An Afforable Study Abroad Experience

View of Prague from PetřÍn Hill.

Written by  December 21, 2012

What I learned during my semester overseas.

It's really starting to hit me that it's almost time to head back to Canada. I have been studying at the University of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic since September 13th and it astonishes me daily how quickly the time has flown. The friends I've made here make it feel like I've been here a lifetime, but at the same time it feels like just yesterday I stepped out of that plane in the Václav Havel airport.

This semester has really opened my eyes to what Prague, the Czech Republic, Europe and the world in general have to offer. This is the first time I have ever truly considered myself a traveller. Someone who steps out of their comfort zone and takes a risk. Someone who just gets up and goes. I have learned a lot about myself, what I enjoy seeing in a new city, what makes me go "ohhhh, ahhhh!" and what it's like to live life on the edge of your seat.

For some, planning and budgeting a trip are necessary and essential. While I do agree they can be important, it's also extremely exciting to show up in a foreign city and not knowing the wonders that lie within. One of my favourite things to do is grab a map from the hostel with the main tourist sights and just get up and walk around for the day. I also really like looking into the hidden gems of the cities, the off the beaten quirky spots. Looking at local blogs, travel writers, and other similar sites is really helpful.

Although exciting, I have found a few downfalls to this method. I've shown up in a city, stayed the weekend, saw what I could and left. I then talk to others about my trip and they ask "Oh awesome, did you see _______?" "Wow, no. I didn't even know that existed!" In situations like this it can be extremely beneficial to plan ahead.

One thing I find really useful is the Trip Advisor Offline City Guides. Usually I'll download whatever city I am visiting onto my tablet and read it during my bus ride to the city. I'll typically make a list of things I want to see, traditional meals of the country and top restaurants to eat them in. This saves a lot of time trying to make last minute decisions, especially with larger groups of people; and even more so if you're travelling with a group of Canadians (hardy har, I made a funny. We're indecisive, get it?!).

Making the decision to study abroad was one of the best I have ever made. I now have friends on almost all continents, memories that will last a lifetime and a list of things I have to come back and see. I personally think if anyone has the opportunity to study abroad that they need to jump on the opportunity. Don't have enough money? Think again.

I have honestly spent less money living in Prague than I have in my city back home (on basic necessities such as food and housing). Yes, travelling costs add up, but studying abroad is such an invaluable experience that these costs are so worth it. I honestly cannot stress enough just how much I have gained from this experience and how much I will appreciate it for the rest of my life. You can always grab some more hours at work, have a fundraising event, or apply for grants/bursaries/scholarships; a lot of which are focused specifically on enhancing your international knowledge.

Stop making excuses, stop being scared, just stop whatever you're doing and apply to go. You honestly will not regret it, I can promise you that. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

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Beth Saunders

Beth Saunders is a young Nova Scotian who studied Commerce at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. During a semester abroad at the University of Economics in Prague, Beth shares her overseas adventures with us.

Website: bethsaunders.wordpress.com/

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