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Fall 2014, Issue I

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The Importance of Being … Well Housed

Housing is an essential factor for a rewarding study abroad experience. Before coming to Prague, students fill out a housing survey which is crucial for their housing placement. Based on their profile and preferences, CES and CNMJ students are placed in one of the following housing options: homestay, dorm, or apartments. FS and GAD students’ housing is a little bit different in the sense that they have only the option to live in CIEE-administered apartments with other CIEE FS/GAD participants. This is due to the fact that they study outside of the CIEE Study Center (at FAMU/ARCHIP) and very often work on school projects together.

When placing students, we do our best not to place students from the same home university in the same apartment/homestay (dorm might be an exception) to make students get to know new people and not just hang out with their friends from home.

Czech Homestay

This housing option offers a truly immersive experience. Our families live in residential areas of Prague and most of them have been in the program for several semesters or even years. Homestay students have a great opportunity to get out of their comfort zone. Apart from an enriching study abroad experience, homestay students get two meals per day and a single room! They are also assigned a “homestay buddy”, local university student, who helps them during orientation and shows them around during semester.

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What do students say about their homestay?

What´s the coolest thing about your housing?

 “Home cooked meals.” (CES student)

“Amazing food and the feeling of being part of a Czech family.” (CNMJ student)

 What do you think about the buddy program?

 “I think it's a great thing.” (CES student)

“Buddies are great for showing us around the city and introducing us to the real lives of the Czech.” (CNMJ student)

 What you like about your neighborhood?

 “I like that it's quiet.” (CES student)

“It is close to the metro and very safe.” (CNMJ student)

 What advantages do you see from living with a host family?

 “A house to really call home.” (CES student)“I’m getting much more assimilated into the culture, and get great food everyday!” (CNMJ student)

Available to the following programs: Central European Studies; Communications, New Media + Journalism

Apartments

Our apartments arelocated either by the river close to the both the Study Center and the city center, or in Vinohrady, a neighborhood popular with locals as well as expats (approx. 20 minute commute to the Study Center by tram/metro). Each apartment houses two to six CIEE students (in most cases three) as well as a flat buddy. The flat buddy is a Charles University students who, in exchange for free housing, helps students during orientation, with practical issues as well as cultural immersion throughout the semester.

Students living in apartments are responsible for their own meals as well as cleaning. This housing option is perfect for independent students. Around 75% of CIEE students live in apartments.

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What do students say about their apartments?

What´s the coolest thing about your housing?

 “I love my apartment and its location.” (CES student)

 “Living in an apartment gives me the independence and responsibility of really living in the city and all with the benefit of having awesome American roommates.” (CNMJ student)

“I have thoroughly enjoyed living with a Czech student. She has been so helpful in terms of adjusting to a new city and knowing a lot about the local culture.” (CNMJ student)

”Everything. I couldn't have asked for a better flat buddy and living situation. ” (FS student)

”The apartment and the people!” (FS student)

”I have a balcony in my room, that's great.” ( FS student)

Its roomy and has great qualities of light. Also it's nice that all gear has been provided (kitchen supplies, sheets, etc.)“(GAD student)

„The apartment itself/location has been great“ (GAD student)

 What do you think about the buddy program?

 “I LOVE my Czech buddy!“ (CES student)

„It's helpful having someone available who knows the city and the language to help if I need anything.“ (CES student)

“Love having my Czech buddy around.“ (CES student)

“Having a Czech buddy is a great way to avoid touristy destinations and discover local bars and restaurants.” (CNMJ student)

“I think the buddy program is great. It provides students with the opportunity to branch out and get to know some of the locals which otherwise might be more challenging.” (CNMJ student)

“I love my Czech buddy! They all make it so easy when you have questions and they are able to show you a "real" part of the city instead of just the parts where foreigners go.“ (FS student)

“My Czech buddy is awesome.“ (FS student)

 „I think it's great! They are so helpful and it's really nice having locals to spend time with. they make it much more authentic than other abroad programs.“(GAD student)

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What you like about your neighborhood?

