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29 posts categorized "Travel"

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.

 

12/15/2017

FALL 2017 ISSUE III

CIEE Christmas Party

On the evening of December 11, CIEE Prague hosted its annual Christmas Party for all its students, professors, buddies, homestay families and CIEE Prague staff.

With Czech Christmas carols being played in the background and the delicious smell of some of the most traditional Czech Christmas dishes lingering in the air, the event started with the arrival of St. Nicholas, the patron of children and magical bringer of gifts, who was accompanied by Krampus, the Christmas Devil, and the Christmas Angel as one of the oldest Czech Christmas traditions dictates.
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After having been gifted small gifts from them, our students were invited to taste the Czech Christmas menu – fried carp, schnitzels, potato salad, mushroom-groats risotto dish called "Kuba", Christmas cookies and the Christmas bread (including gluten-free and vegan options).

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Students could also give a go to various Czech Christmas traditions and customs, as there were 4 Czech Christmas DIY stations. The 4 activities were ginger bread decorating, making of paper snowflakes and paper chains and floating walnut shells, an activity that Czechs do to tell each others' fortune.

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Students from all our 4 programs (Central European Studies Program, Communication, New Media & Journalism Program, Film Studies Program as well as the Global Architecture & Design Program) attended the event and had a jolly good time with all the other guests!

11/02/2017

FALL 2017 ISSUE II

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Excursion to the Morava Region

CES, CNMJ, FS and GAD program students, along with Eva and Zuzana, all had a unique opportunity to participate in extraordinary extracurricular excursions at the beginning of the semester. CIEE Prague staff came up with two brand new destinations for the Fall'17 semester.

The first excursion was an overnight one focused on the Moravia region. The objective of this trip was to explore the Moravian culture and to learn about its traditions and customs by visiting multiple interesting places.

The first stop on this trip was the magnificent and largest karst area in Central Europe – the Moravian Karst. The group walked through the caves leading to the famous Macocha Abyss, some 452ft deep gorge surrounded by eerie myths and legends. The tour then continued to the Punkva Caves, where the group sailed along the subterranean river Punkva. The Moravian Karst is, without any doubt, one of the Czech Republic's natural wonders which will wow every visitor. Many students mentioned the Moravian Karst as the highlight of the trip in the excursion feedbacks. Later on, after having tasted local dishes, the group of students and trip leaders were transported to Mikulov, one of the most beautiful towns in the Moravia region.

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The historical town of Mikulov is located in the south of Moravia, just a few kilometers away from Brno near the Czech-Austrian border. Located on the Palava hills and surrounded by vineyards, it is well-known for wine tasting. Since wine-growing and wine-making are essential elements of Czech culture, the group was introduced to different types of wine and nibbles that go with wine-tasting by a professional wine connoisseur in the evening.

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Fall in the Czech Republic is a very colorful and beautiful season (if it isn’t raining, of course). Although it rained during our second day in Mikulov, the students still enjoyed the Mikulov guided tour very much.

The group then visited one of Europe's most remarkable – the Lednice chateau, built in the English Neo-Gothic style. The chateau tour was a great experience, especially thanks to the guide. The Lednice chateau is not only about the splendid interiors and architecture, but the French-style garden with its palm tree greenhouse, the Masonic wall and the chateau grounds freely blending into the open countryside are also worth a look.

Excursion to Bohemian Switzerland

The other brand new excursion was a hike to the Pravčická Brána. This excursion was the most successful one out of all Fall'17 excursions – a waitlist for students who did not manage to sign up on time actually had to be created due to the immense interest. Despite the bad weather at the departure from Prague, everyone was full of hope that it would be sunny in the Bohemian Switzerland region, which it was when the group arrived at the destination.

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Since the excursion was actually a hike, it allowed us to explore more than just the Pravčická Brána, since the region offers a lot more landmarks and beautiful views. Having put on our hiking shoes, we set off on the marked trails to explore more of the region's beauty. We passed the romantic Hřensko gorges and the Gabriela's Trail, where you can see unusual sandstone rock formations.

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The Pravčická Brána indeed has a fairytale atmosphere, which is evidenced by the fact that the famous Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen wrote part of his “Snow Queen” fairytale here. The landmark has also charmed Holywood filmmakers, as several scenes of the Narnia Chronicles were shot here.

