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Meet the Staff: Eva, Student Affairs Coordinator

Eva Kavalová taking a photo in Český Krumlov with the city in the background

Meet Eva, our Student Affairs and Program Coordinator! Born and raised in Ostrava, Czech Republic’s third-largest city, Eva moved to Prague to study at Charles University French Philology and Media Studies. Keep on reading the full article to find out more about her, her passion for theatre and her own study abroad experience in Paris.

What is your role at NC State Prague?

I am Student Affairs and Program Coordinator. As the title indicates, most of my tasks are related to students. My role is to plan the programs, from the dates to the excursions. I also work closely with students through the visa application process for Fall and Spring. I am the liaison with our main partner Charles University who provides an intensive survival Czech language course for our semester programs. The supervision of our Student Housing assistants is also part of my role, as well as making sure that the residence is working as it should. Once students are in Prague, I help with health and safety emergencies, assist students with miscellaneous requests, go on excursions and much more. I am also really lucky to be part of an awesome team.

What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the balance between working in the office and working with students. It is gratifying to hear students say they genuinely appreciate what we have planned. I am an OCD freak when it comes to text or spreadsheet organization, I enjoy making everything look coherent and aligned. Fortunately, my colleagues are aware of it!

What do you like about working in international education?

My interest in international education started when I went for my study abroad in Paris and even more when I returned home. I felt the need to stay close to the global environment and give back from my life-changing experience abroad. Even after over 6 years working in the field,  I am still excited about getting to know the students, their stories, backgrounds, and witnessing their transformation. Living abroad will change everyone. Sitting in the first row to see how students overcome their fears and struggles is rewarding no matter how long you do it. I also have the chance to see my city and neighborhood from a different perspective. It makes you appreciate the streets and the architecture even more, and it invites you to slow down.

You mentioned you had been to a study abroad program during your university studies. Where did you go? What was the most challenging part?

I’ve always wanted to study abroad, even before going to college. I spent my spring semester of sophomore year in Paris and studied at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle. Even though I genuinely enjoyed my stay, and it might be one of the strongest experiences in my life, many things were quite challenging. Trying to figure out what courses I should take, dealing with the bureaucracy, and making sure all the necessary paperwork was submitted, was overwhelming at times. The dorms were full, so I struggled to find a place to stay. I had to find my own room, which was not cheap, especially in Paris. Nevertheless, despite my rocky beginning, I ended up living with one of my best friends now. I’ve learned that even when it appears that things are not working the way you want, you may find something else during the process that you’ve never expected.

What do you do in your free time?

My family and friends are essential to me. I love spending my free time with them. With my eight friends, we have formed an all-women theater group. We write our own scenarios on what bothers us or what we want to make fun of. From this, a show is set up with famous pop songs and our own lyrics. We are not professionals, but we love to perform. We invite our friends and fans to make them laugh. Not only is it a great outlet of energy and creativity, but I get to see my friends often, and that’s the best part. But don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy being by myself, reading a book, or binge-watching some new Netflix series :).

What is your favorite place in Prague?

This is a challenging question. I love living in Prague. I am originally from Ostrava, a city in the east of the Czech Republic and even after more than 12 years in Prague, I am still exploring new spots. What I love about Prague are all the hidden passages that lead from one street to another. Taking them is somehow always magical and saves you time. In my neighborhood, I like the Jiřího z Poděbrad area (or JZP how our students call it :)). You find many restaurants, cafés, bars, parks, and farmers’ markets for most days of the week. I have to mention my favorite ice cream place, Creme de la Creme! There is nothing more refreshing in the summer than having a big scoop of your favorite flavor! 

What is your proudest moment at NC State Prague?

What comes to mind is handling the Covid-19 pandemic hitting our Spring students in March 2020. Students had 24 hours to leave Europe. Students were distressed, and our priority was to reassure them and find solutions quickly. It was a very stressful time, but our team worked together in tandem with the Raleigh office 24/7 to provide the best assistance.

Have you ever been to Raleigh or in the US?

I was lucky to travel to Raleigh just before the pandemic, in February 2020. This was my first time in the US and I enjoyed meeting my US colleagues. It was a little culture shock as Raleigh, and the US, in general, is definitely different than Europe and the Czech Republic. It was quite similar to what our students are experiencing when studying abroad and it worked as a great reminder to be patient when dealing with them. 

If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I love summertime, so I would have to say WATERMELON. I am obsessed with fresh, crunchy, juicy watermelon and I could eat it all day long 😀