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4 posts categorized "Excursion"

08/05/2015

Summer 2015, Issue III

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Intercultural Comparative Experience

The short-term summer program includes CIEE’s unique Intercultural Comparative Experience. Students’ partake in  special excursions across 28 study centers, travelling to over 30 global destinations.

 

During this immersive three-day weekend, students travel to another international city with fellow CIEE students to expand their global perspective and sharpen their cultural awareness. Visit museums and architectural masterpieces, go to a concert or performance, attend a cooking workshop or other cultural activity, and take part in service-learning projects focused on local issues. It’s a great way to develop cultural self-awareness, intercultural literacy, and the ability to bridge cultural gaps.

 

Intercultural Comparative Experience in Prague

During June 12-14, 82 students from four European destinations experienced Prague. During July 10-12, 39 students from Paris and during August 7-9, eight students from London also experience Prague for the Intercultural Comparative Experience weekend.

 

Students are accompanied by Prague staff from the airport to the hotel. After check in, a one hour-long onsite orientation follows. In the afternoon students are split into small groups, which are led by CIEE staff, CIEE buddies, and guides. In groups, students enjoy exploring the main architectural sites in Prague. Their walking tour also includes a museum visit.

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The first day is topped off with a welcome dinner that is held in Plzeňská restaurant at the Municipal House, an Art Nouveau architecture style building. Students enjoys Czech cuisine for the first time and have a unique opportunity to try traditional meals such as beef goulash with bread dumplings and chicken schnitzel with potato salad. Traditional Czech cakes are prepared as a dessert.

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On Saturday morning, students are split into interest groups, led by CIEE staff and CIEE buddies. The groups are prepared based on student sign-up for various cultural activities.

The following interest group activities were offered in Prague:

Czech cooking lesson – Students learn how to make potato pancakes (bramboráky), which is one of the traditional Czech meals. The interest group activity takes place in one of the CIEE apartments and is led by the CIEE flat buddy.

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Czech cooking lesson - Students learn how to make open sandwiches (chlebíčky), another typical Czech dish. Students try making few different kinds of (chlebíčky), and again the activity is held in one of the CIEE apartments.

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Paddle boats along the Vltava River – Students enjoy the nicest view of the Prague Castle from the river. From the paddle boats they admire castle complex, Charles Bridge, Žofín Island, and the National Theatre.

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Brewery tour – Students visited a brewery and learned about the historic Czech beer-making process. Students are introduced to the process of beer making and learned how the beer industry is an inseparable part of the Czech economy and Czech culture.

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Farmers market at Náplavka – Students had brunch at the unique farmers marker, located in the immediate proximity of the Vltava River, with a view of the Prague Castle. They tried locally produced food, fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, smoked meats, cheeses, pickled specialties, baked goods, koláč, desserts, and cakes!

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Invisible Exhibition – Students who sign up for the invisible exhibition have the opportunity to understand what life is like without one of the senses that provides us the most information: sight. They undertake an interactive journey to an invisible world, where in total darkness they have to find their way out only by touch, hearing, and smell.

DOX Contemporary Gallery – A visit to the gallery is another exciting activity planned for the morning. DOX is a hub of contemporary Czech Art. Prominent contemporary artists exhibit their works in this gallery. Today it ranks amongst the most progressive artistic institutions in the Czech Republic, and enjoys wide popularity amongst the public.

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Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects workshop – This two-hour-long workshop teaches students about stop-motion paper cut or stop-motion clay puppet animation at the Karel Zeman Museum. Karel Zeman was a Czech film director, artist, production designer, and animator, best known for directing fantasy films that combined live-action footage with animation.

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The groups reunite for lunch which is held at U Medvídků, a traditional Czech beer hall-style pub since 1466 that has retained its traditional charm and is still a favorite with Czech locals. Students have a chance to taste traditional meals like Beef sirloin (svíčková), fried cheese with fries (smažák), or apple strudel as a dessert.

