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A Student Reflection

9 December, 2015

A student shares her study abroad experience.

 

A Student Rediscovers Her Passions Abroad

 
by Isabelle Schilbach, Fall 2015

My experience with UPCES in Prague is one that has changed my life for the better, and it is something I would whole-heartedly recommend to everyone. The staff at UPCES thought of things that I never even considered I would need. Whether it was making us feel more at home with various social events, helping with the most stressful of visa situations, or even providing a place to donate unwanted items that definitely would not fit into the return suitcase, I am constantly surprised and impressed by their forward-thinking. I had doubts about going abroad as a senior. Some of my advisors were apprehensive that my credits might not transfer in time or that I would be missing out on my senior year at my home university. UPCES has assured me that there will be more than enough time for my credits, and as far as missing out on my senior year… This experience in Prague has enhanced it greatly. Like many students, I struggled during my first couple years in college with choosing a major, finding my place, and establishing myself as an independent person. This past semester abroad has restored my confidence, challenged me in every way possible, and has equipped me to return to the United States with a new, open-minded perspective.

One of the things that was most important for me to keep in mind throughout my time in Prague was that this experience is very uniquely mine. Everyone hears stories and has expectations for going abroad, but there is no way to know what you will learn and how you will grow. For me, an important part of this experience was latching onto what I am passionate about: music. Going abroad does not mean that you abandon who you are at home, but rather that every part of you is enhanced by this experience. I play cello at home in various orchestras, bands, or just with friends around a campfire. I thought for a split-second that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up while I was abroad, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I rented a cello and have been playing more than ever in my life. I joined the Charles University Orchestra and was also able to perform in a band with my fellow students in a couple bars and clubs. My experiences playing music abroad allowed me to connect with other people and Prague in a different way.  Keeping up with my passion was an amazing addition to my already-incredible experience. I would encourage every student going abroad to make their experience one that is entirely unique and personal-- one that they’d be proud and excited to share.