The last August Monday has started the exciting one-semester-ride for students of the Film Studies and Global Architecture and Design Programs. Coming from great distances, all students were greeted at the airport, accommodated and the first week full of activities could commence! Although each program had its own Orientation week, some of the parts were interconnected between the two programs so that students could get to know each other.
Besides the usual information on academics, student life and living in Prague, our students were also invited to the Welcome Get Together in the center of Prague. During this event, they had the opportunity to get to know each other better and hear the welcome speecch from the Center Director Jana Čemusová.
Another fun activity was the weekend trip to the Karlštejn Castle for participants of both programs. A part of this weekend activity was a visit of the historic castle of Karlštejn, which is an important element in Czech history. In addition to that, our students could also taste the authentic Czech food and later on participate in the first Czech-in session in order to set their goals for the semester.
Preterminal nostalgia has begun. This phrase (which I coined. And doesn’t actually make sense with an exact definition.) perfectly describes how I’ve been starting to feel recently. I know that technically there’s still a lot of time left…but I keep finding myself looking back fondly on this abroad experience as if it’s already over. As hard as I try to look forward to what’s still to come, it definitely makes me sad to know that my time here is dwindling. So, it’s time to make the most of these next six weeks.
It is here that I would like to give my sincerest apologies to all (both?) of my loyal blog followers (shout out: Hi, Mom and Dad!). Apparently I overestimated my blog posting abilities…which would explain why I’ve only posted two things while I’ve been here. Oops. So I think for the rest of this post, I’ll just give you some brief descriptions of notable things that have happened in the past month.
We spent an entire day at the Hafan Animation Studios and animated a (very bizarre) movie about a man and his love affair with a horse. It was about as deep and emotionally riveting as a thirteen second movie about beastiality could be.
I spent a weekend in Italy. The food was amazing (how are Italians not fat?), and Venice and Florence are both beautiful cities. We rented a car to drive from Venice to Florence and began our journey by driving for two hours…the complete wrong way. We learned that north and south are, apparently, not interchangeable directions. Who knew?
In case you didn’t know (by the way, I have no idea who I’m talking to when I say “you.” For all I know, these blog posts are actually just being addressed to my parents.), I was an extra in House of Cards, season three (top left of this picture!). My debut was sensational, and I’m now constantly being harassed by Hollywood executives in response to my incredible talent of, what I like to call, “standing in the background for less than a second.”
I visited Ireland. Dublin is pretty cool, but I was actually a bigger fan of the Cliffs of Moher and Irish countryside, which is really as green and awesome as it looks in movies. It was also very nice to spend some time in an English-speaking location.
I travelled to London (and spent a day in Paris with my family. And it was amazing. All six of us have such big personalities, and I honestly can’t think of a point in that trip when I wasn’t entertained. I’m still convinced that someone should make a reality show about us just interacting. That show could probably be at least as popular as my blog. Zach, Jake, and I learned that our southern accents were convincing enough to make random British people believe that we were from Texas.
I had about eight hours of turnaround time between my family trip and our program trip to Brno. We went to a clowning workshop and a wine tasting, which were both really fun. We also watched a movie about Pedophiles. That was less fun.
And my last trip explanation: I went to Český Krumlov…a little town in the Czech countryside, and it was awesome. I went with three DoPs (Directors of Production. AKA camera guys), so fortunately, that meant I got to spend a lot of time modeling (and/or standing in front of a camera awkwardly). We were also reminded of the importance of turning off your car lights.
Our program went to the “Invisible Exhibition,” a really cool interactive museum where we were guided around for an hour in complete darkness. I’m already a pretty jumpy person when I have all of my senses…so hearing a lot of sudden noises without having my sight took some getting used to. And I may or may not have screamed in my tour guide’s face multiple times.
Final fun fact: Yesterday, I saw a man walking around with a mountain lion on a leash. I kid you not. Apparently it’s not an uncommon thing here, and the locals were confused by our confusion.
And that’s all I have for you. Tomorrow (AKA Easter Monday) is the day when the boys are supposed to whip the girls of Prague (something about fertility…?), so wish me luck!
