The PSP blog has covered many topics, ranging from the culture and history of the Czech people to be benefits of study abroad programs. Today’s entry will focus on an interesting cultural artifact that is perfectly legal in Prague, one that you’ve likely seen referenced in 19th and 20th century literature. If you’re an adventurous type and you decide to come along with us to the city of Prague for your European study abroad program, you’ll have the opportunity to try Absinthe.
The Prague Summer Program makes a point of giving you ample free time to use as you need. Of course, exploring Prague and traveling is a fine way to use this time (more on that in our other blog posts) but we like to think of the PSP as a generative study-abroad program. The time we give you is yours to use for your writing and, as past students will tell you, the program director Richard Katrovas is particularly open to spontaneously reading work you have just written. Finding time to write can be a challenge even when we´re at home, let alone abroad, but, if you are planning to study abroad as a creative writer, don’t forget to give yourself some time to generate new work. Here are a few tips that might come in handy.
Study abroad can be very expensive. The cost of plane tickets alone can be an unwelcomed source of anxiety, and even if you do spend an entire year saving up for a summer study abroad program, you might feel like the costs are way outside of your budget. Don’t give up! You’re a creative writer, so get creative. Here are a couple tips that will help you fund your European study abroad program while playing to your strengths as a creative writer.
The Czech love of beer is serious business. If you’re going to attend a study abroad program in Prague, you should know that the brewing of beer is an important part of Czech culture, society, and history. Beer’s long national history can be traced back to records of Czech brewing at the Břevnov Monastery in 933 AD, but there’s solid evidence that the Czech people harvested hops since the first century. What we do know with certainty is this: the Czech know and love their craft.
If you are reading this blog, chances are you are considering a study abroad program to improve your writing. But why? What are the benefits of study abroad programs? What does travel offer that is essential to the development of healthy writing life? Whether you’re a fiction writer or a poet, travel has the power improve your craft while providing inspiration that might be lacking in your day-to-day experiences.
When you budget for a study abroad experience, you get more than just the opportunity to engage with a culture you have never experienced directly. You also gain the opportunity to study literature in its original context, to see the places and feel the historic impact of both the stories and the events they portray. If you are a fiction writer looking for experience abroad that will help you connect more deeply to the places you have lived and the stories that come from them, then you need the experience that comes from knowing the place you will go, not just the course material.
It’s that time of year again, which means that you are just weeks away from the deadline for applications to most of the best creative writing summer programs out there. If you are considering going abroad this season instead of finding local writing workshops and events, then you might want to consider each of these major points when choosing your program to make sure you get the best experience possible out of your summer abroad.
Whether you are planning on a full semester abroad or a shorter-term, more concentrated program, there are a number of reasons why this is a great choice. Top study abroad sites that focus on full-semester programs tend to focus on two major ways of talking about those reasons: Benefits for your education, and reasons given by study abroad program alumnae. What is less common is the focus on the academic challenges and experiential expansion that cultural immersion can bring to students taking career paths based in scholarly and artistic pursuits.
Top Reasons Artists and Writers Study Abroad
- Starting again in a new country with different communication expectations and customs is a transformative experience that reshapes the ways that you look at interaction with other people and with your environment.
- If you’re looking to move abroad as a possible academic or career goal, a short educational program is a great way to discover what you need to know about your possible choices.
- Opportunities to study in close quarters with mentor-teachers whose influence and knowledge about the local area will add new insight to the ways potential audiences might interact with your work.
- Connections made through study abroad programs help expand your social network, allowing you to discover more opportunities to place your work and to learn more about your artistic development by promoting the work of others.
- You have the chance to reassess your existing relationships as you discover who reaches out across international boundaries to keep in touch, what kinds of ways distance shapes your interaction with people at home, and what it shows you about your own process.
Immersion in Prague
Students participating in the Prague Summer Program for writers have the opportunity to experience cultural immersion in “the mother of all cities,” experiencing the history and impact of one of central Europe’s most prominent cities for art and literature. From the stories of its origin to the rich tapestry of writers leading up to and flowing from the Velvet Revolution, there are very few places that offer artists and writers the opportunities that you can find in Prague. Check out our Program Info for more details.
Depending on your study abroad program, you may find yourself in a situation where you are totally responsible for your own food, lodging, or both while you are in-country. At the Prague Summer Program, we coordinate rooms for students as part of the program, but attendees are connected with information about the area and left to conduct day-to-day business like meals and laundry themselves. Being able to make strong recommendations based on a long relationship to a community is what makes good international study programs capable of connecting students to culture and opportunity, in addition to their subject-area study, and it is something to look for.
In addition to the advice that Program staff can give in-country, we’ve also heard a few different options from past attendees that an stretch your budget further, giving you more resources to put toward sightseeing and exploration.
- This is going to seem too simple to be real, but many people lose track of this fact during the hustle and bustle of travel: Eating healthy and budget-conscious food abroad is a lot like doing it at home. You just have to commit to the grocery store and pick out options that can be used for a few meals. In a lot of places, these options are going to look familiar: peanut butter and jelly is everywhere, eggs are a common staple in just about any locale, and when all else fails, there are always fresh fruits and vegetables in whatever local varieties happen to be in season.
- Avoid areas that sell leisure as their main attraction. Touristy restaurants might deliver top quality food, but they are not as cost-effective as the options favored by locals. Depending on what you’re in the mood for and what is in the area, it can be fun to explore. Remember, when scouting restaurants in any unfamiliar area, being busy is a good sign.
- Last but not least, it’s going to be easier to stick to your guns about your per-day expenses if you make sure that your less expensive options are varied. Buying in bulk for further discount might seem great, but when you are on your seventh scrambled and and pepper meal in a row, you’ll probably break down and overspend for a place that you normally wouldn’t let yourself splurge for.
Keeping these in mind, it is important to plan for those splurges–once you have a plan for your day-to-day needs, you’ll be able to identify the best times and places to really go all out and indulge.
For a lot of students, getting ready for a study abroad program can be just as challenging as finding the right one in the first place. Between travel arrangements, academic preparation, and planning for in-country events, finding time to figure out just what supplies to bring can be a challenge. No matter what kind of study abroad program you’ve entered, you’ll want to make sure you pack a basic, balanced round of supplies. You will also want to make sure that you don’t over- or under-pack, because adding extra luggage is expensive and most students will want to have room to pick up a few things while they are in-country. Here’s how to find the balance:
- Pack with a plan to do laundry, but remember your environment. You’ll need enough clothes to have several days of any kind of climate that might occur during your program. For Prague in summer, this can range from shorts and shortsleeves to jackets and light sweaters. If you’re headed elsewhere, keep it in mind.
- If you know you want to shop abroad, bring less–chances are that you’ll find weather-appropriate clothes at your destination.
- Keep in mind the electric grid wherever you are going may be different from home. Research and purchase the power converters you’ll need.
- Check on your cell phone. Many newer smartphones come with a global compatibility package that you can enable, but sometimes you might need to purchase an inexpensive prepaid phone for use in-country.
- Remember, there are toiletries everywhere. Focus instead on the personal items, books, and devices you will need to keep yourself on-track academically.
It’s also important to keep in mind the length of your program. It might be worthwhile to check an extra bag if you are going out of the country for a whole semester, but for shorter programs, you will probably want to keep things down to one checked bag and your carry-on, just to keep your costs in check. See you next week!