 “Super close to a major public transportation spot. (CES student)

“It's charming and accessible to public transportation. (CES student)

“I love living in a neighborhood where I’ve gotten to know the local shopkeepers and I can used the Czech I’ve learned on daily errands.” (CNMJ student)

“I love how quiet my neighborhood is and how I can hear someone practicing clarinet every Tuesday. The woman from the minimart recognizes me and always makes an effort to communicate and smile at me.” (CNMJ student)

“I love the location! It is so easy to get anywhere in the city. Also, we are so close to the supermarket, tram stop, and metro.“ (FS student)

“Close to both tram and metro and parks.“ (FS student)

“Everything! “ (FS student)

It's a great location to get around the city by public transit or just walking about.“(GAD student)

„You can walk everywhere, and there's so much to do.“ (GAD student)

 Available to the following programs: Central European Studies; Communications, New Media + Journalism; Global Architecture & Design; Film Studies; all summer programs

 Dorm

The dorm, located within a 10-minute walk up hill to the study center, accommodates usually around 32 CIEE students. Some of the most significant advantages of living in the dorm, apart from the location, are breakfast and cleaning service Monday to Friday. Students who choose this housing option do this mostly because of location and the comfort and safety of being surrounded by other CIEE students. Five dorm buddies are placed in the dorm to, once again, help students with practical issues, share Czech culture with them and help them not get trapped in the „American bubble“. The dorm is located in a neighborhood with many nice restaurants, cafes, and shops.

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What do students say about the dorm?

What´s the coolest thing about your housing?

 “Close to school.” (CES student)

“Free breakfast.” (CES student)

“The dorm is very nice, and is centrally located.“(CES student)

“Having my own room and bathroom.“ (CNMJ student)

 

What do you think about the buddy program?

 

“It was nice having a student from the Czech Republic to help us get settled and show us around.“ (CES student)

“It's helpful having someone available who knows the city and the language to help if I need anything.“ (CES student)

 “Love it!“ (CNMJ student)

 What you like about your neighborhood?

  “Nice, safe, close to school.” (CES student)

“Safe, quiet, residential. Good food options around.” (CES student)

“There are endless things to see, I could wander for days on end and still find new things.” (CNMJ student)

 Available to the following programs: Central European Studies; Communications, New Media + Journalism

 

 

Prenzlauer Berg Tour - Future Cities Seminar

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(Berlin Wall Memorial – Prenzlauer Berg)

This week we toured The Berlin Wall Memorial in Prenzlauer Berg with our Future Cities Seminar class. The Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 by East Germany in order to block off West Berlin. It was composed of two walls, one facing East Berlin and the other facing West Berlin with a “death strip” running down the center. This land in between was patrolled by East Germany to ensure no one crossed the border. Areas next to the wall became desolate in some locations and the death strip that ran between the two walls presented a large amount of open space when the wall was torn down in 1989.

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(Preserved section of the death strip – Watch tower used by East Germany)

Pictured below is a direct result of the Wall’s impact. The Chapel of Reconciliation was constructed in 1999 as a reminder of the church that used to stand there, the Church of Reconcilitaion, from 1894 – 1986. When the Berlin Wall was constructed the church was surrounded by both walls and remained standing in the death strip. In 1986, East Germany decided this structure was a threat to the wall’s protection of East Berlin and it was demolished. The “Kapelle der Versöhnung,” Chapel of Reconciliation, stands in an oval shape with the outline of the previous church embedded in the ground. The outer layer acts as a shell of wooden louvers and the protective inner layer is constructed using a rammed earth method. The clay is bound using rubble of the previous church as a memorial by the hands of people of the community. This chapel represents a collective effort to revive this area.

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(Exterior view of the Chapel of Reconciliation.)

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(Detail of clay construction.)