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In the afternoon students have free time so they can explore the city on their own. Local staff members and buddies provide students with tips on what places should be on their must-see list. In the evening, a cultural event is scheduled: an Organ Concert at the St. Francis Church that includes a selection of composers such as Schubert, Gounod, Mascagni, Mozart, Bach, Händel, Dvořák, Franck, and Bizet or a concert of Yvonne Sanchez, one of the best voices of jazz and blues nowadays, at the Cargo Gallery by the river.

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On Sunday, after check out, students can spend some more free time in lovely Prague before departure to their study centers in Berlin, Groningen, Barcelona, Paris, and London.

The Intercultural Comparative Experience weekend deserves special thanks to our amazing staff and buddies who help to prepare and lead it.

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07/30/2015

Praha

written by Fiza Khan

Prague is easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. Cobblestoned streets, red tiled rooftops, waterfront restaurants on the Vltava River… it’s all so dreamy, I could go on forever.

  Under the Bridge

View of the Vltava

But, while Prague is beautiful, and has amazing sites, I would first recommend exploring the history behind the city – as I don’t think you can fully appreciate where you are without doing so. Thanks to CIEE, I along with my peers had the honor of meeting Dr. Dagmar Lieblova, a holocaust survivor. I could not imagine ever having to face half the horrors she spoke of, which included living in the Terezin Ghetto and later Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Her story was a reminder to us all, of how privileged we are to be able to live and travel freely, and I feel extremely humbled by the experience.

 The day after our meeting with Dr. Lieblova, I made a trip to the Jewish Museum located in Old Town, Prague. The museum is a cluster of different historical sites, including synagogues and a cemetery. There, I learned a lot about the history of Jewish people

living in Prague, including their attempts to assimilate while observing their own culture, and about their resilience in the face of constant persecution. Not everyone has the chance to meet a holocaust survivor, but if you would like to deepen your understanding of the past and the world we live in today, I would highly recommend making a visit.

Synagogue

Prague is beautiful, but let us first not forget where we are walking.

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07/29/2015

written by Sarah Islam

Dobrý den from Praha! I have now been in this historical city for ten days, walked approximately 107,000 steps, and consumed a variety of cuisines. As a part of the Summer Psychology program, I spend my mornings studying psychoanalysis at the CIEE study center in Vyšehrad, and the rest of my days riding trams and metros to explore the great city of Prague.

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View of Prague from the CIEE Study Center

Since the program began I have been able to explore Queen Anne’s Summer Palace, the Royal Park, Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, Charles Bridge, the Lennon Wall, Letná Park, and my personal favorite, the Old Town Square. Day or night, the square is filled with dancing, street performers, fire dancers, and of course, the tourist friendly Astronomical Clock. I also attended Phantom, a blacklight show at the theater-filled street of Karlova and an experience I recommend to any future CIEE students.

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Inside the St. Vitus Cathedral3

Lennon Wall

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Old Town Square at Night

 

Our program was also lucky enough to travel to the city of Kutná Hora, known for its silver mines and “bone church.” Visiting the Sedlec Ossuary was a morbid and thrilling time, which we followed up with a mouth-watering lunch at a local German restaurant. We also got the opportunity to hear from a concentration camp survivor originally hailing from Kutná Hora, a humbling and eye-opening lecture that acquainted us with the realities of World War II beyond what any history book could ever tell us.

 

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Sedlec Ossuary at Kutná Hora

 On a lighter note, the food in Prague is the best I have ever had. With Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants around the corner from my apartment, I knew I would be set for my entire stay. However, my friends and I have also discovered Czech, Thai, and Italian restaurants all around the city that have convinced us that Prague can do no wrong. Of course there is always my local Albert supermarket to get me through my snack cravings, not to mention the abundance of gelato on every corner!

