Czech Republic- #BIMdannmalinTschechien
Podcast #BIM dann mal weg
You always dreamed of living in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe? Then we'd say: off to Prague! In this episode, Nina tells us about her wonderful, if somewhat unusual, stay abroad at Unicorn College in Prague. In the courses she attended for her double degree programme, she mostly sat alone with the lecturers in the lecture hall and enjoyed 1:1 supervision. But she didn't miss out on leisure activities either, and Nina talks enthusiastically about the good & cheap beer in Prague, the different neighbourhoods she lived in, pedal boat tours along the Moldau and beautiful parks that you can visit outside of Prague. Have we inspired you? Let's start the journey!
Moderated by Lara Yargiman
Produced by Lara Yargiman and Sonja Zügner in cooperation with the economics student body of FHWS
Sound and editing by Sonja Zügner
Lara: Hello and welcome to our FHWS podcast #BIMdannmalweg. In this podcast we talk about the experiences of students who have spent a semester abroad. This podcast is sponsored and supported by the Faculty of Business and Economics.
Today we have a new guest here in the studio and that is Nina. Hello Nina!
Nina: Hi Lara, first of all, thank you very much for inviting me.
Lara: It's nice that you've come, Nina. Maybe you could introduce yourself briefly.
Nina: I'm Nina and I've been studying International Management at the FHWS since 2018 together with Lara and I decided to do a double degree in Prague in the 3rd and 4th semester.
Lara: Exactly, now the term double degree has already been mentioned, could you briefly explain what exactly that is?
Nina: With pleasure! The principle behind it is that you spend 2 semesters at a university abroad, which in my case was the university in Prague. At the end, you receive a degree from the FHWS in Würzburg and one from the university abroad - which in my case was the Unicorn College in Prague. I assume that the certificate will then come by post.
Lara: Your university had a very special name; would you like to repeat it?
Nina: It's called Unicorn College. I couldn't believe it at first either, but that's because a tech company called "Unicorn" sponsors the university - because the university is private.
Lara: However, the fact that it was a partner university made it easy for you, didn't it?
Nina: Exactly, it was free for me.
Lara: Why Prague exactly, why the Czech Republic in particular? Did you have other locations that interested you, or was that always your dream?
Nina: Well, the Czech Republic wasn't my first choice, but it was clear that I wanted to do a double degree, and from the beginning you have less choice than with just one semester abroad. Originally, I wanted to go to Taiwan, but there were too many applicants and after the draw, unfortunately, it didn't work out, so I decided to go to Prague.
Lara: And was it the right decision?
Nina: Definitely! I would do it again and again and recommend it to others!
Lara: On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your semester abroad?
Nina: I would give it an even 10!
Lara: That' s cool, I've already heard that from several people! That's great feedback. Well, you arrived there in September and then you had to start looking for a flat, or did you already have one?
Nina: We had already looked for a flat beforehand. I searched for a flat with other students from the FHWS before.
Lara: Was that through Airbnb or were there special sites that you could recommend?
Nina: I found my first flat through Erasmusu, which I can also highly recommend. They offer a lot of flats and jobs - in case you want to work abroad.
Lara: I also wanted to ask about jobs abroad. Have you met any people who have actually done this? Is it relatively easy, also in terms of tax law, etc.?
Nina: Well, I haven't met anyone who has done that, and I haven't done it either. I don't know if I would really recommend it, because you have university and want to experience a lot. You want to go to a lot of events and get to know the city, so I don't know if it would work out in terms of time.
Lara: All right, then we'll stay a little longer with the university. Maybe you can tell us something about the application process and whether the learning agreement worked out and what the university was like.
Nina: The application process was the same for me as for everyone else. You submitted your 3 priorities via e-learning. Then there was a meeting among us double degree students at which places were drawn by lot - for those who didn't get their wish. The preparation of the learning agreement was also relatively easy for me, as there are precise regulations for the double degree that determine which courses are credited for which courses and what has to be taken. There were some minor complications, but I was able to sort them out afterwards.
Lara: What does the university look like? If it's a private university, is it a chic, modern, rather older university, or how can I imagine it?
Nina: It's very different from the FHWS. It is very, very small and the lecture halls are also very small. There are two large lecture halls that are as big as our small halls and many small rooms (comparable to a dining table with chairs around it) with screens for broadcasting presentations. I also had a lot of courses where I was alone and then you really sit like the two of us here alone with the lecturer at the table.
