US students enjoy the experience of studying in Prague

Library at NYU Center

While a decade ago thousands of young Americans came to spend some time in Prague after graduating from university - and many ended up staying - nowadays a growing number of Americans come to Prague to study while they are still at university. Since 1998, New York University has had a school in the Czech capital, and students usually stay for three or four months. I recently visited NYU in Prague, where I asked associate director Thea Favaloro how much students could learn about the Czech Republic in such a short period.

Library at NYU Center
"They all take an intensive week, only one week, of Czech, so they don't learn very much Czech during that one week but they have to take another language during the semester and most of them decide to take Czech. They do learn a lot about the country. Many of them come back after they've graduated or during the summer, and they go to Czech pubs in New York city, for example."

I know you have some interesting professors teaching here - could you give us some examples?

"One of the most popular classes we have is a class called 'NATO, the European Union and Central Europe', and that's taught by Josef Zieleniec, who's the former minister of foreign affairs and he's currently a senator; his class is very popular obviously, because students feel they can get an inside look at how things work. Another very popular course is 'The Culture of Dissent' with Jan Urban. He talks about what life was like under communism and his own personal experiences."

I also spoke to some students at NYU, Ellisa, Brendan and Eric, and began by asking them why they had decided to study in Prague?

Ellisa: "I chose to study in Prague because I'm a history major, and there's lots of history in Prague."

Eric: "Prague is kind of like the main city, I think, for students to come to in Eastern Europe. I heard an expression that (Prague) was 'the Paris of our generation', and I don't know, just the culture and the fun."

After a month in the city, how have you found the experience so far?

Brendan: "I find it really comfortable, after being here for a month. I don't feel out of place any more."

Ellisa: "Going to school in New York city, I kept on comparing this city with New York city, and it's very different obviously. I'm learning to love it and I'm learning to appreciate the beauty. I enjoy it a lot."

Speaking of beauty, the NYU building on Male Namesti, very near to Old Town Square, is really beautiful. How does it compare to where you study in the States?

Eric: "I go to school in Colorado Springs, and the building in Male Namesti blows everything out of the water in Colorado Springs, in terms of pure beauty, art and history. When we first saw the building I was really impressed, and - as I walk through Old Town Square to get to classes - I'm still impressed."