AIFS has offered programs in Prague for nearly 20 years. Recently, this magical city has been growing in popularity as a location for Customized, Faculty-Led programs too.
Here are ten ways it is an excellent fit for your next academic adventure with students:
Prague is well known in Europe for its low cost of living compared to other capital cities. A large amount of the national monuments and museums can be visited for free or low fees. Public transport tickets start at $1, and reasonably priced food and drink options abound. The Czech Republic is not part of the Eurozone and maintains its own currency at a favorable exchange rate with the US Dollar. Recently $1 converts between 20 and 25 Czech Korunas.
2. The range of subjects
In recent years AIFS has hosted a range of schools focused on varied disciplines. Hospitality, International Business, Marketing and Communications, English Literature, Art History and Architecture, Leadership, Music Theory, Jewish Studies and History have all featured. Prague has a great number of museums to support teaching, as well as many specialist resources. English is widely spoken among Czech nationals so there are rarely issues with organizing guest speakers and tours.
3. The architecture
Prague is home to huge range of architectural styles. Old Town Square is a good starting point, home to the gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, the baroque St Nicholas Church, and the medieval astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall. A short walk away, students will admire the 15th century Powder Tower alongside the art nouveau Municipal House. The city has not been forgotten in the present day; it is also home to Frank Gehry’s Dancing House, built in 1996, and Jean Nouvel’s Golden Angel, finished at the end of 2000. Known as the “City of One Hundred Spires,” any view of the city’s rooftops can be breathtaking.
4. Location, location, location
Prague (and the Czech Republic) enjoys a very central European location. It makes a great base from which to visit many of the other European capitals such as Bratislava and Budapest. Travel by train to Vienna or Berlin within 4.5 hours. By plane, many capital cities lie just 2-4 hours away. Keep weekends free in your itinerary so students can learn to travel independently- a big part of the experience.
5. Contemporary European History
Prague was the epicenter of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. An International Students Day demonstration developed into 6 weeks of protests against the one-party Communist government, a national strike, and led to the end of 40 years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. On Jan 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
6. Café culture
The Czech’s take their coffee very seriously. Having been part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, it followed Vienna’s lead, with cafes enjoying particular popularity at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th century. You and your students can retrace the steps (or should that be seats?) of many famous academics and writers and enjoy a coffee (and maybe even a pastry!) in one of many majestic and historic cafes that survived communism; Café Slavia, and Café Louvre being just two. Alongside the old comes the new- there are now many new independent cafes, roasteries, and places to stop and enjoy a moment of calm with an expertly prepared cup of Joe. No AIFS CFL program is complete without a coffee and cake experience.
7. Czech gastronomy
While a lot of the traditional dishes are quite heavy- they are certainly tasty, warming, and comforting. You can expect to find plenty of fried cheese, goulash, and open sandwiches on the menu, as well as an ever-increasing range of street food. For dessert, you will be spoiled for choice in terms of pastries, cakes, and everything in between! The Czech Republic has a long history of brewing its own beer (started by monks in 993AD) and produces its own wine in the Moravia and Bohemia regions. The highlight of many programs is a trip to Moravia to stay at a family run winery, experience home cooking, tour the cellars and learn about the history of this region. Read AIFS Alum Rachel Blanco’s blog on her top Czech food experiences here.
8. Music culture
As this Guardian Music Blog puts it, “Music-making has always been as natural as breathing for the Czechs.” The city has a long history of hosting famous classical names and continues to offer a great program of classical concerts, opera, and ballets in the city. Venues include Municipal House, the Rudolfinum and the Žofín. Prague also features on the European tour schedule of many current U.S. and European bands and artists.
9. Student culture
Prague is a major student city, with nearly 40 universities drawing undergraduates and graduates from not only all over the Czech Republic, but the globe. Student discounts are plentiful, as well as a vast range of cheap and free cultural events available every night of the week. Read
10. The AIFS Prague staff
Of course, we have to mention our wonderful team in Prague! Renata, our Resident Director, is a Czech native and due to a previous media career, cannot cross the city without bumping into people she knows – she is a wonderful resource and collaborator. Renata is an excellent resource for faculty who want to make Prague their classroom. Our Assistant RD is Jenny, a Filipino-Canadian native, who has been in Prague for five years. Jenny has fallen under the spell of her new home city and loves to help both faculty and students make the most of their programs, helping explain the intricacies of the city and culture.
What are you waiting for? Start planning your 2022 program now.
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