Bachelor of Arts/Law, 5th year
Bachelor of Arts/Law, 5th year

Academic Experiences 

In terms of study, to fulfill the 30 ECTS requirements I chose comparative constitutional law (3), out of court dispute resolution (3), Czech criminal law (6), commercial law/international transactions (6) and European Union law (6). The assessment workload is much more relaxed than at UQ, some courses had oral presentations and an exam, however most only had a final exam and this exam was not in the usual problem style format but rather memory based short-answer and sometimes essay style questions. I found constitutional and out of court particularly interesting and informative. Constitutional law was my favourite as it really sparked my interest in area, had an excellent engaging lecturer and had both Erasmus and Czech students which allowed you to make friends with Czech and not just Erasmus students. In my opinion, the ECTS weighting does not correspond with workload, my two 3 ECTS subjects had a much heavier workload than all the 6 ECTS subjects. While the usual exchange attitude is 'who cares about study on exchange, we just need to pass', I really would recommend that you get the most out of both the social and academic component of your exchange. There is also a great study cafe called 'Cafedu' where you can pay a limited fee to have monthly access to a cafe study space which I would highly recommend.

Personal Experience 

I chose to go to Charles University for exchange because of Prague's reputation as one of the most beautiful European cities with an affordable cost of living, to make new friends, to study in a civil law jurisdiction, my strong interest in the history of the Czech Republic and wanderlust.

Prague itself was more beautiful than I'd even imagined. The red roofs and macaroon colored buildings make for picturesque surroundings. Further, the law school is located in the Jewish Quarter in Old Town which means there is no shortage of lovely views on your morning commute. The city is alive and vivid and you can feel its history as you walk the streets. It is at the same time a very peaceful city to live in and I quickly felt at home. My favourite areas in Prague to spend time in were Old Town, Mala Strana and Vinohrady. In terms of things to do to get to know the city I would highly recommend visiting the Petrin Tower lookout for an incredible view of both Prague's beautiful old town contrasted against the communist block buildings (a telling picture of Czech Republic's history of occupation by nazis and then communists), immerse yourself in Prague's market culture, there are the Jirak markets from Wednesday to Saturday in Vinohrady, and the Naplavk a river markets on Saturday mornings, walk through Letna Park, and visit museums, my favourites were the Pinkas Synagogue and the resistance museum under St Cyril's Church. The opera is also worth a visit and is very cheap for students (about $10 AUD). I fell in love with Prague's bustling food scene with (food my favourites: original coffee, cafe lounge). I recommend following the food blog 'Taste of Prague' for great recommendations of where to eat, drink and relax in Prague! While some of my friends found Czech people standoffish, I disagree all Czech people I met, some of whom became great friends and even strangers on the street and cafe owners were kind and friendly to me.

Accommodation

I stayed in the university 'Troja' dorms. They are what you pay for (approximately $200 AUD a month), are very basic and in a communist high-rise. I was lucky that I had great roommates from Russia which made the experience bearable. Otherwise I definitely would have opted for an apartment because the dorm is quite small and there is a limited kitchen and not a general living area. If you are concerned about the dorms, I have photos which I'd be happy to send you.

Budget 

In terms of money, I took over around AUD$16 000 (excluding flights and insurance and other pre-travel expenses) and this easily covered living costs, eating out whenever I wanted and weekend trips to various cities. If you are traveling through ski season would highly recommend a ski trip to Splinderlyn Mlyn just a few hours outside of Prague, it was beautiful and lots of fun!

The cost of living, especially eating out, in Prague is extremely affordable compared to Brisbane. I spent around $6000 AUD during the semester. Our exams ended late May so I am currently traveling for 2 months which is amazing. Obviously, the rest of Europe is a lot more expensive than Prague and Eastern Europe so if you are planning to travel afterwards budget accordingly.

Academic Development and Employability 

I believe that going on exchange definitely improves my employability as it shows that I'm not afraid to take chances, am independent and have a curiosity and desire to explore other counties and cultures of the world. Further, studying in another country allows you insights into European customs and specifically to law, the exposure to EU law and civil law subjects.

Highlight 

It is hard to pinpoint just one highlight of my experience. It is a combination of the memories connected with the close friendships formed, of discovering new cities and countries and generally of the experience of living abroad.

Top Tips

Overall, exchange was an experience I'll never forget. Not only do I now have a city in the world that I feel is my second home, I made some lifelong friendships, seen incredible places and challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone. While of course there are challenging moments, overwhelming the positives outweigh the negatives and if you are in doubt as to whether to go on exchange, I would say just do it. You'll never regret spending 6 months exploring the world and bettering yourself.

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