Just past the Chapel of Reconciliation lies Bernauer Straße 5-8, a community of twelve town homes that runs behind the Berlin Wall Memorial. Various architects individually designed each home with the involvement of the tenant. It is a car free development with a public path that runs through the center of the two complexes. Looking from a nearby rooftop, you can note the difference between this project and a townhome project adjacent. Bernauer Straße comes to life when looking from above with its many green roofs and patios, highlighting the achievements of passive energy use and sustainable living.

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(Bernauer Straße 5-8)

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(Bernauer Straße 5-8 – Green Roofs – Photo taken from Strelitzer Straße)

Our next stop was Strelitzer Straße 53, an apartment building designed by Fatkoehl Architects. This building focuses on sustainable strategies, using external blinds help to shade the windows from excess heat gain. This same strategy is seen on the southern facing facade of Schönholzer Straße 13/14. External wooden blinds are manually operated to control the amount of heat and light to enter the apartments. This building designed by Deimel Oelschläger does not use a heating system, rather a heat exchange system. Tenants become active participants in their own thermal comfort. 

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(Southern facade of Schönholzer Straße 13/14 – Photo courtesy of Edrei Rodriguez) 

We ended our tour with Dida Zende, founder of F-I-T. Freie Internationale Tankstelle is a project that transforms old gas stations into hubs for creativity. The idea is to take a place that was once used for fossil fuels and turn it into a community gathering space. This location in Berlin, at the corner of Templiner StraBe and Schwedter StraBe, houses a local vegetarian food truck, a fire truck turned into a sauna, a yurt for gathering, and one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood dating back to the 1890’s, as seen below.

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(Freie Internationale Tankstelle – photo courtesy of Edrei Rodriguez)

 

The idea behind all of these projects is a focus on creative sustainability and community design. We saw examples of DIY/DIT, sustainable solutions, impacts of the Berlin Wall, and the result of work when a community is involved. 

Thanks Michael LaFond and Berlin for the tour!

 

Lindsay G

Fall 2014 Future Cities Seminar - 17/9/2014

This first week in Berlin marked our initial departure from students studying abroad to investigators determined to engineer a better city. Within the first formal lecture of the Future Cities Seminar, we toured Spreefeld Berlin, the cooperative complex where our studio space is actually located, as well as the surrounding urban environment.

The housing project explores the notion of "community" and how spatial relationships affect the interaction between people. The cooperative itself hosts a hierarchy of public and private spaces ranging from completely private apartments, to communal kitchens and living rooms occupied by a group of apartments, to hallways lined with personal mementos that are as much an art gallery as they are an entrance to living spaces, to rooftop gardens and decks and "optional spaces" that include a woodshop and professional kitchen that are somewhat semi-public, to open courtyards and community gardens that invite residents and visitors alike to collaborate and exist in the same dynamic setting.

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(ice factory; photo credit Jasmeen Ezat-Agha)
 

Tucked away from the road, the project invites people to experience a completely unique way of living the centers around the notion of sustainability and DIY/DIT. The complex is, without a doubt, intricate; however, this complexity is derived from its ability to adapt to its users. Everything exists due to a physical demand and emotional need, an idea explored in our reading for the week, Self Made City by Kristien Ring. 

This notion is further echoed on the surrounding environment of the complex. We moved towards the river front which currently exhibits a series of inhabitable art projects/ structures on both banks of the river. Moreover, the TeePee Land plays campgrounds to a series of temporary and permanent residents who have rejected the formal adaptations of society to create their own culture that relies on self organization and mutual respect.

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(across the river; photo credit Jasmeen Ezat-Agha)

Finally, we stopped in the open field adjacent to the abandoned and former ice factory. This overgrown patch of land represents many things. It is the crux of our studio, serving as the site for our design project. Moreover, it is also a physical point of political contention. The land is currently being evaluated for it is rocketing price tag. More importantly though, it is one of the last pieces of the urban puzzle in this Spreefeld development. The future use of the land can not only determine the success of the existing projects, but it has the opportunity to either dispose of or embrace the culture and ideals of both the Spreefeld Berlin and the ever-eager investors. Is there a way to create a formal place and/or space for the co-op housing, the anarchist squatters, the luxury apartment renters, and the teepee people? As architecture students working with the site, it is - without a doubt - a heavy question and design challenge that we must face head on.

