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18 posts categorized "Prague"

02/26/2015

Living in the Czech Republic

written by Kara Caskey (DePauw University)

I have now been living in the Czech Republic for exactly one month.  It is hard to believe that it’s already been so long.  It’s also still surreal to me that I’m living in the Czech Republic.  Just wow.  It’s gone by with such speed and I feel as though I was just saying my goodbyes to family and friends before getting on the plane.  At the same time, though, it’s also hard to believe that I only have three months left in this city.  If the first month flew by as quickly as it did, I cannot even imagine how fast the next three are going to go.  I already don’t want to leave!

The two free weekends that we’ve had thus far I’ve stayed put in Prague.  I begin traveling this weekend, which is exciting, but it’s also been so helpful to get to know “my” city a little better before I take off and see the rest of Europe.  It’s amazing how a little exploration and a few wrong turns can lead you to a little hole in the wall restaurant that becomes your favorite.  In my opinion, wandering is the best way to learn about a new place.  I’ve never lived in a large city so it was definitely overwhelming at first but I honestly couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.  Prague is a truly amazing place with so much history and beauty.

I have already learned an incredible amount about being independent and living in a foreign city in the short month I’ve been here.  I’ve learned that Americans are possibly the loudest people on the planet and that it’s better to shut my mouth on public transportation.  I know a few survival words and phrases in Czech that can get me by in a pinch, especially when I’m hungry.  (The two weeks of intensive Czech class were definitely a must and I’m so glad they {forced} us through them.)  Finally, I’ve come to realize that I live in what I would biasedly classify as one of the prettiest parts of Prague.  Vyšehrad, previously a castle (hrad) on a hill (vyše) is a tremendously unique and historically relevant landmark in Prague and I just recently took a stroll around its beautiful fortress and gardens.  It’s safe to say that in the coming months as the weather warms up you will find me reading, picnicking, and enjoying the beautiful sunsets right around the corner from my dorm.

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12/22/2014

Fall 2014, Issue III

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The 3rd Issue of CIEE Prague Newsletter concentrates on the special projects which were prepared by CIEE students during the Fall 2014 semester. Students from our four programs, namely Central European Studies, Communications, New Media + Journalism, Film Studies and Global Architecture and Design, spent a considerable amount of time and put a lot of effort into creating those exciting and unique projects, which are discussed in this newsletter in detail.

Enjoy reading about those outstanding special students´ projects!

Central European Studies

Special Immersion trip

Special Czech Immersion trip is an optional 3 day trip that our students can join. We prepared this trip last semester and because it was so successful, we decided to keep it. This trip is specific not only because just a small group of students attend (max. 10), but especially because our students do not stay in a hotel. They are accommodated with local families in Vodňany, a town in Southern Bohemia.

Students are accompanied by one of our Czech language teacher on behalf of CIEE. By preparing this trip we wished to give our students another opportunity for their immersion. And what is better than to take them to a small town far away from Prague and let them live with local families for a weekend?

On Friday, students visit a local high school, meet up with local students and spend an evening together. They meet their families for the weekend and also learn more about our culture. This semester students learned more about our St. Nicolas traditions and even decorated typical Czech ginger bread cookies. Saturday is spent with the families that prepare the program for the day.

On Sunday, students are taken to České Budějovice where they have a guided tour around the town and a brewery visit. After lunch, it is time to say good bye and head back to Prague.

This trip is an exceptional opportunity for students seeking to get more out of their study abroad experience, and we are that several students take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Feedbacks from our students:

“Fantastic! It was very well-organized and there was also time to explore the town with family. The high school was interesting and I enjoyed spending time with the students.”                                    

“The trip gave me a chance to interact with Czech people that I have not had yet this semester.”                                                          

“The trip was well organized and very interesting.”                                                         

“I had a wonderful weekend, and I am very glad that I came on this trip! Výborně!”                                                   

“My best experience in Czech Republic so far! Thank you!”                                                      

“This was the most growing and learning experience I have had here so far and I am so thankful!”                                                     

“This has been the highlight trip since I have been in the Czech Republic. It was an amazing experience.”                                                 

“I learned a lot and loved staying with a family. It was nice experiencing what short stay would be like.”                                                         

“I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone in the program, it was so fun and a real immersion experience.”     

“Loved it! Had an amazing time. Everything was great.”                            

