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Covid Progress in Europe: Things are Looking Better

After a long year and a half, Europe is really turning a corner!  Progress against Covid in Europe is on the rise. It has been very interesting to experience the difference in news reporting here.  I saw a lot of articles in the European/Portuguese press earlier in the year, when it became clear that the EU really messed up with their strategy around placing orders for vaccines, but then the news around vaccines was quiet until information about the projected vaccination rollouts began. Since we are used to a more “editorial” approach to the news, Tom and I were baffled by this. This was exacerbated but the fact that throughout the quiet stage, we were still reading article after article in American news sources about how horrible Europe was doing in the fight against Covid.

Covid progress in Europe I still have not really figured it out, but it seems like a mix of moving on from old news and trust that the government has a duty of care of their citizens. You could find few who disagree with the fact that the EU did not place their orders in a timely manner, however once a plan was in place, it was like the mindset was that there was not a reason to harp on the fact that it was not done earlier.  And many people seem to basically take the government at their word that they would formulate a plan for vaccinations. Perhaps it is easier to believe this given the approach used in most of Europe around accessing health care.

I, however, am a little less trusting so I dug into the numbers back in April.  I found that Portugal, and most of the EU, was basically 2 months behind the US and that our vaccination numbers were progressing accordingly.  The Portuguese news publication I read has a vaccination tracker at the top of the page and each day I see it going up about 1%, and it is starting to move even more quickly.  In fact, as I write this , 18.9% of adults in the EU/EEA are fully vaccinated, and 42.8% have had at least one shot. The EU maintains that the 70% inoculation rate should be achieved by mid-July.

We are seeing this on our lives too. Tom has already received his first vaccine.  Even more notable, my 27-year-old brother who lives in Berlin has his first shot scheduled for next week! I would likely get mine by the end of June, but the kids and I are spending time in North Carolina this summer and will all get vaccinated then.

Going through this experience as a first-year expat has been hard. It is difficult to know which struggles are related to being an expat, which are specific to Portugal, or which are C Covid progress in Europe ovid related. I have decided not to make any judgements about what expat life is like, or what living in Portugal is like, until we have a year of normalcy. Even as a middle-aged woman, I must remind myself to keep this perspective!   But do you know what is incredible? How our first-year students have thrived, despite the circumstances! Check out what just a couple of parents of first year students had to say in our member Facebook group.

Fall of 2021 is looking good for students in Europe. In the Netherlands, for instance, students have access to free rapid tests and can now sign up for classes on campus (with limited capacity of course).   The Dutch government has even insured providers of big events like concerts, festivals and sporting events that will take place between July 1-December 30th and will reimburse 80% of the costs if these events are cancelled due to covid. For a skeptic like me, that makes me feel more confident in the return to normalcy for the fall!  I have planned trips as well for later in the summer and plan to go to Switzerland and Ireland. I am having a great time figuring out all the schools I will visit throughout the next year as well!

To celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel, we have a very special offer this month!  For June only, we are rolling back membership and best fit list prices to pre-covid rates!  The membership option is for new members only (master’s or bachelor’s), and will allow you to lock you in the duration of your membership at the lower rate!  All members can take advantage of our Best Fit pre-Covid rate and pay just $300 to get information about 3-5 programs, handpicked by me, that align with the student’s interests, qualifications, budget, and more!  Knock on wood, we will not live through another pandemic in our lifetimes, so I do not anticipate offering a special like this in the future!  Cheers to a future full of international opportunities!

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Czech Student Life: An American’s Perspective

Czech student life 1 This week we hear from Claire, who is here to talk about Czech student life at one of my favorite schools in Prague!  Get this! International student tuition for her program is just under $500 per year!  For more on why European universities are so much more affordable, check out the podcast episode I did with an American professor at this same university. – Jenn

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My name is Claire, and I am studying Environmental Engineering at Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic. I am currently in my second year having experience with both COVID and non COVID times.

Academic Schedule School days at public universities in the Czech Republic are generally Monday-Thursday with Fridays off or left for extra classes. I have only had Friday classes once, when taking the mandatory sports class during my first year. Classes take place between 8:45am and 6:00pm and are and hour and half long. Usually, each class meets twice a week, once for our lectures and once for our seminars. During my two years, I’ve had five to eight classes a semester, but usually a couple of the classes aren’t work/study intensive. My current schedule of classes (2nd year, 2nd semester) is:

Tuesday: classes from 8:45-5:15

Wednesday: classes from 8:45-10:15

Thursday: classes from 12:15-3:30

Usually one day a week has a full day of classes which is extremely exhausting, but because of the extended weekend days, on school days, I try to keep long study hours to a minimum and find that it is very helpful for my stress. Typically, after classes are done, I will work out, relax, and maybe get together with my friends depending when classes end. COVID has definitely affected my school schedule, as it has everyone, especially studying a STEM subject and having all lab activity closed. However, professors have tried their best to make the classes work as much as possible.

Social Schedule On easier days in our schedules my friends and I may go out for lunch or do something after classes but, we try to get together at least once a week outside of school to just hang out, go out to eat, or nights out. Prague is amazing and has a lot of parks and places around the river Czech student life that people can hang out and outdoor festivals/events so during warmer months a lot of time is spent outside. It’s pretty easy to find different types of foods although Asian (specifically Vietnamize), American, and Czech are most common cuisine, and we have never run into any issues with dietary restrictions because Prague is very vegan/vegetarian friendly. I live in an apartment with roommates which has led to an easier time during COVID lockdowns. One of my roommates and I cook dinner once a week and study together (even though we study different subjects), we started working out together, and just trying to get out of the house.

In terns of Czech student life, I have found that I tend to have more free time than my friends who go to university in the US because of how my school and exam schedule is made. Even though I have 5-8 subjects a week, I have three to four “free days”, so my life isn’t so cramped. Since exams grades are the final grades of classes, usually we don’t get much in the way of homework or test/quizzes which also helps with keeping free time. Compared to my friends in the US, the class difficulty is relatively the same, but can feel harder because I have to self-study more than they do. Overall I find that even with more classes, even at the same level as my US friends, I tend to have more time to study and socialize due to less weekly work.  — Claire