Special Nature of the Summer Semester
Although the Summer Semester in Prague Program contains all of the elements in the fall or Spring Semester in Prague Program (with the exception of the elective courses), the Summer Semester Program is quite a different experience than the full-semester stay. To be true to the goals and principles of intercultural studies as we understand them, we decided to craft an intensive program in which the traditional boundaries between the in-class instruction and exploration on one’s own are blurred – and eventually almost non-existent. In the words of one participant,
“Classes I took put into context everything you see and experience here.”
John Paul O’Hare
Such an experience does not come without some sacrifice: there is just so much time and everyone must learn to budget it – if they want to do well at school, enjoy trips and still have some free time to relax. The first four days are spent in orientation: students attend introductory historical lectures followed by afternoon tours of Prague. After they familiarize themselves with the new environment, students spend a great part of 3 days learning the useful phrases in Czech language. Then the regular classes begin. They meet 4 days a week, 3 hours per day, and students spend about the same time doing their assignments. Each weekend there is a guided day trip. Fortunately, days are very long at this time of year in Central Europe – the light lasts from 5 am to 9 pm. If well organized, students have up to 6 hours of daylight for relaxation.
The role of the core course instructors is to keep students focused and as much at ease in an unfamiliar environment as possible. They accompany students during their excursions and help them to make sense out of their everyday experience.
The intensity and necessary compression of the summer semester program are challenging. However, we have seen time and again that committed students get caught up in the whirlwind of the program, and when they are released from it, they wonder in disbelief at the extent of their experience. Six weeks seem like 3 months. One of our students summarized her feeling most pointedly:
“This program offers everything; it has to exceed your expectations. Exert the same effort and you will earn an exciting, humbling story to write home.”
So not only are we looking for students in good academic standing – we are looking for students who have the self-discipline and positive energy to rise to the occasion, as well as the commitment it takes to get the best out of this very rich program.