Using Leadership Skills to Shape my Career

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A reflection on my time abroad in Prague

Full Name: Emily Yang

Study Away Site: Prague

Home Campus: New York

Class Year: 2024

Major: Sociology

What courses helped you shape your career in Prague?

Both of my sociology courses have, Collective Identity in a Totalitarian Regime and Law and Human Rights in Central Europe. It’s a privilege to live somewhere where I can’t comprehend not having certain rights such as the right to free speech or press or even consider having them taken away. I think living in America makes it very easy to stay in this bubble of oblivion. I came to Prague knowing very little about Central and Eastern Europe, and not a lot about international affairs in general. These two classes greatly broadened my worldview, and made me much more interested in international relations. If it was offered as a minor I’d take it. They have gotten me much more interested and aware of the importance of learning about what’s going on in the world. Additionally, there are Ukrainian students in most of my classes which further actualizes what we learn and visualizes the consequences. When it comes to career plans, I had dismissed law school but the Law and Human Rights class in particular has me considering it again and both my classes have me considering a career in policy or foreign affairs.

Your favorite aspect about studying at NYU Prague?

My favorite aspect about NYU Prague in particular is the professors. I didn’t realize this going in but the professors are all very accredited or well known in their field. In the classes I’m taking, my professors grew up during and lived through many of the events they teach us about because they weren’t so long ago. I find this so cool because they can provide firsthand recounts of their experiences and how it was growing up in that environment. They’re able to teach us things and share experiences that we couldn’t read in a textbook.

The people have also been my favorite aspect about Prague itself. I was told prior to coming here to prepare for people to be colder or stare because they don’t have as much exposure to diversity. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I have not experienced that at all. To be honest, of all the places I’ve visited in Europe, Czechs have been the kindest and most genuine. This is almost everyone I’ve encountered, from drivers on the street to airport staff, people here are kind in a way that I wasn’t always familiar with back in New York. I also didn’t realize how progressive Prague is. Even though there’s less diversity, they’re very open minded, sometimes even more so than places in America.

Tell us about a club or leadership experience you participated in during your time abroad, and how this relates to your career development.

On campus, I’m president of the student council here and off campus, I go to the local high school every week and help high schoolers practice their English.

I never really did student council before Prague and I really enjoy it here. It’s only a semester long, and we spend it planning events either that we think the student body would enjoy or for holidays. Being abroad is such a once in a lifetime opportunity and when I got here, I was determined to try and make the most of it. I like that with student council, I am provided with the resources and platform to help with that goal not just for myself, but for everyone here. We gather to brainstorm events in order to maximize everyone’s experience with NYU’s resources at our disposal which is a plus.

I love working with the high schoolers here, it feels very culturally immersive and it’s a lot of fun. I find it so interesting just to learn about their culture, the norms and the similarities or differences we share. Also, I’m taking an Elementary Czech class at school so while I help them with their English, I sometimes ask them for Czech help and it’s a fun exchange.