Czech Republic

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First rule: There are no rules. These resources are completely free and at your disposal. Use as much, or as little, as you want. Study casually, or work to create a portfolio of academic work that will blow the socks off of the educational establishment.

Feel free to adapt the materials for your own purposes. We expect families, business people, backpackers, college students, high school kids, middle aged vacationers, and retirees who are on a late life adventure to take these materials and run with them. We’d be very happy for teachers or travel group leaders to add these materials to their study abroad packets as well.

The nature of open source is collaboration, so please feel free to contribute when you become aware of resources we haven’t listed, or you have project ideas that we haven’t developed. Send us your work and inspire others to reach higher and deeper as they travel!

Our goal with this project is to inspire adventure and further education through experiential learning around the world. Please send us a note and let us know how you used these resources!

Buffet Style Learning

Does the menu look overwhelming? Looking for a formula to use as a skeleton for your studies in the Czech Republic?

Choose:

  • Two books
  • Two films
  • Three articles
  • One Problem & Solution or Project Option
  • One Cultural Assignment

Table of Contents

Book Recommendations

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czechlaughterThe Book of Laughter and Forgetting

by Milan Kundera

A novel set during the Prague Spring in 1968, when disaffected teachers, writers, and historians, believing that freedom from communism’s bone-crushing anti-intellectualism was within reach, were seduced into tipping their hands, only to be crushed by the Russian invasion that followed in August. Tens of thousands emigrated, while hundreds of thousands were banished from their positions of power and influence. Many went to jail.
 
 
 
 
 
 

czechcowardscopyThe Cowards

by Josef Skvorecky
Girls, jazz, politics, the golden dreams and black comedy of youth–these are the compelling ingredients of The Cowards.

May 1945, a small town in Czechoslovakia. The Germans are withdrawing. The Red Army is advancing. And Danny Smiricky is being forced to grow up fast. Observing with contempt the antics of the town’s citizens playing it safe, he adopts the role first of reluctant conscript, then of dashing partisan.

The Cowards is the story of an uncomplicated, talented youth caught up in momentous historic events who refuses to be bored to death by politics–or to lie down and die without a fight.

czech-silverCity Sister Silver

by Jáchym Topol

Winner of the Egon Hostovský Prize as the best Czech book of the year, this epic novel powerfully captures the sense of dislocation that followed the Czechs’ newfound freedom in 1989.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

czech-hhhhHHhH: “Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich”

by Laurent Binet

Or, “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich.” The most lethal man in Hitler’s cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich seemed indestructible―until two exiled operatives, a Slovak and a Czech, killed him and changed the course of history.The story follows Jozef Gabcík and Jan Kubiš from their dramatic escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to their fatal attack on Heydrich and their own brutal deaths in the basement of a Prague church. HHhH is a fast-paced novel of the Second World War that is also a profound meditation on the debt we owe to history.
 
 
 
 
 

czech-aliceAlice’s Piano

by Melissa Müller

How music provided hope in one of the world’s darkest times―the inspirational life story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest living Holocaust survivor. Alice Herz-Sommer was born in Prague in 1903. A talented pianist from a very early age, she became famous throughout Europe; but, as the Nazis rose to power, her world crumbled. In 1942, her mother was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and vanished. In 1943, Alice, her husband and their six-year-old son were sent there, too. In the midst of horror, music, especially Chopin’s Etudes, was Alice’s salvation and gave her fellow prisoners hope in a time of suffering.

 

czech-crazyMy Crazy Century – A Memoir

by Ivan Klíma
An autobiography, spanning six decades that included war, totalitarianism, censorship, and the fight for democracy. Klíma’s revelatory account provides a profoundly rich personal and national history.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

czech-winterPrague Winter

by Madeline Albright

A Personal Story of Remembrance and War (1937-1948) A moving story of the life of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Czechoslovakia during the tumult of Nazi occupation, World War II, fascism, and the onset of the Cold War.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

czech-cakesThe Twelve Little Cakes

by Dominika Dery

Memoirs of a young girl, born in 1975 in Prague, the daughter of former dissidents of the failed Prague Spring in (then) Czechoslovakia. Her village, outside Prague was riddled with Communist informers ever-ready to implicate her father, a sometime taxi driver, and her mother, who ghost-wrote books for the Czech Politburo, in anti-Socialist acts. Dery’s maternal grandmother was a powerful member of the Communist elite, her grandfather a famed surgeon.
 
