Taking classes abroad was a much different experience for me than taking classes at home, at the University of Kansas (KU). There were many differences, but that was part of what made me love going to class and taking my education abroad even more.
The most interesting course I took in Prague was a class all about Václav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic. I would never have had the opportunity to take a course like that at KU, and I learned so much about a period of history I previously knew so little about. Also, the more I learned about Václav Havel, his plays, and his work in helping overthrow the communist regime, the more I learned about Prague -- which gave me a greater appreciation of the city I was living in.
One of the biggest differences I experienced in going to school abroad was the length of classes. Each class I took was two hours and 45 minutes long. At KU, the longest class I’ve ever taken has only lasted an hour and 15 minutes. At first, the length of time made me nervous, as I thought class was going to feel like it was dragging on and on. However, quickly the length of time felt more comfortable and even more necessary. Also, we only met for class once a week, so we had a lot of material to cover in that period. Normally, class included a lecture and discussion portion, as well as a 10-minute break halfway through. I began to prefer that format of class, and even began wondering how I would readjust to the way classes are formatted at KU once I returned home.
Another one of my favorite parts of going to class was the commute. My apartment was about a 30-minute walk or 10-to-15-minute tram ride from school. When the weather permitted, I enjoyed walking to and from class, because I got to walk along the river and enjoy my scenic surroundings. The walk to class in Prague was vastly different from the one I always took at home, and the stroll itself was an enjoyable experience that I looked forward to daily.
I preferred to get my schoolwork done at coffee shops. Usually, I had a paper to work on or a reading for the next in-class discussion. Going to coffee shops gave me a sense of routine and made me feel more adjusted to living in Prague. The baristas and I began to recognize and then eventually get to know each other, and I felt like I was immersing myself in the daily life of the average Czech person -- rather than the daily life of the study abroad student.
I absolutely loved taking classes in Prague, and going to school was an enjoyable and engaging experience. I look back fondly at my times in class and doing schoolwork, because this incredible learning experience never felt like a chore.
Aurianna Naderi is a Fall 2018 Alumni Ambassador and studied with CEA in Prague, Czech Republic, during Spring 2018.
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