UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

Prague Updates: What Happens in Cesky, Stays in Cesky

So it’s been a while since my last update. A lot of things have been going on that have distracted me from blogging but now that I’ve got some time to myself – finally! – I feel like I can really get at the details of my life so far.

First of all, we had a class trip to Cesky Krumlov, a small town in the Czech Republic that lies only a few hours away from Prague. We left Friday morning on a bus and only stopped for a short detour at Hluboka castle, which is considered one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful castles.

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After a short tour of the area – in which we learned that the owners of the castle were very much obsessed with hunting and presenting their catches on every available surface – it was only another forty minutes or so until we arrived in the little town of Cesky Krumlov.

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This place was like nothing I had ever seen before. It reminded me of Prague at some points, but at others my surroundings seemed completely alien, more like something out of fairy tale than anything in real life. Apparently that aspect of the town is attractive to a lot of people because the place has become something of a tourist hotspot in the last few years. I was glad to have gotten the opportunity to visit there – and not just that, but to explore the town in its off season when we CET students basically had the town all to ourselves. I had a revelation at the Cesky Krumlov castle that I’m sure wouldn’t have occurred had I been surrounded by impatient tourists that had no time for my antics. We also got to eat a lot of good food and go on tours dedicated solely to our group without worrying about the hustle and bustle of people around us. It was definitely a nice experience that I would totally repeat again for two┬áreasons:

  • Remember that revelation I was talking about? Spoiler alert: Cesky Krumlov castle’s walls are painted with bricks rather than built with bricks with the understanding that people who tour the castle will begin to question reality and look past appearances. Or that’s the philosophy at least. Our tour guide told us this on our last day in Cesky, which came as a surprise to me because I had come to that conclusion the day we arrived and we students began exploring. Realizing how thoroughly the castle’s designer’s philosophy worked on me was amazing and awe-inspiring; I believe that’s an experience that is hard to come across if you’re not in a new place and absorbing its culture and history. The point here is that trips like these are invaluable experiences, both at home and abroad, and we should not only appreciate them when they come but seek them out when possible.

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  • The trip was a bonding experience. The itinerary was very loose, so when we got to Cesky we were given free reign for most of the trip. Except for a scheduled dinner (which, honestly, students probably could have skipped without any serious repercussions), we were given the freedom to explore the city at our own pace. And with this freedom, we naturally ended up getting to know each other more. Groups of students ended up splitting apart and meshing together several times throughout the trip and, as such, I got to meet and talk in depth with many people that I hadn’t really had the opportunity to know before. I can’t even imagine how different my experience of the town would have been if we students had been forced into mandatory tours or seminars or classes or events; I’m sure it would have stifled our natural inclination to talk, mingle, and be ourselves as we got to know a city that was hitherto foreign to us. And I appreciate that almost more than I appreciated my revelation experience in the castle.

I’m sure there are more reasons that I just can’t remember at the moment – and everyone has their own reasons as to why a particular trip had such a deep effect on them – but these are the ones that stuck out to me the most. I love Cesky Krumlov – I’m so glad I went – and I’m really looking forward to the trip to Berlin I’m planning on taking this weekend. Many of the CET students are going this weekend for the Berlin Film Festival, and I’m sure that this trip will be just as fun, meaningful, and impactful as Cesky Krumlov.

But anyway, on to the updates about this week. My real classes have only just started – our official standard schedule came into effect yesterday – and I’m slowly starting to adapt to school life once more. It’s still strange though. I haven’t really had any homework yet – not that I’m complaining! – and the teachers seemed just as confused as I am about what exactly we’re supposed to be doing during our class periods. But I feel that I’m learning through experience, which, I admit, was a little unexpected. From what I’ve heard of these classes, they’re normally lecture based with very little discussion. But in my classes, teachers don’t just tell you the answer. They make you think and come to the conclusion on your own. And as frustrating as that can be sometimes – think about how much time is wasted forcing students to fumble their way into a correct answer rather than just saying it straight out – it’s helped me probably more than I realize. For example, in our Pitching class we’re supposed to pitch movie ideas to our professor and then receive constructive criticism and feedback from him and our peers. But, for the majority of the class, he didn’t tell us what constituted a good pitch or even what a good criticism might look like. It wasn’t until the third day of the class that anybody really provided the type of feedback he was looking for, and when they did he said that’s what he had been waiting for all along. It was frustrating then but now, looking back, I can see already how students have improved. The criticism is more concise and actually addresses the essence of the problem rather than the details and technicalities and I feel that, as students, we understand that instinctively now rather than just know it. And that is information that I’m excited to bring back and apply once I’m back in the US, brainstorming film ideas with my teachers.

So I guess, if there’s any lesson to be learned from this, it’s that the easy path isn’t always the right one. Sometimes the path of resistance will benefit you in ways you never expected.

And of course, have some faith in your teachers – although it’s definitely good to take what they say with a grain of salt; after all, no one’s right all the time.

That’s all I have in the way of updates so far.

Na schledanou!