Program and Location:
Fall, NC State European Center in Prague: Spring Connect: Prague, Czech Republic
Communications – Journalism
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I am a huge traveler and after over a year of being stuck in quarantine, my adventurous self wanted to get out and explore again. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to study abroad my first semester of college. In all honesty there were parts of me that were a little hesitant because this is such a big step for someone who has never really traveled on their own and is coming fresh out of high school. I kept asking myself “Will I be able to handle this?” and “Am I prepared to travel alone.” In the end, I have my friends and family to thank for motivating me to apply, and I’m so glad I did.
What did you learn about yourself?
I am way more independent than I ever thought I could be. When you’re over there you do almost everything for yourself. There are no meal plans and no dining halls, I had to make my own meals, and do my own grocery shopping (which is a little hard when it’s all in Czech). I had to be more reliable on myself to make sure I had my wallet, passport and vaccine card on me at all times. Had to learn how to use ATM’s more and make sure I was taking out the right amount of foreign currency to get by with. Something I never even considered before was making sure I was packing the right clothes for our weekend trips (my mom wasn’t there to tell me if I should bring a jacket or not 🙂 I had to stay on top of my studies while traveling and continue to remind myself this wasn’t always a vacation. Sometimes I would have to be working on a presentation or studying for a test on a train ride back to Prague, this helped me learn that I am a very diligent person. This experience forced me to grow up in the best way possible, and learn to thrive in new settings.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
The freedom! Being able to go out and do things on our own it made me feel like I really had to opportunity to immerse myself in the country. I could ride the trams and feel like “Hey, I live here.” Also, being able to just go to other countries on the weekends is such a crazy cool concept, the world was at our fingertips. I’m so grateful with what was going on with the pandemic that we still had the opportunity to travel.
What was your experience with navigating COVID-19 abroad?
Navigating COVID-19 was sometimes a little difficult. We had to fill out passenger locator forms for the countries of which we were going through and had to test 32 hours before we left. Once we had arrived we all tested on our first day to make sure we didn’t catch anything on our journey over. All the students were set up with EU COVID “Passports.” This was an app with a QR Code that we could show in restaurants to prove we were vaccinated, rather than having to carry our vaccination cards with us at all times. We also had to wear N-95 masks any time we were inside, this wasn’t a problem for myself or my peers we were all compliant and more than willing to follow the guidelines. When it came to get ready to head home it was stressful trying to get a test in Prague because of the language barrier but everything did work out and we all made it home safely.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
JUST GO! One of the main questions people always ask me is “Do you feel like you missed out on your first college semester?” My answer is always “No, I will have plenty of more time on campus. But this was a once in a lifetime experience.” You are young and have so much more of your life to figure things out, this is a time to learn about yourself, connect with others and experience things that will put you outside of your comfort zone.
Would you do it again?
I’d pack my bags right now!