ISOIS ▸ Final reports

Host country:
Host institution:
Mobility type:
Program:
Faculty:
Ac. year:
Semesters:
Study level:
Language filled in:

University of Central Florida

USA 2019/2020 Partner universities

Personal data
Mobility type:
study

Faculty at MU:
Faculty of Social Studies

Field of study:
International Relations and European Studies

Level of study during period of placement:
Bachelor

Language used:
English

Summer/winter school?:
no

Period of studies:
autumn 2019

Period of placement (from-to):
2019-08-26 - 2019-12-12

Number of months:
4.00

Activities before my departure abroad
Where can information be found about courses taught at the foreign school?:
At their website called webcourses.com

Which documents were needed for acceptance at the foreign university?:
Insurance documentation, VISA papers, a proof of a financial balance, class registration sheet, medical history with vaccination from a doctor, language eligibility

How far ahead did you have to organise your acceptance?:
half a year in advance

Did you need a visa?:
yes

Documents and materials needed for a visa:
DS form, picture, completed surveys, request for VISA

Length of wait for visa:
a week(3 weeks with requesting an appointment at the embassy)

Fee for the visa:
approximately 8000 Czech crowns, all the expenses included

Studies
Did you have a Learning Agreement signed before your departure?:
yes

If not, why not?:

Before your departure did you know how your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes, I did thanks to my faculty supervisor and our meeting

During your stay did you change your Learning Agreement?:
Yes I was forced to due to inconvenience with expences in regards to costs for books
e.g. one study material for a French course(300 dollars)-no other option, it was a tri-semestrial book but my stay was only one semester

When and how did course registration take place? Are there any restrictions? Possibilities of making changes?:
Before my departure(approximately 4 months in advance)
through communication with supervisors, both at my home and host university
Restrictions: almost none, I was able to take up any class
Possibilites to make changes: Yes, after consultation and contacting both my supervisors-approved without any additional problems

Did you take any examinations at the foreign school?:
Yes, a couple of written exams and final papers I had to handle in
plus the grades were calculated based on the work throughout the semester

Does the school use the ECTS system?:
no

If not then explain how the credits there were recalculated into ECTS:
After consultation with my faculty supervisor and her communication with the professors teaching the equivalent classes I was enrolled in

Describe the teaching methods (theory, practical and projects) and assessment of students:
Teachers provided us with a lecture half of the class time, and the rest of the time was based more on a discussion. The classes often changed based on the talks and how the teacher and students were able to elaborate on the topic. Occasionally, we watched videos and did in-class assignments. I had to do weekly quizzes and assignments to keep up with the class lecture. Weekly reading was required for two out of my four classes in total. Besides that, I had to do final papers on a topic chosen by myself. One of them was a group project. One of my classes used computers and programs due to its importance for statistics.

Quality of teaching in comparison with home school:
I did not get as much information as I was used to from lectures back home. In comparison, I had a better opportunity to express my opinion, to participate in the debates and thus to improve my language which was one of my goals during my stay. The discussion opened new topics to talk about and to be interested in in my free time.

How did you receive study materials?:
Through webcourses-webpage only.

Can you recommend an interesting course/subject/teacher?:
I would highlight especially my class called "Contemporary Politics and International Relations of Asia," which was structured probably the best out of all my classes. Definitely, an easier one was "Human Rights Policy," which was very introductory, but the discussion very helpful and interesting. For physical exercise recommendation, I need to go with my "Self-defense class for Women and Men," which was not physically exhausting but was, on the other hand, mostly mentally preparative.

How well is the school library equipped?:
It was under reconstruction; thus new spaces will have been built soon. I used the interiors of a library, especially to find a quiet place on campus. The building is equipped with scanners, copy machines, not a lot of computers and enough spaces for the number of students studying at the university. Nevertheless, there was a coffee spot downstairs, information counter on each floor, and rental for technology(computers, chargers, tablets, very modern..).
Book collection wise I did not use the opportunity due to all the study material that has been provided on the internet platform for us.

