Czech Republic

Although it has only been a country since 1993, the Czech Republic is quickly becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in Central Europe! From Gothic to Baroque, Renaissance to Cubist, the architecture of Prague will leave you in awe as you walk the city's cobblestone streets.
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Semester in Business and Economics, Prague

Czech Republic

Study Central and East European economies and societies while living in one of Europe’s most beautiful, historic cities. The curriculum is designed specifically for international students majoring in business, economics, and finance.

Your academic experience at the University of Economics and Anglo-American University in Prague will be similar to what you are accustomed to in the US. Class sizes are small and courses will be taught in English by local faculty. Written tests, assignments, and class attendance will all factor into your final letter grade.

Overall, the Czech Republic is a safe study abroad destination. Most of the crimes that occur are considered "petty". The most common crime experienced by tourists is pickpocketing, so carefully watch your belongings in crowded areas of the city. Common sense teamed with taking time and effort for precautions will leave you plenty of time to enjoy your stay. While health insurance coverage is not required for visitors by the Czech government, CIS includes a comprehensive medical and accident insurance plan with all of our programs.

Official name of country: Czech Republic

Nickname: City of One Thousand Spires

Population: 10.2 million

Capital City: Prague

Time Difference: The Czech Republic is +1 GMT, so it is 6 hours ahead of the east coast and 9 hours ahead of the west coast.

National Animal: Double-tailed lion

National Currency: Czech Crown

National Flower: Rose

National Tree: Lime

Festivals: The Czech Republic has a rich history of arts and culture that you can experience at festivals throughout the year. Operas, symphonies, and chamber music are a few of the highlights to look forward to at the Prague Spring International Music Festival. The multi-day Prague Fringe Festival showcases music, comedy, theater, and dance from around the world. Prague is also home to the International Folklore Festival, which will give you a taste of the many groups and cultures that make up this fascinating country.

Geography: Located in Central Europe, the Czech Republic is roughly the size of South Carolina and shares borders with Austria, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia. The western region of the country, Bohemia, contains a diverse terrain of mostly low mountains with plains, hills, and plateaus. To the east in Moravia, you will find miles of rolling, green hills. Overall, the climate in the Czech Republic is temperate and enjoyable. Summer term in Prague is warm, and rain showers are not uncommon so make sure to keep an umbrella handy. Autumn is warm and dry, but be prepared for snow and colder temperatures in the winter and early spring.

Famous People: Antonin Dvorak (composer), Franz Kafka (author), Dominik Hasek (Olympic gold medalist hockey player), Milos Forman (director), and Petra N?mcová (model).

Great Movies: The Shop on the Main Street; Closely Watched Trains; The Fireman’s Ball; Kolya; The End of the Good Old Days.

CISabroad Czech Republic Site Director Interview: Leah

You were born in Toronto, and spent most of your life there. What were the most unexpected challenges when you moved and became an expat in the Czech Republic?

The biggest challenge for me was definitely coming to terms with Czech bluntness. Many Czechs value being honest and straightforward (no sugar coating) over being polite. This is also tied to a common complaint about Czechs, that is, their lack of a (friendly) customer service culture. North Americans are used to “service with a smile”, happy faces greeting you as you enter a shop or restaurant, and chronically positive sales people however upon arrival in CZ I was struck how rare it was to find a smile, everyone seemed so grumpy. Better a sincere scowl than a fake grin seems to be motto for a lot of Czechs. I should mention however,this is of course not the case for all Czechs and in fact I find over the years customer service has improved greatly.

Another unexpected challenge for me was the realization I couldn't be as independent as I was back home. For example going to the pharmacy was a huge ordeal if you happened to get a pharmacist who didn't speak English. In Europe most pharmacies keep OTC drugs behind the counter so you must ask for them. So initially when I moved I felt a bit helpless but since then my basic, “survival” Czech makes things easier ;).


What are three key cultural differences for students to keep in mind before arriving in Prague?

 1. Czechs are known for their bluntness, they don't sugar coat or are rarely if ever fake so prepare yourself for honest feedback

2. Czechs are less concerned with political correctness, and you will argue till you are blue in the face with Czechs how certain words or labels which are considered taboo back home, are fine to use here, for example “Eskyimák”(Eskimo) vs Inuit.

