I’ve known that I wanted to study abroad since I was a kid. I’ve always been interested in travelling, but the experience of living in a foreign country as a student is a once in a lifetime experience. I chose Prague due to its central location in Europe, making it quite easy to travel around the region. Also, because it is not in the eurozone, the Czech Republic is a more affordable country than other popular European countries. During my time in Prague, I was surrounded by other international students, allowing me to form strong connections with people that I would never have the opportunity of meeting if I weren’t here. Due to the global health crisis, there was a much smaller number of American students studying abroad, which really incentivized me to leave my comfort zone and involve myself in diverse, very international social circles. I am interested in working in an international business environment in the future; I am immensely grateful for the connections I have made during my time abroad, and look forward to strengthening them in both personal and professional realms.

There were a few unexpected changes in my semester abroad due to the unpredictable impacts of COVID. For example, three days before in-person classes were scheduled to commence, it was announced that classes would be moved to an online format for the semester. While I was not originally excited to hear this, I was able to travel for longer periods of time than I would have been able to had classes been in-person. I spent two weeks traveling around Austria and Poland, as well as 10 days under the warm sun in Croatia (a nice taste of the Texas heat that I was missing). With the extended travel time, I was able to immerse myself more deeply in these destinations and their unique cultural offerings.

As my time in Prague is nearing its end (for now), I am returning home with a greater motivation to enjoy the present moment. While I may wish some moments last forever, I realize now that the impermanence of every moment is the most beautiful part, each a fleeting treasure that makes life worth living.

– Carlos Riddle, ’21

Categories: 2020, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

My first month and a half in Europe has been quite the adventure so far. As my university in Prague did not start until the middle of February, I had the opportunity to travel around Central/Eastern Europe with my mom. Having not been to Europe since I was younger, being able to experience and adapt to such a different culture with someone by my side was quite helpful. We traveled to Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, and ended our trip exploring Prague. Each one of these places offered their own cultures and traditions and history but also had many similarities as well. These similarities and differences were a very eye-opening and well-needed experience for me. I feel that at home I was constantly always in a similar routine and always in my comfort zone and by getting out of that, I feel that I was able to grow as a person.

As Prague was the last leg of our journey, there were not any big shocks upon my arrival. There were some small differences that took some getting used to, however, the main thing I had to get used to was that this was going to be my home for the next 3 months! This was made easier by the fact that I am living in the exchange dorms for the semester. Being surrounded by students who are in a similar situation as you, and being able to talk and meet theses students from all around the world, is amazing to me. I have met people from the Netherlands, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Finland. Being able to learn and connect with people who are so different, yet so similar has been one of my favorite things through my time here so far in Prague.

Prague has also lived up to all my expectations. It is beautiful, cheap, and right in the middle of Europe! Exploring the city is so easy and provides a new experience each time. You can get lost in the little cobblestone streets with endless amounts of cafes and pubs surrounding you, and then all the sudden stumble upon the Charles Bridge or Prague Castle. The city also has tremendous food and beer that is crazy cheap. This is great while you are in Prague, however, it does throw off your perception of prices when you travel; paying more than $8 for a meal with a beer now pains me! Travel is another great thing about Prague. Traveling has been so easy and has been another one of the great aspects of studying in Prague. Besides the trip I took at the beginning of the semester, I have been skiing in the Swiss Alps and have had fish and chips in London. I have another trip planned to Amsterdam and hope to visit Copenhagen and Poland in the near future. The start of this journey has definitely been one to remember and I can’t wait to see how the rest of my time here in Europe plays out.

Arsenal Game in London

Cheers in Czech

Skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland

Categories: 2020, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

Coming to Europe has been a different experience than I ever would’ve imagined. Being abroad has not only drastically impacted me as a person but has also been super enjoyable this first month. Although, being dropped into a situation so dramatically different from the one you’ve been used to so long can take some getting accustomed to, it’s worth it in the end.

