Bachelor of Economics/Laws
Bachelor of Economics/Laws

Prague – the magical land where beer is cheaper than water and the general price of living is ridiculously cheap. Although these urban fairy-tales are true, there’s also much more to an exchange semester in Prague. It’s about meeting, living, partying and travelling with the other excitable exchange students, who originate from literally all over the world. I made friends with people from all over Europe, Canada, North and South America, Korea and New Zealand. Everyone’s in the same boat as you, and there’s always someone there to lend you a hand, a beer or if need be a sympathetic shoulder.

It’s also about giving you a new perspective on your place in the world, when discovering that Australia never gets a mention in an economic history class, or that our ‘deficit’ is nothing in comparison to the European economic situation. All in all, deciding to spend Semester 1 studying abroad at VSE was probably one of the best decisions of my life.

I am an Economics/Law student currently in my third year. I decided I wanted to study abroad for economics early in my second year, and this forward-planning allowed me to reshuffle my subjects as not to add any extra time to my degree. In my opinion, taking economics rather than law allows greater flexibility with your study plan, so if you’re a dual law student I would definitely recommend considering leaving law at home when studying abroad.

I chose to live in the student dormitories in Zizkov – only 15mins to university and 20mins to the city centre by tram. Although basic, for the price (around $550 this semester) it’s unbeatable, and nothing compares to living with an entire community of Czech and exchange students alike. You’re in the centre of the action with something always going on.

Tips:

- Look into what you need for your visa early on – this will make the planning process a lot easier.
- Travel! Prague’s prime central European location makes it ideal for travelling, and during my exchange I visited areas of the Czech Republic as well as Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and even as far as Croatia! Try to schedule your classes to maximise travel time, and definitely avoid those Wednesday morning classes as has been previously mentioned.
- Befriend your buddy! You will be assigned a Czech buddy, and mine became one of the best friends I made on this trip - he was always more than willing to help me out, from buying transport cards to sending my 15kg worth of extra shopping home through the post office (pack light!). More importantly it gives you the opportunity to chat with a local and further immerse yourself in the Czech community.
- For the best coffee near VSE (about a 15min walk or 5min tram ride), head to EMA Espresso Bar at Masarykovo Nadrazi. I spent many an hour studying there.
- Beer advice: avoid Pilsner Urquell – in my opinion it’s the most touristy, least tasty and most expensive beer Prague has to offer. The other main ones like Krusovice, Gambrinus and Staropramen are all good and widely available, but try some of the minority breweries from the Czech Republic too. One of the best places to do this is the Pivovarsky Klub (near Florenc), and they offer many different Czech and international beers alike.
- Look at the beer price when choosing somewhere to eat. Anything over around 50CZK for 0.5L of regular beer is too expensive, and the food will be accordingly priced.
- As previously mentioned by others – take as many intensive courses as you can. They’re generally worth a decent amount of ECTS (the European credit system), yet classes and final assessment take place over the space of 1 week, thus freeing you up for the remainder of the semester.
- Say ‘yes’ to everything (within reason obviously) and go with the flow. I quickly learnt to adopt a ‘sure, why not’ attitude to anything suggested, and I believe many of the best memories are made this way.

Stop putting off your exchange semester – with the HECS travel loan and other scholarships available, going somewhere like Prague is very do-able on a budget without making sacrifices regarding travelling or going out. It’s a once in a lifetime experience so make it happen!
 

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