Immersion trip 1

Immersion trip 2

Communications, New Media + Journalism

Internships

Motus:

Victoria Macoul spent her semester as an intern for Motus, an organization “helping to create and present new performances and other creative acts, run debates and workshops, and initiate events beyond theatre: cultural development activities for an open democratic society” (Motus website). Victoria had many tasks, but one of her favorites was participating in the Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead festival:

„Motus, in cooperation with Puppets without Borders, brings a bit of Mexico to the Czech lands this year for the ninth time. Against the romantic background of Stromovka park children and their parents can learn these traditional practices, participate in a parade of lanterns, hear real live Mexican music, see performances for kids, shadow puppets and installations made of food – to eat!” (Motus website)

“I think the best part about working at the festival was being immersed in a setting where there were people from every generation. Sometimes as a student you find yourself surrounded solely by people your age, so it was nice to have interaction with families and young children.” Victoria Macoul, Communications Major, Virginia Wesleyan College

  Day of the dead 1

Day of the dead 2

Český Rozhlas, Radio Prague:

You can learn more here about Jelani Spencer-Joe’s (Public Relations Major/Broadcasting Minor, Susquehanna University) work at her internship with Český Rozhlas, Czech Republic’s public radio broadcaster in operation since 1923.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/letter/a-new-yorkers-experience-with-the-czech-language

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/letter/eating-isnt-my-passion-but-its-a-close-second

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/letter/i-have-to-pay-for-what

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/letter/its-just-a-wall

The Prague Post:

Mara Natale, Film and Cinema Studies, Lafayette College had a chance to intern with The Prague Post and write about her passion: film.

http://www.praguepost.com/cinema/42193-real-life-in-jihlava

http://www.praguepost.com/cinema/42845-film-festival-filmasia-hits-10-years

http://www.praguepost.com/component/content/article?id=42046:das-filmfest-returns

http://www.praguepost.com/cinema/42993-oko-marks-the-advent-in-adventure

Intercultural Communication & Leadership Course

Opened for the first time this semester, ICL is taught by Jana, our Center Director. Because the course touches on issues on intercultural communication issues, this course is offered as CNMJ course credit. Several CNMJ students took part and had to complete a „digital story.“ Alex Paxman, Communications Major, Bryant University would like to share hers with you:

 

The Happening

CNMJ’s very own Jake Weeks (Roger Williams University, Communications Major) was the Creative Director of The Happening and was instrumental in putting the event together. Here’s more about it in his own words:

“The first annual CIEE ‘Happening’ was a program for students to partner up with a Czech action artist and collaborate on a project. Cynthia, Ivanna, and I met with Tomáš Moravec, an artist turned viral video star after he hacked a wooden pallet to glide down the tram tracks of Bratislava, Slovakia, and over the course of the semester we carefully planned out our project. We would film the ‘action’; the students coming in and out of the CIEE door, and edit the footage together to form a construction. Later on the evening of December 8th, we projected this footage onto a cloud of steam outside the door to complete the reconstruction. The intention was to make a statement on how fast the semester goes, and how our time in Prague will soon fade away.” 

Insert video from Z:\CIEE Promotion\Newsletters\Fall 2014\Newsletter 3\CNMJ materials

Buddy Dance Video

“Honza is an awesome buddy for many reasons, but mostly because he's so fun to be around.  As you can see in the video, he's always a source of entertainment.  At the same time, I wouldn't have survived the first two weeks in Prague without Honza.  He was more than willing to drop everything at any time to help me find the post office, grocery store, or wherever I needed to go.  He is always willing to help and made my experience in the Czech Republic much easier and more enjoyable.” Joel Thom, University of California-Sacramento, Communications

 

Film Studies

Hafan animation studio workshop

Undoubtedly the most favorite excursion/workshop for the Film Studies program is HAFAN Studio Animation workshop. They split into groups of approximately 5 students and during one day they learn how to make a traditional animation short film with puppets. Only a couple of minutes of film can be created within the limited time, but all students agree it is definitely worth the experience.

Feedbacks from our students:

 “A great place to explore and helpful to get experience using professional expertize.”

“One of the coolest projects I got to work on!”

“Absolutely wonderful. I'd love to spend a day just watching the animators!”

See one of the outcomes of the Fall 2014 semester below:
 

Intensive Beginning Czech Language course

CIEE Prague makes sure that even the Intensive Beginning Czech Language course is designed specifically for filmmakers. Vocabulary and phrases learned are often time then used during the production process when Production track students occasionally get Czech actors to cooperate with them (if they choose to make their final film in Czech, subtitled to English). Our Czech teacher Luděk Brouček makes them work with the textbook Film Czech - Survival Czech Course for Students of Film and Photography published by Ilona Kořánová in 2013.

Feedbacks from our students:

 “It really helped with daily life in the Czech Republic and being able to at least try to communicate.”

“This was one of the best and most interactive language courses I have ever taken. We learned so much in such a short period of time.”

