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Meet Erica Gales

Program and Location:

Summer, FYI Prague; Prague, Czech Republic



Why did you choose to study abroad?A student, Erica, wit three of her friends in a park with Prague's rooftops in the background

I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience a new culture so that I would become more culturally aware of the world around us. Studying abroad was something that I always considered but when I was given the opportunity, I was nervous to take advantage of the opportunity because I would be with people I had never met before in a new country. I am so grateful for my experience abroad because with my current career path, it will help me to work with others from all over the world because I am more aware of the diversity this world has to offer rather than being stuck in American ways.

What did you learn about yourself?

While I was abroad, I learned that I am more adventurous than I thought. While in Prague, my friends and I went to different parts of Prague and tried many different foods. I thought I was a picky eater until I traveled abroad. I also learned that I am more outgoing than I thought I was and am able to start a conversation with new people. Going into the trip, I knew absolutely no one. I remember being terrified but turns out, we became one big family throughout the trip. I was able to put myself out there and begin new friendships with some amazing people. Being in my second semester at NC State, I still talk to my Prague friends and it was refreshing to know that I had 30+ friends when I came into State for the fall semester which was a huge help.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?A student, Erica, jumping in front of St. Vitus Cathedral

One of my favorite parts of the program would have to be when we traveled to Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. This city was the most beautiful place I have ever seen and is easily probably one of my favorite places that I have been to in Europe. We water rafted into Cesky Krumlov and even though it was raining and cold we had a blast. While in this city, we toured the Cesky Krumlov Castle and it was an absolute fairytale. It felt like I was in a Disney movie. Out of the 10+ castles I have been to in Europe this was the most beautiful and had an amazing view of the city. We also attended the International Music Festival of Cesky Krumlov which was an experience like no other!

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

My advice to you is that if you are questioning whether to participate in the FYI in Prague program, do it! This experience will be something that I remember and cherish forever. Not only was I able to take a class with NC State before starting in the fall but I was also able to meet friends who helped with the adjusting period into college. I was able to experience a new culture, see new places, and learn so much about myself. Participating in this program was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. Try something new, step out of your comfort zone, and do it! You won’t regret a single minute of it.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?A student, Erica, on the Charles Bridge with Prague Castle in the background

My study abroad experience will help me tremendously in the business world. I plan on becoming a CPA so this program will help me to work with people from all over the world because I gained so much respect for the world around us while traveling abroad to the Czech Republic. In the business world, I will come in contact with people from different backgrounds and countries so having this respect will allow me to communicate effectively to them. The class I took was critical and creative decision making so this will also help me with my career because I will have to make decisions in the business world.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

I was surprised by how much I loved being in another country. I had been to Europe previously however, I had never stayed in one place for an extended period of time. I absolutely loved living in Prague for two weeks and would love to study abroad for an entire semester now!

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?

My class in Prague was very different than taking classes here at NC State, but so much more hands on. The class was two weeks long which meant it was very fast paced but it was definitely manageable because the professors wanted us to have time to adventure in Prague. The class was also very small which meant more one-on-one with the professor and we took class field trips out in Prague which is very different than classes at NC State. We went on a field trip to a chocolate factory because it related to decision making!

Would you do it again?

I would 100% participate in FYI in Prague again!

This post was originally published in Study Abroad.