04/07/2016

Spring 2016, Issue II

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Midterms are over and we are back with some updates on Prague semester programs: Central European Studies (CES); Communication, New Media, and Journalism (CNMJ); Film Studies (FS); and Global Architecture and Design (GAD). Currently we have 230 students on site getting ready for the remaining time they have in Prague, enjoying the beautiful sunny spring weather.

We would like to focus this newsletter on new field trips out of Prague and also introduce new internship partnerships for the CNMJ program.

Central European Studies

Field trips out of Prague

Students visited two towns located a convenient distance from Prague. It was the first step onto non-Prague Czech soil for most of them. These trips at the beginning of the semester are essential for the students to realise the diversity of Czech Republic; no one is saying that a nearby town is a comprehensive example of this diversity, but it establishes that Prague is not an absolute specimen of the Czech Republic. Both of the towns house plenty of people who commute to the capital for work, yet they still retain a genuine and unique atmosphere.

Dobris is a town located south of Prague and has a stunning chateau with unique gardens surrounding it. It is used for special occasions and even as a shooting location for various motion pictures.

Melnik is known as the town at the confluence of the two most significant Czech rivers – Labe (Elbe) and Vltava (Moldau). Apart from this natural spectacle, it also has a stunning chateau.

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Students had the chance to explore the picturesque atmosphere of a Czech small town and to observe some old fashioned beauty, and hopefully enjoyed a satisfying meal.

Students’ feedback:  10/10 would recommend. Great trip! Very enjoyable!

Students’ highlights:  I leaned some new interesting facts. Making new friends. Had chance to practice Czech with locals. Highlight of the trip was learning information about Czech history through the chateau.

Communications, New Media and Journalism

 CIEE announces new internship partnerships

The Communication, New Media, and Journalism Program in Prague offers internships to its students that focus on communications, media, journalism, and public relations. Due to the increased number of students in Spring 2016, CIEE in Prague had to establish new partnerships with organizations seeking English native speakers. Some of the newly established partners are ARCHIP (Architectural Institute in Prague), CEVRO, Fleishman Hillard, Open House Prague Festival, Prague Black Panthers, Prague International Marathon, The Prague Visitor, and The Prague Concert Company. CIEE in Prague is proud to have established these partnerships and looks forward to cooperating with more local organizations in the future.

ARCHIP (Architectural Institute in Prague) is a college offering a three year bachelor’s program focused on Architecture and a two year master’s program in Architecture and Urbanism. Located in Prague 7, known as a “hipster area”, ARCHIP is very attractive for foreign students. The college currently hosts 65 students from 32 countries. Our interns Shira and Sydney are currently preparing an Open House that will take place on April 26th.

CEVRO Institute was founded in 2006 as a non-profit educational institution to provide bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in the areas of public and private law, economics, politics, international relations, security studies etc. CEVRO Institute is linked to a number of foreign universities in order to foster academic cooperation. For example, CEVRO Institute is involved in the Erasmus exchange program (designed for foreign students who study one or two semesters at CEVRO Institute). Furthermore, CEVRO Institute is currently starting a new English-language master’s degree program in .  Over the past 10 years, it has become a well-known and respected educational institution in the field of education as well an active participant in major discussions on various political, economic, security, and legal issues within the public sphere. Our intern Sophie is providing assistance and cooperation on activities to develop their international educational programs designed for students from abroad.

FleishmanHillard is one of the world’s leading international communications consultancies with more than 2,500 employees in over 80+ offices around the globe. FH was founded 70 years ago and has since established a strong reputation for delivering meaningful, positive, and measurable impact for clients. They are widely recognized for exceptional service and quality standards as well as their long-term relationships with clients. Our interns Madison and Mackenzie work in the public relations department.

Open House Prague Festival presents a simple but powerful idea: making ordinarily inaccessible buildings in Prague accessible to the inquisitive and curious public. For one weekend throughout the whole year, they open company headquarters, offices, or modern technical buildings that people usually just pass by. The shape and appearance of these buildings affect us every day, they guide our steps but rarely do we have the chance to look within their walls. Our intern Debbie is currently preparing for the Open House Prague Festival that will take place in May.

Prague Black Panthers (PBP) is the most successful American football team in recent Czech history. It was founded in 2012 by merging the Prague Panthers (PP) and the Prague Black Hawks (PBH). The history of PP extends back to the 1990’s and the very beginning of American football in the Czech Republic. Its men’s team participates in both the Austrian league (one of two best club leagues in Europe) and the Czech league (PBP has won the championship every year since its beginning). The organization also has a children’s and a women’s team. Our intern Breanna works in the sports marketing and social media department. 