“I learned a lot in this course - Luděk is an amazing teacher and I was so impressed by how well he handled the whole class.”

To deepen the student experience, Luděk came up with a special video project: students had to come up with scenarios in which the got to use what they learnt. Again, see some of the results below:
 

 

Video blog

CIEE Film studies students are usually strongly motivated individuals with true passion for filmmaking. Therefore they often come up with short independent films during their study abroad experience. Aaron Barnett from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and James Cashman from Seattle University came up with a couple of videos for their CIEE film studies blog - do not forget to checkout previous entries:

Weeks 1-5 by James

Fall 2014 semester has begun by James

Film Studies Overnight trip to Písek: Kašperské hory hike by Aaron

Final films

And last, but definitely not least, - <List names> from <list film name> production gave us a permission to publish their 16mm feature film project they created as their program requirement this term. They managed to shoot this project within 48-72 hours. Enjoy a selection of what we saw on the Final Screening on Thursday, December 18th.

 

 

Global Architecture and Design

This semester´s final projects of Global Architecture and Design students explored the island of Štvanice and proposed various ‘‘Amphibious Structures'' for the new festival ground. <insert GAD  Photo Stvanice>  This area with lot of commercial and urban potential became quite isolated and unused over the years. Our students presented new concepts for its future development.

In particular, students focused on opportunities to use the island´s full potential, especially for commercial use. The main focus was on the entertainment aspect of the island´s urban development. Nowadays, festivals are becoming major contributors to local and global economy as they have the ability to revitalize specific urban context and internationally promote the city as a rich-program destination.

Each student was given a specific area which they had to research and present a new idea of its future development. They had to face several challenges. The necessity for self-sufficient public space and infrastructure of future cities, they succeeded to propose a unique typology and technological intervention that can have profound impact not only on local surrounding, but can be applied on any context with similar challenges.

During the three core courses of Global Architecture and Design, the students were taught new technologies, methods and ways of thinking by leading figures of the contemporary scene of Czech architecture in order to successfully complete their special tasks.

 

 

 

CIEE Study Center Prague wishes you Happy Holidays!

PF 2014

10/10/2014

A Tour of Prague Castle

by Avarie Cook (Framingham State University) 

A Tour of Prague Castle

Earlier this week, Profesor Homerova took a few CIEE students (including myself) on a tour of the Prague Castle and the surrounding areas. During the tour, she gave us plenty of information about the history of Prague and the lifestyle of those in the upper class society. Here is a video of the tour with “Fall in Love” by BADBADNOTGOOD to entertain your ears while you watch. Enjoy!

Tranquility in the streets of Prague

written by Benjamin Adams (St. Lawrence University)

 

Tranquility, I believe that this is the appropriate word to begin this post with. It is the only word that comes to mind as I slowly sip on my espresso gazing across the Volta River, catching sights of red roof tops, seagulls gliding lazily around the tour boats that inhabit the river, and the gargantuan gothic architecture that is Prague castle, a behemoth of craftsmanship nestled in a baroque enclosure of Easter egg palaces. I sit and observe the scene before me, glancing occasionally at the many colorful tourists walking by with their gaping and gawking expressions. The waitress passes by, looks down at my nearly empty cup and asks if I would like another. I kindly say no, sending her on her way so as to return back to the scene which had captivated me before.

 

Reflecting on the past three weeks, it would be hard to explain every little detail that I have come across since my arrival into the city of Prague. I say this because there are so many details that by the time I was done explaining what I have seen, I would have most likely surpassed the original count and could probably publish a book on these moments. The buildings are lined with busts of Greek gods, statues of saints, and etched carvings women that most men would only meet in their dreams. Yet among all of this, the buildings themselves are seasoned with bits of street art and graffiti, giving the city a roughness around the edges but still maintaining the romanticist appeal, the very same that inspired Mozart, Kafka and the many others who have passed through its streets.

 

The rain falls harder; I lean back and watch the many tourists flock like birds to the safety of the café that I am in. The waitress passes, looks, gives a disapproving stare and moves on.

 

I turn and look down at the packet before me. The words “Modra Kniha” look back up at me. It is a work book for my Intensive Czech class. I have spent the past two weeks learning and reviewing the Czech language before the vibrant and enthusiastic Jano Cerna, a woman in her early 40s with lightly dyed red hair and a rickety movement about her. By far my favorite language teacher that I have had the pleasure to learn from, her skill has reflected on czech language skills, so I hope to keep working hard towards becoming somewhat fluent.  Though, after past two weeks of 5 hour lessons a day, it was pure bliss to allow my mind to rest for just a moment as I sipped my espresso with the waitress’s darting eyes  examining me from afar.

