Profile: Izzy Nickel '19
Major/minor: International and Global Studies and Sociology majors; Social Justice and Social Policy and Business minors
Study abroad program: CIEE/ Central European Studies in Prague, Czech Republic (Spring 2018)Reason you chose this program: I decided that I wanted to study in Prague for the difference in climate and culture. I chose CIEE because it gave me a wide variety of subjects and classes to choose from. I had the ability to take not only take classes within my major, such as a sociology class, but I was also able to try a film class and a few history classes. Additionally, CIEE offered a variety of optional excursion trips to see other parts of the Czech Republic and Europe.
Favorite class: My favorite class was called Communism and Nazism in the Arts. I had an amazing experience learning from and getting to know the professor, Monika MacDonagh-Pajerová. In this class, we drew from a number of fields such as history, political science, literature, film studies, and psychology to better understand the impact of Nazism and Communism on Czech society. We read various European novels and watched European documentaries and films to fully encapsulate Prague and the Czech Republic’s role regarding totalitarian regimes in the 20th century.Housing situation: I lived in CIEE-Administered Apartments which meant that I lived in an apartment building with primarily Czech residents but lived with Americans and one local Charles University student in my apartment. My Czech Buddy was extremely resourceful and was my immediate connection to Czech culture. Throughout my semester, she helped me with the language and directions. As we familiarized ourselves with each other, we also started going grocery shopping and cooking together.
Best memory: My best memory abroad was visiting my Czech friend’s house over Easter weekend. I was introduced to my friend’s family and friends, experienced homemade Czech food, and learned about the Czech traditions associated with Easter in the Czech Republic. Learning about Easter in the Czech Republic was particularly interesting because the Czech are one of the least religious countries worldwide. Therefore, similarly to the US, their traditions that once held more religious value have become secularized.
Greatest challenge: My greatest challenge was adapting and immersing myself to a culture still affected by Communism. Day-to-day Czech culture is quieter and more serious than in the United States. Although it might seem like Czech people are angry and unfriendly, I learned how to be more outgoing to get to know the locals around me. The biggest surprise was learning how quiet Prague locals are on public transportation; most people face forward and keep to themselves. For me, this was a very good analogy for the rest of the societal behaviors while I was abroad.
What you know now that you didn't know before: I came into my abroad semester with a basic understanding of Central European history. After both taking classes about Czech culture and the Communist history, and experiencing the culture first-hand, I have a significantly better understanding of Central European culture. As an International Global Studies major, I have learned about the interconnectedness of the international community and can now see how the political and social relations in Central Europe affect even our lives in the United States.
Fact about the Czech Republic that you think people would be surprised to learn: The word ‘robot’ is drawn from the Czech word, ‘robota’ meaning ‘servitude.’ The term ‘robot’ was introduced by Karel Čapek, in his play Rossum's Universal Robots.