As a computer science student at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, I was excited about the opportunity to study abroad at the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague. However, as soon as I landed in the Czech Republic, I was hit with a wave of culture shock. Everything, from the language to the currency, to the food, was different, and I found myself struggling to adapt. Despite the initial difficulty, I was determined to embrace the differences I encountered and make the most of my time abroad.
But after a few weeks, I learned some survival tips that helped me to navigate the challenges of being a computer science student in a foreign country. Here are some of the things that I found most useful:
Even though many people in Prague speak English, it’s helpful to know a few basic phrases in Czech. This will make it easier to get around, buy food, and make friends. Learning about the local culture is also important, and learning about the culture is such a big part of that. In our first culture exchange, we were exposed to the word “Pivo”, which means beer in Czech. We also learned the Czech phrase for “cheers!” which is Na zdraví. This served as a segway into learning about the rich beer culture in the Czech Republic.
Get organised: Classes, homework, and assignments can pile up quickly when you’re studying abroad. I found it helpful to create a schedule or to-do list to stay on top of everything. Creating a routine also gave me more free time to explore the new country I was living in. I was able to easily see what I needed to focus on at any given time and made sure I didn’t miss anything. By structuring my week around a consistent schedule, I was able to make the most out of both my studies and my experiences abroad. With that said, you should always leave some room for unexpected gatherings and events. This way, I was able to both complete my schoolwork and participate in activities and cultural events with new friends. One such experience was when a friend invited me to check out an indie bar with live music during my last week in Prague. Even though I had exams, I had prepped long in advance and was able to make some time to join them. It turned out to be one of my most memorable experiences in Prague.
Making sure you understand how your courses are structured and what is expected of you before you arrive also really helps you manage the stress you might feel. This will help you plan your time and prioritize your coursework. Despite having exams, I was able to join my friends on their trip and it ended up being an unforgettable experience. For example, CTU is more exam-oriented, and understanding how to leverage how I was evaluated in my classes was really important in ensuring I was successful and had the time to do things outside of school.
Studying abroad can be an exciting and rewarding opportunity, but it requires some extra effort to manage your time and stay on top of your coursework. By setting clear goals, creating a schedule, utilizing technology, and taking advantage of study abroad resources, you can study effectively while overseas and make the most of your study abroad experience.