Studying abroad is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Each year, hundreds of motivated students from around the world attend the East and Central European Studies program at Charles University in Prague in order to study and experience a new culture. These students are up for the challenge and an adventure. Learn more about their experiences and tips on studying in the ECES Program.
Yena Park, Ohio State University (Summer 2012)
Spending my summer in Prague has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life (not to sound cliché, but it’s true!). One of the most important things that I learned while living in Prague is to not be afraid of getting lost. Those were the times that I discovered the most interesting aspects of the city, such as buying painted glass souvenirs in hidden craft stores, walking into hole-in-the-wall cafes to try different breakfast pastries and indulging in the best gelato.
Unlike other European cities, the variety of food in Prague is unbelievable. My friends and I were able to try a new place to eat almost everyday (although we did make frequent visits to our favorite places) and for many of us it was the first time trying different types of cuisines, including Indian, African and Vegan. Along with the food variety, the scenery that surrounds Prague never gets old. Old Town Square is incomparable to any other city and the view of the river from Charles Bridge is breathtaking at all hours of the day. Our classes were only a few subways stops away from the dorm and conveniently located right next to Old Town Square. Climbing up Petrin Hill at sunset, visiting Kutna Hora (a city right outside of Prague) and going to outdoor music festivals were a few of my favorite experiences.
If I could go back to that summer and change one thing about my trip, I would have changed my flight home and taken more time to explore other areas of the Czech Republic. It was easy for me to forget that there were other beautiful cities other than Prague and I wish I could have seen more of the country. I was so fortunate to be able to spend one month with an amazing group of people in a city filled with so much culture and history and I cannot wait to go back after I graduate!
John Ptacek, Brooklyn College (Spring 2012)
First piece of advice: Study in Prague.
Second piece: Volunteer. The volunteering options are many and varied. One of the highlights of my time here was volunteering with Roma children. Volunteering will bring you back to earth and keep you grounded in reality because sometimes the magic of Prague can overtake you. You walk down the street as if in a dream, especially at night, because Prague at night is a place out of the imagination. It is surreal. It's even more beautiful than in the daytime, more enticing, strange, almost menacing in its pull on you, in its vibrancy, and then there are times when the city is so very quiet, you hear the hum of the stones as if in a cave dwelling of some ancient mystic. You study abroad to grow as a scholar, and as a person and you travel to discover new things about the world and yourself. But you should volunteer to give back all that you will receive from studying abroad in Prague.
Last piece of advice: Don't buy a return ticket home. You will be sorry you did.
Lauren Post, St. John Fisher College (Fall 2011)
If you were to ask me to describe Prague, I would call it a magical, drowsy city that awakens as you get lost in spires and history. I would highly recommend this city to study abroad in. A gem in Eastern Europe, it is as easy to wander around the winding streets as it is to travel to more well-known parts of Europe. I would say that the majority of my education came from just living in the city, where it is quite easy to maneuver without much prior knowledge of Czech. My group was wonderful, and I met so many incredible people with ECES and other programs at Charles University.
If I could recommend anything, I would tell a student studying in Prague to take advantage of Prague's location and to travel (as much as you can!), but also to take the time to appreciate all the small things about the city- the people just off the Mustek metro stop who sell the most delicious pastries, anyone you may encounter in passing, and especially those you may find yourself volunteering with, an experience I highly recommend. Make the effort to learn the language, as you never know what kinds of doors it may open, or who you may meet speaking Czech! ECES does a wonderful job of arranging volunteer opportunities and travel experiences. Take advantage of them! I cannot tell you how wonderful the staff are at what they do, and their commitment to your education and experiences while you are there. Take advantage of everything-where else can you find inexpensive tickets to local football and theater? Prague is certainly an unusual study abroad location, but it is certainly one of the most incredible and accessible!
