Bachelor of Business Management/Economics
Bachelor of Business Management/Economics

Academic Experiences 

During my exchange at Charles University I was enrolled in the Faculty of Social Sciences. This meant I had the opportunity to undertake a wide variety of courses that are usually out of my study program, a Bachelor of Business and Economics. I used my general electives to broaden my horizons and explore the Central European political culture. My full time load was made up of five subjects: Philosophy, Politics and Economics; Classics of Political Thought; Global Ethics East and West; European Economic Integration; and Economic Sociology.

The classes at Charles University were far smaller and participative than UQ, with lecturers often anticipating student contribution (even in the economics oriented subjects). This active learning environment revitalised my educational experience by establishing a space for intercultural dialogue on a range of issues. The down-to-earth style of Charles University made my encounter with the European schooling system very open and relaxed; throughout the examination period students have three or more chances to take (or redo) the exam. Fortunately, I completed mine on the first try and gained extra holiday time.

However, my study exchange did not come without it's challenges. The professors are not very specific about the assessment criterion so it wasn't very clear what the expectations are for assignments and exams. There are no sample exams from previous years and essay guidelines are very broad. This made it difficult to anticipate how/what you should study during end of exams, the best way was to talk to the teachers and allow them to clarify as much as possible. Furthermore, sign on to subjects opened less than a week before classes began, and due to the small class sizes many people get put on waiting lists. People were still waiting to be accepted into a subject in the second and third week of classes, so preparing an extensive list of possible subjects to take is the best way to overcoming any problems in credit transfers.

Personal Experiences

With one of the largest international student communities in Central Europe and a key participant of the Erasmus program, Charles University was perfect for interacting with a range of cultures. From Uzbekistan to Chile, I met a lot of fascinating people all with unique stories and customs to share. The International Club holds loads of events every week, including foreign food exchanges, Czech movie nights and Sunday socials.

I was able to drastically improve my Czech language skills (I already had some knowledge before hand) and can now hold lengthy conversations and communicate regularly in the language. This helped me become close friends with local Czech students, which really enhance my study abroad experience. My native friends took me snowboarding, to Czech folk music festivals, weekend farmers markets and even to their family lunches. Plus I became really good at foosball.

Prague is the ideal home base to explore Central Europe, I was able to spend weekends in neighbouring cities including Berlin, Vienna, and Salzburg. However some of my favourite trips were excursions to historical towns and national parks around the Czech countryside; including Plzen (home of Pilsner beer), Krumlov Castle, Kutna Hora and Bohemian Paradise.

Accommodation

I lived in a flat off campus with a native Czech person working in Prague. This was great because I was motivated to use my Czech language everyday and also see the daily lifestyle of Czech people. I was also a lot closer to the school than the dormitories provided by the university. The 'on campus' dormitories were quite bad from what I was told, although you get a great community of international friends, the facilities themselves were said to be really poor. Getting private living, although slightly more expensive than dormitories, is still cheaper than Brisbane living and much more comfortable than the dormitories.

Budget 

Prague is in general very cheap if you stay out of the tourist trap areas; I would estimate $300 per month on food, entertainment and any extra utilities (mobile plan, excursions, insurance etc.) if you're living an opulent lifestyle, but you could definitely get by comfortably on $150 a month living a little more frugally. A 6 month student transport ticket around Prague is $66 and rent (private shared flat) costs about $500 per month. Flights to Prague cost about $1600.

For all this, living 5 months in Prague, I would budget $6500 as a generous amount, not including any major holidays outside of the Czech Republic. Travelling outside of Czech Republic can get a bit more expensive but if you're travelling on a budget than I suggest going East (Hungary, Poland, Croatia...) as it's very cheap and there are buses always going.

Academic development and employability

As a business student majoring in International Business, the exchange was an amazing way to create more global connections, understand the significance of cultural differences and refine my second language. I acquired a better insight into the social and economic impacts of the European Union, both within my subjects and from others people's experience and knowledge. Plus, the emphasis on written assignments at Charles University helped me develop my writing skills.The study exchange helped me learn to overcome culture shock and quickly adapt to new lifestyles. Through the program I now have a deeper awareness of the importance of adjusting to customs and cultural norms in business interactions.

Highlight

From loitering around the charming Old Town between classes to going snowboarding in Moravia (southern part of Czech Republic), every day held a magical novelty to it. Although it's so difficult to choose, the most memorable part of my experience would have be the amazing friendships that I created. Nothing will beat spending a relaxed night at our favourite students club, surrounded by fascinating and funny people from all corners of the world. Juggling the conversation with three different languages and picking apart the bizarre customs we each hold dear to us, these close friends had become my family. Undoubtedly, the people I met during my stay in Prague have left a massive imprint on who I am today.

Top Tips

 

1) Try to be as flexible with subject electives as possible, it makes the sign-on process a lot less stressful.
2) Organise private living arrangements, it's far more comfortable (and hygienic) and there's still plenty of opportunities to make friends without having to live in a dormitory.
3) Make friends with a local, it will add to the experience tenfold. A lot of students end up only making friends with international students which detracts from the real cultural experience.
4) Learn some basics of the language: even if it's a little embarrassing, natives will appreciate the effort and be a lot more open and kind.
5) Have an open mind. Try new activities and strange foods; the Czechs will admire your bravery when you try their raw meat + raw egg on garlic toast concoction.
6) If you plan to travel or do winter sports, get decent travel insurance because UQ's travel insurance wont cover you for these extra-curricular activities.

 

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