For my study abroad I went to Prague, Czech Republic and took two classes, European Art and Architecture and European and Asian Economics. In union with taking classes I was able to participate in cultural activities provided by AIFS to help enhance my study abroad.
My view of the world definitely changed while I was studying in Prague. One of the transformations that I really went through is understanding how a culture’s values and attitudes can be shaped by history. In America I think it is easy to look past history because we are a relatively new country . We also are a mixing pot of different cultures and it is really easy to not realize how an individual culture shapes an individual’s life. I know that by staying in a different culture I was able to get a new understanding of people who are different than me. This understanding helped me to learn not only about other people but also I learned a lot about myself.
I think that the main event that helped me to understand the significance of culture was that I was about to immerse myself fully into another country. I shopped, rode the tram, ate, did laundry, went to school, built relationships, etc. and when you put it all together I had this incredible experience. In Prague, we rode on a lot of Public Transportation right away I noticed that there was a lot more quite then it would have been in America. Also there is a 10:00 PM curfew where after that time the streets are quiet and there is not much going on. On top of that, people did not interact the same way in Prague as I was used too. There was little to no small talk and it was uncommon to strike up random conversations with people.
At first I mistook this silence for rudeness. I didn’t like it because I am a loud person who talks to everyone. I thought that it was strange that nobody seemed to want to interact. I made an assumption about a group of people just because they were different than me. That all changed after I meet some Czech Students who we started hanging out with. They were really shy at first but after a while we started talking and had some great conversations. After a few of these type of experiences, I learned that just because the people here did not talk as much in public it did not mean that they were rude it just meant that they were different than me and that was okay. I might have been uncomfortable with the silence but they would have been uncomfortable with the noise.
This is just one example of how my experience in Prague helped me to understand things about myself and others. I think another huge influence on my experience was my art and Architecture Professor. In a city rich in art like Prague it was incredible to get to experience the different styles of architecture and how and why it influenced ancient Bohemia and the current Czech Republic. In other parts of my trip we talked about the different wars and Communism and how these things affect Czech culture.
My transformation definitely affects my future career because I learned about myself and how I can best interact with people who are different than me. I had to navigate a whole new culture and that taught me to be independent as well as a better problem solver. The experience also gave me a love for learning about new things not only within my career field but about the world also. Personally the friends and experiences I had were some of the best of my life and I will never forget my travels to Prague.