This report was submitted by Maxine P. Atkinson, Richard W. Slatta and Sean Addley.
In August 2016, NC State piloted its first study abroad program aimed an incoming first-year students, FYI (First Year Inquiry) in Prague. A dozen students took up the challenge of Sociology 202 and spent a busy but exhilarating two weeks in Prague and the Czech Republic. We believe the students gained considerable knowledge of Czech culture, improved their intercultural skills, and applied sociological concepts to their experiences in Prague. With appropriate orientation, guidance, and support, first-year students demonstrated they can successfully navigate a study abroad experience. Most impressively, the students showed great maturity and creativity in coping with flight delays both going to and returning from the Czech Republic.
What did students have to say about their experience?
- “We were never made to feel like we were young or immature, we were given actual responsibility in increments that really made it the perfect learning experience for everyone.”
- “I wanted some independence before college to get set in the right mindset before stepping foot on campus.”
- “I think the [river] raft ride to Cesky Krumlov was one of the most valuable activities because of the bonding experience it provided between the students and faculty.”
- “Seeing [Mozart’s] ‘Don Giovanni’ in the original theatre it was performed in [premiered in 1787] is something everyone will remember and feel honored to have been able to experience. Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ was an incredible performance I will never forget.”
- “The activities I found most valuable really showcased Czech culture and allowed us to utilize the skills we were learning in class to observe and understand the people and history.”
In conclusion, we encourage first-year students to embracer such study abroad opportunities. We also encourage faculty to consider offer additional opportunities. Prague and Cesky Krumlov are world heritage cultural sites with incredible resources for study abroad. But other venues around the world could also nurture the transition of first–year students to university life and expectations.
Organizers plan to run the program again in 2017 with a total of three tracks. For more information about FYI in Prague, visit studyabroad.ncsu.edu/fyiprague/.