Not having ever left the United States, arriving in the Czech Republic didn’t shock me as much as I thought it would. Although the travel and orientation can get overwhelming, you just push through and get it done. Once you can go out and experience the city, you remember why you chose to come in the first place. Prague has so many hidden gems, all you have to do is go out and look. Some of my favorite dishes I’ve ever eaten have come off of a menu that I couldn’t read.

Living at the dorms was a decision I won’t regret, as I’ve had the chance to meet so many amazing people to share my experiences with. As for the classes, they’re pretty different, but you’ll get used to them. Just go to class and do the work and it seems like you’ll be okay. Go to the school organized events, as every one so far has been a blast.

I’ve many trips planned for this semester to places such as London, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. My most recent trip was to Zermatt in the Swiss Alps, and was one I’ll never forget. I did happen to lose my phone though, so no pictures until I get another.

Na Shledanou!

Categories: 2020, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

I arrived in Prague, Czech Republic about three weeks ago now and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to study abroad. The first three weeks abroad have really opened my eyes to the world outside of the US. I feel like while living in the US you really get blocked off from the world around you and sometimes turn a blind eye to certain issues because they don’t have an immediate impact on our lives in the states.  It has been really interesting to hear about different issues from the perspective of the Czech students and so far it seems as though Europeans have a much broader and expansive view regarding world issues such as the Coronavirus and others.

During my first three weeks here I’ve felt more and more at home each day, but with each day comes more surprises about life overseas. My first shock was how cheap living in Prague is. For example, the average beer here is served in a .5 liter glass and costs about $1 and a week’s worth of groceries runs me around $20. Also, in most restaurants I’ve been to beer is cheaper than water, which is both a blessing a curse. Another shock I had to learn the hard way is that toilet paper isn’t readily available in most bathrooms so you always have to come prepared. The final main difference I’ve noticed is that staring at people is quite the norm in this country and I’ve found myself eyed down while walking down the street on multiple occasions.

I’m still looking forward to completing some travel and have a ski trip planned to the Swiss Alps this upcoming weekend. I also have a trip to Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona coming up as well. Last weekend I got to visit Vienna so enjoy some pictures from my most recent travel.

Categories: 2020, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

During my time in the Czech Republic, I was luck enough to visit two continents and seven different countries. I was also taken back by how immersive the experience was as well as the cultural immersion in general. The program/school I attended (VSE, Prague) actually had an enormous international student population. There were around 600 of us. We all lived in set-aside dorms near campus and the city center. I was the only student from A&M to attend, and it was unbelievable to be surrounded by other eager, open-minded, fun individuals of other nationalities who had chosen to partake in this experience as well. The program set up by the university was incredible, it was very easy to make friends and participate in the local community/culture. Because of this, I not only learned a great deal about Czech culture, but Australian, Kiwi, French, you name it.

The culture (as I mentioned in my prior post) took a bit of getting used to. The older generations especially preferred the quiet and minimal social interaction , in large part due to the bloody recent past of their country, but upon getting to know them, are all wonderful people. Many of my classes were very immersive, with both international and Czech students. Because of this, I could actually see how greatly general business practices and etiquette vary across cultures. And even more meaningful, I was able to witness how said cultures can effectively blend together in order to create a broader, more knowledgeable, work environment.

Most of my travels were in western and central Europe (with the exception of Morocco). When I traveled, a lot of the history revolved around communism, totalitarianism, and the Holocaust. While these certainly are not uplifting topics, they are important to history nonetheless. Reading about it in books back home is drastically different from witnessing where such practices occurred in person, and how their shadows still linger today. Learning about topics such as these made me more mindful to what others in the world must endure as well as opened my eyes to why certain people and cultures operate in which they ways they do.

On a lighter note, the city of Prague was well as the others I visited (Berlin, Vienna, Krakow, Morocco, Paris, and Budapest) full of beauty, fantastic food, cheap drinks, and never-ending entertainment. I’ll share some of my favorite pictures from my trips below!

Budapest, Hungary

Prague, Czech Republic

Sahara Desert, Morocco

Berlin, Germany.


I hope whoever reads this post gets a bit of insight into what a great experience my exchange was. It is an experience unlike any other and highly recommend!

