January 21, 2010
By Jorden Pecher
Junior Political Science major Jorden Pecher recalls her exciting adventures from studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic. She encourages all students to find out more information on this life changing experience at the Study Abroad Fair Jan. 28 in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom.
The Chinese philosopher Laozi once wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I believe this quote holds especially true for the decision to study abroad.
The hardest step in the process is the choice to do it. Whether it is finances, being away from home or the fear of the unknown, many of us find ourselves hesitant to take the plunge into the studying abroad world.
Before studying abroad I had never been to another country. My idea of a cultural experience was a day of shopping in China Town, New York. Needless to say the decision to go abroad wasn’t necessarily the most calming one I have ever made. In short, I was terrified. I knew that I wanted to have the experience, but wished it could either be done over the Internet or that I could bring all of my friends and family with me.
Since neither one was a reasonable option, for obvious reasons I was forced to brave the unknown world of life abroad on my own. That is, if you don’t count the six advisors I had on campus with me, the 75 other American students in my program, and the constant connection with the United States I was able to have, thanks to Skype. Trust me, you almost wish you were on your own after about the tenth Skype call from your parents at 6 a.m. your time.
I left for Prague, Czech Republic on Feb. 4, 2009. Looking back on it I can say it was one of the most nerve-wrecking, exciting, best days of my entire life. That was the day my view on the world, myself, and life in general changed.
I’ll spare you the cheesy and horrid, now hilarious, details of saying goodbye to my parents. I almost missing my flight in London due to being lost in Heathrow Airport, and the bus ride to my apartment.
Pedestrians beware because the driving rules in Prague are apparently very vague. In the next four months Prague would become one of the most beautiful, eccentric, mysterious cities I had ever been to. I would:
I was able to visit the world’s oldest zoo in Vienna, backpack through Italy in 10 days, shop on the streets of London before taking a ferry to Dublin to share a Guinness with friends, walk the grounds of Auschwitz in Poland, and swim in the baths in Hungary. It was truly the decision of a lifetime.
Going to school in Prague was unlike anything I have experienced in the United States. To start off, the maximum number of students in each class was 40 students. This made it easy to get to know my teachers and classmates.
I was able to take the most incredible class on Eastern and Central European Politics. It was amazing to learn about the rise and fall of Stalinism from a professor who witnessed it firsthand.
Sometimes we would have art history classes in the park, or go on random field trips to local restaurants to test out our Czech language skills for Czech class. Above all, I think classes in Prague allowed me to adapt more independently as a student since their ways of teaching were not what I was used to.
Studying abroad can be a life changing experience. It allows you to see the world, experience things you never thought possible, submerge yourself in cultures you never quite understood, and stretch yourself to the limit.
I gained self-confidence, became more independent and developed a new passion for learning about the world. I challenge you to stop into the Study Abroad office to see what kind of adventures you could have.
After telling my stories to family and friends, I have so many tell me they wished they would have taken to opportunity to study abroad.
Don’t find yourself looking back and wishing the same! Come by the Study Abroad Fair on Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Lory Student Center Main Ballrooms from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to learn more about studying abroad!