By Will Zahran, junior EC Scholar
Reflecting on my study abroad has been bittersweet as I prepare to leave, and it is difficult to put into words how thankful I am to the EC Scholars Program for providing me with the incredible opportunity to study in Europe for six weeks. Hours of research on what, where, and when to study landed me in Prague, Czech Republic for summer session I at NC State’s Prague Institute. Now, I am going to attempt to describe my feelings after spending a summer semester in the most beautiful city in Europe (that’s a fact not an opinion).
I may be a little bias, but I can’t think of a better place to study abroad. After culture shock and jetlag hit me like a train followed by a brief adjustment period, I was able to see the beauty and liveliness of Prague. There is always a ton to do here as it’s the largest city in the country, so I was never bored between site seeing, festivals, and restaurant hunting. Enjoying dinner by the river with a view of the Prague Castle is an experience that can only be described with a picture. But when you are feeling a little suffocated by the city atmosphere, a short tram ride out of the city can take you to some awesome hiking locations or maybe the Prague Zoo. Prague is relatively inexpensive, which is great for college students, and its central location in Europe made traveling to other countries easy. While here, I have been able to travel to Vienna, Austria; Mikulov, Czech Republic; and Budapest, Hungary.
I have to thank my awesome professors at NCSU’s Prague Institute for enriching my experience with insightful lectures about Czech Republic and weekly field trips around the city. My two classes were Basic Czech Language and Culture and Central European Literature in the 20th Century, both taught by Charles University professors. Our trips in the city included art galleries, museums, and even a recording studio, all of which I may have missed had I been traveling alone. Additionally, learning about the language, history, and culture provided a greater appreciation for my surroundings as I navigated the city.
During my six short weeks here, I have learned so much about Europe and, surprisingly, about the United States. It has been interesting to see how communism impacts the culture here even 27 years later, as well as how the people see Americans. Seeing America from a foreign point of view has put a few things in perspective. For example, I realized how much we take for granted and how much our culture and decisions influence the rest of the world.
I am grateful to the NC State Prague Institute for a study abroad program that far exceeded every one of my expectations and to the EC Scholars Program for the support to embark on this exciting adventure. The experiences and memories I am taking with me will last a lifetime, and I can’t begin to express the value of studying abroad no matter the location. After departing Prague, I will be doing some traveling in Germany before heading back to the U.S. to tackle my junior year.