Categories: 2019, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

I was lucky enough to arrive here in Prague, Czech Republic around three weeks ago. I am glad to say that for the most part, the move has been pretty seamless. Leading up to the exchange, I had conducted quite a bit of research and what I saw/read up on really fortified my stance of not being very nervous about the transition. Prague is a very safe city, with a very high number of English speakers. On top of that, my school’s exchange program has been pretty exceptional so far. There are actually around 500 students here on exchange, and there is certainly no shortage of activities, events, and trips which provided me the opportunity to meet most of the other students! The only thing that has really gone awry is the loss of some of my luggage (but hey, that can happen anywhere, right?).

Now some more about Prague. One of the first things I noticed that is very different from home is the natural demeanor of the Czech people themselves. Born and raised in Houston, “southern hospitality” is a big part of pretty much every interaction I experience. As most of you know, it can often even be considered rude not to smile, say hello, or casually check in on people that are your friends, family, or even strangers such as a cashier. That is much different here. Many people describe the Czech population as cold, short, or disinterested. I’ve actually noticed that many (especially the older) of the Czech people even seem a bit freaked out if you greet them with a big smile or casual conversation. After a bit of a short lesson in the Czech History, this became to make much more sense why. My assigned “buddy” that the school assigned me mentioned that this is largely in part of their political history. In the past 100 years alone, the nation fell victims to WW1 casualties, a German Invasion during WW2, the Communist Regime and annexation under the Soviet Union, and then after their collapse, the difficulty of splitting from Czechoslovakia into two different countries- Czech Republic and Slovakia. Most of the older people have little/no grasp of English and were around for much of these events. It is definitely interesting to see the generational differences between those who did and did not experience these events. It comes to no surprise that many of the citizens (especially the older ones) have very initially guarded personas. That being said, every Czech person I have had the pleasure of getting to know actually are very kind, funny, and good people– you just have to take the time to get to know them first.

Overall I would say that my experience as to date in Prague has been exceptional. I have met great friends, traveled quite a bit, and learned much about a foreign culture. I look forward to even further assimilating myself into Czech life, while simultaneously furthering my education and meeting people from all walks of life.


Categories: 2019, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

My roommates and I on the last day of us three together.

The beginning of exchange was very scary for me. I was scared I had made the wrong choice by studying in Prague, but I was completely and utterly wrong. Prague was definitely the best decision I have ever made and it quickly became one of my favorite places. Traveling on the weekends was fun, but the feeling of landing in Prague just felt like home. Studying abroad in the Czech Republic was such a great experience. I enjoyed my classes a lot, even though it took some time to get used to the long classes, it soon got easier. Another thing that took some getting used to was the closed off personalities that Czech people tend to have. On our campus in College Station, everyone is so quick to give a small smile or a Howdy here or there. In the Czech Republic, you won’t really see a stranger give a small smile back. Eventually you get used to it, and sort of assimilate.

I truly believe that Prague is such a great place for students to study abroad in. The city is so student friendly and has a lot of student discounts for different types of daily activities and museums. The professors are very understanding and all have great experiences working for FMCG companies such as P&G and Unilever. My marketing professors worked for Loreal and Nivea, so they talked about the experiences they had. In another class, we got to work closely with Czech companies to work on a marketing campaign for a social problem in the Czech Republic. We got to experience first-hand what it is like to work with foreign companies and tailor our interactions and ideas to them and their cultural differences.

Since I was living in the dorms that every exchange student got to live in, I was able to meet a lot of great people. I was able to make friends from France, Italy, and Turkey and other countries. I am truly grateful for pushing myself out of my comfort zone and going to study abroad for an entire semester. I was able to navigate through small everyday challenges with my friends and experience the Czech Republic with them. The end of the semester meant having to say goodbye to really amazing people and it was one of the hardest thing to do since we wouldn’t know when we would see each other again. However, we made promises we would see each other soon and have a reunion trip.

I am so grateful to have had such a great exchange experience in Prague and I look forward to returning to the Czech Republic and the rest of Europe one day.

