Wish I Would've Known - Czech Republic

This page contains answers from a survey completed by previous student alumni who participated in the Nebraska Semester Abroad program.

Packing & Traveling | 1. Specifically, what kind of linens did you need to bring?

• There was nothing that was required. All of the bedding is provided for you at Neředín. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, you are able to go to the front dest and switch out sheets for fresh ones. They also provided us with a small towel, but I was very happy that I brought my own from home that was bigger, so bring a towel.

• It is nice to have your own pillow and/or blanket from home if you can manage it.

2. What are you glad you packed from home?

  • Pictures of family, books, portable laundry line, peanut butter, boots, and winter coat.
  • Pictures, a portable laundry line (a must have), warm weather clothing. I was amazed at how long the cold weather hung on.
  • I am really happy that I packed a little notebook to write down the little things, and keep different things that we have collected over our travels.

3. What do you wish you would've left at home?

  • Extra clothes.
  • Extra clothes, especially if you are a girl, cause trust me, you will go shopping.

4. Do you have any travel tips to pass on (planning advice, safety considerations, guidebooks, train vs. bus, etc.)?

• Plan in advance for spring break and your last free week. Book hostels/hotels early, so you can get into the ones you want. Use the Student Travel Agency in the Czech Republic. Their train to Prague is modern and a great way to travel. They have great bus service too, but the trips can be long and not very comfortable. They are sometimes cheaper than train travel though, especially if you are traveling across the continent.

• DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE GOING TO A NEW CITY.....do not try and wing it. Having plans makes for a smooth and enjoyable experience. Use books such as Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor is great, and Rick Steves' Podcasts are great because it essentially a free tour for that given city or tourist attraction. Always do what the locals are doing in the particular area, it is the best way to discover a real feel for the city.

• Throwing myself into unfamiliar cities has been a great experience, and I recommend seeing as much as possible. There are a few apps that helped me out quite a bit while traveling. One of the apps was trip advisor which has great suggestions for things to do and places to eat in various cities. Another great, life saving app is city maps to go. Before a weekend trip, I would download the map of that city. I could type in a place I wanted to go, and the map would show me where I was and where my destination was- it worked great, even without wifi. I would also recommend using the student agency to book transportation. They speak English, and the prices they offer are some of the cheapest we've been able to find.

• Bring a hiking backpack, these are perfect for one or even two week travels. I purchased a passport wallet, and it has made my life really easy. It allows you to keep you money, cards, ids, and passport together and it is small enough that you can discretely keep it close to you while also having quick access to the items inside. PLAN AHEAD FOR TRIPS!! I cannot stress enough that you need to book tickets/hostels/plans at Least three weeks ahead of time. Spring break should be booked before you come overseas. Some of us had quite a heck of a time booking things last minute. Lets just say at one point I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to get back home from Rome without spending $600 on a one way ticket. So the sooner you book things, the cheaper tickets will be, and it will be a lot of stress that you can avoid.

5. What places would you advise future students to see and why?

• Prague. It’s cheap, walk able, and beautiful. It’s rich in history and charm. I also recommend seeing the smaller towns/cities in your host country. That’s where you really learn and experience the culture.

• I am so glad I made it a mission to see as many of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I could. It’s amazing the culture and history you can immerse yourself into.

Social Life | 1. How did you meet other students?

• In my dorm. Don’t be shy; they are just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them.

• You will meet a lot of the other Erasmus students at the pubs and clubs that we all hang out at.

• One of our teachers, Martin, helped us by setting up a meet and greet with some Czech students. Other than that, we were in the Erasmus group with other international students, so we had the chance to meet people from many parts of the world. We took several field trips with them, and we also got to know them by living in the dorms. Another great place to meet students is Belmoundo. Erasmus students from each country plan a party, and they are usually really fun!

2. How did you like to spend your free time and why? Is there anything you regret not doing more of in your free time?

• In my free time I did a lot really. There is so much to do, even in our “small” town of Olomouc. There is a huge mall, movie theaters, great parks, cafes, and bars. The list goes on, so I would just say don’t be afraid to just go out and explore the town. I personally wish that I would have gone to the parks more. Throughout my time here, there have been many little festivals/concerts in Olomouc. They are very fun to go to. Its a great look inside the local culture. You are able to see some great live music (most of the time its in Czech, but still good to listen to), try some amazing food, and see some of the local crafts and specialties.

• I regret not slowing down and just enjoying my time over there. Americans need to learn to live life at the European pace. Take the time just to savor the small experiences, sit in a sidewalk café for the afternoon, and learn to appreciate the small things.

3. What opportunities for social, recreational, and cultural events that the host university or program offered did you like best? Why?

• I liked all the events planned by my host program.

• Dr. Ebel and Dr. Stejskal have put together an amazing program. Their knowledge is quite intimidating at times. I honestly think the trip would have had a different feel if we wouldn’t have had their expertise for the trips and tours.