Availability of computers, internet access, level of software needed, requirements on notebook:
Computers were occasionally free depending on the time of visiting the library. The whole campus was covered with wifi.

Options from printing and copying:
A student at UCF had a certain amount of printing pages for free, weekly. If the limited was overpassed, he was able to be charged with money for his copying or printing.

Does the foreign school/student organisation arrange special events for exchange students?:
yes

If yes then what?:
The so-called "ambassadors" or just local students at UCF voluntary organizing events and helping us to settle down and to be involved in the activities that went on around campus were genuinely nice. We had the opportunity to use them as drivers for couple of trips such as camping or sightseeing in a historical city. They took us to some university events-football game, comedy show, local traditions, etc..
If there was time we went together to restaurants and bistros.

How would you assess your integration with the local students (evaluation like in school from 1 to 5 with 1 as highest):
2

or describe in your own words:
In the classes, it was almost impossible to get closer to the other students, although they were friendly it was not anything serious(probably because they knew we would leave eventually). The locals were interested in living in Europe. how is life there, our mentality, and what are the biggest differences. I had the opportunity to be a part of a university dance team thus my integration was a little bit better due to that.

Practical questions on your placement
Where did you live?:
In a room with a roommate in a house approximately 30 minutes far away on a bicycle

Cost of accommodation - monthly:
500 USD

Additional comments to the price of accommodation (as to what the price includes):
If it wasn't for the possibility of sharing a room with one other Czech student going to the USA with me I would be paying 900 USD a minimum for a room which would be impossible to financially handle

Describe the equipment. Tips for future students – what should they bring with them?:
Our house was fully furnished and the kitchen was equipped, so no home stuff was needed to bring unless somebody needs their essentials with them such as favourite bowl, utensils, a cup etc..

How and how far ahead should accommodation be organised?:
At least 4 months before leaving, because although we were offered and promised accommodation by the university, the prices were incredibly high and the distance too far away to manage daily

What are the catering options?:
The campus had plenty of options where to eat out, from fast foods to bistros, the university offered prepaid lunches for 8-10 dollars if bought in a bigger quantity

What are the rough costs of groceries (compare with Czech prices):
I would say double the prices at least, differing from item to item and depending on what kind of food is a person used to buy on a weekly/monthly basis

Transport to location of placement:
Bicycle in my case, 100 dollars at the beginning, public transport not functioning much, there were some buses for free with the student ID card going every hour to Downtown of the city, which was an hour away
around the campus, the transportation was provided with local buses going to dorms quite often

Rough prices for transportation:
other than that, it's very much needed to use Ubers or Lyfts in a need, again differing on the quantity of usage, but going downtown would cost 20-60 dollars(depending on the time)

Tips for purchasing cheap tickets and other recommendations:
there are apps such as LYNX or the taxi options Uber and Lyft

What are the local transport options (public transport, cycling, on foot, rough prices):
cycling but it is needed to rent a truck at the beginning to transport the bicycle back home and to get to the shop you need somebody to take you with car or to use Uber or Lyft

What kind of formalities have to be arranged before arrival, for example residence permit?:
Residential lease, communication with the landlord, pose questions and to pay one or two-month deposit in advance

What health insurance did you use? (rough price, advantages, disadvantages, is it necessary to arrange insurance at the university other than your home (Czech) insurance?):
International Student Organization Insurance(ISO)
they have plans recommended by the University-you are advised which you should buy and then it is up to the person what they choose
They are concerned mainly with medical issues and expenses

Did you have any experience with medical treatment abroad?:
No, I did not, I managed to solve everything with home/store supplies

Did you work during your studies?:
No, I did not

What are the conditions for working for MU students?:
with our VISA category F-1, we are only allowed to work on-campus 12 hours a week, the campus stores and facilities prefer to hire people long-term so it was hard to find a part-time job

Tips for free-time activities:
Golf, visiting nature parks and areas around, Orlando Science Museum, cycling around, Downtown local markets, beaches nearby, amusement parks-Disney, Universals, springs, camping, hiking, cities, JFK Space Centre, etc.

