Sophie - University of Economics, Prague

Bachelor of Economics/Commerce
Semester 1, 2018
Best 6 months of my life, don't think about it too much and just go.

Academic experience

At VSE, I studied 6 courses to make up enough credits to transfer. Despite this, my contact hours were about the same as UQ and I found the workload to be very manageable. I did mostly economics subjects as these were the easiest to find equivalents for. I liked all my subjects and it was really interesting to learn about the Czech and global economic environment from a European perspective. 

The enrolment process is pretty confusing but if you play around with the website it was not hard to get all the time slots I wanted. In O-week, I'd definitely recommend going to the info session about InSIS (blackboard equivalent), it saves a lot of time trying to navigate around it. 

I wasn't able to, but I would suggest doing an intensive course - they sounded really interesting and can get you the credits you need in 3 days.

Personal experience

When I first got to Prague, it was pretty daunting not knowing anyone and having to really put yourself out there. But everyone else there is in the exact same position so I had no troubles finding some amazing friends early on. GO TO JUVE IN THE FIRST WEEK! Juve is the dorm bar, its not the most elegant place but this is where I met pretty much all my friends, don't be scared to just go up to someone and start chatting. 

I was lucky enough to travel before semester, during and after. The Czech Republic is so central and there are plenty of places you can travel to very cheaply. We found flights to Brussels for $30 return! Also don't neglect other cities outside of Prague! We did day trips to Kutna Hora and Karlovy Vary which were beautiful and a bit less hectic than Prague. 

I have to admit, I didn't learn much Czech. However I'd say learn the basics (eg. hello, goodbye, thank you), the language barrier wasn't much of an issue but they appreciate it when you try (especially disgruntled grocery store workers). 

I think the most important personal skill I developed was how to have a conversation with heaps of different people from all over the world. I gained a lot of confidence in this aspect and don't think I could've leant this without going on exchange.

Accommodation

I would definitely recommend living at the dorms. I was in Jarov F, with all the other international students. It's not exactly the Ritz but the flats have everything you need and it makes a big difference living with everyone else and it's super cheap. I was in a single room and shared a kitchen and bathroom with my German flatmate. 

Make friends with the receptionists! It'll make your life a lot harder if you get on their bad side. 

In terms of location, the dorms are in a pretty good spot. It's definitely more of a soviet era feel, but it feels very authentic Czech. It's about 15 minutes by tram to uni and about 20 into the city. The number 9 tram is your best friend and will take you anywhere you need to go. There is a pharmacy, grocery store, and excellent pizza place very close by. Also make the most of the facilities! We played a lot of volleyball and had a lot of picnics in the park behind the dorms.

Costs

One of the most attractive parts of going on exchange in Prague is how cheap it is. You get to live in a capital city at an insanely cheap price. Here's some standard prices:
Meal Out: $10
Pint of Beer: $2-$3
Week of Groceries: $30
3 months tram/bus/metro pass: $40

Excluding travel, I probably spent about $200 a week, but you can definitely do it even cheaper.

Professional Development

I think going on exchange definitely helps employability. You gain a lot of independence living abroad without the safety net of family and friends from home. You learn to adapt to new situations and have to do a lot of problem solving by yourself.

Highlight

The highlight was definitely the friends I made. You'd never think you'll make such close friends in just 5 months, but you spend so much time together it's hard not to - there were a lot of tearful goodbyes. 14 of us got the chance to travel to Croatia together for a week, which was insanely cool. 

Also just getting the chance to live in Europe with a bunch of people from different corners of the world and getting to travel so easily. After semester I was lucky enough to stay with friends in the Netherlands and in Portugal - free accommodation is a god send.

Top tips

My top tips would be:
- don't forget to do all the touristy things in Prague! You kind of neglect it when you are living there and going to uni
- don't miss out on experiences because of uni work, the workload is much easier than UQ and you'll be able to catch up
- go to Letna Park! It's a great beer garden and has amazing views of the city
- go explore the nightlife! The Nation 2 Nation parties aren't the best but go to the first few because all the international students go