Robyn - Charles University

Bachelor of Laws/Arts
Semester 1, 2018
In adapting to a new way of life in a completely foreign city you become more sure of yourself and develop a great sense of independence.

Academic experience

I studied six courses to fulfil the full time load of 30 ECTS. Though six courses makes for a lot of content to keep track of, the workload is much lighter so it's definitely manageable. I ended up taking Czech criminal law (6), Czech and European environmental law (6), commercial law/private international law (6), European law (6), out of court dispute resolution (3) and international administrative law (3).  All of the courses I took had an end of semester exam as the only assessment for the course, exams generally consisted of memory based short answer or multiple choice questions. Most courses required a minimum level of attendance throughout the semester to sit the final exam, most of my classes were in the middle of the week so this didn't really affect my ability to travel.
I found the workload to be quite relaxed, readings were minimal and most classes didn't require any preparation. However, I would still recommend staying on top of content as you go so as to ensure you get the most out of the study abroad experience and to minimise stress come exam time.
The Czech legal system is very different to the Australian legal system, this meant for courses that were generally quite engaging. Additionally, communism only ended in the Czech Republic thirty years ago and I found its impacts on criminal and environmental law especially to be quite interesting.

Personal experience

In adapting to a new way of life in a completely foreign city you become more sure of yourself and develop a great sense of independence. To be fair, Prague is an easy city to adapt to, it's very safe and there are a lot of foreigners so most Czechs speak some English. Not many students took the time to learn Czech as it's a difficult language, however it was easy enough to pick up a few everyday words and the locals definitely appreciate the effort.

Prague is a gorgeous and historic city, full of old pastel coloured buildings, numerous churches and two castles. Walking through the picturesque streets of Old Town to get to class was always a treat. There are also a lot of great parks and outdoor spaces to enjoy, as soon as its sunny and above 15 degrees the entire city heads outside to soak it all in.
Prague is smaller than Brisbane and the great public transport system makes it very easy to get around. My favourite neighbourhoods to spend time in were Karlín, Vinohrady and Letna.

Accommodation

I rented an apartment for myself close to the city centre in Prague 8, I found it through a verified website and booked it before I left which cut down on lots of stress! A lot of exchange students found other accommodation with roommates through other websites and it seemed relatively easy too. 
The university dorms are old, very basic and not generally close to the city centre but are a great way of meeting other exchange students. Living alone suited me better personally and I still found it super easy to socialise and meet people.

Costs

Prague is cheap! Meals out, drinks and groceries (for the most part) are cheaper in the Czech Republic than in Brisbane, and it's not just the great exchange rate. Rent is also generally cheaper, though can be quite expensive in certain expat areas and is of course more expensive if you're going it alone. 
Rent was by far my greatest expense and I budgeted for that in advance. It was still very easy to go out for meals and drinks and stay within budget though. It's also possible to travel really cheaply from Prague as it's close to many other destinations. Central and Eastern Europe make for especially cheap weekend getaways but flights to other European capitals are generally quite affordable too.

Professional Development

Going on exchange enables you to develop your independence and demonstrates your adaptability. Studying abroad gives your resume an edge and can help differentiate you from an employers perspective. Additionally, if you're keen on working internationally studying abroad allows you to develop contacts all over the world. While I doubt that my knowledge of Czech criminal law will ever really come in handy professionally, in studying different legal system you develop a deeper understanding of law generally which is definitely an asset.

Highlight

Going to the beer gardens after class, slipping on cobblestones, dinners out with friends, sunny days on the river, picnics in the park, spur of the moment trips to different countries, the pastel buildings and orange rooftops, experiencing a proper spring!

Top tips

  • Save as much as you can before you go!
  • Check out Regiojet for cheap train and bus tickets all over Europe, it's as cheap as Flixbus but way more comfortable.
  • Prague has a fabulous food scene, look up Taste of Prague for all the good spots (Dish and Eska are musts).
  • Seeing Prague go from a freezing winter wonderland to leafy, warm and summery was amazing, go for the spring semester if you can!
  • Just go for it, Prague is one of the best cities for studying abroad and makes for the experience of a lifetime.