 
 
 
 

czech-starUnder a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague, 1941–1968

by Heda Margolius Kovaly

A clear-eyed memoir recounts a Czechoslovakian’s fate under the Nazis and then during the Stalin regime.

Heda Margolius Kovaly’s steady gaze at the lives caught up in Czechoslovakia’s tragic fate under the Nazis and then during the Stalin era illuminates the chaotic life of a nation. Kovaly was deported to concentration camps, escaped from a death march, nearly starved in the post-war years, only to be shattered by her husband’s conviction (in the infamous 1952 Slansky trial) and his execution. Resonant with lyricism, this gripping memoir is uplifting even in the midst of horror.
 

czech-ditaDita Saxova

by Arnost Lustig

Dita Saxova is an eighteen-year-old concentration camp survivor trying to start a new life in postwar Prague. Living in a special hostel for orphans from the camps, too old to be cared for parentally, too young to be fully adult, too soaked in reality to harbor many illusions, Dita struggles to reconcile struggles to reconcile her unfathomable past with her enigmatic future. First published in Czech in 1962, then in English in 1979, Dita Saxova confirms Arnost Lustig’s place as one of the masterful storytellers of the Holocaust period.

 
 
 
 

czech-kingI Served the King of England

by Bohumil Hrabal

In a comic masterpiece following the misadventures of a simple but hugely ambitious waiter in pre-World War II Prague, who rises to wealth only to lose everything with the onset of Communism, Bohumil Hrabal takes us on a tremendously funny and satirical trip through 20th-century Czechoslovakia.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

czech-metamorphosisThe Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis” (original German title: “Die Verwandlung”) is a short novel by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into an insect.

 
 
 
 
 

czech-readerThe Czech Reader: History, Culture, Politics

by Jan Bazant

The Czech Reader brings together more than 150 primary texts and illustrations to convey the dramatic history of the Czechs, from the emergence of the Czech state in the tenth century, through the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and the Czech Republic in 1993, into the twenty-first century. The Czechs have preserved their language, traditions, and customs, despite their incorporation into the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Third Reich, and the Eastern Bloc.
 
 
 
 

czech-dreamsDreams of a Great Small Nation: The Mutinous Army that Threatened a Revolution, Destroyed an Empire, Founded a Republic, and Remade the Map of Europe

by Kevin J McNamara

In 1917, two empires that had dominated much of Europe and Asia teetered on the edge of the abyss, exhausted by the ruinous cost in blood and treasure of the First World War. As Imperial Russia and Habsburg-ruled Austria-Hungary began to succumb, a small group of Czech and Slovak combat veterans stranded in Siberia saw an opportunity to realize their long-held dream of independence.

While their plan was audacious and complex, and involved moving their 50,000-strong army by land and sea across three-quarters of the earth’s expanse, their commitment to fight for the Allies on the Western Front riveted the attention of Allied London, Paris, and Washington.

On their journey across Siberia, a brawl erupted at a remote Trans-Siberian rail station that sparked a wholesale rebellion. The marauding Czecho-Slovak Legion seized control of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and with it Siberia. In the end, this small band of POWs and deserters, whose strength was seen by Leon Trotsky as the chief threat to Soviet rule, helped destroy the Austro-Hungarian Empire and found Czecho-Slovakia.

czech-havelHavel: A Life

by Michael Zantovsky

Václav Havel was one of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century: iconoclast and intellectual, renowned playwright turned political dissident, president of a united then divided nation, and dedicated human rights activist. Written by Michael Zantovsky—Havel’s former press secretary, advisor, and longtime friend—Havel: A Life presents a revelatory portrait of this giant among men and the turbulent times through which he prevailed.

Havel’s lifelong perspective as an outsider began with his privileged childhood in Prague and his family’s blacklisted status following the Communist coup of 1948. This feeling of being outcast fueled his career as an essayist and dramatist, writing absurdist plays as social commentary. His involvement during the Prague Spring and his leadership of Charter 77, his unflagging belief in the power of the powerless, and his galvanizing personality catapulted Havel into a pivotal role as the leader of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Although Havel was a courageous visionary, he was also a man of great contradictions, wracked with doubt and self-criticism. But he always remained true to himself. Over the next thirteen years, he continued to break through international barriers as the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic.