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Tortellini for Lunch

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Gamberetti for Dinner

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Czech Veggie Burger at the Old Town Square

This weekend we are taking a trip to Český Krumlov, where we get to stay in a local hotel, see the Egon Schiele Museum, and explore the city and castle tower for three whole days before returning to Prague. I am looking forward to comparing my time there with Prague and for the host of adventure I am sure the next couple weeks will bring!

06/24/2014

Summer 2014 Newsletter, Issue I

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Intercultural Comparative Experience: Berlin

Summer just got even better for 2014’s summer participants! Students get a lot from traveling to countries outside of their study center, but sometimes a deeper look at that culture is lacking. With the Intercultural Comparative Experience CIEE is organizing for the very first time unique weekend trips abroad. In Europe, students have a chance during each session to go to Berlin, London, Barcelona, or Paris. Built in is a cultural training which aims to heighten students’awareness of cultural differences. This new aspect of our summer programs is an added benefit for our students and a way for us to promote CIEE’s mission.

Here is an account of Berlin from a CIEE staff perspective:

We boarded the bus for Berlin with 31 CIEE Prague students shortly before 8am. Since Berlin is practically our neighbor, many of us from the staff were happy to return: Jana (Center Director), Klára (Student Services Assistant), and Amanda (Summer Programs Coordinator) go to Berlin regularly; Roman (Housing Assistant) and Eva (CES Resident Director) were first timers. The ride was not so long, so we arrived to Berlin shortly after noon. We were greeted by CIEE Berlin staff at the centrally located hostel in Mitte, just steps away from the New Synagogue and Alexanderplatz.

Alexanderplatz

After checking into our rooms, we met with all of the students from other CIEE study centers and CIEE staff for a short orientation. There was some woohooing as different study center groups were asked to “introduce themselves”. Later students remarked that this mixing of students from other study centers was one of the highlights of their weekend. After an enlightening speech about the dichotomies of Berlin life and history from Benjamin Lorch, Center Director of CIEE Berlin, we were broken up into small, manageable groups. My group had 9 students (light green group represent!) all from different study centers: Palma Mallorca, Istanbul, and Amsterdam. We headed out into the streets of Berlin and over to the U-Bahn.

Orientation

Our first task was to acquaint ourselves with the city: not just in an orientation and sightseeing sense, but from a historical perspective as well. We did this through a city tour. Our guide was an energetic girl from Dresden named Franziska. She started us out in front of Brandenburger Tor; made us get lost in the imposing Jewish Memorial and then made us reflect on it; we took a look at a parking lot – not just any parking lot – but one where Hitler had his bunker and then committed suicide; we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall and were told a heart wrenching story about Franziska’s aunt who had to decide whether to stay in the West or go back home to the East on the day the wall went up. We learned a lot. Even if it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Afterwards we had a traditional German dinner at a non-traditional restaurant: Umspannwerk Ost, a former electrical transformer station built in 1900. Afterwards, students (and staffJ) had free time; the majority sought out a tv to watch the World Cup.

Jewish Memorial

On Saturday, my group started its day in the interesting neighborhood of Kreuzberg. We were taken around for a community engagement activity, seeing various sustainable and grassroots projects that had took root in this mostly working class, largely Turkish neighborhood. The highlight for me was visiting Prinzessinnen Garden, a large community-run garden in the heart of the district.

Prinzessinnen Garten

After this activity, we headed back to Mitte for lunch, to peruse Checkpoint Charlie, and finally over to the Topography of Terror. Located on the former site of the Nazi SS headquarters, this museum also boarders a remaining section of the Berlin Wall and is a powerful reminder of horrors of the 12 years of fascist Nazi rule. Students were given free time after this; many of them needed a breather especially after the Topography of Terror.

Berlin Wall

We met up again for dinner at the hostel and then later in the evening for an amazing acrobatic performance, Flip, at the impressive Chameleon Theater.

 

Sunday was a free day. A lot of students ventured to the weekly flea market at Mauer Park, to the East Side Gallery, and to the Reichstag. All and all, we had a chance to see the many faces of Berlin: hip and posh, old and new, weird and cool.