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3 posts from April 2014


Spring 2014, Issue II


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.


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 ( 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 ( 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“ ( 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 (

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: ).

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:  ), 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: ). 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:

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. :)


 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...


Back to School

written by Molly Emmett (Whitman College)

On Friday, 21st of March, my Czech language class visited a K-12 school called Základní škola in a town called Loděnice about 30 minutes outside of Prague. While there, we not only got a feel for the differences and similarities between Czech and American schools, but we also got to a sort of language exchange. Our class was paired up with 12- and 13-year-old students who helped us practice our Czech while we helped them practice their English (which they’ve been studying in school for years, but most of them have not spoken with a native speaker before). It was good preparation for our oral midterms, and the kids were great. Definitely one of my favorite experiences to date.


In the first class, I was paired with two 12-year-olds named Hynek and Honza. I found out that ‘they enjoy P.E., parkour, and playing on the computer’ (in Czech, that’s Oni mají rádi tělesná výchova, parkour a hrají na počítači–I love the word for computer). Hynek also listens to the Black-Eyed Peas and dislikes tomatoes. Honza likes coffee and hamburgers and never “tidies up” his room.


Honza, Hynek and me presenting to the class (they aren’t allowed to wear their street shoes inside the school, so many of them use Crocs for their ‘slippers’).


Lydia and her 12-year-old tutors

In the second class, I was paired up 13-year-old Matyáš. He does taekwondo, listens to dubstep, and he likes (the Czech food) svíčková (in Czech, if you’re interested: Hraje taekwondo, poslouchá dubstep a má rád svíčkovou).


Castles x Ruins

written by Cassie Tseng (University of Southern California)

About two weekends ago, I had an Art & Architecture field trip to Sychrov castle, Dlaskův statek, and Valdstejn castle. We had really lovely weather for walking around outside- it was just the right balance of sun and cool spring breezes.
Our first stop was the Neo-Gothic Sychrov castle which is located in the Northern Bohemia region. A nice lady showed us around all the different rooms. Everything was decorated so elaborately, I had a hard time keeping up with all the details! Check out that painting of Louie XIV in the back.

There was a lack of well-balanced nutrition even in the 19th century, so people were much shorter than they are today. Hence, this tiny bed


I took a few lamp + ceiling pics because I thought they were all so unique. That little black tail-like design is used in a lot of the decor. It’s called an “ermine tail” and it was one of the family’s heraldic symbols.



I really liked this staircase. You can see more of the “ermine tails” on the wall decor here


After we were able to see all of the rooms in the castle, we went out to the garden in the back. As cool as all of these rooms were, the gardens had me right at the first glance. My art and architecture professor told us about these English gardens in class and she said the main focus of this style was free and untamed nature. When I walked out, that’s exactly how I felt. I had sudden urge to put my arms up in the air and yell whatever nonsense came to mind. I pictured myself as Elizabeth Bennett running out onto the open field and frolicking around on the grass. I wasn’t able to capture the vastness of the entire garden that well, but this is as good as it gets


In my opinion, the castle looks even more grand from the gardens than it does from the front entrance. I realize it’s not built in the same style as the Highclere castle from Downton Abbey, but I couldn’t help but make a small connection between the two.


We took a leisurely walk around the entire garden and we got to see the building and observation tower that were all the way on the other side. Then we made our way back to the front of the castle and went to the hotel right next to it for our lunch! Here’s a view of the castle from the front


Our lunch was great, as usual. Thanks CIEE! For the main course, I chose the ham covered chicken with mushroom risotto topped with arugula and a side of grilled veggies


and for dessert I had grilled pineapple. Doesn’t sound like anything too special, but it was really tasty. I’m pretty sure there was butter involved because I don’t know how else it could’ve tasted so amazing. Butter is the answer to everything (this statement may be influenced by the film, Julie & Julia, which I just watched with my apartment mates last night)

With full tummies, we made our way over to the Dlaskův statek. What we wanted to see was typical Peasant/Village Baroque architecture and I think it was a prime example! Our professor jokingly said we were probably the first Americans to visit, but this place is so nondescript, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. It was really nice and serene with all the green grass and simple wood-framed exteriors.


We were able to take a tour inside the house and see all the household items that used to be made by hand, including typical furniture items and other cool stuff like a huge bass. There was an old firewood oven in the house that still worked! Someone’s steaming hot chocolate was sitting out to tempt us


We didn’t spend too much time here before making our way to our last destination of the day: the Valdstejn castle! What’s really cool about this place is that it’s built amongst sandstone cliffs, so we had to hike a bit to get to it. This is a view of the main bridge entrance from down below


The original early Gothic fortress is actually mostly in ruins, but there was a small church added on top of the ruins during the Baroque period. When we made our way around the back of the church, we were rewarded with this beautiful image of the old ruins. It looked even cooler than it does in this photo, I’m not sure if I can do the place justice by describing it


I loved wandering around among the winding stone paths and seeing the parts of the ruin where nature grew its way through the stones. I felt like I was in another world, some far off kingdom that you picture when you’re reading a book like The Lord of the Rings. It was so peaceful being up among these old stone walls, surrounded by the dense forest of trees. I almost forgot I was living in the 21st century. Here’s what it looks like from the other side. You can see the church (dedicated to Saint John of Nepomuk) that was later built on top of the ruins


CIEE gave us the option to hike around the Hruboskalsko cliffs afterwards, so that’s exactly what we did! I think this is one of the coolest hiking trails I’ve ever been on


Some people had a bit of a struggle because they surprised us with the optional hour-long hike so most of us weren’t in proper hiking gear, but it was a fairly mild path and I thought it wrapped up the day nicely! I’m kind of sad that I don’t really have any more full day/overnight trips with CIEE because they always end up being really enjoyable.