Summer in Prague
Spend a life-changing semester abroad in one of Eastern Europe's most vibrant and historic cultural centers. Study the region's literature where it was born. Trace the steps of Kafka and Kundera as you navigate the narrow cobblestone streets. Write in the midst of Prague's Gothic elegance and contemporary artistic atmosphere...
About the program
The Summer Sessions in Prague are designed to provide students with the opportunity to live as ex-pats for five weeks -- longer than most study programs. Students will expand their horizons and world view, and study the work of writers and artists who lived in the historic buildings of one of Europe's most beautiful, complex, and fascinating cities. Excursions, tours, and field trips will complement the work and writing done for the courses, and students will have ample time to explore the city on their own, to further pursue their own stories.
Session: June 19 - July 24, 2014
All meetings take place 5:00 pm - 5:45 pm
624 S. Michigan Ave.
Wednesday, October 30, room 1207
Monday, November 4, room 1206
Thursday, November 7, room 1207
Wednesday, November 13, room 1207
Monday, December 2, room 1206
Thursday, December 5, room 1207
Wednesday, December 11, room 1207
* Prague-only Meetings
Starting now: $1,000 deposits are accepted to reserve your space in the program.
Monday, April 7, 2014: Summer Registration begins. It is strongly recommended that you make your deposit by this date, and register as soon as possible to ensure program viability and that desired classes remain on the schedule.
April 14, 2014: Students should be registered for course or courses of interest.
May 9, 2014: Permission forms, copy of passport, and itineraries are due. (Students who submit their itineraries after this date may be responsible for their own airport transfer arrangements. Room and board and airport transfers cannot be arranged without an itinerary.) Any updates for Emergency contact information are also due.
Credits offered; who is eligible
Courses are open to all Columbia students, and can be arranged for students-at-large and students from other institutions. Undergrads will take 4-8 credit hours of Fiction Writing program credit; Grads will take 3-6.
Fiction Writing Course Descriptions (Note: Course offerings may be added or modified depending upon interest)
Critical Reading and Writing: Contemporary European Writers (55-4208PR)
This course researches the writing processes of contemporary European writers, including the ways in which the writers' reading and responses to reading play influential roles in the overall fiction writing process. Journals and other writings will be used as examples of how writers develop dimensions of their own fiction and see their work in relation to other writers. The course involves study of the development of diverse techniques and voices of some of the most important European writers whose lives, works, and inspiration are inseparable from Prague, including Kafka, Hacek, Capek, Meyrink, and Kundera.
Topics in Critical Reading & Writing: Kafka (55-4500PR/5400PR-01PR)
Students read and research the major works of Franz Kafka. Students will visit various sites in Prague where Kafka lived, worked, died, and wrote. The course will focus on Kafka's writing processes, including ways in which Kafka's reading and responses to reading influenced his work. Students use journals and other writings to explore Kafka's work and to examine their own.
Topics in Critical Reading & Writing: Fiction Writers Abroad (55-4500PR/4500PR-02)
This course considers how the experience of travel and expatriation informs the creative process and creative identity of fiction writers ranging from Henry James and Edith Wharton, to Ernest Hemingway and James Baldwin, up to and including contemporary writers such as Jamaica Kincaid and David Sedaris. Through reading and responding to writer's journals, notebooks & letters, fiction, memoir, autobiography and creative non-fiction, and author interviews, students have the opportunity to explore their own experience as a writer abroad, to see their work in the context of other writer's works, and to examine the personal and social contexts for creativity.
Dreams and Fiction Writing (55-4203PR)
This course helps writers relate the rich, various, and powerful world of dreams to the needs and delights of imaginative prose fiction. Students keep journals of their dreams, read and write dream stories, and study how dreams relate to their fiction writing. Students also research how dreams have influenced work of well-known writers. This is a Fiction Writing program Specialty Writing course.
Fiction Writing: Advanced (55-4106PR)
Workshop uses Story Workshop® approach to develop facets of writing short fiction and novels. Students intensively explore new fictional possibilities as well as have the option of continuing to develop strong writing material from previous classes. Workshop may have an emphasis on point of view and/or rewriting.
New and special courses may be added depending on interest.
Session fees are $2,950 and will include airport transfer, daily breakfast, shared occupancy lodging (35 nights), tours, field trips, cell phone rental, welcome and celebration dinners, and various course fees. PLEASE NOTE: Session fees do NOT include tuition, airfare, or daily meals. The total fee may change due to fluctuations in the foreign currency markets. Space is limited, so students are encouraged to submit this deposit as soon as possible to ensure their place in the program. Deposits beyond that date will be accepted as long as space is available and time permit. Deposits are not refundable after April 11, 2014. Please note: Approximately $40 will be billed to your Oasis account for temporary health and medical insurance for students traveling abroad.