The 3rd Issue of CIEE Prague Newsletter concentrates on the special projects which were prepared by CIEE students during the Fall 2014 semester. Students from our four programs, namely Central European Studies, Communications, New Media + Journalism, Film Studies and Global Architecture and Design, spent a considerable amount of time and put a lot of effort into creating those exciting and unique projects, which are discussed in this newsletter in detail.
Enjoy reading about those outstanding special students´ projects!
Central European Studies
Special Immersion trip
Special Czech Immersion trip is an optional 3 day trip that our students can join. We prepared this trip last semester and because it was so successful, we decided to keep it. This trip is specific not only because just a small group of students attend (max. 10), but especially because our students do not stay in a hotel. They are accommodated with local families in Vodňany, a town in Southern Bohemia.
Students are accompanied by one of our Czech language teacher on behalf of CIEE. By preparing this trip we wished to give our students another opportunity for their immersion. And what is better than to take them to a small town far away from Prague and let them live with local families for a weekend?
On Friday, students visit a local high school, meet up with local students and spend an evening together. They meet their families for the weekend and also learn more about our culture. This semester students learned more about our St. Nicolas traditions and even decorated typical Czech ginger bread cookies. Saturday is spent with the families that prepare the program for the day.
On Sunday, students are taken to České Budějovice where they have a guided tour around the town and a brewery visit. After lunch, it is time to say good bye and head back to Prague.
This trip is an exceptional opportunity for students seeking to get more out of their study abroad experience, and we are that several students take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Feedbacks from our students:
“Fantastic! It was very well-organized and there was also time to explore the town with family. The high school was interesting and I enjoyed spending time with the students.”
“The trip gave me a chance to interact with Czech people that I have not had yet this semester.”
“The trip was well organized and very interesting.”
“I had a wonderful weekend, and I am very glad that I came on this trip! Výborně!”
“My best experience in Czech Republic so far! Thank you!”
“This was the most growing and learning experience I have had here so far and I am so thankful!”
“This has been the highlight trip since I have been in the Czech Republic. It was an amazing experience.”
“I learned a lot and loved staying with a family. It was nice experiencing what short stay would be like.”
“I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone in the program, it was so fun and a real immersion experience.”
“Loved it! Had an amazing time. Everything was great.”
Communications, New Media + Journalism
Victoria Macoul spent her semester as an intern for Motus, an organization “helping to create and present new performances and other creative acts, run debates and workshops, and initiate events beyond theatre: cultural development activities for an open democratic society” (Motus website). Victoria had many tasks, but one of her favorites was participating in the Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead festival:
„Motus, in cooperation with Puppets without Borders, brings a bit of Mexico to the Czech lands this year for the ninth time. Against the romantic background of Stromovka park children and their parents can learn these traditional practices, participate in a parade of lanterns, hear real live Mexican music, see performances for kids, shadow puppets and installations made of food – to eat!” (Motus website)
“I think the best part about working at the festival was being immersed in a setting where there were people from every generation. Sometimes as a student you find yourself surrounded solely by people your age, so it was nice to have interaction with families and young children.” Victoria Macoul, Communications Major, Virginia Wesleyan College
Český Rozhlas, Radio Prague:
You can learn more here about Jelani Spencer-Joe’s (Public Relations Major/Broadcasting Minor, Susquehanna University) work at her internship with Český Rozhlas, Czech Republic’s public radio broadcaster in operation since 1923.