czech-mariaBeyond the Chestnut Trees

by Maria Bauer

This absorbing and evocative memoir received warm praise from readers and reviewers alike upon its hardcover publication. It is impossible not to be moved and transported back in time by this masterfully written reminiscence of a woman who returns to Prague, the city of her youth, after a forty year absence.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

bloodletterThe Blood Letter’s Daughter

by Linda Lafferty

Within the glittering Hapsburg court in Prague lurks a darkness that no one dares mention…

In 1606, the city of Prague shines as a golden mecca of art and culture carefully cultivated by Emperor Rudolf II. But the emperor hides an ugly secret: His bastard son, Don Julius, is afflicted with a madness that pushes the young prince to unspeakable depravity. Desperate to stem his son’s growing number of scandals, the emperor exiles Don Julius to a remote corner of Bohemia, where the young man is placed in the care of a bloodletter named Pichler. The bloodletter’s task: cure Don Julius of his madness by purging the vicious humors coursing through his veins.

When Pichler brings his daughter Marketa to assist him, she becomes the object of Don Julius’s frenzied–and dangerous–obsession. To him, she embodies the women pictured in the Coded Book of Wonder, a priceless manuscript from the imperial library that was his only link to sanity. As the prince descends further into the darkness of his mind, his acts become ever more desperate, as Marketa, both frightened and fascinated, can’t stay away.

Inspired by a real-life murder that threatened to topple the powerful Hapsburg dynasty, The Bloodletter’s Daughter is a dark and richly detailed saga of passion and revenge.

czech-poemsI Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944

by Hana Volavkova

Fifteen thousand children under the age of fifteen passed through the Terezin Concentration Camp. Fewer than 100 survived. In these poems and pictures drawn by the young inmates, we see the daily misery of these uprooted children, as well as their hopes and fears, their courage and optimism. 60 color illustrations.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Kids Book Recommendations

czech-hanaHana’s Suitcase

by Karen Levine

In March 2000, Fumiko Ishioka, the curator of a small Holocaust education center in Tokyo, received an empty suitcase from the museum at Auschwitz. On the outside, in white paint, were the words “Hana Brady, May 16, 1931, Orphan.”

Fumiko and the children at the center were determined to find out who Hana was and what happened to her all those years ago, leading them to a startling and emotional discovery.

The dual narrative intertwines Fumiko’s international journey to find the truth about Hana Brady’s fate with Hana’s own compelling story of her life in a quiet Czech town, which is shattered by the arrival of the Nazis, tearing apart the family she loves. This suspense-filled work of investigative nonfiction draws in young readers and makes them active participants in the search for Hana’s identity.

Film Recommendations

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Prague Chronicles – The Biography of King Charles the IV

 


 
A well done student project, a short film telling the story of the life of King Charles the IV.
 

The Lost World of Communism – The Kingdom of Forgetting

 


 
Stories of life behind the Iron Curtain. In Communist Czechoslovakia, attempts to reform communism were crushed by Warsaw Pact allies in 1968.
 

Goat’s Story

 


 
Fun animated movie for all ages about legend’s of old Prague. It is a story of a young village boy who arrives in medieval Prague with his goat and befriends a streetwise girl who lives there. Exemplifies quirky, dark, Czech humor to tell the grim story of the building of the famous astronomical clock.
 

Lost in Munich

 


 
Comedic story of a 90 year old gray parrot comes to Prague to give his “account” of the past events. The parrot is kidnapped by a Czech journalist who has him publicly say some really controversial statements, causing a diplomatic scandal. The French then decide to assassinate their own national hero….And that’s only the half of the story.
 

Anthropoid

 


 
Based on the extraordinary true story of Operation Anthropoid, the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler.
 

Amadeus

 


 
The story of Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart told by his rival composer. The movie itself was shot in Prague where very few new sets had to be built, as the scenes and buildings they found were quite appropriate to their needs.
 

The Ear

 


 
A movie following the experience of a communist official realizing he and his wife are bugged and that the “ear” of the government is listening to him. He begins to fear his life.
 

Kolya

 


 
Story of a concert cellist in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia, who has lost his place in the state orchestra, and must make ends meet by playing at funerals and painting tombstones.
 

All My Loved Ones

 


 
This film tells the story of the family of one of the children saved from the Nazis by Nicholas Winton, a young Englishman.
 

Burning Bush

 


 
The year is 1969. Russian troops invaded Czechoslovakia the year prior to stop a threatened push toward socialist reform, courtesy of Communist Secretary Alexander Dubcek. In protest, a student called Jan Palach took to the streets, doused himself in gasoline and lit a match.

