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5 posts categorized "Extracurricular"

12/18/2017

Christmas time at CIEE Prague!

With the looming end of the semester, the CNMJ students concentrate on their final exams and the last few days they spent growing professionally in the internships. However, even during this hectic period, there is always some time left for fun and cultural immersion.

On December 11, CIEE Prague hosted the Christmas party. Students of all programs were invited together with professors, buddies, home-stay families and local staff members. According to the old Czech tradition, the students received gifts from St. Nicholas, the Christmas Devil, and the Christmas Angel.

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Students also had a chance to try one of the Czech Christmas traditions such as gingerbread decorating, making of paper snowflakes etc. And what would be a proper Christmas party without delicious food? Students were invited to taste Czech Christmas meals such as potato salad, fried carp, schnitzels, Christmas bread and tons of cookies.

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Apart from the Christmas party, the students had a chance to participate in the group immersion activity they had chosen themselves. They spent a splendid night at the Christmas concert held at the gorgeous Mirror Chapel of Klementinum and grabbed a glass of mulled wine at the Old Town Square's Christmas market. Cheers!

11/09/2017

You're Gonna Miss Out

by Chen Yu, Tulane University and CNMJ Fall'17 Student

Whether you’re at your home school or at the orientation, everyone keeps telling you the ways to make the most out of your study abroad experience. But you know what, there is one thing I can tell you upfront. You’re going to miss out.

In the spring semester of my sophomore year, I was super pumped about the Film Studies program. I asked friends and writing tutors to read my application essays multiple times and met with my film professor whenever I could to discuss my portfolio. I was so ready to make the most out of it and become a kickass filmmaker. Then decision came in that I was not accepted by the Film Studies program, and I decided to switch to the CNMJ (Communication, New Media, and Journalism) program.

In the CNMJ program, I was so ready to “make the most out of it”. I wanted to take 18 credit hours (the requirement is 15 credits), become fluent in Czech (oh well that’s def not gonna happen), intern with a local organization every week, volunteer to blog and design the semester handbook for CIEE, audit two more film classes, offer to help on set with shooting for the Film Studies students, travel every single weekend outside of Prague whenever possible, go to every single excursion that CIEE plans, explore Prague as much as I could during the week, do all my readings and take detailed notes, and get straight A’s in all my classes. I soon realized that I was exhausting myself out: I was tired all the time, had very unhealthy sleep schedules, juggled multiple tasks, and was left with no time for myself.

I realized that there is a really intense peer pressure to compare how much you’ve explored Prague, the Czech Republic, and Europe. It seems like everyone is exploring new places and everyone’s constantly talking about the hidden places and cool places they’ve been to, and nobody wants to act like they’re missing out.

And there are so many excuses to exhaust yourself out. “When is the next time you visit Europe?” “It’s so cheap to travel.” “You’re studying abroad.” “You’re already in Europe.” But that’s just misleading.

You don’t travel just one semester in your life; you’re travelling all the time throughout your life. You’re constantly going to different places, and no one can possibly explore every corner of the world. Also, flights and bus tickets in Europe are not as cheap as we think, considering Europe isn’t even that big either. In the United States, the bus ticket from New Orleans to Houston can be as low as $1, and I got my flight from New Orleans to Chicago for $50. Instead of travelling as much as you can this semester, condensing the travel of your entire life to this semester and thinking that’s the only way to do it, can we make travelling more sustainable, still take good care of ourselves, and keep the curiosity wherever we go and even after we return to our home school? Can we explore new neighborhoods in our hometown, or go to other cities that we can easily go to by bus like we do in Europe?

I accepted the fact that I’m gonna miss out. And I’m missing out all the time. I don’t have time to audit film classes (well I might not even end up working in the film industry anyway), I won’t become fluent in Czech (probably not ever in my life), I won’t be able to visit every single country in Europe (but the world is so big and I can’t explore every country before I die so why should I overstress out about it?), I’m not gonna explore every single corner of Prague (well I don’t think locals can manage to do that either). I don’t want to be travelling the whole semester while I’m abroad. I want to live my life while I’m abroad.

