Li Man Yee, Candie
Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic
The first week started with a series of orientation activities nonstop every day from pub event to city discover games with Czech and other exchange students. Czech Republic is famous for its reasonably priced draft beer. Every checkpoint is near some beer pubs in the discover game we played during the orientation. And what’s more? The first word I learnt from Czech students and teachers is “Pivo”, which means beer in Czech!
The first week of class started and the temperature was freezing. We went on a site visit to the border of Czech Republic as part of our studio course. Not only did we create our own fun on the frozen lake, but the local government were really nice. They explained the local history and development of the towns in the area and invited us, both exchange and local students, to participate in the architectural design of the proposed areas.
After meeting people from the parties and trips organised by the international student club at school, my friends and I organised our own activities! Just before the official start of the semester, we hosted a few parties at both our own flats and in a house rented on Airbnb. We learned and played games from different countries and shared a lot of good food. Some of us also went to a beautiful town near Prague called Mělník on the weekend. I am really enjoying learning more and more about this bohemian country!
Class schedules are all set and a steady amount of assignments are now being handed out on the courses. Most of them are intended to be fun and experimental, at least that’s what our tutors say... But don’t think that having fun means you’re not learning. In fact, we have more interaction between the students and professors, more outdoor activities, and there are a lot more creative thinking opportunities. I’ve really learnt a great deal through hands-on experience. For example, I recently built a landscape model with my group mates, where we chose our own materials and how it was to be designed. Then we took measurements and performed water-based experiments using it. Everyone else in the class was curious about the other people’s models and experiments. Overall, it was a really memorable experience.
Of all the activities organized by the international student club here – from the purely entertaining to those that are study-related – I most enjoy the ones I have not done before. I also love learning the language here. For example, it has been my first time watching live ice hockey and taking part in a beer drinking competition. If I ever want to have fun, I simply take part in one of their events, and there are so many of them. All you need to worry about is whether you have the time, because there are just so many things to do: travelling, parties, having a good time with friends, and of course, assignments and quizzes. I enrolled in a Czech language course and it is one of the best experiences I have had. I get to learn about Czech culture, and I am becoming more and more confident speaking to the locals. I even learnt a traditional song.
When mid-semester came around, instead of mid-term quizzes and assignments, my studio class went on an intense working trip to a traditional bohemian house in a small remote town. Though it was called ‘intensive’, it was actually pretty relaxing and flexible. We woke up at whatever time we wanted and the amount of time we put into studio projects was totally up to us. In the end, each of us had to give a presentation but there were no specific guidelines. At first, the other exchange students and I were quite confused. But as it turned out, it was actually quite good having such a high degree of flexibility. The idea of the trip was to let us completely focus on our studio project and at the same time enjoy a nice weekend together. I got to know my classmates better and we had a nice time in the evenings. Our tutors invited us to a pub and to build a fire for a barbeque. We all met up and went to a nearby forest to collect firewood. At the barbeque I ended up learning a new recipe from one of my tutors. It really felt as though there was no generation gap between the students and tutors because most of the time we talked as friends and colleagues. This was quite a surprise to me as I realized how different this is to my studio back at CityU.