“Burning Bush” examines the aftermath of this event in three parts, each with its own generic shape.
 

Larks on a String

 


 
Set in the late 1940s, the film concerns the treatment of suspect “bourgeois elements”, a professor, a saxophonist, and a milkman, who are put to work in a junkyard for rehabilitation.
 

Article Recommendations

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Czech’s Response to Refugee Crisis -Reuters

How to Curb Illegal Migration -Prague Monitor

Socialism Realised: This website offers not only a peek at what life was like in socialist Czech Republic, but a whole study plan, with perspectives, history, and content.

Czech EU Relations– Prague Montior

Interview About 1868 Invasion -Prague Monitor

Discrimination against Roma People – Amnesty.org

Websites or Apps for the Czech Republic

Use this app to learn the history and sights as you walk through Prague.

Project Options:

czech-vineyard
Research and write about an aspect of the history

Throughout history, Czech lands have changed hands many times and been known as a variety of names, including “The Lands of the Bohemian Crown, the Kingdom of Bohemia” (Bohemia is a Latin term for Cechy). It has been an independent state within the Holy Roman Empire and later part of the Austrian Empire. After the fall of the Empire, the First Czechoslovak Republic was formed and Bohemia referred to the core region of this land and eventually to separate from Slovakia and become the Czech Republic it is today.

Ancient Times

Early modern humans and archeology in Czech lands (near Brno there is an archeological site called Predmosti that holds the oldest known ceramic items in the world mammoth fossils and cro-magnon skulls)

Visit this site and write about these artifacts and pre-history in this area.

Celtic Tribes

Around 300 BC the Celts settled in Bohemia and begin to settle land around Vlatva River – visit and follow routes suggested in and around Prague where Celtic settlers lived.

What was life was like for these people?

The Slavs

Between 800-1200 CE the Slavs crossed Carpathian Mountains into Czech and begin to set up a kingdom. Bohemia becomes part of Holy Roman empire. Slavs slowly become more organized and form Great Moravian Empire encompassing Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary and parts of Poland. Area becomes a Christian organization. Prague begins to be formed.  Construction of castle, bridge and different sections of town are settled.

Who were the Slavs and why did they come? Study the Christian influx and the ways in which this centralized the empire.

Architecture

Study different types of architecture and visit these sites around the city. Which buildings were influenced by and built during different times of history. The Story of Prague is the story of architecture”

Investigate the construction of the castle or the Charles Bridge and it’s history. Tell some of the lesser known stories of intrigue or interest to you

Charles the IV & the Golden Age

1346-1376 – Charles IV becomes king in 1346 and later Holy Roman emperor. Charles IV is very revered and celebrated in Czech as he began Prague’s Golden Age. He wanted to make Prague a glorious city succeeded in transforming Prague into a bustling capital of the Holy Roman Empire with some of the most important and beautiful architecture of its day. He commissioned construction of St Vitus Cathedral at Prague castle and St Charles Bridge and Charles University, the first higher education institution in Europe.

Study the life of Charles IV and how he was able to be such a successful leader and have so much positive influence in Czech.

Religious Reform

In the 1400’s, Jan Hus launches crusade for religious reform and eventually burned at the stake by German Catholics, which started decades of religious warfare. Roman Catholic councilors were thrown from a window, The First Defenestration, first of several more defenestrations. Radical Hussites finally defeated ending religious warfare.

Study religion’s influence on Czech culture and how it has changed.

Defenestrations

Study the terrible “defenestrations” people thrown from windows and their causes and effects. These happened more than once in Czech history. Second Defenestration, in the 1600s helped ignite 30 Year War. Praguers defend the city against the Swedes on the Charles Bridge.

Hapsburg Empire

In the 1500’s, Roman Catholic Hapsburgs gain control of Bohemia. Examine their reign, and the major accomplishments and influences of the Hapsburgs.

The Industrial Revolution

In the 1700-1800’s, Prague and other Czech cities are united. National Museum built, horse drawn trams operate in the city, Industrial Revolution brings people from villages into the city. The National Theater was built as monument to fight against Austro/Hungarian rule.

What were the major benchmarks of the Industrial Revolution in Czech and the rest of Europe in general?

Czechoslovakia

1918 saw Czechoslovakia formed at the end of World War I after fall of Austro/Hungarian Empire. Thsi was the blending of two people groups. Examine the pros and cons of this alliance, as well as the similarities and differences between the Czech and the Slovakian people.