The Prague International Marathon originated in 1995 and has been on the fast track to international acclaim since then. Besides the Prague Marathon, the parent company RunCzech organizes other running events – in total 7 races in 5 cities of the Czech Republic. Among other events are half marathons in Prague, Karlovy Vary, České Budějovice, Olomouc and Ústí nad Labem and the Grand Prix in Prague. Our intern Margaret works in the international promotions department.

The Prague Visitor is a monthly arts, entertainment and events magazine aimed at tourists and ex-patriots in the Prague area. The publication is in English and distributed in area hotels, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants. The publication’s print run is 50,000 copies per month. The Prague Visitor is a new publication, founded by an American publisher who has over 20 years of media experience. Interns selected will be able to participate in launching the magazine’s inaugural issue and will be given lateral insight into a business start-up. Our interns Katherine and Natalia work in the editorial and social media department.

The Prague Concert Co. has been providing services to touring groups since 1994. The team of enthusiastic professional tour planners assist in creating the perfect concert tour, designing a rewarding study program, or facilitating visits to the great festivals, concert halls and opera houses of the Czech region. They believe in an individual approach to all their projects, with a focus on getting the details right and offering a personal service to all their clients. Our intern Corey is updating brochures for the company and helping with proof-reading.

Film Studies

Overnight field trip to Český Krumlov

The Spring 2016 Film Studies program academic overnight trip destination was Český Krumlov, famous UNESCO heritage site, where the One World documentary film festival on human rights took place on the weekend of March 18-20, 2016. One World is one of the cornerstones of the People in Need organization. Since its inception in 1999, it has become the most important festival of its kind in the world and in 2007 it won a special mention from UNESCO for its contribution to human rights education. This year’s theme was “Looking for home” and students had a chance to see three projections (Mallory, Under the Sun and The Swedish Theory of Love) followed by discussions with the main protagonists and/or filmmakers. They enjoyed both immensely.

A guided tour of the city was provided and students had the chance to admire the beautiful castle and view the city from its highest point – the castle tower.

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Since filmmakers are also curious about changes in perception, we took them to a Mirror Maze where they had a blast. Students also visited the 19th century photo studio Seidel, in which time stands still, for an interactive tour where they not only learned about the photo developing process, but also had their pictures taken in various costumes.

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The exhibits of the Josef and František Seidel studio surprise visitors with their authenticity, thousands of unique period photographic postcards, glass negatives, old functional cameras, and photographic darkroom equipment. Seidel’s personal notes, diaries, customer ledgers, and original furnishings make the overall collection even more appealing. Josef Seidel (1859-1935) ranked among the most outstanding photographers of his time. He documented everyday life in Český Krumlov and the Šumava mountains region. His son František (1908-1997) continued his father’s business. He was imprisoned by the Nazis during WWII and because of this he was allowed to stay in Krumlov even after all of his German relatives were transferred to Germany in 1945-46. Despite persecution by the Communists after 1948, he was able to maintain his father’s photographic archives until the fall of the Communist regime.

CIEE never forgets its mission, so immersion into local culture is a necessary part of the trip. And since one of the most effective ways to explore local culture is through the local cuisine, we offered a selection of various traditional Bohemian meals. This part of the Czech Republic is known for its delicious and fresh fish as well as pork or duck roast with sauerkraut and dumplings, schnitzels, soups (dill, potato, cabbage) or traditional “svíčková”, beef sirloin in a creamy root-vegetable sauce served with whipped cream, cranberries, and bread dumplings. Students learned the local way to eat trout, which is traditionally served whole in Czech lands, head and bones included. They also visited the House “U Dwau Maryí” (at two Maries’) built in late Middle Ages which offers Bohemian medieval cuisine, including puffed barley, buckwheat, millet, potato cake, dumplings, potato soup with daisies, smoked meat, roast carp with tarragon, pheasant, rabbit, sweet dumplings with forest fruits or poppy seeds, buckwheat gruel with honey, raisins, almonds and cinnamon and more.