Opened for the first time this semester, ICL is taught by Jana, our Center Director. Because the course touches on issues on intercultural communication issues, this course is offered as CNMJ course credit. Several CNMJ students took part and had to complete a „digital story.“ Alex Paxman, Communications Major, Bryant University would like to share hers with you:
CNMJ’s very own Jake Weeks (Roger Williams University, Communications Major) was the Creative Director of The Happening and was instrumental in putting the event together. Here’s more about it in his own words:
“The first annual CIEE ‘Happening’ was a program for students to partner up with a Czech action artist and collaborate on a project. Cynthia, Ivanna, and I met with Tomáš Moravec, an artist turned viral video star after he hacked a wooden pallet to glide down the tram tracks of Bratislava, Slovakia, and over the course of the semester we carefully planned out our project. We would film the ‘action’; the students coming in and out of the CIEE door, and edit the footage together to form a construction. Later on the evening of December 8th, we projected this footage onto a cloud of steam outside the door to complete the reconstruction. The intention was to make a statement on how fast the semester goes, and how our time in Prague will soon fade away.”
Insert video from Z:\CIEE Promotion\Newsletters\Fall 2014\Newsletter 3\CNMJ materials
Buddy Dance Video
“Honza is an awesome buddy for many reasons, but mostly because he's so fun to be around. As you can see in the video, he's always a source of entertainment. At the same time, I wouldn't have survived the first two weeks in Prague without Honza. He was more than willing to drop everything at any time to help me find the post office, grocery store, or wherever I needed to go. He is always willing to help and made my experience in the Czech Republic much easier and more enjoyable.” Joel Thom, University of California-Sacramento, Communications
Hafan animation studio workshop
Undoubtedly the most favorite excursion/workshop for the Film Studies program is HAFAN Studio Animation workshop. They split into groups of approximately 5 students and during one day they learn how to make a traditional animation short film with puppets. Only a couple of minutes of film can be created within the limited time, but all students agree it is definitely worth the experience.
Feedbacks from our students:
“A great place to explore and helpful to get experience using professional expertize.”
“One of the coolest projects I got to work on!”
“Absolutely wonderful. I'd love to spend a day just watching the animators!”
See one of the outcomes of the Fall 2014 semester below:
Intensive Beginning Czech Language course
CIEE Prague makes sure that even the Intensive Beginning Czech Language course is designed specifically for filmmakers. Vocabulary and phrases learned are often time then used during the production process when Production track students occasionally get Czech actors to cooperate with them (if they choose to make their final film in Czech, subtitled to English). Our Czech teacher Luděk Brouček makes them work with the textbook Film Czech - Survival Czech Course for Students of Film and Photography published by Ilona Kořánová in 2013.
Feedbacks from our students:
“It really helped with daily life in the Czech Republic and being able to at least try to communicate.”
“This was one of the best and most interactive language courses I have ever taken. We learned so much in such a short period of time.”
“I learned a lot in this course - Luděk is an amazing teacher and I was so impressed by how well he handled the whole class.”
To deepen the student experience, Luděk came up with a special video project: students had to come up with scenarios in which the got to use what they learnt. Again, see some of the results below:
CIEE Film studies students are usually strongly motivated individuals with true passion for filmmaking. Therefore they often come up with short independent films during their study abroad experience. Aaron Barnett from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and James Cashman from Seattle University came up with a couple of videos for their CIEE film studies blog - do not forget to checkout previous entries:
And last, but definitely not least, - <List names> from <list film name> production gave us a permission to publish their 16mm feature film project they created as their program requirement this term. They managed to shoot this project within 48-72 hours. Enjoy a selection of what we saw on the Final Screening on Thursday, December 18th.
Global Architecture and Design
This semester´s final projects of Global Architecture and Design students explored the island of Štvanice and proposed various ‘‘Amphibious Structures'' for the new festival ground. <insert GAD Photo Stvanice> This area with lot of commercial and urban potential became quite isolated and unused over the years. Our students presented new concepts for its future development.
In particular, students focused on opportunities to use the island´s full potential, especially for commercial use. The main focus was on the entertainment aspect of the island´s urban development. Nowadays, festivals are becoming major contributors to local and global economy as they have the ability to revitalize specific urban context and internationally promote the city as a rich-program destination.
Each student was given a specific area which they had to research and present a new idea of its future development. They had to face several challenges. The necessity for self-sufficient public space and infrastructure of future cities, they succeeded to propose a unique typology and technological intervention that can have profound impact not only on local surrounding, but can be applied on any context with similar challenges.
