Sarah studied abroad with us in Prague and shared her experience and knowledge of the program with us to help prospective students get an idea of what it’s like to study in Prague. From the “campus” to the housing to American expectations versus European reality, read on for valuable information, advice and tips!
Charles University does not have a central campus the way American universities do. There are many buildings scattered throughout the city of Prague. Our program took classes in the “main building” of Charles University. This building is amazing. It is right on the river with the most amazing view of the Prague Castle. Walking out the doors at night after class and seeing the castle was the best reminder for me of how cool it was that I was living in Prague and having this experience.
The second building is the ECES building. The classrooms are pretty basic: chairs with desks, a white board, projector, etc. The ECES building holds the office for ECES. And the AIFS office is held in a separate building on the same street as the ECES building. The office is really nice and has this amazing elevator. The AIFS office has book shelves of travel books and leisure reading that past students have left behind. They have a couple couches to relax on and lots of computers that you can use to print.
All three building are in the center of downtown Prague. The Charles University building is in “old town” and the ECES and AIFS buildings are in “new town.” They are all no more than a 10 minute walk away from each other.
AIFS has the option of staying in student housing or you can find your own apartment. I stayed in the student housing, which is what I would tell everyone to do. Living on your own separates you from the group and you don’t get to know the people on the program as well. We rarely saw the group who decided to get their own apartment. Staying in student housing was the best. You live with all of your friends in the same building and it’s the best way to get to know people.
It took about 20 minutes to get to class from our dorm. There is about a 5 minute walk to the metro station and then a ten minute or so ride to downtown, and then just a few minutes walk to class. Transportation was so easy. Our dorms are right by the metro stop on the green line which is the main line that runs directly through the center of Prague, basically getting you anywhere you want to go. Prague also has a tram and bus system that is easy to use. I rarely took the bus but you can also take the tram or walk to class if you want. The metro is just the most efficient method of transportation.
Europe vs. America
Please do not expect the housing in Europe to be as nice or as comfortable as you are used to in the States. This is a new experience, an adventure if you will, and you need to go into it with an open mind. That said, we stayed at one of the nicest dorms in Prague. Most Czech students still live at home with their parents so it is a big deal to live in a dorm. The rooms are suite style with two bedrooms (two beds to a room) that share an adjoining small kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen only has a hot plate you become quite creative as to what you can cook on a hotplate. The rooms are cleaned once a week by a maid (this means floors are mopped and vacuumed, trash taken out and towels replaced) and you can take your dorm provided sheets to be washed at least once a week as well. The rooms can be on the smaller side but include a bed, desk and lots of storage. The dorm does have free wi-fi in the lobby or you can pay for internet in your room; it’s totally worth it and not expensive.
AIFS now also offers a semester program at the University of Economics in Prague.
Find out more about the Central and Eastern European Studies Program (CESP) at UE and the East and the Central European Studies Program (ECES) at Charles University on our website. Or contact us with any questions: email@example.com – (800) 727-2437.