3. Drinking and Tipping culture is quite different then in America. Drinking: Water is not served free of charge, and in some places costs more then beer (bottled still and sparkling water). More and more restaurants are offering tap water however some places still will charge. Tipping: Locals rarely leave 10-15% tip, most will round up to the nearest 20 czk. This relates as well to customer service which most expats will tell you is quite lacking. Don't base your tip on a friendly smile or demeanour, but instead on whether your order was taken promptly, the correct food was delivered, and food was good.

What advice would you give a student unsure about where to study abroad, who is considering Prague?

I would advise student to consider the following:

Central location: Prague is an excellent choice, situated in the center of Europe it is the perfect base for visiting and exploring other European countries. -
Value for your dollar: Your dollar goes much farther in Prague in terms of basic living necessities.

Impressive public transport:
Prague's public transport (DPP - Metro, Bus and Trams) is frequent, punctual, safe and inexpensive. Prague's night trams and buses run all night ensuring you won't be stuck while out late at night.

How has your background and experience in marketing, events management and education influence the way you approach your job as Site Director?

Working within a University setting, but specifically organizing events and planning, executing the marketing required many of the skills I’m using as Site Director. You need to be outgoing, friendly, creative as well as detail oriented and conscious of budgets and timeliness. Some students arrive very unsure and apprehensive about living and studying abroad and it's my job to ensure they have a friendly, safe and accessible resource at hand should they need it. I'm also constantly on the look out for new and interesting things for students to do and participate in.

Tell us more about your passion for theater and how the Czech Republic fits into it. Where did the idea for cultural exchange through performing arts come from?

During my years as Cultural Affairs Coordinator at the University of Toronto I had the pleasure to work with a Czech Canadian theatre professor Michal Schonberg who, along with Czech director, artist and actor Jan Schmid, had the idea to bring together a group of students from both sides of the continent to create a unique bilingual creative collaboration which reflected upon a specific theme; Man vs Woman, I vs They, The Myths that Unite Us and The Art of Living. I worked in the capacity of producer, fundraiser, as well as handled all the travel, accommodations and activities for a group of 30 + students and artistic staff. It was truly an eye opening experience for me – 1999, Prague was my first time leaving North America and so I completely understand what it's like for these students who choose to study abroad.

What are three key phrases students should know in Czech before arriving in Prague?

Politeness goes a long way so…
Prosím (Please)
Děkuji (Thank you)
Dobrý den (Hello/good day)

What does an average day look like for your students in Prague?

Most students have classes on three of four days of the week (Fridays there is no classes) and most classes end by 6pm. The commute from the dorms to the university is quite easy, only 15 minutes via tram which stops just outside the dormitories and drops you 3 mins away from the front doors of the University. After classes could be anything from staying in to study, meeting up with new friends to explore Prague's vibrant nightlife :)

What cultural experiences or excursions do you recommend each student to take part in before the end of their semester?

Definitely a highlight for most visiting CZ is a trip to Cesky Krumlov, designated a World UNESCO Heritage site Though each semester programming and excursions will differ slightly, I would encourage students to visit this gorgeous medieval city, which seems even more untouched by time and modernity. Another must see is a visit to Pilsen and a tour of the Pilsner Urquel brewery. As students will be living in Czech Republic for almost 4 months, they will undoubtedly be drinking CZ’s most famous liquid export! The tour includes a view of the bottling facilities, the cellars and an in depth look at how this particular beer is made.

What exactly is The Buddy System, and how do you think it benefits students participating in the program?

The Buddy System is an Erasmus Student Network organization that facilitates the social life of foreign students in the Czech Republic. Students from abroad are offered the possibility to pair up with a Czech student who will help them to settle more easily into the new environment. They organize trips, parties and other activities throughout the term. For CISabroad students, this means their “Buddy” will pick them up at the airport, bring them to their dorms and provide a basic orientation to the school and dorms facilities. The Buddy System is unique to Prague and offers students peer to peer help, assistance, and friendship.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as Site Director in Prague?

Before joining the CISabroad family I was unsure at what level and capacity I would be involved with the students and their day to day lives. In itself, being here is proof of their fearlessness (no easy feat to study abroad, especially in a non English speaking country), and all of them are young adults in a modern world. But I’ve learned that you are never too old for good old fashioned compassion and care. It has given me great pleasure knowing that I can help and ease their transition into a Euro life, even if only for a few months.