The Czech Republic is also known for its beer brewing history (extending to the 10th century or even earlier). So on Sunday, we took students to a microbrewery just under the Zvíkov castle. Two friends made their dream come true when they established this brewery in 1994. The head brewer took students on a tour through the whole brewery: the brewing house with copper kettles, fermentation room with fermenting tubs, beer cellar with lager tanks, and racking room for the bottling and filling of barrels. They also had a chance to taste a small sample as well, accompanied by a delicious (and heavy) Bohemian dish.

On the way to the brewery, we stopped at the Crocodile Zoo Protivín which has had great success breeding endangered and critically endangered crocodile species. Students got to see crocodiles, gharials – including the only breeding pair of Indian gharials in Europe – caimans, and alligators, as well as few cobras.

Students’ feedback: 

Great trip!!! Really a blast. Thank you.                                                               

Everything was well organized & well spread out - overall great! *****                                                                           

I had a wonderful time!                                                                                                                            

This trip was stupendous.                                                                         

Such a beautiful and wonderful weekend! Thank you!! :)                                                                         

Beautiful town, great trip, great break from everything. 5 stars!            

 

Students’ highlights: 

The festival!!! All of the films were amazing.                                                                                                                  

Honestly all of it was so great! Especially loved the documentary screenings and the tower viewpoint.               

Tour of Český Krumlov + film festival.                                                                 

The pork belly we had was the best ever meal I've had.                                                                             

The time to explore Český Krumlov.                                                                                                                                    

Mirror Maze and photography studio.                                                                                              

The clocktower! And beauty of Český Krumlov.                                                                             

Photography tour/photo session.                                                                        

 

Global Architecture and Design

 

Technology trip

One of the integral parts of Global Architecture and Design program is the technology trips. These trips serve as a tool for broadening students’ knowledge for application in their projects. This semester, the five brave students visited two different places: Marine Engineering Company and Materió.

The Marine Engineering Company introduced students to the world of CNC technology. The company, located 20 minutes away from Prague, explained to students the steps involved in using CNC technology. As the title suggests, the company uses this process for building boats and, luckily for the Global AD squad, the actual cutting of boat parts was demonstrated.

The other trip organized within the beautiful city of Prague was to the Materió library of materials. Materió is a service that specializes in following material innovation all over the world. Their mission is to be constantly on the cutting edge with regard to emerging materials and technologies. This service is dedicated to all companies and individuals that are seeking to innovate, therefore ideal for our students. It is a perfect place not only for architects and designers, but also for creative people in general.

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09/24/2015

“List of the weirdest places in the world”

written by Graham Marema (Davidson College)

When I was a high school student in the land-locked and country-locked state of Tennessee, I developed a habit of googling things like “List of the weirdest places in the world” and mentally noting all the ones I would visit. I had an abstract idea that one day I would just find myself in Europe with a backpack and a list of bizarre places, and from then on I’d live on the road and become one of those Travelers who Sees Things.

 Predictably, I found out that you don’t ever really find yourself anywhere. You have to research the right programs and get the right applications and send for a visa and get a coat warm enough for winters in the Czech Republic and wheedle your parents into just a little bit more spending money (It’s culture, mom!), and only then will you step off the plane into the baffling city of Prague.

 

So far I’ve seen the Prague Castle perched above orange roofs on the drive from the airport, the high dark windows of the National Museum from my flat’s balcony, and the most famous cemetery in the Czech Republic, dulled by rain as the cathedral bell tolled three, on my walk to school. I didn’t expect that once I got there - wherever “there” ended up being - it would take so long to sink in. All of these things felt like movie sets, like pictures of pictures. It wasn’t until a trip to Kutna Hora that it officially hit me. I walked down the cool dark steps of the Ossuary, where I looked up and found myself staring at one of the pictures I’d seen on “List of the weirdest places in the world” - a cathedral made of human bones. I had now found myself in a place I’d always considered to be a daydream. I’d found myself in Europe with a backpack (full of school books and planners, not dirty flannels and maps as I’d romantically imagined, but whatever) and a list of bizarre places I’ll one day really see.

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10/10/2014

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.

 

10/01/2014

Karlovy Vary

written by Summer Si (University of California)

Karlovy Vary is a spa town located about 2 hours away from Prague. "Spa" immediately conjures up feelings of relaxation and soaking in a hot tub until my mind melts and washes away all my worries. Two friends and I decided to go in high aims to experience a massage or some kind of spa treatment. And so we used the Student Agency bus and booked a one night stay in a hostel. By the way, I highly recommend using Student Agency to travel. Our bus had little personal screens so you can watch a film and they serve you hot drinks (tea, coffee, hot chocolate). I ended up sleeping the whole way, but next time I'll watch a film. 

