day, held in a large lecture hall at Charles University. Students stumbled in, tired and excited, at 11:00 for the session. Other sessions were in small groups in classrooms throughout the Faculty of Arts building.

On Wednesday and Thursday, students are divided into groups and they switch for sessions. We present sessions all day, but students either have do sessions in the morning and have free time in the afternoon, or vice versa. The activities that we cover are sessions about the local culture, events and activities for the upcoming semester and an orientation walk through Prague with our buddies.

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Students being oriented to the famous Charles Bridge in Prague.

Friday is dedicated to our academic sessions where students learn about our academic program and find out for which courses they are pre-registered. Students also work on setting their goals for their study abroad semester.

These sessions are potentially the most important, but they are not as visually attractive, so we do not provide any pictures of these!

Communications, New Media and Journalism Program Orientation

Compared to our big brother Central European Studies, CNMJ is a much smaller and tight-knit program, so it is precisely during orientation when we form our bonds and set ourselves apart from the other programs.

Orientation for CNMJ is held over a three-day period. We cover the same important topics, such as safety and housing, but with additional sessions fundamental to our niche program. For example, students learn the ins and outs of academics and how to balance three different schedules from CIEE, Charles University/Faculty of Social Sciences, and FAMU. Additionally, we prepare them for their upcoming internships and the much awaited interviews which start immediately the week after orientation. These first busy days are concluded with a tour of Vyšehrad and Prague Castle, plus a welcome dinner at CIEE staff’s favorite local restaurant. All and all, not a bad way to settle into Prague and to start the semester!

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CNMJ Orientation session

CNMJ Tour of Vysehrad + Prague Castle

FS orientation

Similarly to Communication, New Media and Journalism program, Film Studies is a program with limited number of participants (the maximum of 6 accepted into the Screenwriting track and the maximum of 16 accepted into the Production track). FAMU is a quite selective institution, so we currently have 14 students enrolled in the FS program (4 screenwriters, 10 filmmakers) on site.

Film Studies courses are designed and held at FAMU (except for the Intensive Beginning Czech Language course), therefore we try to divide orientation sessions between FAMU and CIEE buildings. This way students get acquainted with their host institution and have an opportunity to use their CIEE resources at the same time. Orientation for FS is held over a 3-day period, and it includes basic sessions in-class (safety, bystander intervention, housing, how to deal with bureaucrats, academics, extracurricular opportunities, survival Czech language, goals setting, navigation in Prague and tour of CIEE and FAMU buildings) as well as orientation walk, scavenger hunt and guided tour of Prague Castle.

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FS Orientation session

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Smaller enrollment number allows us to make the orientation sessions more interactive

The highlight was most certainly welcome dinner which took place at U Šemíka and where students were officially welcomed by both CIEE and FAMU representatives.

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FS welcome dinner buffet

Orientation is followed by 2 weeks of Intensive Czech language courses as well as Advising sessions and Story Pitches meetings for the Production track. Production students already formed 4 shooting teams this term and we are looking forward to the upcoming Film pitch session scheduled for Monday, February 23rd!

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n  FAMU Academic Advising on elective courses was held on Thursday, February 5th, 2015. The chair of FAMU International Department, Vít Janeček, introduced both courses and professors. FS Academic Advisor Mary Angiolillo and FS Program Coordinator Ivana Skenderija were also present to answer questions concerning administrative details (such as Add and Drop procedure)

But of course studying abroad is not only about academics, but also about exploration of local culture and personal growth. In the 1st three weeks, students are getting used to co-living in apartments with one another as well as their Czech buddies. They learn how to make their bed Czech style, how to operate European style ovens, dishwashers and washing machines, why Czechs wear slippers at home, what are Czech dining habits (including differences in silverware usage and tipping) and much more. Czech buddies prepare interest groups activities throughout the whole semester.

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Buddy Bára already taught FS students how to make a Czech specialities: fried edam cheese (similar to mozarella sticks) and fried cauliflower with tartar sauce and boiled potatoes – and they had a blast!

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 :)

 

02/28/2014

Spring 2014, Issue I

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Greetings from Prague, Study Abroad Advisors!

We are back with some information on New Academic Developments of CIEE Study Center in Prague.

Central European Studies (CES)

The Central European Studies Program has grown recently in terms of the number of participating students as well as in a greater variety of offered courses and provision of academics.  The current offer of courses provides a complex understanding of the process and challenges of recreating a democratic government in a former communist country, and brings an insider perspective on its current challenges (including human rights, minority and gender issues, globalization, as well as social, economic, and political challenges connected to the EU). New courses include e.g.: Anthropological Perspective on the Czech and Slovak Roma, Economy of the EU, Journalism in the Facebook Era, 3rd Force Psychology in CE, and many others.

Introduced changes aim also at deep cultural and social immersion within the academic part of the program. All courses offer an in-class part and out-class activities. These include site visits, research projects, and many other activities that allow students to develop their knowledge and academic skills.

Academic MeetingCES and CNMJ students at the “Academic Meeting”: an open house of CIEE courses with professors

At the same time the program keeps its strong thematic accent in art and design, exploring the extraordinary architecture of Prague and other unique sites. Offered courses foster the understanding of the historical context of Central Europe including communism, nazism, the Holocaust and other important periods and figures from Czech and European history.

