Paris - Charles University

Bachelor of Arts
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

Whilst at Charles University, I studied 5 courses each worth 6ECTS to make a total of 30ECTS to equal a full course load. I was enrolled in the Faculty of Social Sciences and using my electives saved in my Bachelor Arts degree I was able to choose a variety of different classes. I was enrolled in Global Justice and Ethics, Conflict Studies, American Presidency in the Digital Age, American Political Theatre and British Politics. These classes were all Masters level classes and whilst I am only undergraduate, I found that the Masters classes where more appealing to me and there were more options. I was quite concerned about taking Masters level classes, however I found them to be equal to any undergrad classes at UQ. Other international students were also enrolled in these classes so there is always someone in the same boat as you. The classes run in seminar style and are a much smaller class size than UQ, making it easier to engage in the class and course material. However, I found that whilst the classes run in a relaxed style which fosters class discussion, this also transpires in the assessment side of the courses. There is no ECP or class outline and it's quite hard to know what is required of you and how much different assessment pieces are worth. There are also different marking criteria for each class so I would recommend communicating with your teachers to better understand what is required. Overall, I found the classes at Charles University to be interesting and saw it as an opportunity to try different classes with the marking also being easier than UQ’s.

Personal experience

Going on exchange is an extremely fun and exciting experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about exchange. I was able to make friends quickly from all around the world through the O Week activities and they ended up becoming my closest friends in Prague. Prague is a beautiful city and going in exchange gives you the freedom to take in a new city and explore all its interesting quirks and intricacies. There were many days spent adventuring and crazy nights spent with friends which made the experience one to remember. Studying in Prague gave me the opportunity to have Europe at my doorstep, I was able to travel to 11 other countries whilst on exchange and after. During the semester I was also able to travel within the Czech Republic to some of the beautiful towns and go hiking, which was an incredible experience.

Accommodation

I initially enrolled to be placed in the student accommodation, which was good when applying for a visa, as you need an address, however I would not recommend staying there personally. The dorm I was placed was an hour out of the city and not in great condition. The facilities were quite run down and there is no social aspect to the dorm at all, however it is extremely cheap. I ended up leaving the dormitory shortly after I arrived, as I found an apartment in the city with a French and Norwegian student for an affordable price. I would highly recommend finding private accommodation, mine was pricier than the dorms but it was definitely worth it. My roommates were some of my best friends and we were able to hold lots of gatherings with other international students which was lots of fun. Although it may seem easier and less stressful to organise accommodation beforehand, some apartments aren’t available until you get there or some students arrive also looking for accommodation so there is an opportunity to room with them.

Costs

Life in Prague was quite cheap compared to Brisbane. I paid a little bit more for accommodation but still very affordable at $500AUD a month. Transport is very cheap, when you arrive you get a student transport card which is around $70 and that lasts you the whole time you are there. Eating out is very affordable with an average meal costing between $7-$12. The nightlife is also cheap and alcohol is a lot cheaper than home with beer at the supermarket costing only $1 and $3 out. Travelling within the Czech Republic is also affordable with train tickets costing only $10 and taking you to some great destinations to explore. Overall I would budget around 10000 if you plan on travelling as well.

Professional Development

Whilst exchange is a lot of fun, there are plenty of challenging moments where you are put in difficult situations. I believe that going through this instils confidence in you when facing new and different situations, a skill that can relay in the workplace. Exchange also gives you a different perspective on issues facing the world, for me in particular being able to understand a European perspective on world politics was highly useful for me. Going in exchange also exemplifies that you are willing to try something new, not afraid to be put in challenging situations and have a passion for exploring new cultures and gaining new experiences.

Highlight

I don’t have one particular highlight of exchange, as it was an honestly once in a lifetime experience. Being able to live in Europe and experience a completely different lifestyle was amazing. I had never experienced living in a cold place with snow so that was extremely exciting and then watching the leaves slowly grow back and the days grow longer made Prague even more beautiful. Also the peddle boats that go around the Vltava River are the BEST thing ever!!! Definitely do this!

Top tips

•    Get your visa sorted as early as possible! It’s an extremely difficult and tedious process and no one really helps you out but as long as you are on top of it and constantly pester the visa people to get it done. 
•    Go to the UQ Abroad sessions before you go and meet the other UQ students going on exchange with you. There were 4 UQ students going to Prague my semester and they were the first friends I made. It is always comforting to know someone going through the same experience as you, both the ups and downs. 
•    Save up your electives so you have the freedom to study what you like! There are a lot of different courses offered at Charles, so test them out and see what you like.
•    Just embrace it! At the start it might be difficult and you might be anxious but after the first week all these feelings will be gone and will turn into one of the most amazing experiences of your life!