Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

Keys to the City – Best and Worst Classes at CIEE

The Onion once ran this great article about “studying” abroad. I personally don’t adhere to that impression of studying abroad, but let’s face it: a lot of people see their study abroad semester as a semester long vacation financed by their parents. For those people, as well as people who see studying abroad as taking classes in a new environment so that they can experience a completely different culture while still moving their education forward, the classes you enroll in are really important. A good schedule makes for a good semester; a couple of bad classes can make your semester really suck. So I asked around, and here is a collection of the best and worst classes at CIEE:

If they aren’t full already…

Anything having to do with Czech culture or Czech identity, specifically Contemporary Czech Culture and Alternative Czech Culture as well as Czech Concepts of National Identity and Collective Identity in a Totalitarian Regime. These both come highly recommended. They aren’t a lot of work, but are very interesting and can be easily related to the real world and the city you’re living in. Also, in Alternative Czech Culture, you get to write poetry as the final. How sweet is that?

Karel Čapek class at CU. Apparently this is the best lit class to take if you want to take a lit class, though I’ve also heard good things about the Vaclav Havel and the Franz Kafka classes. It seems like any lit class is going to be a good lit class, as long as you’re willing to do the readings. (Like, actually, do the readings. No faking that in a lit class, people.)

Nation, Power, and Propaganda. If three hour classes are your thing, this is the class for you. But in all seriousness, this is a class that deals with different topics in the Czech media each week, and is apparently particularly fascinating. Be warned, though, this class also ended up on my list of worst classes, so it seems like it is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. (Apparently the teacher is really liberal, and he lets you know…)

Last but not least, a very strange but strangely wonderful class.  Literally everyone I know in Pepi Lustig’s Holocaust through the Film and Literature of Arnost Lustig class loved it. They didn’t love the crazy number of essays that came with it, or the fact that they had class three consecutive weekends, but they all said it was absolutely and undeniably worth it.

Pozor! These are more work than they’re worth: (A note – these are opinions of CIEE students other than myself. I don’t hold these opinions, and am just reporting in an attempt to help future students pick the best classes they can)

History of the Jews in Bohemia: Unless you’re really into history, stay away from this class. The Rabbi that teaches it has a ton of stories. And he tells them nonstop. The trips are interesting, but the teacher is a pain, and his grading is impossible to predict.

Journalism in the Facebook Era. More work than it is worth, boring, and all over not worth it. Just saying.

Interpretation of Fairy Tales. This class isn’t very interesting, and the work is too hard for the interest level it gets. If you’re expecting an easy class, don’t look here. Also, the professor isn’t very engaging, so classes are more boring than usual.

MiddleEuropa. It could be a cool class, but its a love-it-or-hate-it deal here, and it seems like more people are hating than loving. I’d recommend it only if you’re a history major, because only the history majors (but all the history majors) have good things to say.

Any Economics Class. The econ professors are off the wall crazy. *I haven’t had that experience (but my only experience with an econ professor is in Politics and Economics of the EU), so I can’t attest. But I think most economists are a bit crazy, right?

This was the last in a seven-post series about being in Prague. Check out the other posts here: getting around, people and customs, linguistic linchpins, can’t miss experiences, food to try, and literature and movies.

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2 responses

  1. cieestudent

    I would have to disagree with the Czech fairytales assessment. Though there is a lot of material to cover, the teacher tries especially hard to include the students in leading discussions on various theories and interpretations of fairytales as a whole. I think most students go into this course with the erroneous assumption that fairytales are as easy to analyze and digest as a disney film, when in fact European fairytales are quite rich, indelible, and challenging straightforward interpretation. When I took the class last semester, there was a starling rift between the willing, and quite learned, professor and the disengaged students. True this is not a course for half-hearted attention, but the rewards of study are plentiful and well worth the time.

    April 14, 2014 at 5:58 am

    • I think that the majority of courses here are great if you are a) interested in the material and b) ready to do the work, which is like classes at any other university.
      Good to know of another opinion regarding this class, but also these are just opinions I collected last semester.

      April 14, 2014 at 6:43 am

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