Joshua - University of Economics, Prague

B Commerce/Economics
Semester 2, 2018
Studying abroad is something I've wanted to do since first year, and it more than exceeded expectations.

Academic experience

The courses I studied while at VSE in Prague were: 
- Globalisation and it's Economic & Social Aspects (3MA643)
- World Economy for Exchange Students (2SE272)
- International Financial Management (1MT358)
- Introduction to Environmental Economics (5IE203)

Overall the studying aspect of my time in Prague was relatively painless, apart from occasionally having to clarify some points from lecturers who were ESL. 
The scope of courses was fairly wide, so I'd encourage you to use your general electives to study some courses you may not get to at UQ. It was interesting to be able to study things like the European Union while being immersed in it.

Personal experience

The first thing I'd encourage anyone looking to do exchange is to look into doing your time abroad in a country that has a different culture to your own, including a different language. 
It can seem daunting at first it's largely a non-issue as Europeans mostly have very strong English, but it is also personally challenging if not enjoyable when you do need to adapt to a situation where that strength isn't so high. 

VSE & Prague was a great opportunity to make friends with people from diverse backgrounds because there is usually only a small contingent of Aussies there. While I still became very close friends with the Aussies I met, it was brilliant to be able to make friends from not just around Europe, but around the world. 

As the Czech Republic is in the centre of Europe, it made Prague and excellent base of operations to visit a wide range of cities & countries nearby. With Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow amongst many others all only 4-8 hours away by bus or train it can save you a lot of $$ in travel costs. 

Prague itself is a picturesque city, incredibly liveable and a very manageable cost of living too so it really had all I was looking for. 
If a pint of beer for less than the price of a student Translink ticket appeals to you, then I've a strong feeling it'll have most of what you're looking for too.

Accommodation

I lived in the VSE dorm Jarov III.F, which while wasn't a particularly impressive building will always hold a dear spot to me as it was the best way to make friends with plenty of other people incredibly quickly. 
It's more of an apartment building as opposed to a dorm, as you'll share a small apartment between 2-4 people depending on your choice & budget. 

Jarov was a 15min tram ride from VSE, no more than 25min to Old Town and the city centre, with a number of very well-serviced tram lines outside the front door it was a very convenient place to live. 
I would 100% recommend living in Jarov if you choose to attend VSE.

Costs

I easily lived on a budget of ~$8,000 for the entire 4 months, inclusive of living and travel costs - though this obviously depends on what type of travel you're hoping to do. 

Groceries in Prague would be roughly half the price of what you'd pay in Brisbane, with food at a restaurant being one third to half the price on average. 

Public transit in Prague cost about $12 for three months, inclusive of the entire transit network (which could get you to the airport and back also).

Challenge

The biggest challenge was walking away at the end from this incredible experience you've had and from people who've become your best friends - but I'd have no hesitation to do it all again given the chance.

Professional Development

Going on an exchange is a far more important to developing soft skills like interpersonal skills and managing relationships & groups of people with diverse backgrounds, but that's arguably far more important than a lot of technical skills in today's world. It's also an excellent opportunity to push yourself outside of your comfort zone which almost always leads to positive outcomes.

Highlight

Immersing myself in a different cultures with people of varied backgrounds and trying to understand what made them different, but also finding the common ground was highly rewarding in my perspective.

Top tips

Go on exchange, go somewhere with a vastly different culture to your own and with a different language - it's one of the most rewarding things you could do while at university. 

And of course, my tip is go to Prague - I'm sure it'll have everything you're looking for.