Categories: 2019, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

The dust has finally settled after an exhilarating first three weeks in Prague. Following a broad range of experiences, good and bad, I now have a small collection of adventures to share. My arrival in the Czech Republic would certainly qualify as a negative one. Ungraciously, mother nature was the first to welcome me to the country with a massive snow storm to complicate the landing and luggage delivery. On top of being in an unfamiliar city with an unfamiliar language, I was additionally tasked in dealing with unfamiliar weather conditions. Learning to use the city’s public transport system was no piece of cake either at the time. Finally, I arrived at the dormitory, and was met with slight disappointment at the cramped and outdated 1970s interior.

The next morning, I awoke with a strong feeling of both jet lag and buyer’s remorse. “What had I gotten myself into?” I asked myself. The built up excitement over the last six months seemed in vain. Staring at my calendar, I feared that I had made a mistake with consequences lasting the next five months.

That morning’s feeling however, was a unique one that I have not felt since. Over the next week, my expectations quickly returned right-side up. I met new friends from every part of the world, and discussed potential trips all around Europe with them. Through others’ testimonies, I quickly realized that I was definitely not the only foreigner who had a poor initial experience. I felt quite silly for falling victim to “culture shock” after hearing how common it was. Those first twenty-four hours now seem like a lifetime ago.

Needless to say, things have changed. Although my Czech is still quite poor and the locals still seem to act somewhat cold toward me, I’ve picked up a few phrases and have a new understanding for the culture here. From my Czech friends, I’ve learned about the lasting affects of communism on the people of the former eastern bloc state. I’ve been fascinated in learning how the recent history of the country has shaped their current society.

As I’ve grown familiar with this beautiful town, things have gone much more smoothly. Each weekend I’ve had to assimilate myself into a new country’s culture. Rather than inflicting worry upon me, it’s now become more of a fun challenge. I am finally getting to enjoy doing what I came for. Eagerly, I await all the new cultures I will experience and the different kinds of people I will have the pleasure of meeting.


Categories: 2019, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange

The first few days in Prague were rough to say the least. It had been a full 24 hours filled with delayed flights, lost luggages and silly mishaps. As soon as I was able to get to the dorms, I collapsed onto my bed and slept. It was difficult not knowing anyone and even harder since I don’t know how to speak Czech. Thankfully, a majority of people speak English. The culture shock was definitely hitting hard, I missed home and hadn’t met anyone yet. I was starting to doubt my decision, but then I was able to meet more people during the next few days. I explored the city with a girl I had met on a trip to the grocery store. We went to all the places you first see when you google “Things to do in Prague.” We made our way to the city center, and found the Astronomical clock, Charles Bridge, and tried some Goulash. It was quite fun and we walked for so long, we decided to do it all again the next day since my suitemate had arrived. This time, we went all around but in no particular direction. We walked aimlessly to see what we could stumble upon in the beautiful city. During orientation week, I met a few more people from the United States. Within the next few days, we were planning a trip to visit Budapest before classes began. It ended up being a wonderful trip and we got to see a lot of beautiful sights such as St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Fisherman’s Bastion and we got to experience the famous Budapest thermal baths. Towards the end of the trip, it was a little bittersweet. We had seen so many beautiful sights and made wonderful memories that I will remember for many years to come, but everyone also started to feel a little sick. I think by the time we left, everyone was grateful for their time in Hungary, but were ready to be back home in Prague.

Now that classes have started, I feel as if the culture shock is settling back in. In comparison to the US and classes back at Texas A&M, they are much longer here and it seems a little hard to focus. Classes for a single topic tend to be no less than 90 minutes but can be up to 3 hours long. The classes are also a lot smaller, in one class I have give or take around 15 people. The difference from taking a class here and Wehner 113 is night and day. It can be nice having a class this size because of the free flow of ideas is a bit easier and intimacy of it. I plan to explore more of the Czech Republic with my friends during the next months and cannot wait to share the rest of my experience.

Categories: 2019, Czech Republic, Reciprocal Exchange