 

My phone beeps and buzzes and I answer. It is my Housemate Eddie. A kind and relaxed young man with the interests of philosophy, political science and literature, he has been living with me in the attic of our home-stay family. We both share a bathroom and have quaint white washed little rooms looking out onto the red tiled suburbs of Praha 4, a 20 minute metro ride from the city center. He is looking to catch the metro back at 5:30 in order to make it home for dinner at 7 with the family.  The family that I live with consists of two parents, Jirka and Lenka, and two children, Adrianno and Matiash.  Very kind and loving they are with an expressed in interest in our lives and in the progress of our Czech language skills.  I will be eagerly looking forward towards actually holding a conversation with them in Czech soon. I glance from the waitress to the streets. It seems clear enough. We agree to meet at the metro stop Muzeum, where both the A line and the C line meet. I get up, pay the waitress and walk away with two holes bored into the back of my head. I look up at the sky, analyzing the risk for precipitation.

 

The rain deceives me and I am soon standing at the street corner waiting to run underground to the safety of the metro station. Yet even while I am waiting, I still cannot help but look up at the decadent beauty of the architecture as city casts upon the unsuspecting spectator. With this, I am brought back to that state of tranquility and even as I am sitting on the metro, reading from my raindrop spotted paperback book, I can still feel that tranquility musing from inside of me.

 

This tranquility that I speak of is in a sense meditative.  The sense of confidence instilled in me while being lost in the twisting and bounding streets of Prague is comforting when acknowledging my past history of being lost.  When I was a child, my family and I went on a family vacation to Disney world, a very exciting moment in my childhood.  But as life would have it, I suddenly became that lost child in the ever flowing crowds of people looking to take pictures of the Disney Castle.  So I took my juice box and stood on a bench to get a better view of the castle, knowing in full confidence that my family would notice and come find me.

 

Thus, I find my time in Prague to be a reflection of that particular family vacation.  Being lost with no worries is a comforting notion.  Yet the city of Prague is very new and different to me and so I will be sure to make myself lost at certain points so that not only can I discover more of the city, but I will be able to enjoy that conscious feeling of meditative tranquility.  So as I reflect during my time in the chapel of bones in Kutna Hora, hiking in the bohemian paradise or spending the day examining the display of Mucha pieces at the Art Noveau Gallery in the Municipal Building, what I have gathered within my 3 weeks in the Czech Republic has been the stillness of smoke floating within the underground brick pits of local pubs, the calm sip of a Pilsner after it was poured on tap and the soft exchanging of words with a friend over a brisk walk to the next sight. Some go to nature to find the serenity of peace, but I have found it in the city of Prague.

 

10/02/2014

Fall 2014, Issue I

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The Importance of Being … Well Housed

Housing is an essential factor for a rewarding study abroad experience. Before coming to Prague, students fill out a housing survey which is crucial for their housing placement. Based on their profile and preferences, CES and CNMJ students are placed in one of the following housing options: homestay, dorm, or apartments. FS and GAD students’ housing is a little bit different in the sense that they have only the option to live in CIEE-administered apartments with other CIEE FS/GAD participants. This is due to the fact that they study outside of the CIEE Study Center (at FAMU/ARCHIP) and very often work on school projects together.

When placing students, we do our best not to place students from the same home university in the same apartment/homestay (dorm might be an exception) to make students get to know new people and not just hang out with their friends from home.

Czech Homestay

This housing option offers a truly immersive experience. Our families live in residential areas of Prague and most of them have been in the program for several semesters or even years. Homestay students have a great opportunity to get out of their comfort zone. Apart from an enriching study abroad experience, homestay students get two meals per day and a single room! They are also assigned a “homestay buddy”, local university student, who helps them during orientation and shows them around during semester.

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What do students say about their homestay?

What´s the coolest thing about your housing?

 “Home cooked meals.” (CES student)

“Amazing food and the feeling of being part of a Czech family.” (CNMJ student)

 What do you think about the buddy program?

 “I think it's a great thing.” (CES student)

“Buddies are great for showing us around the city and introducing us to the real lives of the Czech.” (CNMJ student)

 What you like about your neighborhood?

 “I like that it's quiet.” (CES student)

“It is close to the metro and very safe.” (CNMJ student)

 What advantages do you see from living with a host family?

