Alex - University of Economics, Prague

B. Business Management / Engineering (Hons)
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

I undertook 7 subjects at VSE which ranged from International Business Operations to Human Resources to even Organisational Design. Even though I had to take courses which didn't give me credit for my home degree, I very much enjoyed learning about them and I think it now adds more to my degree that I've done them. 

It did take a little bit to get used to the pace of uni in Prague but it's so much fun realising that your class is completely exchange students, or even sometimes, completely Czech students. I was almost always the only Australian in my classes so my classmates and teachers always enjoyed hearing about our country. Don't worry if you end up doing 5-6 subjects as they are very easy to pass. Most of them simply require you to turn up every week and that is enough.

Personal experience

I have honestly gained so much from going on exchange. Not just by living in a different country and culture, but by meeting so many new and exciting people all of the time. At first it is daunting, but then once you make friends, you realise that you can do anything and that those memories will never fade. 

Due to the advantageous time my exchange finished, I also was able to travel for 3 months after my exams before I had to come back to Australia. My girlfriend and I travelled to 20 countries including places like Albania, Montenegro and we even made it to Morocco.

Accommodation

I lived on-campus at the student accommodation - Jarov III F. I highly recommend staying here, as not only is it easy to get to uni from here, but the experience of living with so many other international students is incredible. While it is not the most glamorous accommodation, it is extremely cheap and if you get a room on the top floors (10/11) your balcony has a really nice view.

You also have the option of sharing a room which I decided to choose to save costs. Unless you really need to save money, I would strongly suggest getting your own room. This is mainly because you will be constantly out exploring, travelling, studying and most likely partying and you will love coming back to a room that is completely yours to just chill in.

Budget

The following are my rough expenses for my exchange and prices may differ per semester. My flat cost roughly $700 for the 5 months I was there and I was sharing a room with someone. But if you don't share it's only double that. A three month transport card was $40 which gives you unlimited bus, train (metro) and tram access. You can cook in your flat for $50 a week. The beer is $1.3 per pint.

Overall I think I spent $6000 during my exchange which included a weekend trip to a different country every second weekend. You could definitely do it for a lot cheaper ($3-4k).

Professional development and employability

I would say the whole experience in general will help me in my future profession. It has certainly made me more outgoing and accepting of other people's cultures which will help if I am ever needed to travel for my work. I also started learning German while I was over there because I really enjoyed the language. I believe this skill will also contribute to my professional development. I originally tried to learn Czech but as you may find out, it is quite a complex language and whilst I picked up everyday phrases, I didn't learn any more than that. Luckily it is very easy to move around with no Czech at all as most people at the uni and in town will speak English anyway.

Highlight

It is impossible to choose a highlight of my experience. The whole 6 months was unforgettable and I enjoyed every second of it. Whether it was going to the beer garden at Letna or preparing for a Nation2Nation party in a mate's room, or even just cooking family dinner together in the kitchen, I think every day was something special.

It's also very cool to realise that instead of working on the weekends you can just book a last minute bus somewhere and end up in a different country.

Top tips

Of course by this point in your research you've pretty much decided that you want to go on exchange. Prague is one of the most affordable cities to live in whilst you are in Europe. Combine that with also being one of the most beautiful cities, you've got an amazing destination for your exchange. 

Places to go when in Prague – here are my suggestions of where to go if you do end up choosing Prague as your exchange university:

  • Stay away from Karlovy Lazne, more popularly known as the 5 story club. I suppose it is fun to go there once to check it out but it is riddled with tourists and pickpockets
  • Vzorkovna (Be a local and pronounce it with a silent V), some people might reference it as the 'Dog bar' due to the massive Irish greyhound that roams around inside. Probably one of the cooler bars in Prague - I remember when I first walked in and had one of those "I love Prague" moments. 
  • Cross Club, a very interesting club that will be sure to take your fancy
  • The PUB, a restaurant/bar that has a beer tap on every table. Yep that means you can pour your own beer. Unfortunately, you have to pay 50CZK per 0.5L of beer which is considered expensive. 
  • The park right next to uni is amazing (Riegrovy savy). It has a beer garden in the middle and at the top of the hill you get an amazing view of the castle and cathedral. 
  • It's best if you can get your subjects on 1 or 2 days to free up time for longer weekend trips, but make sure you spend some time actually in Prague. I met so many people who barely stayed and didn't get to experience a weekend in Prague. 
  • Bukowski's is a bar near uni and does a happy hour on Sunday afternoons with 7CZK pints. That's 40 cents for a beer...