Nick Piela, Northeastern University (Summer 2011)
I would recommend the ECES program to anyone planning on studying abroad in Europe. I thoroughly enjoyed the ECES summer program, which allowed me to take really interesting courses while staying in Prague. The professors are very helpful and interesting, giving you many tips about good places to eat and sightsee around Prague and other European cities that you won’t find in a travel guide. This program allows you to go to a country with a completely different language without feeling alienated, as most people speak English and you feel like a resident more than a tourist after the first week. The history surrounding the city is so interesting and relevant to your wandering adventures, it’s easy to walk around for hours aimlessly without feeling lost. The most practical part about going to Prague through the ECES program is how well they set you up with the essentials and how cheap everything is compared to other European destinations, and most things are cheaper than in the United States.
Brooke Schwartz, George Washington University (Spring 2011)
Studying in Prague was the experience of a lifetime. Through the ECES program, I was able to learn so much about Czech culture, history and language. My professors were extremely knowledgeable and I learned things that I would never have been exposed to in an American classroom. All of my peers in the program were down-to-earth and wanted to experience as much of Prague, and the rest of Europe as I did, making for a great semester. My favorite part about studying in Prague was going to the theater for operas, ballets and plays. Prague has over 40 theaters and students can usually get tickets for under 200 CZK (12 USD). Although Prague may not be your typical study abroad location, it is by far the most fun and one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Jason Farina, State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz (Fall 2010)
My fall 2010 experience abroad in Prague has been the high point of my college career and a major introduction into the start of my life as a young adult. I cannot express how grateful I am to have had this experience. When I was abroad, I literally tried to do everything I could while I was over there. ECES offers so many opportunities for the foreign student seeking the best and most rewarding experience abroad. I am happy to say I believe I took advantage of all these opportunities. Every weekend I traveled. I visited many cities and heritage sites in the Czech Republic. I visited other major cities in Europe, including, but certainly not limited to: Krakow, Berlin, Amsterdam and of course, Istanbul. ECES offers a lot of these trips that a student can take part in. They are excellent because the trips are organized and provide a way to see the best and most important sites at a location, but also allow free time for students to have fun and hang out.
Due to ECES having many volunteer opportunities, I was able to volunteer extensively while I was abroad. I was an English language mentor, which was a great way to meet Czech students and to further understand Czech culture. I also had the great opportunity of spending a weekend camping in the Czech mountains, working with the environmental restoration group; Cmelak. This was a truly unforgettable experience, as I was the only foreigner to have participated. I spoke very little English the whole weekend. I studied the Czech language while I lived in Prague. For me, it was a great way to be distinguished from just the “usual tourist.” I felt very pleased with myself after successfully communicating with someone who did not know English. ECES offers so many opportunities to travel, volunteer, and experience immense exposure to the city of Prague and Czech culture. ECES staff and professors are ABSLOUTLY EXCEPTIONAL. They are enormously friendly with a sole purpose of creating the best experience for students.
Intensive Czech Language and Culture
“I learned more in two weeks of Czech than two years of Spanish. To be able to communicate in foreign language is amazing!”
“This class is great! Considering that is was condensed into a two-week period, I think the professor did a great job of presenting the fundamentals of the Czech language in a way that was accessible and relatively easy to learn.”
“Everything about this course has been extremely helpful and positive for me. It was a great way to be integrated in to a new language and a new environment.”
“I now feel more confident to walk the streets of Prague, just in case I need to talk to someone.”
“I truly enjoyed this class! If I had more time to continue with Czech, I would. This is an experience I have really appreciated and will remember forever.”
Read about former students’ tips and advice on studying in Prague!
"Be open-minded and open to new experiences!"
"Avoid Starbucks and McDonald’s. You can get that at home!"
"Getting lost is the best way to know Prague."
"Write a journal to keep your memories. You’ll look back at it one day and you will really appreciate it."
"Be prepared. You will never want to leave."
“Try to use Czech as much as you can.”
“Go on all of the trips organized by ECES.”