Emily moved to Prague to study when she was 21. We wanted to know what it feels like to be a newcomer to the Czech Republic and she was so nice to answer all of our (hopefully not too nosy) questions. And now you can now read the interview with her: what she found cool, what she found less cool and a few useful tips on living in the Czech Republic.
1. What university and field did you study in the Czech Republic?
I studied at the Anglo-American University in Prague. I first enrolled in their "Humanities, Society and Culture" program, but switched after one semester to "Journalism and Communications".
2. I'm wondering, why did you decide to study in the Czech Republic in the first place?
I wanted to go to some unexpected but interesting place in Europe. After some research, it really came down to Amsterdam or Prague - and Prague was just so much cheaper.
3. Was there anything that you found surprising?
I hardly knew what I should be expecting from Prague or the Czech Republic, and without clear expectations it's hard to be surprised. But I did find it different from the Western and Northern European countries where I'd lived before, most notably when it came to shopping for groceries...
4. How was the paperwork? Was it hard to obtain all the documents you needed?
Since I'm an EU citizen, the paperwork wasn't bad - I didn't need any specific documents to move to the Czech Republic or to enroll at university. I did choose to go to the foreign police and register my residency, because that's needed if you want to open a bank account or get a non-pre paid deal on your phone. That was, however, a really exhausting experience, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who's planning to stay in the country for a limited amount of time. If you really want to do it, you should bring a Czech-speaker with you.
5. Was the department of international studies at your university helpful, or did you have to solve all issues by yourself?
There was no such department at the university where I studied. I think about half of their students are international, so the regular student services center deals with everyone the same.
6. How was the level of the courses you took?
I learnt a lot from my courses. They were all really thorough, which I liked.
7. Did you learn any Czech during your stay? And was it useful?
Yes, I took private lessons. It's really easy to find teachers, either online or by asking other expats for recommendations. It was both fun and useful to know some basics, and I think I had a much easier time at the bank, the post office and such places, than my friends who never learned any Czech.
8. What did you like the most and the least about studying here?
I liked Prague the most! It's a really great city; beautiful and lots of fun. My least favorite aspect about the experience was whenever I wanted to buy something a little bit unusual - Amazon doesn't deliver to the Czech Republic and it wasn't always possible to find what I needed in the stores. I remember having a hard time finding specific foreign language books and some sport supplies. But as far as the studying goes, I found it pretty much the same as in other European countries - the best part is made up of the most inspiring professors and your nicest fellow students; the worst is exam week.
Thank you very much for the interview and take care, Emily! :)
(Picture by iwwaka, http://www.sxc.hu)