For the second consecutive year, the NC State European Center awarded a Journalism Scholarship to a Prague Connect student. This year’s recipient is Austin Robinson (Clayton, NC) in the “Blogger” category. Austin is an Anthropology major and is enrolled in Sociology, Biology, Astronomy, and Czech Language/Culture in Prague. Since the beginning of the semester, Austin has explored Prague, unlike anyone else. Austin will write a lengthy piece on his stay in Prague and produce a series of student spotlights as part of the scholarship he was awarded. Stay tuned! Last but not least, if you see Austin randomly dancing, it is because he is in a good mood.
Were there specific reasons that led you to choose Prague as your study abroad destination?
Some of the reasons why I wanted to come to Prague had to deal with the semester-long gap of being a Spring connect student. When I realized that I was not coming into the fall semester like I wanted to, I was scrambling to look at the other options I had. I was looking at the military to be in the reserves, my other community college classes I have not taken yet, and work/volunteering opportunities. Then I saw on NC State’s website that I could study abroad. Studying Abroad for me was always a thing I wanted to do. I always liked exploring and doing something outside my comfort zone by learning new things. When I saw that the program was going to be in Prague, I got a little disappointed. I was hoping to be in Italy, Spain, Greece, or even Bosnia, not the Czech Republic. Then I realized that having this opportunity was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is a wonderful experience for my major, Anthropology. I get to travel to other countries while studying there, and I get to make new friends. I realized that I was lucky to be even offered this opportunity, and besides, I did not like my other options anyway. So, I signed up, got into the Program, and headed to Europe.
To what extent did you prepare yourself for your time in Prague?
I prepared myself before coming to Prague by looking up the history of Prague and the Czech Republic. I tried to learn/remember as many key phrases as possible, like Dobrý Den (Good Day), Na Shledanou (Goodbye), and toaleta (toilet). Which helped me many times when I needed something. I watched videos as well to help me get a sense of the area and what museums and activities were available to me.
How did studying abroad work with your major?
Studying abroad worked out wonders for my major. Since my major is Anthropology, walking through the streets where Mozart and Einstein stepped is an amazing experience. This country has a lot of history and stories to tell. With the history of Communism, Nazis, Czech Royals, and Austrian-Hungarian control. Everything feels so modern but archaic, unlike the United States. You can see in these buildings the gothic design but also communist influences as well. The amount of stuff you can learn just by going to the different districts and walking around is astounding. Visiting the Jewish Quarter and looking at synagogues, going to a cemetery with all the Soviet soldiers that died in Operation during World War 2, or going to Prague Castle and seeing all the religious artefacts and treasures accompanied there is a dream come true.
What surprised you most about the Czech Republic?
What surprised me the most about the Czech Republic is how close it is to all the other countries surrounding it. I did not realize that travelling to Germany, Austria, and Poland is not far. It really is situated right in the middle of Europe.
What is your favorite place(s) in Prague so far?
My favorite places were the Vyšehrad Fortress, the Kampa Art Museum, Vítkov, Banksy Museum, Žižkov television tower, and Grotta Villa.
You were awarded the Journalism Scholarship in the “blogging/writing category;” please tell us what you can offer to current and future NC State Prague students.
I will offer current and future students of NC State a worldview that they never experienced before. I will show them that studying abroad is not a thing to be scared or apprehensive about but a thing to try and look forward to doing. Going out of your comfort zone and experiencing a culture that is different from yours shows that you are willing to expand your horizons.
What is your favorite Czech word and why?
Štěstí is my favorite word because it encompasses what I value most in life. Štěstí means happiness in Czech. This is a word that I care for and cherish more than any other emotion. Without happiness, life would be meaningless. So that is why my favorite word is Štěstí.