My study abroad semester in Prague has abruptly come to an end and I have found my way back to Canada. I have been nonstop since I got back home; visiting my parents in Nova Scotia, Christmas, flying back to Newfoundland, moving into a new house, ringing in the New Year and catching up with friends. I am finally finding the time to gather my thoughts as the next school semester quickly approaches.
I cannot say enough how studying abroad has been the best choice of my life. There is so much more to the experience than the time you spend in the classroom. Although I did enjoy some of my classes and have learned things I never would have learned in Canada, it’s what I gained outside those walls that made the greatest impact on me.
I got to know students from all over the world and learn about their cultures. Two of my best friends there were from Bangladesh and Lebanon. It was so amazing to share my time with girls who have experienced entirely different ways of life; I learned a lot from them. I gained all kinds of knowledge from new words and dialects of English, to parts of the Czech language, to ways in which the education systems vary around the world.
I found the school system in the Czech Republic similar, yet somewhat different, than Canada. The work was hands-on with papers, presentations and tests, but the difficulty of work was not at the same level (not in the courses taught in English, anyway). I frequently had homework and work to submit, which was time consuming but the work itself was easier than I was used to.
Most of my classes were with other exchange students but Czech students could enroll as well. These students get credit towards Erasmus to do a semester abroad if they take courses in English. This improves their second language so the courses may be easier to help with the language learning.
Practical things I learned outside the classroom included:
• How to properly read a map and follow directions
• Better understanding of transit systems
• Geography, history, and culture of places around the world
• To think quickly on my feet
• Greater independence and planning
• A can do/will do attitude
• A lust for cultural knowledge
One of the biggest things I learned is to be more appreciative of my country, friends and family. You don’t really realize how special something is to you until you’ve left it behind. Being abroad has made me a prouder Canadian and has given me a drive to explore more of my own country. I now realize I have seen only a fraction of not only what Canada has to offer, but also Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. I have instilled a desire in others to come to Canada and that’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. It makes me so happy that I not only learned about other’s cultures but that I was able to teach people about my own.
I wouldn’t change anything about my semester and encourage everyone to either study abroad or to at least visit Prague sometime in your life—you won’t be disappointed.Add this article to your reading list