During the three core courses of Global Architecture and Design, the students were taught new technologies, methods and ways of thinking by leading figures of the contemporary scene of Czech architecture in order to successfully complete their special tasks.
CIEE Study Center Prague wishes you Happy Holidays!
Fall 2013 Film Studies semester is over and students are on their way home to reunite with their friends and families. The upcoming holidays are making their process of leaving the city of Prague and their wonderful study abroad experiences a little bit more bearable. It needs to be said that we had a very good group that stuck together at all times this semester - and their screenplays and final films reflected that. But how did they spend their last weeks in Prague?
Production and post-production
Production track dedicated their last weeks primarily to production and postproduction. Film Program Coordinator Ivana occasionally paid a visit to their sets to make sure everything was in order. Production managers Pavla Klimešová and Filip Teller and Camera Supervisor Tomáš Daliman made sure that all 5 shoots went smoothly. A couple of shooting days needed to be rescheduled due to weather, but students and their crews were flexible and everything ended well.
Photo courtesy of EJ Kennelly
We already shared Laurel Schwartz's (Scripps College) video about her shoot on CIEE FS blog, however, we want to make sure you don't miss it:
Screenwriting track: presentation rehearsals
All students enrolled in the Screenwriting track helped on the Production track film sets (as grips, caterers and actors), but of course they have been busy with their screenplays as well. All 4 students are quite ambitious, so during their regular Tuesday sessions with their FAMU Academic Advisor Mary, they came up with their screenplays introductions as well as short dialogues presented by actors. Therefore they experienced directing real actors during these meetings.
Last CIEE Cultural Workshop
Our last cultural workshop took place at the CIEE Study Center. Students started part of their orientation there and we thought it would be a nice wrap up for them. Over a late lunch, students, Ivana and Eva discussed reverse culture shock and ended the workshop with Greatest Czechs matching game which became quite competitive. Just before the sunset, we took a group picture together:
CIEE Christmas party
Just like every Fall semester, CIEE Study Center hosted all programs get-together Christmas party. Students had a chance to taste traditional Czech Christmas specialities (fish soup, fried carp, potato salad, baked groats with mushroom "Kuba", sweat bread "Vánočka" and indispensable Christmas cookies)! They also experienced local Christmas customs, such as gingerbread baking and decorating, Christmas decorations creating, nutshell mini-boats creating, and much more. Of course not even a Christmas tree wasn't missing and all students found a small gift from Baby Jesus underneath it (CIEE got them Christmas ceramic decorations created in workshops for people with disabilities so local NGO Jedlička Institute - where CIEE Prague CES students volunteer - was supported). All students had a blast!
Final Screenplays presentation and Final Screening
Thursday, December 19th was a big day. At 2pm, Screenwriting track students (Jamie, Nicole, Alex and Edan) started with their screenplays presentations. Their rehearsals truly paid off and full projection room appreciated their work. They also received feedback from the audience. The actors (DAMU and CIEE students) they managed to find were extraordinary and made their dialogues quite lively. We would like to congratulate them all for their progress!
At 4pm, projection of Production track final films followed. The audience consisted of FAMU professors and staff, CIEE students and staff, actors and special guests got to enjoy 5 films plus a bonus - Hafan classic animation workshop outcome. Students were provided with feedback by their professors and a big (deserved) applause from everyone present.
CIEE FS Farewell Dinner
After the screening, everyone continued on to FAMU student club and pub Lažanských for the farewell ceremony and dinner. All students received their FAMU certificates and final films, CIEE added another CD with Prague Yearbook and a special Film Studies video with a slideshow from the whole semester. FS Academic Advisor Mary Angiollilo and FAMU dean Pavel Jech gave their final speeches, winners of the green game were announced, and most immersed and volunteering students were acknowledged.
The yummy reception with traditional Czech dishes followed. Students said their goodbyes to their professors, crews and staff, and even a few tears had been shed. It has been a great semester!
CIEE staff wishes you HAPPY HOLIDAYS and we will be back with CIEE Prague programs newsletter in Spring 2014!