So now this is what I do every day. I get 8 hours of sleep, do my readings and take detailed notes, drink a lot of hot water, eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, cook Chinese food, go jogging around the neighborhood, look up cool things to do in Prague, and just enjoy my presence in this city. I don’t feel obliged to drink or go out when I don’t feel like it. I know I’m missing out according to some people, but learning to live matters more to me.

10/19/2015

Fall 2015, Issue II

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Jáchymov: A Painful History Hidden Between Scenic Hills

by Ruth Douglas

It’s 6:40 on the first bitterly cold Saturday morning of the season, and instead of sleeping in, I am using every ounce of mental strength I have to will myself out of bed. Today, I am heading to Jáchymov, a quiet spa town just minutes from the German border. I can’t say I’m exactly excited about this trip—spas are unfortunately not on today’s itinerary. Rather than letting my worries melt away in the beautifully lush hills, I will be learning about the ills of the communist era while carefully maneuvering my way through an old, dark mine. I’m not exactly thrilled. But by the time I step on the bus to return to Prague, I am simply grateful for the life I have.

Aside from my limited knowledge about the United States’ involvement with the Soviet Union—the first and second Red Scare, the Cold War—I really had no idea how devastating communism was to so many people. It took that trip to Jáchymov to truly understand the effects communism had on people who lived under its rule.

Our tour was led by an 85-year-old former prisoner who was sentenced to work in several uranium mines in Jáchymov during his six years of imprisonment. The man, who used a cane to walk but otherwise appeared to be in good health, was apologetic about his slower pace. He explained having to walk two kilometers daily, tightly packed and arm in arm with the other prisoners, for 365 days a year to get to and from the uranium mine. “My knees are not so good because of this,” the professor on the trip translated to us. I was amazed at how humble the man was, and how willing he was to share his traumatic story with me and my peers.

Jáchymov

Hidden in the beautiful hills of Jáchymov is a painful history, one full of suffering in freezing mines or hazardous uranium sorting facilities. Though this trip was not entirely pleasant, it was certainly one of the most memorable and eye-opening experiences I’ve had in a very long time.

11/12/2014

Fall 2014, Issue II

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Extracurricular programs

One of the goals of CIEE Study Center in Prague is to provide its students with as many opportunities as possible to get immersed in the Czech society. These immersion projects are organized in cooperation with local students and families who have a strong interest in the American culture. Two examples of these successful projects are Tandems and Meet Czech Families.

 

Tandems

One of the extracurricular programs that our students can join is Tandems. This program started in Fall 2011 and it grew out of one of our programs One on One Teaching.

For tandems, students of all programs can sign up during orientation or at the Expo. (Expo is an extracurricular fair that is held during one afternoon of the second week of the intensive Czech language. This afternoon is dedicated to all extracurricular opportunities that students can join.)

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How does it work?

 At the “tandem gathering”, held at a local pub, CIEE invites local people interested in tandems. The tandem gathering is a lot of fun! It is done in the style of speed dating so everyone gets to talk to each person for a couple of minutes. Students then turn in a sheet at the end with a few preferences for tandem partners listed. CIEE then matches students up based on this and they receive their partner contact information by email.

It is expected that students spend about 30 percent of the meeting talking/practicing Czech, the rest can be done in English.

If students would like to receive up to 10% extra credit towards their Czech language grade, they meet at least 4x during the semester with their tandem partner and turn in a JOURNAL or ESSAY to CIEE by the end of semester. If not, they can just enjoy the tandem.

What do our students say?

“I gained a really close Czech friend. She is my closest Czech friend. I also got to see cool places that are actually where Czech people go. She helped me avoid tourist traps. She was great! I feel like we had a lot in common and we got along extremely well. This was one of my favorite parts about CIEE.”

“I gained a new Czech friend! I learned a lot about the differences in teenage culture and also about differences in what our families do for holidays.”

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Meet Czech Families

Another program that we offer for our students is Meet Czech Families. CIEE cooperates with several Czech families who are interested in meeting people from other cultures! Meeting local people is an important part of our students´ stay if they want to be more than just a tourist but may be too difficult to do on their own. Family plays an important part in the lives of Czech people and it is quite hard to penetrate the Czech culture without experiencing the family life. Family visits are a great opportunity for Czech kids to meet someone from a different culture and for the adults to show you a piece of their culture. Entering a Czech household and being part of a Czech family is an opportunity that many non-Czechs wish to have.

