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Prague Exchange Vysoká škola ekonomická v Praze / Prague University of Economics Bcom (International Business), BA (Economics) Semester 1, 2010 Before: I can’t stress enough the importance of applying early for your student visa. No matter how much you argue with the consulate they will not reduce the processing time of 2 months. Make sure you read their check list thoroughly. The 2 months processing only starts when you send them everything. However if you don’t mind risking it you can avoid the expense and stress and arrive without a visa. Many have done this before, and have had no problems living in Prague. Arrival: The biggest shock you will get upon arriving in Prague is the language. It’s a complicated string of consonants that sound like zrtchrj. There is a beginner’s Czech paper offered at the University (which I highly recommend). It’s a fun and easy paper. If that doesn’t sound like you, just make sure you learn a few of the basics like: Prosim (proseem) – Please Djekui (dyekwee) – Thanks Jedno Pivo (yednoh peevoh) – One beer (they always come as 500ml, unless you ask for a small, but I wouldn’t advise it) A very small proportion of the country speaks English (mainly university students and teachers). It is never a big problem until the lady in the supermarket asks you for small change (drobny) and you have no clue what she wants. It is all part of the experience, and makes for some good stories. Anyway majority of your time will be spent with the other English speaking exchange students who will have just as much trouble as you. After being picked up by your Buddy (assigned local student who helps you with getting started in Prague) at the airport/train station/bus station, your first destination will be the Jarov dormitories. Don’t expect anything fancy; otherwise you will be in for a shock. The dorms are very basic. You will be sharing a room with another exchange student, see it as a chance to learn something about another culture. There is a single bed each (Dorm G beds are made up of 3 hard pillows), a desk, chair, fridge etc. The best thing about living in the dorms is that all the other exchange students there too. Whether it is a shared dinner, a game of football or a pre party, there is always something going on. The Exchange: A major contributor to the awesomeness of this exchange is the ‘Buddy System’. It is the group that organizes all the great programs throughout the semester. Ice breaker weekend (a must for everyone!), ski trip, kayaking, various trips abroad (Germany, Poland, and throughout Czech Republic), beer rally and not to mention the infamous Nation2Nation parties. These parties are world renowned, and for good reason. N2N is a student party held every Tuesday night (a different venue every week), where the exchange students from a particular country present their culture through food, drinks, a presentation and a party game, after that the party begins. Trust me, don’t miss a single one!!! Oh yeah, and make sure you have Wednesday morning free, most times you won’t get back home till 7am. Check out the Nation2Nation link: http://www.nation2nation.cz/novyweb/gallery The University: There are two types of courses taught at VSE, normal courses and intensive courses (which only take a few days of full day classes to complete). These are perfect for freeing up time on your week. Most exchange students take a combination of these, which results in usually having a 4 day weekend, just what you need for taking trips abroad every other week. It is small, bland and has very limited student facilities. However, it does have a very cheap Czech and Italian cafeteria, and a slightly more expensive restaurant and café. Prices: Beer = $2/ $4 in the city A meal = $5-10 Three months public transportation = $50 Three months accommodation = $700 (plus fast internet) Overall expenditure = about $8000 (this includes numerous trips abroad, copious amounts of beer, and a month long summer vacation in Italy and Greece). The City: Prague is an amazing historic city with a lot to offer. It has become very touristy, but all the hotspots (Prague castle, Charles Bridge, Petrin tower, John Lennon wall) are definitely worth a look. The city also provides a great public transportation network that runs throughout the day and night (perfect for late night clubbing). Just remember tram 9, and you’re sorted, it takes you from outside your dorms to the university (20 mins) and further to the city (25mins). Juve, the dorm pub, is well situated in between all the dorms. It provides for a place to socialize and warm up for the night ahead. Beers are $2, wines $3 and the quintessential shot of Becherovka is also $3 (similar to Jagermeister). There are thousands of pubs and bars to visit in Prague, almost one every block. If you are looking for a really good night out, take a group down to The Pub. Each table has its own beer taps with an electronic touch pad to keep track of the amounts. It definitely spurs on a bit of competition. There are plenty of great clubs too. The good ones usually have a cover charge but are well worth it. Travel: Czech Republic is centered smack bang in the middle of Europe, which makes it an idea hub to launch trips from. Every destination has its pros and cons, but as long as you are with a good bunch of people you will have a great time. I suggest you definitely check out Budapest (to the east) and Berlin (to the north). Both have had top reviews from everyone who went. When traveling try to use www.studentagency.cz (cheap bus company that has good connections) and for further destinations www.ryanair.com or www.wizzair.com (cheap flight companies). Just beware that when you fly with cheap airlines you will fly to a smaller airport further out of town. Also, if you want to save money further, and meet a local in the place you are visiting you may want to sign up for Couch Surfing, basically people sharing their couches free of charge; www.couchsurfing.org. End: Prague exchange is an amazing experience, which I highly recommend you partake in. You will make friends from all over the world, and do things you never would even dream of. It will open your mind and horizons, and at very least you will come out with great memories.
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