The Munich Agreement

Between 1938-1945, the Munich Agreement is made. Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain meet to cede Czech borders to Hitler. 1939, Hitler absorbs the rest of Czech lands as a protectorate. Puppet Slovak Republic formed. During World War II, more than 130,000 Czechs murdered. In 1942, Nazi protectorate leader Reinhard Heydrich assassinated by Prague soldiers. Hitler retaliates by destroying nearby village of Lidice.

Visit sites involved in Nazi occupation and learn about Czech involvement in World War II. Tell some of the stories of the Czech people as a result of what you learn. What was Nazi occupation like for locals? Why was Prague, largely, spared the destruction that so many other capital cities suffered?

Liberation and Communist Invasion

Between 1945 and 1989, the American army liberates Western Bohemia and Soviet army liberates Prague. 2.5 million Germans expelled. Czechoslovakia became a communist-ruled state in 1948. Dissatisfaction with the communist regime resulted in troops from neighboring communist countries invading in 1968 and remaining until the peaceful 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed.

Study communism’s effect on current life and culture in Czech Republic. Go deep. Look for daily life stories. Visit the smaller towns of Czech and look for clues that still echo the communist regime and infrastructure. Talk to locals and ask questions about what it was like to grow up in a communist state.

Examine the Velvet Revolution How were the Czech people able to successfully and peacefully overthrow their communist government? What has the revolution meant over the longer haul? Whatis life like now, more than twenty five years later?

Post-Communist Reconstruction

Between 1990-1993, free elections are held and country begins massive program of privatizing shares of companies. 1993, country splits into independent Czech and Slovak states, “The Velvet Divorce.” President Havel accepts new 5 year term as president.

What did the new Czech government do well in the privatization of business following the rejection of communism? What did not go well? Are there things that the Czech is still struggling with today as a result?

Joining OECD, NATO & the EU

Between 1995 – 2004 – Czech joins OECD, NATO, still discussing joining European Union. Prague named one of Europe’s Cities of Culture, hosts IMF/World Bank meetings and western military alliance annual summit at Prague Castle. In 2004 the Czech Republic joined the EU.

If you don’t know what OECD, NATO or the EU are, find out. Why were these organizations formed? What role have they played historically? What role do they play now?

What are the implications, the pros and cons of joining European Union? How has this affected the Czech economy and daily life?

Using the Czech National Library

It is possible to Use the Czech National Library for research. Using their Research-in-Depth Service The library will prepare a bibliography on any subject pertaining to the Czech Republic, its history, language, literature, art, music, science, etc. to your specification. Search resources available in the National Library collections whether in electronic or printed form. This is a paid for service.

Art of the Czech Republic

Choose an artist or theme from the history of Czech art to study and produce a project. Use this article on Mapping the 20th Century: A Journey Through Czech Art as a springboard for inspiration.  

Suggestions:

  • Take an art class in Prague or Brno
  • Create a photography project around a particular artist or art form
  • Study architecture as art
  • Examine Absinthe labels as modern art
  • Collect images of doors and door knobs through Czech history
  • Take a look at how art changed under the various rules, include the Bohemian golden age, the Nazi occupation and communist rule. In what ways has art prevailed or is it experiencing renewal?
  • Study Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) a famous Czech painter and decorative artist known for his art nouveau posters and his large canvases named The Slav Epic, which represent the history of Czechs and Slavic’s.

Bohemia

What does the term Bohemia mean, how has it changed, and is there still a “Bohemian” inspired life in Czech today?

Absinthe

Absinthe is a controversial drink containing the poisonous wormwood. It’s got a long and storied history, both in it’s production and consumption. It is credited with great inspiration and also tragedy. Absinthe has been banned in it’s original form in many countries. Nicknamed “the green fairy” it’s impossible not to encounter the Absinthe bars in Prague. Learn about the history of this fascinating beverage. Visit an Absinthe bar and experience it’s current preparation and culture. What is the allure of this particular drink, do you think? Study the art, history and culture that surround it’s consumption.

King Wenceslas

King Wenceslas, of Christmas hymn fame, was a Czech King and lived in the palace in Prague. Research the story of his life and his untimely death. A visit to the castle with an eye for this detail will reveal a few of the secrets. Do you think he was “good” as the song indicates? Who was he really, and what was he known for?

Profiles of …..