Students can sign up during orientation or at the Expo. Students who are interested in this program fill in a motivation letter, so do all the families. Then, they are matched up by CIEE based on their preferences.

 What do our students say?

 “Meeting with a Czech family was one of the most worthwhile experiences I had in Prague. Getting to know a family from a different background (cultural, political, socioeconomic, spiritual) gave me a real idea what the „Czech“ perspective is. Not to mention IT WAS A BLAST! It was like having younger brothers all over again. The best part of spending time with my family was that they walked me home, with their dog, after every visit. They also cooked dinner for me every time I visited. I would like to give everyone one piece of advice, DON’T BE AFRAID TO CALL THE FAMILIES. These families are waiting for your call and are filled to the brim with excitement to meet you.”

“Well, my start of Czech family program was same as everyone: I called and made appointment and then Zuzana gave me a map and directions. I brought flower, and felt a bit nervous before ringing the bell, but the fear soon disappeared after huge smile & cookies welcomed me:). We talked general things such as "why you chose Czech Republic" "what is the population of Tokyo" "What Czech food did you eat ", etc. and it was so much fun because they (mother and 10years old boy) can’t speak English well therefore we used a lot of body language, guessing, simple words such as 'good' or 'bad' which I knew in Czech, so no matter what topic we were talking, it became an "achievement" and we felt satisfied when we reached conclusion.”

“My family visited them when they came to Prague, it was amazing to see my mom talking with my Czech mother, dad with Czech grandpa, and all of the people ate my grandma's special dishes.”

Experience of a Czech family:

Dear CIEE,

Meeting with CIEE students is a very pleasent and useful activity. I have welcomed the possibility to hear native speakers again and to be able to improve my verbal skills. My student spoke slower taking into consideration my ability to understand each word. Through discussion with her, I also found out many things from life of Americans, quite a bit of American facts and, I believe, that she also found out some details about life in the Czech Republic. I was not bored at any of our activities. Both sided exchange of experiences was very interesting. I would like to thank CIEE for this chance.

I am again interested in this program next semester. I consider meeting of people from other countries beneficial. Thank you for everything.

This is translation from feedback email to CIEE on the Czech Families program….

10/10/2014

Student Retreat

By Jelani Spencer-Joe, Susquehanna University

Jelani on retreat

From Thursday to Saturday night, I was invited by Denisa to go to a weekend action with the school of humanities in Lichovy- Prosaz! An action is basically a retreat for students in the woods and there are lectures for them to go to with professors as well as other activities.

At first, it was a little scary because the only Americans were me and Alex and although everyone spoke English, I was worried that people would be too embarrassed of their English to speak to us. One of the things I did was take a picture of all of the foods I ate over the weekend because I thought it would be fun to see what kind of “retreat food” the kitchen staff would serve us (post below)! It was nice to be out of the city for a bit and be around people I don’t really know since I feel like I’m always surrounded by people in my program. I couldn’t go to any lectures so I ended up sleeping, talking/ meeting new people, going for hikes, eating (obviously), and just relaxing (something I needed to do more than I thought)!

I feel like I have SO many things to still write about so I’m going to try and be more present on this blog for November and write about even the little things that happen… wish me luck!

Retreat treats by jelani

I decided to take a picture of all the “retreat food” I ate this weekend at Lichovy-Prosaz just because I thought it would be interesting for everyone to see since I know that in America, when I think of retreat food I think of bagged lunches consisting of dry, sandwiches and a piece of fruit. Here’s what I had, in order from left to right:

1) rice with beef and vegetables, mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top and pickles on the side (favorite meal)

2) noodles and chicken in a mystery sauce that looked cheesy but it was more like broth and it didn’t really taste like cheese at all.

3) pork meatloaf with vegetables and boiled potatoes

4) jelly filled donut and then we had the option of getting a roll to put the spreadable cheese, butter, or pate on.

5) chicken(?), potato dumplings, cabbage, (least favorite meal)

6) potato soup with basil, rye and mushrooms

7) chips that taste like bacon (amazing)

8) rice cakes with chocolate on top