- Kim

Fall 2014 GAD

I think I can speak for everyone when I say, these past two weeks have been intense. Between the transatlantic flight to starting classes spoken (almost) entirely in German, there hasn't been much time to step back and reflect on how much change really has taken place over the last few days. 

 

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(our first meal in Berlin; photo credit Bastian Behrmann) 

The six of us - the Fall 2014 GAD students that is - all first gathered during our week-long introductory session. Though orientations are always a sort of forced interaction, our transition into Berlin was soothed through a boat tour down the river where we understood none of the tour but enjoyed the scenery, a historical trip to Potsdam, moving into incredible apartments that overlook some of the most beautiful avenues, and an extensive walking tour with Lukas along the historical spine of the city. These moments have been as enjoyable as they have informative. The group of us have not only bonded over our affinity for architecture, but also the inexplicable joy of living in a place that is ever reacting, creating, and evolving. Each day so far has been filled with a wealth of new experiences and opportunities with the promise of even more in the days to come.

 

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(walking tour with Lukas) 

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(Potsdam tour)

As I'm writing this, I look to see all six of us sprawled across our atelier space. There is outdated pop music blasting from a computer while everyone hunches over either a model based off of a found natural object or German workbook that illustrates the definitions of food and beverages. The expectations for the semester, at least in terms of studio, are simple: to learn and expand our knowledge about architectural design. There is an audible buzz at the start of every lecture and studio, with anticipation of what new knowledge we are creating. Good things are in store for the remainder of this semester, both academically and personally. 

 

-Kim

Orientation Berlin

Welcome students!

Global Arch + Design Berliners moved into their studio today - the first tenants of new passive house building "Spreefeld" Complex on the Spree River.

The concrete volume has radiant floor heating, passive solar gains, and 5 meter high ceilings. It's also directly adjacent the project site, so students can conduct site research and get to know the neighborhood.

The local Spreefeld neighborhood fosters community, art, and culture on the public waterfront venues.

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 Studio awaiting students

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Introduction from Dr. Michael Lafond, Seminar Instructor

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Maria Aiolova, Founder of TerreformONE and Global AD Director dropped by from New York.

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Visit to the Ice-Factory Project Site

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Welcoming tour of Berlin invluded back to back Potsdamer Platz buildings by Piano, Rogers and Jahn, the Jewish Memorial by Eisenman, and the Reichstag Dome by Foster. Still a lot to see and do.

Spring 2014, Issue III

 

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CIEE Prague Highlights 2014 !

 

Central European Studies (CES)

  

 

Film Studies (FS)

  

 

 Communication, New Media + Journalism (CNMJ)

  

 

Global Architecture and Design (GAD)

  

 

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) 

Spring 2014, Issue II

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Ahoj from Praha, Study Abroad Advisors!

CIEE Prague programs offer plenty of trips and excursions, so we would like to focus this newsletter on these.

Central European Studies (CES)

CES academic trips are an inseparable part of the academic experience in Prague, as well as an inseparable part of the courses themselves. Each student has to go on at least 2 academic trips per semester. CIEE offers some 20 trips to various destinations, all accompanied by  teaching faculty and CIEE staff and all carefully chosen to help the students better comprehend the course topics and to provide them as much cultural immersion opportunities as possible. We offer one-day trips as well as overnight trips and show the evidence of history, the communist legacy and the transformation of the Czech society into a democratic member of the EU with its current social and economic challenges. Students can also choose from a variety of cultural sites important to historical events, literature courses, art and architecture or even current environmental issues.