Conduct a series of at least five interviews within a country. The point of the exercise would be to get a well rounded view of what it is like to live in the France from a variety of ages, incomes, employments and experiences. This could be conducted as video, or as text. Do an in depth analysis of the experience/information.

People you might profile:

  • Farmers
  • Teachers
  • Restaurant owners/workers
  • Clergy or Nuns
  • Government officials
  • Doctors or nurses
  • Cafe owners
  • Street vendors
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Drivers
  • Artists or musicians
  • Laborers
  • Cab drivers
  • Long term expats

Problems & Solutions

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Racism

Throughout Eastern Europe, discrimination has been a bi-product of revolution; with Romanies (gypsies) and Jews the target. Skinheads (racist groups) have been largely weeded out by the government but the problem still exists and many Romas have fled for Canada, Britain, Sweden, and Finland.

Read about the systematic discrimination against Romani children in schools.

While you are in the Czech watch for signs of these cultural divisions. Is there validity to the sentiments? What is being done to integrate or segregate the societies? What are the difficulties faced by minority groups? What can we learn from their difficulties? How is the Czech seeking to ameliorate the situation? Is racism on the rise or in decline?

Migration & Immigration Issues

Following the 1993 split between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, migration became a significant issue for the country as it sought to increase population of the fledgling country through legal immigration. Once the Czech joined the EU it quickly became a transfer country, where immigrants from further east could enter the EU and move west. Many stayed in the Czech and illegal immigration and workers continue to be a problem.

Consider the border countries of the EU, including the Czech Republic and the immigration issues faced by the organizations of countries. What do you think about the immigration issues within the EU and the Czech Republic? What can you learn about the root causes and the initiatives to stem it? Are there other countries that are doing a better job than the Czech?

Is there anything that can be learned from the Czech approach. In what ways is illegal immigration damaging the country? In what ways may it be helping?

Cultural Assignment Options

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Study the Language

It is often said, in partial jest, that the Czech’s primary weapon against invading countries is their language. It’s hard to master, but there is no reason that you can’t learn the basics. it will open up a world of possibilities that you won’t have without at least a little Czech under your belt. There is no shortage of language schools to choose from in Prague and around Czech Republic, a few are as follows.

Charles University, in Prague

Akcent International House, Prague

Language School Mayo

Jipka Language Schools

Sample the Foods

Unique Czech dishes include roast pork with bread dumplings and stewed cabbage, roast beef with steamed dumplings and creamy vegetable sauce, roast duck with dumplings and red cabbage, and potato pancakes. Fish is rare, except at Christmas when carp is served. Do not miss the svikova!

Make a point of sampling as many new foods as you can. Perhaps a video project of every new food you try, or how they are prepared, or a virtual trip through a grocery store would be a fun way to document your culinary adventures.

Beer

Beer has been brewed in the Czech Republic since the year 1118, the country has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. You’ll see hops growing all over the countryside and find tiny breweries in almost every little town. The one in Cerna Hora is particularly quaint and worth a visit. Their beer can be bought for about thirty cents a bottle, countrywide.

If you are interested in origins and craft brewing then a trip to Ceske Budejovice is in order to discover the place where the Budweiser style of beer got it’s start.

Learn about the process of brewing beer. Study the history and culture of beer in Europe and in the Czech specifically. Document as many different local microbreweries as possible and delve into the peculiarities of each. You will find the Czech’s passionate about their beer.

Meaningful Connections

What is a meaningful interaction? You get to decide that. In general, it should be an interaction in which cultural exchange took place and you learned something. Often this will be with a local person; sometimes it will be with another traveler.

Sometimes these interactions look like very little on the outside but are totally life changing on the inside. Other times, they are rock your world amazing from every angle. It could be a meal shared, an afternoon’s excursion, a discussion that opens your eyes in some way, a self revelation that happened without any words exchanged at all.

Spend a day with a local individual or family. Document your experience in photos, interviews and the written word. The best way to interact with locals is to just start chatting with them at markets, on tours or on the street. You can also ask other travelers if they have met anyone who has offered some insight into life in the country. If you are a family who have children attending a local school then have a party, invite a parent to coffee, basically just open up your home to new relationships.

Take a Class

There are many options! Don’t be limited by this list:

Museum Visits

Prague has some great museums and there are numerous others dotted across the country to discover, depending on where your travels take you.

In my opinion, the ten best that are not to be missed include:

Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to get to know a local community and give back a bit to the places that you choose to travel. There are lots of ways to do this, both organized and arranged privately, as well as impromptu opportunities that will pop up.