Lara: And what was that like?
Nina: Very unusual at the beginning, but all the lecturers were really nice and open. It was always like a conversation - more like a conversation than a lecture.
Lara: And at the end you had an exam or how was it assessed?
Nina: It differed from course to course. In one course I had exams, in the other I had to give a presentation on various topics and in the other course it was a paper and a presentation.
Lara: OK, and why is it that you are taught alone there? Simply because you are exchange students, or why?
Nina: The problem is that there are fewer exchange students because it is a very small private university. There is also Charles University in Prague, which is the biggest university there and almost all the students go there. There is also the University of Economics, which is where most of the people I met went. We were also told that the tuition fees there are more expensive if you study in English and that's why the offer is used less.
Lara: Definitely an interesting experience!
Nina: Definitely! It was very unusual at the beginning, but I think it helped me a lot. Because then you also have to pay attention in the lecture.
Lara: Did you have to go to the lecture every day or was it spread out over a few days?
Nina: It was staggered. I remember that I had university from 8 am to 5 pm on one day. Alone in the lectures the whole day (laughs).
Lara: And why wasn't Justin in the lecture with you, for example?
Nina: In the first semester there were two of us in the lectures, but in the second semester I was the only student from the FHWS from our course.
Lara: Okay, but it was doable and you said it was okay.
Nina: Yes, exactly!
Lara: Yes, well, we've already talked a lot about university, so maybe now we'll talk a bit about leisure time. What did you do in your free time in Prague?
Nina: Well, we definitely explored the city a lot. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. There's also a lot to see - especially in summer, lots of beer gardens. You can sit by the river, go on a pedal boat, just walk through the city and there is always something to do. There are also many Erasmus events in the evenings, day trips that are offered or weekend trips.
Lara: Do you have any specific excursions that you can recommend?
Nina: I had planned a lot of excursions, especially for the second semester, but unfortunately, I couldn't do any of them because of Corona. We went to Kutná Hora once where we visited mines - it was very exciting. But Prague itself also has a lot to offer. The city centre is very small, but there are many areas outside where you can do a lot. For example, I can recommend the park called Letna, which is about half an hour away from Prague. From there you have a beautiful view of the whole city and there is a beer garden where you can sit down afterwards. So, we did a lot of things like that and there are also a lot of art museums and there are also cheap offers for students. This is a good thing to do, especially in the winter semester.
Lara: Because I was just thinking about the fact that you were alone in the lectures, were you able to make good contacts with locals or internationals? Maybe also at Erasmus parties? How did you go about it?
Nina: Well, mainly through Erasmus parties. As I said, in the first semester I was there with Justin and then we went to Erasmus parties together and got to know other students that way. In the second semester, it was the same, but then I moved into a 6-person shared flat on my own. There I moved in with other internationals and made good connections.
Lara: And what countries did they come from?
Nina: All different, there was someone from America, one Turkish, one German and one French. A good mixture in any case.
Lara: Did you also have contact with the locals, or was that more difficult?
Nina: Very difficult, well, we rarely met locals, because we were always at Erasmus parties and you meet a lot of German tourists, especially at the weekend. So, when you walk through the city at the weekend, you hear a lot of German around you.
Lara: Did you cook a lot in the shared flat or did you go out to eat often? I think it's also a very defite food there. How did you tolerate it?
Nina: Unfortunately, in retrospect, we rarely ate typical Czech food. It's very meaty, so goulash actually comes from Hungary, but it's one of the main dishes in Prague and a lot of pork with potato dumplings. That's why we rarely ate in Czech restaurants, but rather in international restaurants like Italian or Asian. Because it's a capital city, there are all kinds of restaurants.
Lara: How was it cost-wise? Is Prague cheaper or is it relatively comparable to Würzburg?
Nina: Well, it depends on where you are exactly. I would say it's comparable to Würzburg, but you can eat and drink very cheaply, especially outside. You can get a beer in the bar for one euro. But the prices for food and in the supermarkets are comparable to Würzburg.
Lara: How much did you pay for your flat? Do you remember?
Nina: I think it was about 400 euros in the first semester and 350 euros in the second semester.
Lara: Okay, and you also got Erasmus, do you remember how much that was?
