UQ Program: Bachelor of Economics/Commerce

The winning team of the Buddy System’s “Beer Rally”. I am back right in the pink; My exchange to University of Economics in Prague (VSE) was hands down the best experience of my life. I have not stopped raving about my amazing semester and I know the memories and friends will stay with me for a long time.

The four months I spent in Prague afforded me the opportunity to travel very regularly (usually leaving Wednesday night and returning Sunday) and most importantly mix with other nationalities, trial new foods and drinks, hear a diversity of languages and form some fantastic friendships. The exchange students were so diverse with backgrounds from over 30 countries including Peru, Iceland, Argentina, Estonia and Russia.

I chose to live in the student dormitories (only 20 minutes to Uni on a tram) and definitely believe this provided me with the best experience. I shared a flat with 3 other girls – a Croatian, Slovakian and Canadian. We became great friends and I have since visited them all in their respective countries, as well as a friend in Austria and Iceland. These opportunities are priceless and what I have learnt from them and my travels is far beyond anything learnt in the classroom. Celebrating spring with a picnic at Petrin Park overlooking Prague – I am far left.

I am currently in my third year of an Economics/Commerce degree so was able to take Economic elective courses such as Economics of Transformation and Integration of Central Europe to EU. I also took Introductory Czech as a general elective, which helped me out with the language and basic communication. Enrolling in courses was super easy and there was a huge array of English courses to choose from. Often the courses are targeted at exchange students so the professors can be quite lenient when it comes to attendance, provided you complete the required workload.

One of the highlights about studying at VSE is their Buddy Program, where exchange students are assigned a Czech student to help them out throughout the semester.  I found this a huge help as my buddy picked me up from the airport, showed me how to buy transport tickets, took me to my dormitory and was always on hand for any assistance I needed. The Buddy Program also organised regular trips and activities and were of great support if we had any queries. Most importantly, they ran the ultimate Nation2Nation parties at various clubs every Tuesday night, which saw a different host country choose a theme for the night, provide local food and drinks and prepare a comic presentation.

The Czech Republic is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and its capital Prague is undeniably one of my favourite European cities. The city has a certain vibe about it that makes you crave more; whether it’s the fried cheese burgers from the local vendors or the street performers in Wenceslas Square, getting lost in the cobble-stoned streets in Old Town or the local bars with their cheap, delicious Czech beer. The people are friendly, the transport is outstanding, everything is ridiculously cheap, the food is amazing, and the beer flows cheaper than water, and tastes better too!

I truly believe travelling and experiencing new things and friendships is the best way to bring out the best in your self and learn tolerance, confidence and an open sense of mind. I recommend an exchange to anyone and everyone – you can only benefit from this experience and have one of the best times of your life.

I cannot reiterate how fantastic and enjoyable my exchange was – definitely go for it! Don’t let money be your issue because there’s plenty of support available including UQ scholarships, OS-Help Loans and Centrelink assistance.  Just make it happen!

Tips:
1. Make the most of every minute and see not only Prague but also the entirety of Czech Republic’s beauty – this country is totally underrated!
2. Sign up for any intensive courses you can – these are usually a week long so you can be finished your study quickly which gives you more time to travel
3. Wander through the backstreets of Old Town and Wenceslas Square to find the best prices and hidden gems
4. Judge the price of a restaurant by the prices of its beer: 50CZK per beer (less than $3) is far too much!
5. Don’t take classes on Wednesday morning – you probably won’t make them after Nation2Nation parties
6. Book cheap flights through Ryanair and Wizz Air, and Student Agency is the best for bus trips

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