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A look back at Global AD Prague Program, Spring 2014

 

Name: Eric
CIEE Global Architecture+Design, Prague
Semester: Spring 2014
Home School: Tulane University

Normal Flood Render-01(Above: ''Amphibious Landscapes - Flooded!'' Studio project) 

Classes are over, the final review came and went, and now it is my job to summarize the last four months in a few paragraphs. Luckily it’s a beautiful spring day in Prague, and I can do my writing in Letna Park under a leafy green canopy with good beer a few steps away.

BerlinTrip01(Above: Berlin Summit trip)

I came to Prague with only a few expectations: I expected to leave the program with some new arrows in my academic quiver, and with an understanding of the world that, before coming to Prague, I had only seen through an American lens. Now, a few days after crossing the finish line, I can say that those expectations were exceeded in ways I could not have predicted, and other unexpected aspects of the experience were equally as influential.Karlstejn01(Above: Ryan and me in the train)

Prague is beautiful and complex. On the surface parts of it look a bit like Disneyworld, and operate like it too, but there are places in the city that have the same energy as Brooklyn or New Orleans, and finding those places is half the fun. There are incredible opportunities for those who like to experience nature and history, and navigating the city via public transportation is easy and safe. The other parts of the country that I was able to see were equally beautiful and unlike anything I’d seen before.CastleView01(Above: View on Prague's Castle)

For those reading this as they consider study abroad options, here’s what you need to know: everyone in the program worked hard, and for our efforts we are taking back with us a new arsenal of tools that concern every part of the design process, from concept generation to computer modelling, all the way to digital fabrication and graphic presentation (including parametric design, which is the reason a lot of us chose the program in the first place). We also learned a new mental and organizational structure for completing a project, which will definitely influence my future work. The five of us came from diverse academic backgrounds, but because virtually everything we learned was new to us, that was never an issue. And the program will only get better after this first run; I have already heard of some exciting new plans for the future semesters, and I envy those future students.Nighttime5K(Above: Nighttime in Prague)

Aside from the academic benefits and becoming comfortable in a new city, the best part of my experience, and the most unexpected, were the relationships that I made along the way. The people behind the program did an amazing job with the logistical details of hosting five Americans in the Czech Republic for four months, but they were also a great support network, and many of them became our close friends. I met so many great people both through the program and independently, and I learned as much just talking with new friends than I did in the classroom.LetnaView01(Above: Sunset view from Letna district in Prague)

At the end of the day, this program, like anything else, is what you make of it. We worked hard in class and we all benefited greatly from it. As for me, I made an effort to take risks, get out of my comfort zone, and be a little less shy than I tend to be, and in return I got new ideas, new friends, and zero dull moments.FarewellDinner01(Above: Farewell Dinner with classmates, Czech language teacher and Jana, CIEE Resident Director) 

So now the sun is dipping behind the hill and it’s time to move inside. In a few days I’ll get on a plane and take all of this home with me. If you’re considering the program, I hope this helped. The last four months took me hundreds of feet underground to observe hydroelectric turbines in a dam in Southern Bohemia, to a church decorated with the bones of plague victims, Berlin’s crazy night-life, and long dinners with good friends, and many other places I’ll never forget. So thank you to everyone from CIEE, thank you to everyone from ARCHIP, and thanks to all my new friends. I hope we all stay in touch, and if anyone makes it to my part of the world, I hope you’ll look me up.Island Connection Render-01(Above: ''Amphibious Landscapes - Flooded!'' Studio project) 

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