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Learning About Learning Abroad

The idea that education isn’t necessarily restricted to the classroom is one that I knew before arriving in Prague four months ago, but I also knew that coming to a new place, education inside and outside of the classroom would be very different.

And that was what my first impressions of The Anglo American University here in Prague was. Classes were much longer, three hours at the very least with some taking place very late at night. Along with this, the various courses themselves were conducted differently, often with a focus on a global perspective, something that I wasn’t used to getting as much of at my home university, but also something I welcomed while being abroad. I began to look forward to class discussions and the opportunities to hear different perspectives, both from international professors and other international students whose home countries and cultures have helped shape their world views, as mine has as well.

The classroom, however, was only one “place” I learned in and, as the semester progressed, I began to really understand how much education takes place outside of if. During my time here, I’ve been able to travel to seven different countries with many cities in between and those experience, more than my classroom ones, taught me so much. Going to all the countries I’ve been able to visit and seeing places I’d only learned about in classrooms back home was one of the most surreal and amazing experiences ever.

It showed me how much every place has to offer, despite the incredible difference between countries– how each place has a history and how its people are affected by that. Sure, I’d learned about WWII in school, but going to Auschwitz in Poland gave me an entirely new and poignant perspective on it. It’s the difference between learning about something on a page and experiencing it in real life. Other things, like seeing the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, brought to life history lessons about the great families of Europe. Seeing the Eiffel Tower in real life made me realize how much I’ve only learned about through school and reading, and also how much more impactful seeing things with my own eyes can be.

Even just walking through Prague– I’m struck by the age of the city and how some buildings are even older than the United States. When I started to see things through a global perspective and realized how much the history of each country is one point in a map of impact that can be felt all the way at home– that’s when I began learning most. When I started to realize how much larger-than-life the world is, education took on a new meaning for me– it’s learning to embrace the opportunities found in adventure, learning to hear new points of view and understanding that education isn’t restricted to a classroom.

My semester abroad has taught me so much in so many ways, but the most important lesson has been to embrace the place I’m in, learn to call it “home” for however long I’m there and learn that the best ways to experience a place is to accept everything it is and has ever been, and to see how it is now. I’ve lived in Prague for the past four months and looking back now, I see where I’ve grown and what I’ve learned and I’m so grateful for every opportunity that came my way, every challenge and every struggle. But, most importantly, I’m grateful for every opportunity that I was able to learn about myself and for the ability to have called Prague my home, for even short a time.

 Krakow, Poland
Paris, France 
Versailles, France 
Prague, Czech Republic 
Prague, Czech Republic 
Prague, Czech Republic 
Prague, Czech Republic 

Amanda Palomino is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a junior at Hofstra University.


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