 

We arrived at around 4 PM and found a traditional Czech restaurant to eat dinner because we were famished. Afterwards, we walked around Karlovy Vary as the day turned into the evening. The night time turned Karlovy Vary into an image that will be difficult to forget because it did not look like the picturesque views we found on Google images. I grew up going to Disneyland with my family in California, and I must say, Karlovy Vary at night feels like an eery version of Disneyland at night when the amusement park is soon about to close.

 

Disneyland evokes a playfulness that the colorful buildings of Karlovy Vary also present ... but in the sunny day time. Once it hit dusk, these colors were not as vibrant and become muted. It's a similar process of turning from color to black and white, the transition between the two. The gloomy weather and cloudiness also helped with this effect. Compared to Disneyland as you exit when it gets close to midnight the Disney song "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" leads you out, Karlovy Vary did not have the music, just the fairy tale buildings. (look at pictures 1 and 2)

 

Nonetheless, Karlovy Vary was beautiful walking around at night. Even more beautiful in the daytime! Luckily, the sun was shining and the clouds dissipated. We woke up and went to a nearby spa and waited about 45 minutes to schedule an appointment for a classic massage. We should have called the day before, because the whole day was booked. We should have known since this is THE SPA town of Czech Republic. Looking up the numbers, 76,000 visitors come to this town each year just for the spa. We ended up walking to the Grand Pupp Hotel and enjoyed the beautiful scenario and the town where Casino Royale and The Last Holiday were filmed. (picture 3) We went to this building called Císařské lázně where it used to be a bath house but now it is being used as a place for meetings and ceremonies and is getting renovated. We sat in the metal bath tub and that was our "bath." The last picture is me and my new friend. The end!

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04/28/2014

Spring 2014, Issue II

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Ahoj from Praha, Study Abroad Advisors!

CIEE Prague programs offer plenty of trips and excursions, so we would like to focus this newsletter on these.

Central European Studies (CES)

CES academic trips are an inseparable part of the academic experience in Prague, as well as an inseparable part of the courses themselves. Each student has to go on at least 2 academic trips per semester. CIEE offers some 20 trips to various destinations, all accompanied by  teaching faculty and CIEE staff and all carefully chosen to help the students better comprehend the course topics and to provide them as much cultural immersion opportunities as possible. We offer one-day trips as well as overnight trips and show the evidence of history, the communist legacy and the transformation of the Czech society into a democratic member of the EU with its current social and economic challenges. Students can also choose from a variety of cultural sites important to historical events, literature courses, art and architecture or even current environmental issues.

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The trips provide students a unique opportunity to explore sites outside of Prague, such as concentration camps and historical Jewish ghettos, which are connected to history courses and Judaism, as well as to courses focusing on psychoanalysis – e.g., understanding Nazi propaganda and the cult of Hitler.  Students also have a unique opportunity to have a deeper understanding of human rights, national identity and sociopolitical issues by visiting socially excluded localities and discussing it with local NGO and governmental representatives. In order to explore the communist past of the Czech Republic, students can visit and learn about the communist regime, the political persecution of that authoritarian regime by visiting former work camps with former political prisoners. Dealing with the outcomes of communist environmental policies, students learn about rural landscape changes. Last but not least, there are trips connected to a cultural immersive experience, where students have the chance to spend Easter in a village with a local family and to practice traditional (quite unique) Czech Easter customs.

Many trips and sites are so popular that they are run more than 4 times during the semester. A large number of students want to go to more destinations - beyond the CIEE academic mandatory requirement of taking part in 2 trips. Some trips maintain throughout semesters 100% positive feedbacks, and according to the students is one of the highlights of their experience in CIEE Prague’s program.

 Film Studies (FS)

Despite of the fact that Film Studies students are especially busy throughout the semester, CIEE Prague believes that studying abroad is about outclass academic exploration as well. Therefore we offer a number of excursions and trips designed specifically for the FS program.

Barrandov Film Studios excursion

On Friday, February 14th, FS Coordinator Ivana took students for a tour to the famous Barrandov Film Studios. As every semester, students not only got to visit the props, furniture and costumes department, but also some representational premises for filmmakers, a stage set of Tudors show and postproduction labs were seen. Furthermore, we got access to two film ateliers with shooting in progress, so students had a blast taking pictures in a train where Donald Sutherland acted in Crossing Lines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_Lines). As always, a yummy lunch was provided. But let us share student feedback from this excursion:

 “Barrandov was truly amazing. It was so interesting and I felt like I learned a lot. I loved this excursion.”

