The Studying Abroad of Being Abroad

A major concern for many people of studying abroad is that going abroad will put them behind on their academic track. People always use the excuse that they will not go abroad because they cannot take any classes that would pertain to their major, and considering I took 18 credits last semester and a summer course, the thought of having to spend an extra semester in college was also terrifying to me. Because now here I am in Prague taking three classes and only one of those will (hopefully) transfer over as a major requirement.

Sometimes I think back to November and try to remember why I chose the classes I did and I still don’t know what drew me to the courses I am currently enrolled in, but I’m happy past me chose what she did. Even though I walked into the first day of my classes realizing I did not even know what the title of the class meant, so far I am learning what I could never learn in the states.

Prime example was the unique lesson plan for my last Urban Semiotics class. We learned about the concept of “flow,” the idea that you can enter this mindset that is the perfect concentration, the perfect balance between difficulty and ease. Instead of just taking notes on it, our professor wanted us to experience this sensation ourselves. So what better way than to take us to her father’s recording studio and have us produce our own music in a state of flow?

Let me just throw it out there that I have absolutely no musical talent, I played the flute in middle school (poorly), and 90% of the class was on the same level as me. Yet here I was, recording in the same studio that Neno and One Republic once did.

So there we were, 15 young people with some percussion instruments, little to no sense of rhythm, and a microphone. And after maybe three attempts, we kind of were able to perform The Beatle’s “Come together.” And at one point, I did feel a harmony between us. I did feel as if I was completely lost in the music, and I realized this is what musical artists must feel all the time, this must be why making music is so special to them.


Before I thought taking classes that would not pertain to anything was the biggest waste of time and money. If it is not going towards your major, why bother? But now I realize it is so important to take elective classes, learning should not just be about the end game of a degree, but of making you as well rounded as possible. Now I’m thinking, why not take a piano class when I return to New Paltz? Why not take some basic foreign language courses? Just because it does not help your major or minor does not mean you will not gain from it.

Anne, English major and Journalism and Environmental Studies minor, is enthused to spend a semester immersed in a different culture. She cannot wait to meet new people, visit new places, and share these experiences with others.

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