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The trips provide students a unique opportunity to explore sites outside of Prague, such as concentration camps and historical Jewish ghettos, which are connected to history courses and Judaism, as well as to courses focusing on psychoanalysis – e.g., understanding Nazi propaganda and the cult of Hitler.  Students also have a unique opportunity to have a deeper understanding of human rights, national identity and sociopolitical issues by visiting socially excluded localities and discussing it with local NGO and governmental representatives. In order to explore the communist past of the Czech Republic, students can visit and learn about the communist regime, the political persecution of that authoritarian regime by visiting former work camps with former political prisoners. Dealing with the outcomes of communist environmental policies, students learn about rural landscape changes. Last but not least, there are trips connected to a cultural immersive experience, where students have the chance to spend Easter in a village with a local family and to practice traditional (quite unique) Czech Easter customs.

Many trips and sites are so popular that they are run more than 4 times during the semester. A large number of students want to go to more destinations - beyond the CIEE academic mandatory requirement of taking part in 2 trips. Some trips maintain throughout semesters 100% positive feedbacks, and according to the students is one of the highlights of their experience in CIEE Prague’s program.

 Film Studies (FS)

Despite of the fact that Film Studies students are especially busy throughout the semester, CIEE Prague believes that studying abroad is about outclass academic exploration as well. Therefore we offer a number of excursions and trips designed specifically for the FS program.

Barrandov Film Studios excursion

On Friday, February 14th, FS Coordinator Ivana took students for a tour to the famous Barrandov Film Studios. As every semester, students not only got to visit the props, furniture and costumes department, but also some representational premises for filmmakers, a stage set of Tudors show and postproduction labs were seen. Furthermore, we got access to two film ateliers with shooting in progress, so students had a blast taking pictures in a train where Donald Sutherland acted in Crossing Lines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_Lines). As always, a yummy lunch was provided. But let us share student feedback from this excursion:

 “Barrandov was truly amazing. It was so interesting and I felt like I learned a lot. I loved this excursion.”

“BEST TRIP EVER. The day was pretty exhausting, but overall it was a fantastic visit. It is a opportunity to visit the Barrandov Studios where such famous people have walked the halls. I liked the extra bit of tour that we got, thanks to Ivana. Hopefully I will be back there again one day making my own film! The lunch was fantastic, also.”

“I really enjoyed it! It was laid back enough so we could really soak it up, and we got to see a lot of the studios. The most interesting part was seeing the costumes and props. I also really, really appreciated the donuts given to us in the morning.”Barrandov 1photo courtesy of Jonáš Klimeš

Barrandov 2photo courtesy of Katie Ratcliffe

Hafan Animation Studio workshop

On Saturday and Sunday, March 1st-2nd, students split into 2 groups and each spent a whole day in Prague’s Hafan animation studio. They created traditional animated short film and had a blast!

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Hafan 2photo courtesy of Beth Winchester

  

Video animation students made together in 2 days

Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects

On Monday, March 24th, CIEE 2nd cultural workshop was planned. We decided to connect it with an excursion to Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects (http://www.muzeumkarlazemana.cz/en) which students enjoyed immensely.

  

video courtesy of Andie Eikenberg  Karel Zeman 1
on a Moon rose, photo courtesy of Katie Ratcliffe

After the excursion, we continued to Dobrá Trafika, an underground coffee place which looks like a simple news stand at first. Over a coffee/yummy milk shakes and cakes, academic, professional, social and interpersonal goals that students set for themselves during the orientation were discussed. And it was time for more fun too - students tested their knowledge of Greatest Czechs in a memory game and they all did quite good!

But hear it in their own words:

“Cool, interesting, creative excursion + great gift shop! Workshop was a nice activity - glad I knew more Czechs than I thought!“

„Very interesting and reminded me of a set on a George Méliès film.“

Overnight trip to Moravia - workshop in Olomouc, Palacký University, Audiovisual department

The weekend of March 28-30, FS Program Coordinator Ivana and Program Coordinator Eva took students on a weekend excursion to the Moravian Region. The trip started in the city of Olomouc, a UNESCO heritage site  - a local guide gave us a tour of the city center. After a yummy lunch we continued to Palacký University to join local students in the Audiovisual Department for a student television workshop. Students were given a simply task: introduce the city. You can see the result here:

  

 After the workshop, local students took CIEE Film Studies group to a local restaurant and they enjoyed an evening together, exploring the city independently.

