Czech It Out: Prague Study Abroad Trip

Cara Scott (far left) with fellow students and Dr. Stephen Tripodi.
Cara Scott (far left) with fellow students & Stephen Tripodi.

Goulash, garnets, and gelato. This past summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Prague Study Abroad trip associated with the College of Social Work. By far, the five weeks I spent in the Czech Republic (and other surrounding countries) were some of my most memorable times as a Florida State student. From making new friends, to trying new foods, to experiencing a new culture, to attending class in a foreign country, every day abroad was an adventure. My hope is that I answer questions about the format of the trip, calm fears about studying abroad, and spark interest in the program itself. 

Prague_Scenery2.jpgI first heard about the Prague Study Abroad trip during one of my social work classes. An International Programs (IP) student representative came to class and gave a presentation about all of the study abroad opportunities available at FSU. At first, I thought that a study abroad trip was a longshot. As a graduate student, I had no hope that studying abroad would even be on the table. However, I felt compelled to learn more about the program, so I scheduled a time to meet with Dr. Abell and Dr. Tripodi. After spending time with each professor, my desire to study abroad grew immensely. I then started to talk to my advisors about making this newfound dream a reality. MSW Advisor Jennifer Farinella worked her scheduling magic and this opportunity became more concrete and doable. I completed the application process and submitted scholarship applications for both the College of Social Work and FSU International Programs. After several weeks of anxiously monitoring my email account, I finally received my acceptance into the Prague Study Abroad program and would depart for the Czech Republic in only a few short months.

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River Cruise

At this point, I was incredibly excited but also became increasingly nervous. I was worried about making friends in the program, getting lost while abroad, managing the demands of academic classes, living in a foreign country, and being away from home for so long. As the trip loomed closer, those concerns stayed with me and even followed me on the flights to Prague. However, all of the fears and doubts I had vanished when I landed in the Czech Republic. I was met at the airport by our fantastic Prague liaison, Ms. Eva, who was bubbling with so much energy and positivity that my concerns (and jet lag) soon faded away. Now, I was only excited about the next several weeks and couldn’t wait to experience all that Prague had to offer.

My time in Prague flew by in a series of new adventures, busy days, and rewarding experiences. We had class every Tuesday and Thursday, with large group excursions occurring on Wednesdays and the weekends. I took two graduate social work electives while abroad (Social Work in Criminal Justice Settings and International Social Work) and thoroughly enjoyed the days we had class. Instead of sitting in a classroom all day, Dr. Tripodi scheduled a multitude of site visits at various agencies around Prague. Some of the populations we learned about in this manner included homeless youth, sex workers, and LGBTQ members. As a result, we heard from the experts who worked directly with these populations and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the culture in which we were studying.

Not only did I get to know Prague, but I was able to visit Poland, Germany, other parts of the Czech Republic, and Austria. One of the most emotionally impactful moments of the trip was when we went to Krakow, Poland to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau. Walking through the concentration/death camps and physically seeing the conditions that people were forced to endure was heart-breaking, yet life-changing. It was an opportunity that I feel everyone should experience.

On a lighter note, another highlight of my trip was traveling to Vienna and Salzburg, Austria. We were given two free weekends while in Prague and I planned this weekend trip with several other students in the program. We all bought tickets for the same charter bus and shared an AirBnB once we arrived in Austria. Having the freedom to explore another country with the friends I made while abroad was an amazing experience. We spent our time bouncing around fun sites Austria, including Schönbrunn Palace, an amusement park, and a local market place.

PragueScenery2018.jpgOverall, my time abroad went by too quickly. On the flight home, I found myself already missing Prague. In only a few short weeks, the Czech Republic had become a second home and I think about my time there daily. The friends and memories I made will last a lifetime and I came back from Prague with a new sense of independence and confidence. I would encourage anyone who may be interested in studying abroad to pursue this opportunity. Talk to Dr. Abell and Dr. Tripodi to get more information, schedule a time to meet with your advisor, and take a leap of faith. Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I hope every student gets the chance to experience.

To learn more about International Programs in social work at FSU, visit https://csw.fsu.edu/ip

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Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 11:13 AM
Last updated: Fri, 06/14/2024 - 03:28 PM