CzechMates offers study abroad and internship opportunity in central Europe

January 17, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Curiosity about an opportunity that sounded “cool” led Penn State advertising/public relations major Hunter Allgor to commit to a semester-long study abroad opportunity in the Czech Republic this semester — starting in February 2020.

The CzechMates program, conducted at Masaryk University and led by a former Penn State faculty member, provides a combination of classroom work and an integrated semester-long internship that Allgor found appealing.

“One thing that sets it apart is you do an internship, and I think that’s an interesting way to see working outside the U.S. It’s also not a huge touristy city,” Allgor said. “It’s a small town feel with the amenities of a big city.”

Hunter Allgor

Hunter Allgor

IMAGE: Photo Provided

The host city, Brno (population 400,000), puts participants in the heart of central Europe, mere hours by bus/train from Budapest, Bratislava, Krakow, Prague, Vienna and other potential destinations, making it ideally located to have the immersive and travel experience.

Along with the full semester programs offered in spring and fall, summer options also are available.

The summer programs include a three-week, three-credit course titled “Global Perspecitves: Media, Communication, Culture” — which runs from May 19 to June 12 and is taught by C. Michael Elavsky, an award-winning tenured professor who taught at Penn State from 2005 to 2017. He currently lives in the Czech Republic with his family, after initially starting the CzechMates program as an embedded class within the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

Through a culturally immersive learning framework, students in the course explore how globalization — as process, practice and system — intersects evolving conceptions of media, communication and culture as international phenomena. 

Students from all majors are welcome, as the course is designed to link an array of disciplinary perspectives and utilize students’ diverse backgrounds as a means to enhance understanding of the topics in the course. As such, the course is dialogue-driven.

In addition, the CzechMates program offers the ability to complete a summer internship while in the Czech Republic, either as an add-on (recommended) after the course is completed (dates: June 15 to Aug. 14) or as a stand-alone option.  

Allgor has finalized internships with two organizations — working with an NGO focused on a pan-European project related to sustainability, which will culminate with a presentation at a European Union summit in Brussels next May, and part time with another NGO promoting awareness of EU migration issues and supporting efforts to assist refugees in the Czech Republic.

“I’ve always gone into my career plans with a global mindset,” he said. “I’d really like to do something that has a larger impact.”

Students who have completed the program believe the individualized nature of the CzechMates program represents its biggest strength. Faith Gongaware, a junior supply chain and global and international studies major, completed the semester program in 2019.

“I wanted to do something nontraditional,” Gongaware said. “The location is one of the big benefits of it. It’s ridiculously smack dab in the middle of Europe, so it was easy to travel. And the city itself gives you a taste of Czech life, plus it’s very much student-based.”

Information sessions at University Park will present the program’s full offerings at 4 p.m. Jan. 23 in 412 Boucke Building, and at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 in Carnegie Cinema. Interested students only need to attend one of the sessions.

Details about the program may be found online at www.czechmates.org and www.czechmates.org/student-experience. In addition, questions about the program may be directed to Mary Sergeant (mym7@psu.edu), lead adviser in the Bellisario College, or to the CzechMates program directly at info@czechmates.org.

Last Updated January 23, 2020