UQ Program: Bachelor of Business Management/Laws

a group of us enjoying a spit roast and bonfire on the traditional with burning night in a little town called Ujcin, and by little I mean five housesStudying law abroad at Charles University was one of the best experiences of my life. I was able to study 6 courses to fill one semester worth of law electives and most focused on law in a Czech context. The coursework was fair and if you did the required work there was nothing stopping you from enjoying weekends (...and most if not all weeknights) for “non-study related activities”.

Regarding enrolment and course selection, the office that looks after international students is very chill, catering to any students who have difficulty. The women working there just want to make sure everyone has a good time so most difficulties you may run into are easily solved.

Courses and studies aside, the real benefit of exchange lies in the personal gains one receives during their time abroad. Living in a foreign country for an extended period of time teaches you many things about yourself; it also challenges you and makes you grow up (just a little) too. Fending for yourself in an environment that you aren’t used to where the native language isn’t English (don’t worry, most Czechs speak English at an adequate level although the older they are, the worse they usually are) is at first, quite daunting but don’t worry. You quickly adjust and start having the time of your life.

Meeting so many people from around the world during your exchange, the friends that you make are for life. To experience different European cultures through these friends is priceless and hey, most of the time it gives you a place to crash if you ever decide to travel around too!

During exchange, I was able to travel to a myriad of European countries including: Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Greece (and its islands), Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, England, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Spain and Finland. Experiencing a culture in which locals can travel one hour and be in another country is fascinating, and travelling to all of these countries shows you how diverse the continent is (unlike Australia) and that it is a small world, after all.

1.    The Czech language is annoyingly difficult but basic phrases are easy enough to pick up and will help avoid some (not much) rudeness by the service (if you can even call it that) staff in Prague. Preferably you want to be taught these phrases by a member of the opposite sex because the Czechs are always flattered that you want to learn their language. Oh, check your bills too, they love to overcharge foreigners.
2.    Living in the student dormitories (built during the Communist era, some with the star still on it) is an experience in itself, which shouldn’t be missed. Apart from being ridiculously cheap, around AUD$150 a month (beware, you get what you pay for), are really fun. Some students chose to move into city centre apartments, which although are much more convenient (and still cheap in Australian standards) wasn’t in my opinion the best choice for their exchange semester as they weren’t as integrated in the Erasmus culture as the other students who spent much more time together in the dormitories.
3.    With all the courses studied in the law program consisting of other international/Erasmus students (it’s different for other faculties), you have to make a bit of an effort to meet local Czechs. You have to fight the impulse to always stick with the other international students who love to party every night, in order to find some cool Czech kids who prefer a much mellower lifestyle. Even though the allure isn’t as exciting, it is definitely worth it to experience their culture.
4.    For cheap busses from the Czech Republic (domestic and international) try: Student Agency Busses, Eurolines and Orangeways. For cheap flights in and around Europe try: Wizz Air, Ryan Air, Smart Wings and Easy Jet. For good hostels try: hostelworld and hostelbooker.
5.    Do as much as you can. As cliché as that is, time flies and before you know it the semester is over. Don’t miss out.

The most important thing that I learned on this exchange is that the world is a very small place, and that all the differences you notice in the foreign people you meet also helps to highlight the similarities all mankind share.

My advice to anyone reading this is that if you haven’t already done an exchange – go for it. A lot of people have a fear of leaving their home, city or friends for that long, but it is worth it. If you don’t realise it now, I assure you that you will the second your feet touch the ground of that foreign country. Even if you don’t do an exchange, just get out there and explore the world!

If you want to talk about exchange, feel free to contact me on facebook so I can convince you to go and thus live vicariously through you during your semester abroad.

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