Nina: I think that was the lowest rate, but it was about 300 euros. And at the time, I had applied for the scholarship for studying abroad (Auslandsbafög).
Lara: If you could describe your semester abroad in three words, what would they be?
Nina: The first word that comes to mind is definitely "unforgettable". It was very educational for me, especially through the individual lectures, and it was very fun and eventful. I think it will be a time that I will never forget and that I will always remember in a positive way.
Lara: Oh, how nice! Because you just said unforgettable, do you have an unforgettable story for us? Maybe an anecdote or a story based on cultural differences.
Nina: Well, I rarely encountered cultural differences, which could well be due to the fact that we had little contact with the locals. What I always think of when I think back to Prague is the following story. Especially in winter, there are always beautiful Christmas markets that are very empty at night because they are being cleaned up. And what I always remember is that we were walking through the marketplace at night and someone was vacuuming the marketplace with a hoover.
Lara: Did you travel a lot in the Czech Republic as a whole, or did you only go on excursions around Prague?
Nina: More like trips around Prague. I actually wanted to take the opportunity to do that in the second semester, but then I went back to Würzburg for Corona.
Lara: Did you have certain expectations of your semester abroad and were they fulfilled?
Nina: Well, one expectation I had was that I wouldn't miss any of the teaching and that I would be able to collect all the ECTS. Apart from that, I expected to meet many internationals. I had hoped to get to know more of the culture - but it was very international. If I were to do it again, I would try to immerse myself more in the culture. Otherwise, all my expectations have been met. I expected to have a good time, have a lot of fun, experience a lot and get to know a lot of people, and that definitely worked out.
Lara: Very nice! Did you have the chance to learn Czech? Were there Czech courses at the university or did you stick to English?
Nina: Well, I took a Czech A1 and A2 course.
Lara: Yeah, that's great! Say something!
Nina: (speaks Czech) that means hello, how are you!
Lara: Sounds very authentic.
Nina: Unfortunately, I never used it... Because after the second semester I would have been at the level where you could communicate in a restaurant, but unfortunately, I was no longer in the Czech Republic.
Lara: Do you have any tips for students who want to go there? What they should keep in mind from the application process to finding a flat or even in everyday life in Prague.
Nina: Well, I would say that it is definitely important to follow the Erasmus societies or organisations on Facebook, Instagram, etc.. Because there are no events or buddy programmes at the university. And through Erasmus organisations you can find flats, friends etc.. It's also very worthwhile to take out health insurance abroad. It's also important to have a credit card, because the Czech Republic doesn't have the euro yet and it was easier to pay with a credit card without having to pay fees. Otherwise, just have fun and try to get to know the culture and the locals.
Lara: Is there a moment you remember with pleasure because it was the most beautiful or funniest moment in Prague?
Nina: That's difficult because there were many funny and beautiful moments. I remember walking through the city one night after partying (but I wouldn't recommend walking through the city alone at night). In the city center there is the town hall clock, and many people say you have to look at it when it strikes a new hour and how everything moves and the time shift takes place (it's something special there). Normally there are a lot of tourists there, but at night we could enjoy and look at it alone.
Lara: Sounds beautiful and romantic! Did you live in the city center?
Nina: In the first semester, I lived pretty much outside. The parts in Prague are pretty much numbered according to the district. At that time, I lived in part 8 and in the second semester in part 2, which was a 5-minute walk from the city center.
Lara: Yes, good, Nina, then as a last question, if you had to pack a suitcase, how would you pack it?
Nina: Well, weather-wise it was the same as in Germany, so you can pack the same clothes as here. In winter it gets really cold, so definitely take a winter jacket and otherwise have a lot of fun and be in a good mood.
Lara: Do you have anything else you want to give the students?
Nina: I can definitely tell everyone to do the experience abroad and take advantage of the option.
Lara: So, listen to Nina and take the chance! Thank you very much for your time and your insights into Prague, Nina.
Nina: You're very welcome and thank you again.
Lara: You're welcome! Next time you can tell us about Murcia, because Nina will probably go to Murcia in the 8th semester.
Right then, that's it for now from our side, if you have any questions then you can always contact us at our email address firstname.lastname@example.org or via Instagram fwiwi.fhws. Thanks Nina and bye to all of you out there who listened to us today, until next time.