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Name:Monica Langer Photo

Monica Langer

Class Year:

2018

Hometown:

Scarsdale, NY

Global Study Semester:

Spring 2017

Program:

SIT: Arts and Social Change
Prague, Czech Republic

Major/Minor:

IDS: Human Learning

Activities on Campus:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Gettysburg College Hillel

My Story from Global Study:

Throughout my study abroad experience, I learned about Prague from several different perspectives. Upon first arriving in Prague, I viewed the city from the perspective of a tourist.  Unfortunately in the winter time, it is very cold and usually foggy.  During my first several weeks in the city, the first impression I had was that “wow.” It was the quietest city I had ever been to.  The other major difference from American cities or even other cities in Western Europe is that nobody smiles on the streets or on the public transportation system! What is this? In the beginning, I was reluctant to explore this very different foreign city alone for fear of getting lost. I thought Prague was extremely beautiful, but I was disoriented by the culture and did not see its pure beauty yet. After being abroad for about a month and a half, I finally started getting used to the public transportation system and was able to get to a few key places from where I lived. Prague is such a beautiful city, and I started to look at it differently once I became more comfortable.

My study abroad program not only reminded me of my appreciation for creative thinking and the arts, but my identity as a Jew. My involvement in Hillel at Gettysburg, and living in Hillel house for the past two years also strengthened my feelings of Jewish identity. Even though I went to Hebrew School for several years in elementary school and middle school, and learned about the Holocaust in high school, I could never really comprehend the unspeakable events that occurred. During this program, we studied Czech History, and focused primarily on the history of Czechoslovakia, and what it was like to live under the communist regime up until the Velvet Revolution. The Communist leadership was very anti-Semitic, and during the class, we touched upon WWII and the Jewish population in Prague. When my family visited me in Prague, we toured the Jewish Ghetto. As part of my program, we went on an excursion to Poland, where we had the opportunity to visit the Jewish Ghetto in Krakow. The murals were some of the most beautiful Jewish artwork I have ever seen in my life. Just learning about my own history and learning what my ancestors had gone through during the Holocaust was mind boggling.

My Advice for Future Students:

Going into this study abroad program, I had two goals in mind: 1) to experience beautiful Prague and 2) to conduct an independent research project on the special education system, which would fit well in my Gettysburg major. Little did I know, this program gave me the opportunity to participate in art projects and art-based research. My advice for people who are going to study abroad is to keep an open mind. You might take classes or have experiential learning opportunities that are completely out of your comfort zone. You will be disoriented initially as you get used to a completely different culture. If you can, live with a host family! That was one of the major highlights of my experience. Not only will you learn more about another culture, but you’ll gain a second family.