“BEST TRIP EVER. The day was pretty exhausting, but overall it was a fantastic visit. It is a opportunity to visit the Barrandov Studios where such famous people have walked the halls. I liked the extra bit of tour that we got, thanks to Ivana. Hopefully I will be back there again one day making my own film! The lunch was fantastic, also.”

“I really enjoyed it! It was laid back enough so we could really soak it up, and we got to see a lot of the studios. The most interesting part was seeing the costumes and props. I also really, really appreciated the donuts given to us in the morning.”Barrandov 1photo courtesy of Jonáš Klimeš

Barrandov 2photo courtesy of Katie Ratcliffe

Hafan Animation Studio workshop

On Saturday and Sunday, March 1st-2nd, students split into 2 groups and each spent a whole day in Prague’s Hafan animation studio. They created traditional animated short film and had a blast!

Hafan 1

Hafan 2photo courtesy of Beth Winchester

 

Video animation students made together in 2 days

Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects

On Monday, March 24th, CIEE 2nd cultural workshop was planned. We decided to connect it with an excursion to Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects (http://www.muzeumkarlazemana.cz/en) which students enjoyed immensely.

 

video courtesy of Andie Eikenberg  Karel Zeman 1
on a Moon rose, photo courtesy of Katie Ratcliffe

After the excursion, we continued to Dobrá Trafika, an underground coffee place which looks like a simple news stand at first. Over a coffee/yummy milk shakes and cakes, academic, professional, social and interpersonal goals that students set for themselves during the orientation were discussed. And it was time for more fun too - students tested their knowledge of Greatest Czechs in a memory game and they all did quite good!

But hear it in their own words:

“Cool, interesting, creative excursion + great gift shop! Workshop was a nice activity - glad I knew more Czechs than I thought!“

„Very interesting and reminded me of a set on a George Méliès film.“

Overnight trip to Moravia - workshop in Olomouc, Palacký University, Audiovisual department

The weekend of March 28-30, FS Program Coordinator Ivana and Program Coordinator Eva took students on a weekend excursion to the Moravian Region. The trip started in the city of Olomouc, a UNESCO heritage site  - a local guide gave us a tour of the city center. After a yummy lunch we continued to Palacký University to join local students in the Audiovisual Department for a student television workshop. Students were given a simply task: introduce the city. You can see the result here:

 

 

After the workshop, local students took CIEE Film Studies group to a local restaurant and they enjoyed an evening together, exploring the city independently.

Olomouc pic 1
Photo courtesy of John Kim

On Saturday, the whole group transfered to Uherské Hradiště, where a summer film festival is held annually. We checked in to Hotel Koníček, had lunch and continued to Vlčnov village, famous for its „Ride of the Kings“ (http://www.czechtourism.com/c/unesco-jizda-kralu/). After visiting a Home Distillery Museum (part of The Museum of Moravian Slovakia), we were invited to a local home by a Vlčnov family. Moravians are known for their hospitality and they truly confirmed this reputation of theirs. Mr. Mikulec told us about the Slivovitz distilling process and his wife surprised us with yummy Moravian kolatche and traditional Czech party sandwiches.

ON Trip pic 1Photo courtesy of John Kim

After this unique experience, we return back to Uherské Hradiště. Students were given couple of hours of free time to explore on their own and we met again for dinner. The local wine cellar visit followed.

ON Trip pic 2

ON Trip pic 2 b

On Sunday morning, we had a last site to visit: Moravian Karst with Punkva caves and the deepest gorge in the Czech lands: Macocha. Students were quite excited particularly due to the short train ride followed by a boat ride in the underground caves.

ON Trip pic 3

ON Trip pic 3 bPhoto courtesy of John Kim

More information from students perspectives can be found in FS blog (http://study-abroad-blog-prague-fs.ciee.org/).

Communication, New Media + Journalism (CNMJ)

Overnight trip to Brno

During a beautiful spring weekend in March, CNMJ Program students headed to Brno and other spots in Moravia with Amanda, Communication Program Coordinator. Our goal was to learn more about the media landscape in the Czech Republic and all by meeting local students and attending the human rights documentary film festival, One World (insert link: http://www.oneworld.cz/2014/ ).