If you’re looking for a list of volunteer opportunities in the Czech Republic, volunteer in Europe has one; so does GoAbroad. Also check out this article on volunteering in the Czech Republic. Please be advised that TAP is not recommending these, only presenting them as a list of possibilities. Vet your volunteer options carefully.

Take photos of work, or get documentation from project leader. Preferably this is more than a one day.

Live Local

Get out of the hostel, rent a place in a local village, or do a homestay. Through websites like Airbnb it’s easy to find places to live locally. Have a look at Czech Homestays for local options.

Photo essay or a blog description of why living local was different than living in a hostel. How did this experience change the economics of your stay? What did you learn about the way locals live? What challenged you? What would you do differently next time?

Work Stay

Through an organization like WWOOF, HelpX, or Workaway you can arrange for an opportunity to work in exchange for your room and board in a number of capacities, from farm labour to hospitality. Lots of students make use of these experiences to lower the cost of their travels, while at the same time learning valuable skills or “trying out” various career areas that interest them.

Request feedback in the form of a short evaluation that can be used later for a CV or reference

Public Transportation Project

Take as many types of public transportation as possible.

Challenge yourself to take every type of public transportation available while you are in Czech Republic. Create a photo essay or videologue of your adventures. What did you learn?

For information on Prague’s public transportation check out My Czech Republic’s website. The transport schedule can be found here.

Attend a Religious Observance

Along with Estonia, the Czech Republic has been known to have the least religion factors in the world. 2001 census says that around 59% population of the country includes agnostic, atheist, or non-believer. Roman Catholics were about 26.8% of the population; and Protestants were around 2.5% of the total population of the Czech Republic. Moreover, Czechs do not really focus on religious matters, in fact, the census also showed that the fastest growing religion between 1991 and 2001 was the non-religious by about 19.1%. Read more about the History of Religion in Czech Republic and Religious and Cultural Traditions. Look for services to attend through the Prague Community Religious Services Guide.

How to Create Your Own Course Work

czech-cesky

Ask

Learn to ask for what you want. If you meet someone interesting, ask them to teach you. Ask them for an interview. Ask to shadow them for a day or a week. You’ll be surprised at how eager people are to share what they know and teach when someone shows actual interest. Learn to ask questions. Learn to take social risks by putting yourself out there as a learner.

Plan

You have an idea or an interest. Something surprises you on your journey and all of a sudden you have a burning desire to know more. Plan your attack:

  • Narrow your field of study to a particular question or topic.
  • Compile resources: Look for teachers. Who knows what you need to know? Or who can you interview to learn more? Are there books or videos on the topic you’re interested in?
  • Quantify it. How will you demonstrate what you have learned? A research paper, a video project, a photo essay, through art or music, a blog post, a published piece, an interview series, a mini documentary or do you have some other idea?

Produce

Produce a quality piece of academic work that reflects your experiential learning. The whole key to quantifying outside the box learning is to translate it into something that reflects the value of what you learned and how it contributed to your overall educational process.

Perhaps this will be as simple as a traditional research paper, depending on the depth and length of your study this could be as short as three pages or as long as a dissertation. Maybe you’ll produce a video for YouTube, or something grander, like a mini-documentary. Perhaps you’ll do something concrete instead, an art, or community action project and you’ll tell the story through a photo essay, or a series of blog posts. The possibilities are limited only by the resources you have at hand. Get creative. Think outside the box and truly experience your education.

 

Do You Have Anything to Add to This Resource Page?

We’re actively seeking to grow these resources in an open-source spirit. Please email jenn(at)bootsnall(dot)com with your edits or submissions of new information or materials.

Thank you!

Katie BarnesMy name is Katie Barnes. I have been living in Prague, Czech Republic with my husband and 3 kids for the two years, first moving here in December, 2011. We also went nomadic for a year travelling around Europe, and then lived with a home base in Spain for 2 years before deciding to move back to Prague in Oct 2015. We love this city and the country for its beauty, many things to do, and great cost of living. We also love the central location of Czech Republic, as it is centrally located and makes travel around Europe easy. We are taking a bit of a break from travel and enjoying life in Prague, while we are saving money for the next big adventure, buying a boat and sailing the Mediterranean. Follow Katie at Prague World Schooling or Pursuit of Wonder

Photo Credit: Karel Gallas / Shutterstock.com