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Political Science in Prague

Study Abroad Myth: You can’t study abroad your last semester of college. 

 
Reality: Patrick, a Fall 2013 CEA Prague study abroad alum and Associate Alumni Ambassador, shares how he ended his undergraduate career in Prague learning more about himself and more about his political science focus.
 
 Patrick Gradus is a recent grad from St. Norbert College
and an Associate Alumni Ambassador (Prague Fall '13).

CEA: Why did you choose to study abroad?

 
Patrick: I always knew it was something I wanted to do - living and studying in a foreign country has never been as easy and accessible as it is today. I also double majored in International Studies and Political Science, so I was required to choose an area of focus and study in that region.

CEA: How have you changed because of your abroad experience?
 
Patrick: It is impossible to go abroad and not come back a changed person. The experience overseas was the first time away from my family, and it allowed me to assert myself independently.
 
CEA: What classes did you find useful or applicable to your field of study or career interest?
 
Patrick: The political science classes were extremely helpful and informative to Czech political history and integration within the European Union. I found that the art classes I took forced a different approach to learning about the political development of a nation. Never taking an art class in college, I was not sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was interesting to see how approachable political history became through an artistic lens. Art and architecture are the physical manifestations of a society's value system. Lectures on architectural design as a symbol of royal wealth and power provided a different vantage point to source material. Plus, standing in front a Prague castle and looking at the Bohemian kingdom on a map are very different things.
 
CEA: How has your study abroad experience impacted your life, academics, and/or future career goals?
 
Patrick: Study abroad was my final undergraduate semester and reinforced my focus for a career involving international affairs.
 Patrick Gradus (left) with brother, Mike (right) in Prague

CEA: How has the ambassador experience helped you when you returned and with your future career goals?
 
Patrick: One of the best decisions I’ve made since returning home was applying to the Ambassador program. It has helped encourage professional writing and accountability, while allowing me an opportunity to connect with people who loved study abroad as well.
 Patrick Gradus presenting at St. Norbert College

CEA: In your opinion, why don’t more male students study abroad?

 
Patrick: There are a number of reasons why more male students choose to not study abroad. Financial, pragmatic, social, even professional reasons are among the first that come to mind. Financial reasons are understandable—student loan debt is rising and adding to the load is a natural deterrent. However, never before in human history have opportunities for international education been this cost effective.
 Patrick Gradus (center in blue) with his Czech
junior football team

CEA: Why do you think it’s important for male students/all students to study abroad?
 
Patrick: I think that international education is extremely important in the development of young professionals. Men and women can both benefit from study abroad opportunities. However, there is a growing trend of fewer men taking advantage of study abroad than women. Men, close the gap and study abroad!

CEA: If you could give any piece of advice to other male students considering study abroad, what would it be?

Patrick: 

1. Do not miss the forest for the trees. Explore your own city and learn what your home country has to offer.
2. Volunteer. Leave a longer lasting impact with the people in your host city.
3. Go!
 
Patrick Gradus is a CEA Associate Alumni Ambassador and a recent graduate from St. Norbert College. Patrick studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, during the Fall 2013 semester.


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