Once we arrived to Brno on Friday, we stopped by Radio R at Masaryk University, Department of Media Studies and Journalism. Radio R is a very successful student-run radio station with over 100 volunteer moderators. They broadcast a variety of original programs covering politics, alternative music, and cultural events in and around Brno. CNMJ students not only had a discussion with student broadcasters, but also got to broadcast live themselves!

Radio R students on air

After our exciting live radio stint, we continued on with Radio R students and with hungry bellies to Výtopna Restaurant. Students were told there would be a surprise there. Výtopna is special thanks to a mini train which brings restaurant-goers their drinks! Surprise!

Our evenings in Brno were dedicated to the One World Film Festival, which is put on by the non-profit People in Need (in fact, we have one CNMJ intern working in their Media Department this semester). On Friday we saw The Great Night (insert link: http://www.oneworld.cz/2014/films-a-z/25305-the-great-night  ), which won the award for Best Czech Documentary at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival last year. On Saturday, we saw a much more light-hearted film called, Everything is Possible (insert trailer?) about an 80 year-old Polish woman who backpacks around the world.

On Saturday we decided to explore the Moravian countryside and hung out in the village of Velké Bílovice. With 800 hectares of vineyards, it makes up the largest wine territory in the Czech Republic. So naturally after lunch, we walked through the village, greeting locals in Czech on our way, and ended up at a family wine cellar. After a short crash course in the ways of wine tasting, students were given several local samples to taste.

Lunch before wine tasting

Our last stop on Sunday before heading back to Prague was Moravian Karst (insert link: http://www.moravskykras.net/en/moravian-karst.html ). We enjoyed a tour of the caves, which included not only the impressive Macocha Abyss (the largest such gorge in Central Europe), but also a boat ride through the last part of the caves.

Students had a great time! For more on this trip from a student’s perspective, please visit our CNMJ blog:

http://study-abroad-blog-prague-cnmj.ciee.org/

CNMJ group

 

Global Architecture and Design (GAD)

Overnight Trip – Vltava Cascades

The very first academic trip for the Global AD program was planned to be only a few weeks after the student’s arrival so they could bond and get to know Adam Vukmanov, the ARCHIP Academic Coordinator, Petra, the CIEE Global AD Coordinator and other members of the ARCHIP faculty while traveling through beautiful sites of central and southern Bohemia.

  Hluboka trip2

The plan was to follow Vltava river cascades, starting at Lipno, which is very important hydro power plant built to protect the UNESCO site Český Krumlov and other towns and villages nearby from floods; we stayed at  Hluboká nad Vltavou, a beautiful little town close to Lipno and continued on the next day with touring 3 other dams – Hněvkovice, Orlík and Slapy.

Berlin Summit

Global AD program connects 3 European cities – Barcelona, Berlin and Prague. Students from all three cities were invited to participate in the Berlin Summit and aside from many other interesting things, to present what they have been working on so far. From March 26 to March 28, CIEE Berlin hosted students from Prague and Barcelona. It was a huge success and students left more educated, connected and satisfied with their achievements. Which city will host next? :)

Berlin Summit

  Cultural Workshop

On April 10, during the academic workshop lead by Alessio Erioli, an engineer and senior researcher at Università di Bologna, Petra took the group to a traditional Czech restaurant for a second cultural workshop. Alessio joined them as well. Aside from the amazing food and drinks, they all tested their knowleadge of Czech culture, especially what they knew of famous Czech people. Well, they still have a bit to learn. :)

Workshop

 Construction Site Visit

On April 11, the students, Adam and Petra visited basic construction sites in Prague that were in different stages of the process. It was a lot of fun and not only because we got to wear hard hats. We got a chance to see how different designing and building is in the Czech Republic and learn a lot about the specific constructions from top to bottom. Both were office buildings built by different companies.

Construction site
Working hard...

02/22/2013

Kutna Hora

By Eleanor Klibanoff, George Washington University

Prague has a lot of churches—it really earns the nickname “City of a Thousand Spires.” It’s hard to imagine you could ever see them all, even if you devoted all your time here to just visiting places of worship. But before we could even scratch the surface of the Prague church scene, CIEE was packing us up and taking us to see other churches in other cities in the Czech Republic. We went to Kutna Hora, a town located an hour outside of the city. Kutna Hora is most famous for it’s two main churches, which are very, very different from each other.

