Profile: Elad Mehl '16
Major/minor: Business/International & Global Studies major
Study abroad program: CET/ Prague (Spring 2015)
Reason you chose this program: I wanted to go to Central Europe and gain professional experience. The CET program offered a business internship in Prague. It was the perfect combination.
Why did you choose to study abroad when you did: I heard that the spring in Prague is gorgeous (it definitely is!). I also had previous obligations with the Sorensen Fellowship at Brandeis for the fall semester. I had my Central European adventure perfectly planned!
Favorite class(es): My favorite class was "Czech Republic in Transition: Economic and Political Integration in the EU." In the class we learned how the economy of the Czech Republic worked under Communism and the changes it experienced in order to accommodate its transition to capitalism. The professor lived through this entire transition and was extremely passionate about the subject.
Housing situation: I lived with 3 other American students from the program and a Czech "buddy" that helped us around in an apartment in a residential neighborhood. It was an awesome living arrangement for me because it gave me the freedom to just live in the city, but also connected me to locals through the Czech buddy.
Best memory: In one of the breaks a small group of us went to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Besides the sheer beauty and history of the city, we took a boat to an island right next to the city. The island was a huge natural reserve filled with peacocks! It was one of the most amazing places I had ever seen. Every part of the island was different, but all equally as beautiful, especially with the city of Dubrovnik in the background.
Greatest challenge and how you overcame it: I interned for a successful Czech online coupon company called Slevomat (similar to Groupon) as a digital marketing intern. Most of the coworkers didn't speak Czech so that made conversations very funny. The most difficult part though was that my department only marketed to Czech customers. I had to constantly figure out ways to reach a Czech crowd in a language I don't speak. Every week was an awesome challenge in discovering how to do things that I had never done before in a language I don't know. I have to give huge props to my boss who was patient and worked closely with me to teach me, while serving as the main translator.
What you know now that you didn't know before: I learned a lot about Central European history and specifically Jewish history in the region. I discovered a lot about my own Jewish and Zionist identity. It gave me context to many things I didn't understand about my heritage and history. It was a fascinating journey to understanding many influences in my life.
Fact about Czech Republic that you think people would be surprised to learn: Czechs drink a lot of beer! The Czech people are one of the heaviest consumers of beers in the world. Beer is cheaper than water in Czech restaurants and tap water is largely unavailable.