Olomouc pic 1
Photo courtesy of John Kim

On Saturday, the whole group transfered to Uherské Hradiště, where a summer film festival is held annually. We checked in to Hotel Koníček, had lunch and continued to Vlčnov village, famous for its „Ride of the Kings“ (http://www.czechtourism.com/c/unesco-jizda-kralu/). After visiting a Home Distillery Museum (part of The Museum of Moravian Slovakia), we were invited to a local home by a Vlčnov family. Moravians are known for their hospitality and they truly confirmed this reputation of theirs. Mr. Mikulec told us about the Slivovitz distilling process and his wife surprised us with yummy Moravian kolatche and traditional Czech party sandwiches.

ON Trip pic 1Photo courtesy of John Kim

After this unique experience, we return back to Uherské Hradiště. Students were given couple of hours of free time to explore on their own and we met again for dinner. The local wine cellar visit followed.

ON Trip pic 2

ON Trip pic 2 b

On Sunday morning, we had a last site to visit: Moravian Karst with Punkva caves and the deepest gorge in the Czech lands: Macocha. Students were quite excited particularly due to the short train ride followed by a boat ride in the underground caves.

ON Trip pic 3

ON Trip pic 3 bPhoto courtesy of John Kim

More information from students perspectives can be found in FS blog (http://study-abroad-blog-prague-fs.ciee.org/).

Communication, New Media + Journalism (CNMJ)

Overnight trip to Brno

During a beautiful spring weekend in March, CNMJ Program students headed to Brno and other spots in Moravia with Amanda, Communication Program Coordinator. Our goal was to learn more about the media landscape in the Czech Republic and all by meeting local students and attending the human rights documentary film festival, One World (insert link: http://www.oneworld.cz/2014/ ).

Once we arrived to Brno on Friday, we stopped by Radio R at Masaryk University, Department of Media Studies and Journalism. Radio R is a very successful student-run radio station with over 100 volunteer moderators. They broadcast a variety of original programs covering politics, alternative music, and cultural events in and around Brno. CNMJ students not only had a discussion with student broadcasters, but also got to broadcast live themselves!

Radio R students on air

After our exciting live radio stint, we continued on with Radio R students and with hungry bellies to Výtopna Restaurant. Students were told there would be a surprise there. Výtopna is special thanks to a mini train which brings restaurant-goers their drinks! Surprise!

Our evenings in Brno were dedicated to the One World Film Festival, which is put on by the non-profit People in Need (in fact, we have one CNMJ intern working in their Media Department this semester). On Friday we saw The Great Night (insert link: http://www.oneworld.cz/2014/films-a-z/25305-the-great-night  ), which won the award for Best Czech Documentary at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival last year. On Saturday, we saw a much more light-hearted film called, Everything is Possible (insert trailer?) about an 80 year-old Polish woman who backpacks around the world.

On Saturday we decided to explore the Moravian countryside and hung out in the village of Velké Bílovice. With 800 hectares of vineyards, it makes up the largest wine territory in the Czech Republic. So naturally after lunch, we walked through the village, greeting locals in Czech on our way, and ended up at a family wine cellar. After a short crash course in the ways of wine tasting, students were given several local samples to taste.

Lunch before wine tasting

Our last stop on Sunday before heading back to Prague was Moravian Karst (insert link: http://www.moravskykras.net/en/moravian-karst.html ). We enjoyed a tour of the caves, which included not only the impressive Macocha Abyss (the largest such gorge in Central Europe), but also a boat ride through the last part of the caves.