4. What piece of advice would you give future students regarding their non-academic life while abroad?

• Live it up. You are young, take advantage and have no regrets.

• Make a plan; see what you want to see. You never know when you are going to get back.

• My piece of advice to the future groups that are coming to Olomouc would be don't be afraid to explore and leave your comfort zone. You never know how you will like something until you try it a couple times. So if you find yourself board sitting in your room, go get on a tram you have never been on and see where it takes you. Most likely you will find something new and fun. On your free weekends, travel! Go see what’s out there!

School Work | 1. How did your academic experience abroad differ from your U.S. experiences concerning:

Relations with professors/classroom instruction?

• My academic experience at Palacky was different than the US for several reasons. We had 3 different "classes" and a blog. Our Czech language class was always with the same teacher who was very nice. That class was comparable to a regular class at UNK, and it wasn't too difficult. The class we had with our professor that came with us, Kami, was once a week. We mainly focused on the Holocaust, and it was very interesting and fairly easy as well. The other class we had was basically a different lecture on a different topic by a different professor every day. We did have several of the professors 2 or 3 times, but the topics were always different. They varied from European and Czech history to Czech culture, etc. I would have to say that the lectures were the most different compared to what I'm used to in America. The grading was about the same, and as I said earlier, the classes were very easy.

• I felt it was a little more relaxed than and not as structured as back in the states.

Grading?

• Different and not very specific.

• Easier.

Study habits?

• Not nearly as much studying as I do at home.

• I agree with the above statement.

Library?

• I used the library once (which was very confusing because the language on the computers wasn't English) to print off a plane ticket.

• n/a

Computer access?

• I had my own computer with access to wireless internet.

• Wrong, there is no wireless in your rooms at Neredin. You will need to either bring or purchase a hard wire so you have internet in your room. I only took my IPad thinking we had wireless in the rooms. I had to go to the student center to work on homework and to Skype back home. There is wireless at most of the cafes in town but bring your laptop and a wire.

Money & Communications| 1. How much money in U.S. currency would you recommend students have at their disposal for their whole time abroad?

• $4,000-$5,000 don’t have regrets, so bring extra money so you don’t have to say no to doing things that you truly want to do.

• I would say every cent of $4000 to enjoy the trip without having to worry about money. I planned on going on this trip 2 years ago. This allowed me to save a large sum of money to enjoy my time in Europe without having to be conscious of my budget. I was not a foolish spender while in Europe but I was always comfortable with my financial status.

• So when we came on our trip, they recommended that one should bring at least $3,000. I think that this estimate should go up to $4,000. I brought $5,000, and I never really had to worry about money. I also have traveled quite a bit. I am sure that one would be able to get along fine with just $3,000, but you would also be very limited as to what you could do. I think one should put aside $1,000 for spring break alone.

2. How much money did you have in foreign currency when you left for your program? Was it enough?

• $40, and it was enough, I hit up an ATM right away.

• None, I hit the ATM in the airport.

• I started out with about $300 in Czech currency and $100 in Euros, and it lasted longer than I expected.

3. How did you manage your money (credit cards, traveler’s checks, bank accounts etc.)? How and where did you access your money?

• I used a debit card to get cash at ATM’s and had a credit card just in case.

• I found that pulling out cash at an ATM with my debit card was the best option. An ATM can be found almost everywhere in Europe, and they all have options for English, so I had no problems when withdrawing money.

• Every week I pulled out cash from my account and dealt mainly with cash, it is easier that way. Not all places take cards. I managed my money by making a budget plan before I left and this was one of the best things I did before the trip. It allowed me to keep on track, and if I went over I knew that I would have to cut one week a little bit.

4. How much money did you spend on:

Books?

• $10

• $0

School Supplies?

• $15

• $20

Food?

• $1,000

• $2,000 to $1,500

Local transportation?

• You will be provided with a public transportation pass for Olomouc.

• $50

Travel?

• $1,000

• $2,000 to $1,500

Personal items (toiletries)?

• $75

• $75

Entertainment?

• $100

• $200 to $300 (at least)

Postage?

• $25

• None

Airfare?

• $700

• $1,200 round trip to Czech, $250 to Spain, $375 to Rome and then Malta.

Laundry?

• $0

• Every time you get the laundry room key for the 3 hour time span it costs you about 50 krouns. So a couple of bucks every week.

5. How did you communicate with the U.S.? What would you recommend to future students (e.g. calling card, set up e-mail account and where, etc.)?

• I used Skype on a daily basis. You can make international calls for 2 cents a minute or talk via Skype accounts for free. It’s fantastic!

• Skype is definitely the way to go. Even though there is a 7 hour time difference, this is still the only way to go, not only can you make regular calls, you can have face time with family and friends.

• I would recommend Skype of FaceTime. I have also used Facebook chat a great deal as well as my email account. I can only use this when I have wifi, but I haven't run into any significant problems with getting in touch with people.