In the morning, we went to the Cathedral of St. Barbara, which is a gothic church from the 1300’s. It is huge and incredibly beautiful. From the outside, it is best appreciated at a distance. The flying buttresses, the stained glass and the stonework make for an impressive site high up on a hill. The inside has countless frescos and paintings, generally depicting St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners. Since Kutna Hora is a silver mining town, it’s easy to see why they chose her as the namesake for their largest church.

After a delicious lunch break, we ventured to the second church, which is unlike any church I’ve ever been to. During the plague and the Hussite wars, so many people died that they were unable to bury all the bodies properly. Eventually, the bones were used to decorate this otherwise plain church. The remains of over 60,000 people create the chandelier, coat of arms and geometric decorations around the church. Some areas just have piles of bones while others used the skulls to create strange towers. The whole thing is incredibly strange, but also makes you realize how destructive the plague must have been. These are the remains of those who couldn’t be buried, meaning thousands more had already died at that point.

The trip to Kutna Hora was interesting, mainly just to show the difference between the two main city attractions. It’s hard to believe that the Cathedral of St. Barbara and the Bone Church are right down the road from each other, but it did make for an fascinating comparison!

11/26/2012

Tallinn, Estonia

By Sarah Russell, Indiana University

Tallinn was easily my favorite city outside of Prague.  It was also the coldest.  It reminded me of a real-life Renaissance festival, complete with the costumes and food of Estonia’s medieval era.  Most of the restaurants were lit by candlelight and the local shop owners wore traditional clothes and leather pointy elf-like shoes.  The hot wine and food was fantastic – I ate boar, bear, and elk, as well as duck. 

            After our two hour ferry on what seemed like a cruise ship, we headed through a modern city to the Old Town, where we spent the day.  We wandered curvy cobblestoned streets past the 15th century Guildhall, and along the original town wall, complete with towers that overlooked the city.  We also walked through a couple knit markets and old alleyways.  We made our way to Town Hall Square, the main square of Old Town.

Tallinn town hall

            Here the Tallinn Town Hall sits, dating back to 1322.  Unfortunately tours are only available in the summer.  It is the only gothic style town hall in Northern Europe.  Next door, we stopped by one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, first mentioned in 1422.  The pharmacy was simple and housed not only a working pharmacy but a museum with objects that would have been found in earlier days.  These included sun-dried dog feces, stallion hooves, and a pickled toad. 

            We walked by the famous Olaviste Church, built in 1250.  Once it was considered the tallest building in Europe.  Supposedly, the builder of the church, Olaf, fell to his death from the tower and upon hitting the ground, a snake and a toad crawled out of his mouth.  I’m not sure what this means, and I’m not sure anyone else does.  We then decided to take a break and attend an organ concert at the 13th century St. Nicholas’ Church.  The concert was wonderful and seemed to truly show off the different styles and music produced by the organ.

            From there we walked up Toompea Hill where Toompea castle, the Estonian Royal Palace sits.  The castle was relatively small but had great views of the city.  The castle was built in 1219 on the location of a 10th century stronghold.  Nowadays, the castle is home to the Estonian Parliament.  Across from parliament is the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in 1900.  This was my first experience with Russian architecture, and I was quite impressed.  The outside was ornately decorated with white, gold, brown, and black, and the inside was covered in gold statues, alters, and paintings.  A priest was blessing a group of people, which made the experience even more unique.

Tallinn friend

            Before heading back to the Main Square for a quick dinner before the ferry, we walked down the hill next to the Old Town wall and past the cannon tower, Kiek in de Kok, or ‘peep into the kitchen’.  Supposedly the tower was so tall that the solders on top could look into the women cooking food in the town below.  We continued to the Square of Freedom.  This square is just outside of old town, in a modern part of the city with art deco buildings.  In the middle of the square stands the white glass tower with a cross on it, the monument to the Estonian War of Independence.  The tower was simple and beautiful.  In one corner of the square, you can look below the ground through a glass panel that shows the original street, stairs, and foundation of Harju Gate, the strongest gate to the Old Town from the 15th century.

Tallinn russian

            Tallinn was relaxing, just wandering in and out of streets and enjoying the architecture.  This city certainly had a great spirit to it.  Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun despite the bitter cold.  I would certainly go back to explore more of Estonia.