I don’t know what thought process led to me studying in the Czech Republic, of all places, but, if I did it all again, I wouldn’t choose any other country. Living in the heart of Europe enables you to travel extensively. The cost of living means that you have the funds left over to travel and don’t have to feel guilty about socializing over a beer (or many). But most of all, Prague is simply an enchanting city: it’s humble about its spectacular beauty and it’s simultaneously fascinatingly old and alive with youth. It has its challenges: like communicating with anyone over about 30, or figuring out the senseless layout of the supermarket or the endless lines at the post office. Nothing seems to run efficiently or with accountability (and if you’ve started getting your Visa you will know what I mean) but it’s quirky, it’s eclectic and it has amazing nightlife. I’ll be honest, you won’t remember much from the classroom, but you will learn more than you ever have and have memories you won’t forget. Nothing fuels your zest for life like meeting so many interesting, enthusiastic, cultured, overachieving individuals (like yourself) on exchange.

I went on exchange at the end of my fourth year of and Economics/ Commerce dual. Having used all my electives pursuing engineering, I worried it would be difficult to get credit. Fortunately VSE has a wide array of subjects offered in English. I chose seven subjects, including Economics of State Intervention, Game Theory and my favourite, Czech for Foreigners. The teaching style is quite different to UQ: quite informal, few materials and heavily presentation focused. Fortunately, many teachers have realistic expectations of students on exchange so, provided you complete all requirements, it shouldn’t be a stressful semester.

The University of Economics has a great option for accommodation, which I would definitely recommend. It’s simple, you share a room and at first you will believe you are being lured into an abandoned building, but no amount of luxury can compare to being surrounded by hundreds of friends from around the world. I lived with two Germans and a Lithuanian. Being able to high five my roommate from our beds took some getting use to, but these three girls made Prague my home away from home. I even shared Christmas with one of them and her family. If you are an exchange student at the university you are assured a place in the dorms, a tram is right outside your door, a pub is even closer, it’s only 20 minutes to the university and on top of that, it’s less than 10 000czk for the whole semester (about $500). My friends at Charles University didn’t have the same luck with their dorm and ended up finding their own accommodation, which made it difficult to meet as many people. For this reason alone, if you are an economics student, apply for VSE. The friendships you make will most likely be the most memorable part of the experience. Don’t keep considering exchange, make it happen.


  • Work out a good timetable. Attendance is important: most subjects have compulsory attendance and if you are present and pay attention in class, you can seriously minimize your workload. So give yourself a long weekend to travel and don’t put classes on a Wednesday morning. If you attend anything, it will be the Tuesday night parties and, trust me, backing it up is not easy.
  • For travel, take either Student Agency or Eurolines buses. They are both very cheap, have a lot of options and are often faster than trains.
  • If you must study, whatever you do, don’t study in the dorm! Take your laptop and go to a bar or a coffee shop. Do your bit for the Czech economy, take advantage of the cheap drinks, feel the city and maybe even practice your Czech. Use spottedbylocals.com (or the app) for much better, less touristic suggestions than Lonely Planet.
  • Download Czech Apps. You will spend a lot of time on the tram and in lines. You won’t often be on your own, but if you are, you can do a lot of learning and it will save you at least a few times with the reception lady.
  • If you can, do intensive courses or six unit courses to minimize your workload and number of exams at the end of the semester. Six unit courses are not twice the workload as a three unit course.
  • When travelling, don’t forget to explore the Czech Republic- it has some beautiful scenery. Better yet, befriend some Czechs and try to score an invite to a traditional Czech cottage.
  • Apply for your Visa EARLY. You should start planning and preparing your documents at least three-four months before you wish to leave and be sure to hassle the Embassy.
  • If you get lost or need help communicating with someone, seek out a young face. Most young people have great English skills and are very generous. This is very handy to do while you are waiting in line at the post office.


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