I'm not sure I can go, but what can I do now in case I am able to go?
Whether you're definitely going or unsure right now, the first thing to do now is to get a passport if you need one (check your expiration dates).
Is financial aid available for this program?
Yes. However, because no aid is specifically awarded for Summer semester, students are advised to apply heavy for Spring or Fall, and use the extra funds for Summer. Students may use their Title IV (FAFSA) awards to help pay for approved study abroad programs. Please contact Student Financial Services for assistance. Other scholarship information is available on the International Programs webpage.
The Roger and Sylvia McNair Scholarship Award for Fiction Writing students will also be available for Fiction Writing Majors. Please check this site later for award amounts and application guidelines.
Do I need to pay for everything upfront?
No. The only upfront expense required is the $1,000 deposit toward session fees. Summer tuition and the balance of your session fees are paid through CCCPay or at the Cashier's window (3rd floor, 600 S Michigan Ave.). Students may contact SFS to arrange installment payments. To guarantee your place in the program, please make your deposit as soon as possible. Deposits made after this date will be accepted as space and time permit.
Do I need health/medical insurance that's valid overseas?
Yes. The college will arrange this coverage, and bill your account for $40. Every student who desires to participate in the program will be signed onto this temporary coverage. To facilitate the important and required provision of this insurance, students should have their deposits in no later than April 11, 2014.
How long is the period of coverage for the temporary health/medical insurance?
This insurance is valid during the session (May 22 - June 26), and for one week either before or after that period. Students traveling on their own beyond that time frame need to provide their own insurance. Students who go on to study in Florence will be signed on for an additional insurance policy for that program. Please contact International Programs office for more information.
How many classes can we miss in a session?
None. It is an intensive study program, and students are expected to attend all sessions.
Does Columbia arrange my travel?
No. Students are responsible for arranging all travel. Be sure to arrange travel so it doesn't overlap during class times, particularly first and last days of class.
May I come early? Leave late?
Yes, as long as you arrange your accommodations and insurance, if necessary, and as long as you check in and out as required. For the Prague Session, you must check in on May 12 before 4 pm, and check out by 11 am on June 24. Please change dates to May 22 and June 26.
Yes, as long as you arrange your accommodations and insurance, if necessary, and as long as you check in and out as required. For the Prague Session, you must check in on May 12 before 4 pm, and check out by 11 am on June 24.
Is there a computer on site?
No. It is strongly recommended that you bring (or borrow) a laptop for checking e-mails and producing work. There are also Internet cafes. You should bring a flash drive for saving and printing your work at Internet cafes or the local copy center.
Will the hotel accommodations be quiet enough to work in at any time of day?
Yes. The hotel will be a quiet zone so people can study and write. No loud talking, music, etc. will be permitted. The hotel accommodates other guests besides our group, so while we are not responsible for the behavior of others, it is imperative that we respect everyone's right to a quiet and peaceful stay.
What more can you tell me about the accommodations?
Our residence is located in Prague 7, a quiet, safe, yet vibrant residential zone surrounded by numerous restaurants, convenience stores, Internet cafes, grocery stores, and shops, and is very close to Prague National Art Museum, Letna Park and Stromovka Park, one of the city's largest. Classes will be held on-site. The residence provides daily breakfast, use of wireless Internet, and change of towels and linen once a week. Accommodations feature private baths and kitchens and on-site laundry facilities. This area is within ten minutes from the historical center of Prague, and is a five-minute walk to all major tram stops that run day and night.
How will I get to the residence from the airport?
Airport transfer is included in your session fees. You need to provide your itinerary ahead of time so it can be arranged. If you are already in Prague, you may be required to get to the accommodations on your own.
Do you recommend any Web sites and travel guides for Prague?
Praguepost.com and expats.com are good sites to visit. Lonely Planet and Eyewitness Travel have very good books. Also, Google "Prague travel" and see all the goodies you'll get. RickSteves.com is also a good one.
What's the best way to book travel?
What's the best way to book travel? First, order your passport, then book your flight as far in advance as possible for the best rates. You can go on-line to check the cost of flights and to arrange them (expedia.com, kayak.com, among others). We suggest that you wait until you are in Europe to arrange any rail or other regional travel. First, it's cheaper; second, you'll have a better idea of what your free weekends will be then. If you'd like to work with a travel agent, you can try Sunset Travel on Fullerton, 773-929-8155 (email@example.com). They've worked with us before.
Is Prague an expensive city?
