Many students come abroad and experience the local culture, language, and people for the first time. Summer student Kiana Okonowski’s study abroad story is a little unique. Kiana has been to the Czech Republic about 20 times and has been speaking Czech since she was a young kid. When she arrived in Prague for a custom program with the University of Arizona, she was more than familiar with her surroundings.
|Hiking in Slovakia with my grandma prior to study abroad program|
Kiana is a first-generation American on her mom’s side and has been coming to the Czech Republic almost every summer to visit her uncle and grandparents. This summer, in addition to visiting her Czech relatives, Kiana traveled with faculty and other students from her home university to take business classes. Kiana is working toward a business minor, and she and her peers spent two weeks in Prague and two weeks in Florence, taking business courses to complete their minor.
“I enjoyed learning more of the history of Czech and seeing the sites that are geared towards tourists,” Kiana says. “It gave me a better understanding of different cultures.”
|Rafting in Cesky Krumlov with UA study abroad students|
Kiana learned Czech from her mother and grandparents and speaks Czech comfortably and conversationally, but she doesn’t have many opportunities to speak it at home. Coming to Prague gave her the opportunity to use it on a daily basis, translating words and phrases for her friends, navigating the city, and speaking with locals.
"Studying in Czech was more in my comfort zone,” Kiana says. “Many students, excluding me, struggled to adapt to the cultural differences between Czech and the United States.”
|Boating on Vitava River with my uncle|
In addition to her business minor, Kiana is pursuing minors in molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry, in addition to her major in biology. Kiana wants to be a dentist and studying in Prague opened her eyes to postgraduate opportunities abroad.
“I would like to come back to Czech to possibly go to dental school at Charles University,” she says. Even though this was Kiana’s 21st trip to Prague, her experience with CEA allowed her to see Czech culture from a new perspective.
|Czech cooking class|
|In front of the Czech National Museum|
Eliza Jason is the Spring 2017 Alumni Ambassador in Prague, Czech Republic, and is currently studying at Point Loma Nazarene University.