Last but not least, Eva Janebová, Ph.D., who has been working as the liaison of Charles University in the CIEE Study Center in Prague, has newly become the CES Resident Director overseeing the quality of academics. She provides faculty trainings and individual coaching to the faculty in order to align interactive teaching styles and rigorous academic standards. She has also introduced a new format to the academic meetings and works with individual faculty on responding to the needs of students provided in student feedbacks.

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Eva Janebová, CES Resident Director

Film Studies (FS)

The Film Studies Program in Prague has been offered since Fall 2008. All classes are taught solely at the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) and core classes are designed specifically for CIEE students so the benefits of mentor-apprentice style of teaching are maintained. FAMU has been awarded the best European (and 7th in the world) film school according to the Hollywood Reporter in 2011. The school, founded in 1946, is one of the oldest in the world (5th).

In 2008, we started with the Production Track in which students develop 5-10 minute-long 16 mm feature film in production groups of 2-3. During the past few semesters, students have occasionally struggled with finding the best way of forming their production teams. The question was whether teams should be formed based on similar perspectives on filmmaking or around specific screenplays. Either way, starting to shape the team within first weeks of classes was rather time consuming. Starting this semester, the FS Academic Advisor Mary Angiolillo and Film Studies Coordinator Ivana Skenderija came up with a new idea. Production students had a couple of meetings during their Czech intensive and pitched their ideas. Students with similar perspectives were matched and the first week of core classes was already dedicated to screenplay development. On Friday, February 28th, they had their official pitch for all the mentors, and they received feedback on their projects. After the pitch, a production meeting on realistic expectations followed.

Pitch students FS students vividly pitching their project proposal

Pitch profsFAMU mentors David JařabJaromír Šofr and Jan Fleischer providing their feedback and tips on improvement

Since Spring 2011, we were able to add the Screenwriting Track to the selection in which students develop a first draft of a half feature-length screenplay  (appx. 60 pages). This track is rather selective as CIEE/FAMU would not accept more than the 6 best applicants. Even though their curriculum strongly emphasizes writing scripts, students from past semesters have been demanding some production experience as well. And since Fall 2013, their requests have been partially fulfilled. Not only are they present at the production pitch and write a reflection with their tips on improvement as a part of their Script Analysis class, but they also partake in the production as actors and crew members. And of course, they will again have their “grand finale” just like the production students have the final screening. Final screenplay presentations are not only just a reading of the script, but also a dialogue presentation by real actors they learn how to direct!

Communication, New Media + Journalism (CNMJ) – New program from Spring 2013!

The Communication, New Media + Journalism (CNMJ) is a new niche program which started in Spring 2013. This program caters to majors of media, journalism, marketing, and communication studies; it focuses on providing students with hands-on experience through media and/or journalism-focused internships and provides students with coursework relevant to their field.

In terms of academics, students are allowed to choose at CIEE from an array of communication, media, and journalism courses taught by local and international media experts and renowned journalists, but they can also choose from specially-selected courses at FAMU and the Institute of Communication and Journalism Studies at Charles University’s Faculty of Social Sciences.

Additionally, with an internship for credit, students polish their professional skills and gain invaluable experience working in a local company or non-profit organization. CIEE helps CNMJ students with the entire process from setting up interviews to placements in prestigious organizations to monitoring students’ progress throughout the semester. Another integral part of the internship program is the internship seminar, where students have a chance to discuss their experiences, to make sense of cultural differences, and to learn how to market these experiences to future employers.

Since this program’s inception in Spring 2013, it has grown significantly. This semester we have 17 participants!

  CNMJ Orientation

Spring 2014 CNMJ students getting ready for their orientation walk with their buddy

Global Architecture and Design (GAD) – Brand new program since Spring 2014!

The Global Architecture and Design program connects in its concept three beautiful European cities: Barcelona, Berlin and Prague.

The program concentrates not only on history and culture of the host city, but also explores current and future social, economic, and technological trends. Cities today offer a unique setting for resources, people, opportunities, and ideas to converge and spur new paths of innovation, technology, and thought. The program´s curriculum includes wide range of technologies from BIPV (building integrated photovoltaic) skyscrapers, personalized public transportation systems, sustainable green spaces, to sewage and water treatment and reclamation infrastructure.

The Global Architecture and Design program is focused on “Future Cities” and addresses the emerging discipline of global ”urbaneering” by assembling a faculty of innovators from fields as diverse as architecture, material science, urban design, civil and environmental engineering. Using each city as a laboratory, the program´s goal is to rethink what is salubrious about the city, in both its forms and its life. The Global Architecture and Design program explores the effects of technological interventions that can have profound impacts on the planet as a whole.

It was decided that this youngest program will have a theme unifying all three cities - Water and the City. This focus is apparent throughout the whole semester including academic trips that will take students to the Berlin Summit, Moldau Cascades and other significant sites.

The program gears towards advanced students with at least two to three semesters of design studio and overall GPA at least 2.75. Students enroll directly in courses focusing on architecture and design at ARCHIP, the first international Architectural Institute in the Czech Republic and also have the option of enrolling in courses at CIEE. Students take part in projects and create presentations related to their field of study and incorporate it in the local context.

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Studio space at ARCHIP

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GAD and ARCHIP students visiting Moldau Cascades and its dams