As I write this it is day 101 of my semester-long study abroad program in Prague, and only 21 days left until I fly back home to Spokane WA, USA. I measure this time in days spent wandering through cobblestoned streets with my camera slung over my shoulder, Saturdays at the farmers market, tram rides, and papers written window-side at the local Costa Coffee.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of going to the Czech Republic let alone of spending my final semester of college in Prague. In fact, before coming here I had never even left the U.S. So how did I end up at Prague College?
There’s a program for students like me?
To start, an academic advisor at my university in Washington told me about the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA). She excitedly presented their Spring 2018 program in Prague as the first of its kind, due to a new partnership between IFSA and Prague College.
Already interested by the atypical location choice for most US students looking to study abroad, I was further intrigued by the classes being offered at Prague College. The school of Art & Design, and Media & IT
overlapped perfectly with my intended degree in Digital Technology and Culture at Washington State University.
What drew me in
Another part of what attracted me to study at Prague College was the Reimagining Europe element of the program. Reimagining Europe, as well as being its own course that focuses on ethical and economic challenges facing the EU, is a theme that must be connected to assignments completed in other courses; so not only are you studying topics that relate to your intended degree, you are attempting to integrate those topics into the Reimagining Europe theme.
My experience with Prague College so far has been a breath of fresh air. It’s a comparatively small college which means smaller class sizes and greater opportunity to engage with faculty. In addition to classes, there are numerous workshops, discussion panels, and forums for student feedback – something I’d like to see implemented more at my home school. The Reimagining Europe theme has proven to be as enriching as I imagined; learning about contemporary issues facing the EU while forming tangible relationships with the environment and the people those issues directly affect has been an especially inspiring aspect of this program.
Impressions of Prague
Aside from academics, my time in Prague has been full of adventure. Being in a large, international city in and of itself is quite awe-inspiring without adding the picturesque scenery and historical architecture. My overall (and probably very American) impression of The Czech Republic, and I suppose Europe, is that it is a beautifully surreal juxtaposition of old and new. Modern lives being lived in and around seemingly untouched structures of centuries past. It’s awesome and humbling because I’m not used to it at all (I think the oldest building in my hometown was built in 1864 and even that is an outlier).
I’m giving the scenery a lot of credit, let me not forget to praise the people. It is inspiring to see a mixture of so many distinct cultures from people of all nationalities. I might be biased, spending a lot of my time around students attending an international college. Nevertheless, the sheer diversity has kept me from feeling any overwhelming sense of ‘otherness’ that may plague foreigners. I have a lot to learn about Czech people and culture, but I am not alone. It is a reasonably accessible environment for non-Czech people looking to integrate (she says, hopefully not too naively).
I could see myself here in the long-run, though I don’t think that’s in the cards for me at this point of my life. At the very least I hope to return one day. For now, I still have 21 days and counting to soak up as much as I can.
With love from Prague,
Keisha Brokaw is a Digital Technology and Culture major at Washington State University and studied abroad with IFSA on the Reimagining Europe in Prague program the Czech Republic in Spring 2018. All photos taken by Keisha Brokaw.