Students had a great time! For more on this trip from a student’s perspective, please visit our CNMJ blog:

http://study-abroad-blog-prague-cnmj.ciee.org/

CNMJ group

 

Global Architecture and Design (GAD)

Overnight Trip – Vltava Cascades

The very first academic trip for the Global AD program was planned to be only a few weeks after the student’s arrival so they could bond and get to know Adam Vukmanov, the ARCHIP Academic Coordinator, Petra, the CIEE Global AD Coordinator and other members of the ARCHIP faculty while traveling through beautiful sites of central and southern Bohemia.

  Hluboka trip2

The plan was to follow Vltava river cascades, starting at Lipno, which is very important hydro power plant built to protect the UNESCO site Český Krumlov and other towns and villages nearby from floods; we stayed at  Hluboká nad Vltavou, a beautiful little town close to Lipno and continued on the next day with touring 3 other dams – Hněvkovice, Orlík and Slapy.

Berlin Summit

Global AD program connects 3 European cities – Barcelona, Berlin and Prague. Students from all three cities were invited to participate in the Berlin Summit and aside from many other interesting things, to present what they have been working on so far. From March 26 to March 28, CIEE Berlin hosted students from Prague and Barcelona. It was a huge success and students left more educated, connected and satisfied with their achievements. Which city will host next? :)

Berlin Summit

  Cultural Workshop

On April 10, during the academic workshop lead by Alessio Erioli, an engineer and senior researcher at Università di Bologna, Petra took the group to a traditional Czech restaurant for a second cultural workshop. Alessio joined them as well. Aside from the amazing food and drinks, they all tested their knowleadge of Czech culture, especially what they knew of famous Czech people. Well, they still have a bit to learn. :)

Workshop

 Construction Site Visit

On April 11, the students, Adam and Petra visited basic construction sites in Prague that were in different stages of the process. It was a lot of fun and not only because we got to wear hard hats. We got a chance to see how different designing and building is in the Czech Republic and learn a lot about the specific constructions from top to bottom. Both were office buildings built by different companies.

Construction site
Working hard...

GAD Berliners visit the Nordic Embassies

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Global Architecture and Design Students in Berlin recently toured the Nordic embassy in their future cities seminar class with Dr, Michael Lafound and James Rob. The complex is comprised of 6 buildings, 5 of which are the embassies of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland arranged geographically on the site.  The 6th building is named the commons house, a place where all of the embassies converge into the complexes main entrance hall, creating a dynamic social space for cultural exchange.  The Nordic Embassies were finished in 1999 as a response to the German government relocating back to Berlin after the fall of the wall. IMG_2625

 

Students found the design of the complex to be striking, with a strong emphasis on materiality choices for each embassy.  The materiality choices helped differentiate each, allowing them become a reflection of their countries.  As a whole, the Nordic embassies have a unique character  compared to other embassies in Berlin.  While others such as the U.S Embassy reflected a monumental and fortress like appearance, the Nordic complex embraces transparency and the openness to their surroundings.  There are no large barriers or fortified security.  Instead, the embassies are revolutionary for opening themselves up, allowing the community to become part of the over 200 events held throughout the year.  IMG_2667
This makes for a much more dynamic and socially rich environment, challenging the current standards set in embassy design.  While each embassy building is separate, designed by their own architects the site context connects all of the buildings together.  A powerful design move to solidify this connection are the water pools in the inner courtyard.  These pools represent the connection the five countries have to the ocean, with each building reflecting off of them to the outside of the embassy complex, inviting outsiders to look in. Nordic_embassy_complex_13
  Unfortunately, because of leaks the pools were emptied when the students toured the site, but even empty the connections were clear and apparent.

            The tour of the Nordic embassies proved to be an enriching experience for the students, highlighting perhaps one of the most innovative and invigorating social environments in Berlin today.  The transparency conveyed is the highlight of the design, and is an idea that in today’s world and especially in Berlin is demanded by citizens.

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A little taste of our Templehof Adventure:

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