Though the dollar is not as strong as it used to be, Prague remains a relatively inexpensive city: meals can cost around 5 dollars each; public transportation costs are included. Daily expenses can be kept well within $25 per day. Because of its location, Prague is a convenient and inexpensive place from which to reach other countries. Trains and buses leave regularly for Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava, and other international cities. You will have at least two long (three-day) weekends during which you can travel.
What will the total costs be?
Please note that the global currency market is always in flux. All costs (except tuition) are estimations. Session fees are $2,950. Session fees include airport transfers, daily breakfast, shared occupancy lodging - 42 nights, field trips and city tours, final dinner, reading and celebration dinner, and various course fees.
Tuition is $497 per credit hour for undergraduates (4-8 credit hours) $603 per credit hour for graduates (3-6 credit hours). Daily expenses can run $15 to $60, depending on your tastes and needs. The fee for temporary health insurance for students traveling abroad will be approximately $40. If you intend to travel outside of Prague on your own, please budget for that as well.
When and how do I register and pay?
Because the program and class offerings are contingent on interest and enrollment, it is imperative that interested students follow these application guidelines:
1. Submit a completed Interest/Application form as soon as possible to the Fiction Writing Program, 624 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 1200.
2. Starting Fall 2013 and by April 11, 2014, go to the Cashier's window (600 S. Michigan Ave., 3rd floor) to pay the $1,000 non-refundable deposit. Please be sure to tell the cashier that you are paying "Fiction Writing Program Session Fees for Prague." Checks or money orders only, please. To ensure your place in the program (space is limited) you should pay this deposit as soon as possible and by April 11, 2014. Later deposits will be accepted as space and time permit. No refunds on deposits after April 11, 2014 (unless in the unlikely event that the program is canceled).
3. Promptly bring your receipt to the Fiction Writing Office (Suite 1200, 624 S. Michigan Ave.). We will make a copy for our records. Student keeps the original.
4. Register for desired classes on Oasis as soon as Summer 2014 Registration begins (April 7, 2014). Students should be registered for their desired course/s by April 14, 2014. Students who require prerequisite waivers for advanced classes will need clearance to register. Please be sure you are registering for a Prague course (course numbers are listed in this booklet). Tuition and the balance of session fees ($1,950) are paid through CCCPay or at the Cashier's window, 3rd floor, 600 S. Michigan.
By May 9, 2014:
5. Submit two (2) Permission and Waiver Forms to the Department of Creative Writing Office:
- Acknowledgement of Risk Release of Responsibility [download]
- Affidavit of Agreement Acceptance Regarding Illegal Drug Use [download]
Note: Failure to submit all three forms will result in the student not being able to go, and all monies forfeited.
6. Submit a photocopy of your passport to Elizabeth Yokas. (Scan and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave it in her mailbox.)
7. E-mail your flight itinerary to: email@example.com. Please put "itinerary" in subject line. Airport transfer and hotel accommodations will not be made unless we have your itinerary.
Where can I get information about meetings and program updates? Who are my contacts?
Meeting announcements and program updates are posted throughout the Fiction Writing program, in the computer lab (624 Michigan, 12th floor), on this Web page, and on the table in front of the elevators. Contacts: Elizabeth Yokas.
[ ] Registered for classes (Registration begins April 7, 2014)
[ ] Flight itinerary sent to firstname.lastname@example.org (by May 9, 2014)
On file with the Department of Creative Writing:
[ ] Completed Interest/Application Sheet [download]
[ ] Copy of Cashier Receipt for $1,000 deposit (by April 11, 2014 to guarantee your place). Accepted later as space is available. No refunds after April 11, 2014.
[ ] Two (2) Permission & Waiver Forms [download] and [download] (Due May 9, 2014)
[ ] Photocopy of Passport (Due May 9, 2014)
Things to keep in mind
Registration begins April 7, 2014. Students should be registered by April 14, 2014.
A $1,000 deposit is required. Any deposits or registrations made after April 11, 2014 will be accepted on a case-by-case basis according to space availability. No deposit refunds after April 11, 2014.
The only upfront expenses you will pay to the school is the $1,000 deposit; tuition and session fee balance is posted to your SFS account.
Financial aid is available for this program. Please see SFS for more information.
We advise that all students consult with their academic and department advisors before signing up for the program.
All courses are contingent on enrollment. In the event that a class you want does not run, we will put you in a class that will work for your interests and needs.
Hotel accommodations will not be made unless you provide your itinerary (by May 9, 2014). Students cannot participate without completed permission forms and passport copy (due May 9, 2014).
In Their Own Words: Fiction Writing Students Tell About Their Prague Experience
Prague was like stepping right into a fairy tale. When I walked along the river I could see the lights of Prague Castle and I felt like I was placed into this other time. Everything was so surreal and magical. Being far from home and in a brand new place made me write a way I'd never written before. I leapt into my journaling and tried to write everything I noticed, everything I saw. Even memories or normal things from home took on a new light.
