City Discovery: Prague, Czech Republic

Photo by ISA Student Savannah Mahal
As part of the 2015 City Discovery Series, each week ISA will showcase a different location in which we have study abroad programs by highlighting the five parts of the Discovery Compass: Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.

Discover Prague!

Did you know that the Prague Castle is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest castle in the world? Pretty cool, huh?  The castle dates back to the 9th century and is 18 acres in total with a number of courtyards and has additional buildings on its grounds.  In addition to the Prague Castle, the Czech Republic is home to many other castles – one of the highest densities in the world.

There’s more to Prague and the Czech Republic than just castles though. Prague is a popular destination for the film industry. Just in the past decade or so, a number of movies have been filmed entirely or in part in the city, including Mission: Impossible, Amadeus, XXX, The Chronicles of Narnia and Casino Royal.

Here are some Discovery Compass activity suggestions in Prague that you won’t want to miss:

Intercultural
Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture.

What better way to gain exposure to the local culture than actually learning the language! Czech, formerly known as Bohemian, is spoken by around 12 million people throughout the world and by over 10 million in the Czech Republic. It is considered a West Slavic language  and is nearly indecipherable from Slovak and is closely related to other West Slavic languages, such as Polish.

Historical
Historical experiences highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

While studying in Prague, take an excursion to Terezin. During WWII, Terezin was a concentration camp for Jewish people, many of whom were later transported mostly to Auschwitz.  This excursion gives students insight to the Czech Republic’s history during this dark time and pay respects to those who lost their lives.

Explore Old Town Square. See the Astronomical Clock, the Jan Hus Monument, and Tyn Church.

Photo by ISA Student Paul Gust

Known as Czechoslovakia until the split in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia managed to pull off one of very few non-violent post-Communist break ups during the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Bratislava became the capital of newly independent Slovakia and Prague remained capital of the Czech Republic.  Many locals lived through this transition and even if you don’t speak Czech, many locals have a grasp on English and are willing to share the story of their experiences and country’s history.

Sociopolitical
Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

Due to its central location, Prague is a political and economic hot spot in Europe. ISA students will have the opportunity to Berlin, Germany and Vienna, Austria to explore more of central Europe’s history and connections.

Prague has multiple news sources published in English including the Prague Post, The Daily CZ, and Prague Radio. Because of this, English speakers can keep up to date with local news and events around the city.

Photo by ISA Student Blythe Green

Professional
Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during each student’s time studying abroad.

Take classes in liberal arts and humanities at Charles University! Charles University ranks in the upper 1.5 percent of the world’s best universities.  It is rated as the best university in the Czech Republic and one of the best in Central Europe.

Take classes at the University of Economics Prague. UEP is the largest and most selective university in the field of economics, business and information technologies in the Czech Republic. At Eduniversal awards in 2008, the University of Economics in Prague received the title ‘1st Business School in the Eastern European Zone’, becoming one of the top 27 business schools in the world.

Photo by ISA Student Savannah Mahal

Environmental
Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

ISA students can take part in an excursion to Ceske Svycarsko (Czech Switerzland).  Located in North Bohemia right by the border with Germany, Ceske Svycarsko is world famous for its beautiful sandstone formations including rock cities, walls, and gorges. Be sure to keep an eye out for the indigenous animals of the region: lynx, eagles, and peregrine falcons.

Want to escape city life? Prague is home to a large number of parks and orchards perfect for exercising, relaxing, or spending time with friends.  The beautiful flower beds at the Franciscan Garden are not to be missed. Take a dip in the natural swimming pool at Dikova Sarka, a nature reserve on the outskirts of the city.  Or take in an amazing view of the city while sitting on the hills of Riegrovy Sady, which is very close to the ISA office in Prague.

Learn More about Prague in the Culture Corner