The UPCES Program looks back at the Spring 2017 semester.

The UPCES Spring 2017 was by far one of our best semesters yet! We started out the semester in February with the arrival of 74 students from universities all over the United States. Our two-week orientation included information about safety, trips and excursions, and some of the things our students could expect during their semester in Prague. At the end of our orientation weeks, we took our semester trip to Český Krumlov, a beautifully scenic town found directly south of Prague near the Austrian border.

With these first two weeks completed, our students began their study abroad classes in the historic Schebek Palace, home of the UPCES program and Charles University. UPCES students also settled into their Czech language classes taught by local Czech professors, which allows them to become more fully integrated into Czech culture and society. In their classes UPCES students got the opportunity to learn, not only from their professors, but from the Erasmus and Czech students that also attended UPCES courses. This allows our students to gain a different and international perspective on topics and issues discussed in their classes.

Once March arrived, we were finishing up our plans to head to Krakow, Poland for our weekend trip. The trip to Krakow, which we hold every semester, gives our students the chance to learn about the history of Poland and the Holocaust more intimately. During our trip we toured historic Krakow, including its Jewish Quarter, and we visited Auschwitz and Birkenau to gain more understanding of the atrocities that occurred there. We were also joined on this trip by two of our UPCES professors who were more than willing to contribute their knowledge to our students’ learning experience.

Throughout the semester, one of UPCES’ goals is cultural immersion. That’s why we provide a small trip or excursion every Friday for any and all of our students to join. For example, this semester we offered a trip to the zoo (which is the 4th best in the world!), rode the funicular to the top of Prague’s Petřín Hill where we climbed to the top of the tower, attended a Slavia soccer game at the Slavia stadium, hiked to Karlštejn Castle and through the Czech wilderness, and more! These small day trip excursions aim to give our students more of a local experience.

After a week of midterms, our students joined us on a trip to Litoměřice, which lies about one hour northwest of Prague. There we learned about the historz of this small town and how it affected the Czech Republic as a whole. Then, our students embarked on trips of their own for a week of semester break before returning to Prague for a short day trip to Kutna Hora, home of the infamous “Bone Church.“ We also took a dive under Kutna Hora to walk through its historic silver mines!

As the semester came to a close, our students finished up their finals and we took a ride on the Vltava River on a boat cruise for some lunch and sightseeing. UPCES professors joined us for our river cruise to say goodbye to students, and we said a farewell to the students ourselves as another semester at UPCES ended. We wish all of our students a safe journey home, and we look forward to welcoming a new semester in September!