 “A house to really call home.” (CES student)“I’m getting much more assimilated into the culture, and get great food everyday!” (CNMJ student)

Available to the following programs: Central European Studies; Communications, New Media + Journalism

Apartments

Our apartments arelocated either by the river close to the both the Study Center and the city center, or in Vinohrady, a neighborhood popular with locals as well as expats (approx. 20 minute commute to the Study Center by tram/metro). Each apartment houses two to six CIEE students (in most cases three) as well as a flat buddy. The flat buddy is a Charles University students who, in exchange for free housing, helps students during orientation, with practical issues as well as cultural immersion throughout the semester.

Students living in apartments are responsible for their own meals as well as cleaning. This housing option is perfect for independent students. Around 75% of CIEE students live in apartments.

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What do students say about their apartments?

What´s the coolest thing about your housing?

 “I love my apartment and its location.” (CES student)

 “Living in an apartment gives me the independence and responsibility of really living in the city and all with the benefit of having awesome American roommates.” (CNMJ student)

“I have thoroughly enjoyed living with a Czech student. She has been so helpful in terms of adjusting to a new city and knowing a lot about the local culture.” (CNMJ student)

”Everything. I couldn't have asked for a better flat buddy and living situation. ” (FS student)

”The apartment and the people!” (FS student)

”I have a balcony in my room, that's great.” ( FS student)

Its roomy and has great qualities of light. Also it's nice that all gear has been provided (kitchen supplies, sheets, etc.)“(GAD student)

„The apartment itself/location has been great“ (GAD student)

 What do you think about the buddy program?

 “I LOVE my Czech buddy!“ (CES student)

„It's helpful having someone available who knows the city and the language to help if I need anything.“ (CES student)

“Love having my Czech buddy around.“ (CES student)

“Having a Czech buddy is a great way to avoid touristy destinations and discover local bars and restaurants.” (CNMJ student)

“I think the buddy program is great. It provides students with the opportunity to branch out and get to know some of the locals which otherwise might be more challenging.” (CNMJ student)

“I love my Czech buddy! They all make it so easy when you have questions and they are able to show you a "real" part of the city instead of just the parts where foreigners go.“ (FS student)

“My Czech buddy is awesome.“ (FS student)

 „I think it's great! They are so helpful and it's really nice having locals to spend time with. they make it much more authentic than other abroad programs.“(GAD student)

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What you like about your neighborhood?

 “Super close to a major public transportation spot. (CES student)

“It's charming and accessible to public transportation. (CES student)

“I love living in a neighborhood where I’ve gotten to know the local shopkeepers and I can used the Czech I’ve learned on daily errands.” (CNMJ student)

“I love how quiet my neighborhood is and how I can hear someone practicing clarinet every Tuesday. The woman from the minimart recognizes me and always makes an effort to communicate and smile at me.” (CNMJ student)

“I love the location! It is so easy to get anywhere in the city. Also, we are so close to the supermarket, tram stop, and metro.“ (FS student)

“Close to both tram and metro and parks.“ (FS student)

“Everything! “ (FS student)

It's a great location to get around the city by public transit or just walking about.“(GAD student)

„You can walk everywhere, and there's so much to do.“ (GAD student)

 Available to the following programs: Central European Studies; Communications, New Media + Journalism; Global Architecture & Design; Film Studies; all summer programs

Dorm

The dorm, located within a 10-minute walk up hill to the study center, accommodates usually around 32 CIEE students. Some of the most significant advantages of living in the dorm, apart from the location, are breakfast and cleaning service Monday to Friday. Students who choose this housing option do this mostly because of location and the comfort and safety of being surrounded by other CIEE students. Five dorm buddies are placed in the dorm to, once again, help students with practical issues, share Czech culture with them and help them not get trapped in the „American bubble“. The dorm is located in a neighborhood with many nice restaurants, cafes, and shops.

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 What do students say about the dorm?

What´s the coolest thing about your housing?

 “Close to school.” (CES student)

“Free breakfast.” (CES student)

“The dorm is very nice, and is centrally located.“(CES student)

“Having my own room and bathroom.“ (CNMJ student)

 What do you think about the buddy program?

 “It was nice having a student from the Czech Republic to help us get settled and show us around.“ (CES student)

“It's helpful having someone available who knows the city and the language to help if I need anything.“ (CES student)

 “Love it!“ (CNMJ student)

 What you like about your neighborhood?

  “Nice, safe, close to school.” (CES student)

“Safe, quiet, residential. Good food options around.” (CES student)

“There are endless things to see, I could wander for days on end and still find new things.” (CNMJ student)

 Available to the following programs: Central European Studies; Communications, New Media + Journalism

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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05/23/2014

Spring 2014, Issue III

1

CIEE Prague Highlights 2014!

 

Central European Studies (CES)

 

 

Film Studies (FS)

 

 

Communication, New Media + Journalism (CNMJ)

 

 

Global Architecture and Design (GAD)