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5 posts categorized "Cultural Immersion"



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.


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



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.


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.


Inside the St. Vitus Cathedral3

Lennon Wall


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.



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!


Tortellini for Lunch


Gamberetti for Dinner


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!


Summer in Praha

Ahoj! I’ve been in Prague for a little over a week now and have already seen and learned more than I expected to in my time here. I am here studying International Reporting and got the opportunity to travel to Teplice, a small town known for its healing spas, to conduct interviews. We spoke to the mayor, the spa owner, a human rights activist and citizens of the town to understand more about the growing Arab population in their community.


We have definitely been staying busy here in the Czech Republic. Last weekend I went on a day trip with some other students in the program to Kutna Hora to visit the Bone Church, as well as another Cathedral and some local restaurants, and earlier this week we went on a pedal boat through the Vltava River. CIEE also paid for tickets to see Romeo and Juliet at the State Opera! Today my class went to Bloomberg News to speak to the editor about our futures in the field of journalism, and tomorrow we will be going to the town of Liberec to study modern art.

 We’ve met some interesting characters here (like some men from Italy who chased us with water guns on their segues), learned how to maneuver public transportation and had more fried cheese than I thought was possible. Now we’re leaving for one of our weekends trips… cau!


Pedal Boating on the Vltava River


Romeo and Juliet at the State Opera



written by Danielle Corcione

I spent this past weekend in Paris. It was absolutely thrilling to experience a different European culture outside of the Czech Republic.

After checking in at our hostel by the Gard Du Nord metro stop, our group – including students from other CIEE locations, such as London and Berlin – to took a walking tour of the city. I learned about the famous sites and monument, including a brief history of the Catacombs of Paris, a series of organized tunnels under the city. Later that night, I walked to the Eiffel Tower with my classmates. At exactly eleven o’clock, the tower illuminated with flashing, bright lights all over for a few minutes; none of us knew about this tradition, so it was certainly a gorgeous surprise.

On Saturday, our group toured two museums: the world famous Louvre, so large that statistically it’d take three months to see the entire collection, and the Musée Du Quai Branly, or the Museum of the Other, dedicated to collections from Africa, Asia and Oceania. There was so much art and history throughout the afternoon from all different parts of the globe, not only France.

Another highlight of the trip was the food. After tasting macaroons from McDonald’s in between museum trips, I was eager to compare the taste to “real deal.” On Sunday, other students and I ventured to LaDurée, a luxury bakery located down the street from the Arc de Triomphe. At five euros per macaroon, it surely did not disappoint.

I had an amazing weekend in Paris and I can’t wait to return again. When I do, I hope to know a little more French. Until then, I am back in Prague, but only for another week. I don’t want to go home just yet, but I am looking forward to the rest of my time in the Czech Republic.


Summer 2014 Newsletter, Issue I


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.


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.


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.