Prague took my breath away -- the narrow, cobblestone streets, the tall, ornate buildings, the slender towers... Prague was the only European city that was not destroyed during the war. When Hitler had arrived there he was so smitten with the architecture that he did not allow any bombing because he planned to reside in Prague after the war. Thankfully this didn't happen, and there is a jewel in the middle of the Old Continent.
Prague was intense five weeks, but truly, no one said it was going to be easy. There was non-stop writing going on (in Prague everything is non-stop. You'll get it once you get there). Yes, we had to juggle a bit, but we still wrote our stories, read the books, journaled and explored the city as much as possible. Including the nightlife.
It's impossible to translate everything that Prague brought into my life. You have got to check it out on your own. Give yourself a chance to see new things, learn and absorb as much as possible. There is no way this could not pay off in the end.
Prague was an enormously wonderful city. A friend of mine comically agreed with me that at first glance when you step out of the airport there are similarities to Florida, but you get farther and farther into the city to discover cobblestone streets and block-shaped buildings squeezed tightly together that look absolutely nothing like what you'd normally call "home". Every place in the city is nurturing to a writer -- highly conducive to creative fluidity and extremely relaxing at the same time. There's no easier place to both relax and work, and the experience of Eastern Europe isn't one that many people consider when they try to plan a "European vacation". You'll get one of those, certainly, but at the same time you'll never be as much of a writer as you were back in the sometimes comfortable, always chaotic Chicago.
I was feeling nostalgic for Prague during the three weeks I spent in other European cities after the program ended. I don't say that to brag that I was in other European cities, I say that because the Prague experience is absolutely like nothing else. Even the sky is different there. The city will forever be a part of me. It's not so much a study abroad experience as it is a writers retreat, and it was the best writing experience I've ever had. I want to do it again.
To me, living and studying in Prague felt like I was an artist in residence. There was an intensifed focus on your own work as well as the work of your peers. It was also a great opportunity to step away from mainstream America.
Why wouldn't you want to go to Prague? The city is beautiful, the natives are friendly, and the beer is cheaper than water.
The five weeks I spent studying abroad in Prague were not only an opportunity to get some writing credits, but a chance to learn what it feels like to live in a world entirely different than my own -- and make some great friends along the way. The tram became my best friend -- taking it to a cozy cafe to write in, or a secondhand store to pick up some souvenirs, or even just to ride around the city, gazing out the windows. To be honest, it wasn't always easy to write when I could have been out exploring the city instead, but with enough self-discipline and some motivation from my classmates, I came out of the semester with sixty pages worth of material that I can be proud of.
The time I spent in Prague has left an indelible mark on myself as a writer, person, and friend, and while I know that nothing beats Chicago in the summer, I'm glad I gave Prague a chance to give it a run for its money.
Prague was definitely a life changing experience for me. Not only because I had the opportunity to see one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but because getting to see the places where the majority of the novels we studied were set was absolutely phenomenal. But it was even more than just the amazing setting for the classes, being in Prague and getting to experience the astounding beauty and mystery of the city itself was greatly beneficial in adding to the way I look at the world as a writer. It was definitely a trip that I'll not be soon to forget, and one that I would repeat in a heartbeat given the opportunity.
Prague was definitely a chance for me to step back and examine basically every aspect of my life. I spent a lot of time pulling out old writing and editing it. I thought about where I wanted to be as a writer. Prague was also an opportunity to "edit" my personal life, to think about what/who I needed or did not need. Overall, it has made me a stronger, more confident person, and any time I start to doubt my abilities, I remind myself that I traveled to a country half-way around the world, lived where I did not speak the language, and if I can do that, everything else is cake.
Getting to know a foreign city was something I've never had time to do before. There is something about the kind of daily exploration that happens away from home that feeds my writing. Prague is also a good home for secrets and stories. It is dark and sinister, but there is beauty to be found underneath it all. I didn't expect to make any friends, but I did, and I kept them. And now I have a new appreciation for "home".
Going to the Prague Study Abroad Program is making the most out of your summer: you get a vacation in an amazing and historical place, and you get writing done. You won't have to worry about beating yourself up for not having any fun or for not being productive. It's the best of both worlds. Also, while many of us tend to hang tight with our core classmates, it's a great opportunity to branch out and make great new friends in the program.
Prague is unexpected and magical and confusing and enveloping and, after a bit, even just homely. It feels viscerally old and swarmed with the spirit of past political struggles and culture -- and I still imagine swallowing the city and its quirks up whole. I picture the 'Golem' trudging through Prague's dark corners at night, or watch the monks in my memory cook food at the most pleasing restaurant in the city. And I miss it.