Financial support and expenses
Total grant from Centre for International Cooperation:
70000 CZK

Monthly grant in CZK:
17500 CZK

Number of supported months:
4

Total number of months:
4

What other sources did you make use of to finance your placement?:
My own sources earned from working before leaving, occasional family support

If you received another grant, state which and how much in CZK:
22 000 CZK, Grant from Faculty of Social Studies

 
Total fees associated with enrolment at the university:
16000 CZK

a/ amount of enrolment fee:
20 USD

b/ amount of tuition fees:
50 USD

c/ amount of other fees (which):
30 USD

 
What was your average monthly expenditure?:
1100 CZK

a/ of which for accommodation:
500 USD

b/ of which for catering:
500 CZK

c/ travel and recreation:
300 CZK

Any comments to the average monthly expenditure:
The "low" price of accommodation was only due to sharing a room with another Czech student from MUNI
In fees, I include VISA, insurance, and vaccinations
Other costs include an arrangement of a student card, ordering "Transcript of Records."
Especially the first months we had a harder time to manage the money situation but throughout we spent less and less in general(by learning where to shop for good prices, how to travel low-cost, etc.)
In the travel category: UBER, Lyft, one-time purchase of a bicycle.

Recognition of foreign studies at the home faculty
How many credits did you gain during your studies (in the system of the foreign school)?:
12

How many ECTS credits were recognised at MU?:
28

Did you know in advance which of your courses would be recognised by your home faculty?:
Yes I did, thanks to my faculty coordinator

What problems did you have with recognition?:
I thought one of my classes would be recognized as a required course at my home institute but it was my fault of not reading the syllabus, registration sheet and course material of the class back home properly so the course I took was not an equivalent

Overall assessment
Assessment of personal benefit (1 = excellent):
1

Assessment of academic benefit (1 = excellent):
2

Evaluate the information and support provided by the foreign school (1 = excellent):
2

Did you encounter any serious problems during your stay:
A bicycle was stolen from me thus I had to report it and manage to get a new one. Furthermore, I had a bike accident I did not report straight away but I was luckily able to handle the injuries with the help of first-aid from our house.

What would you recommend to take with you:
Computer to work on, personal essentials(fav books, pendants), something as a reminder of the home country, family(pictures, typical Czech food, item), a souvenir for a landlord or future roommates. all the necessary documents in case electronic technology disappoints.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a positive way:
The openness, freedom of opinion, and overall freedom of expression. Teachers were not strict at all, sometimes too nice, I would say. The generosity and natural need to help from the local people(students, people at the shop). The size of the campus and the management of events from the university. The support of the school to free-time, non-profit involvement in university clubs. The emphasis on individual development and growth.

What most surprised you at the partner university in a negative way:
Not getting as much information in the courses as I expected. More effortless and more smooth studying than back home(although the language barrier). I do not think the university did enough to incorporate us as exchange students among the local American students. We had ambassadors(university student volunteers) who took care of us, organized events and helped when necessary but I do not think that was the amount of effort from the university(because if it were not for the voluntary willingness of the ambassadors to meet us and show us around we would not have any informal kind of socialization-apart from classes where it is impossible to get closer to the other students).

Further comments:
I am very grateful for this whole rollercoaster experience and the biggest thanks to CZS and my faculty for nominating me and eventually choosing me as the best candidate. The entire experience surely made me a more mature, independent person. Nowadays, I can think in a more understanding and complex way. Meeting and creating friendships with all the other international students from around the world is a priceless experience.
Academically I grew especially in my verbal and written skills, but as well as my debate abilities improved. I learned some interesting slang, informal language phrases due to being in the environment and the people I was surrounded with. The places I had the chance to see and visit, such as fauna and flora unique nature areas for Florida, were incredible and unforgettable.