Taylor Barnard

Major: Event management
Class: Sophomore
Timeframe: May 7th, 2018 - May 21st, 2018
Type of Experience: Faculty-Led Program
Destination: Czech Republic

Overall Experience

My experience while in the Czech Republic was one I will never forget! Not only did I get to learn more about the country’s history, the country’s people, and the culture; I also met great new friends who I get to learn more about my future career with when we return to Iowa State University this fall. I loved being a part of this amazing program, sharing the experience with other Iowa State students, and finding out more about myself along the way.

Learning experience

One of the most valuable learning experiences I am taking away from my time in the Czech Republic is how different Czech Republic Event Management is from American Event Management. In America, events typically have signage posted everywhere, a clear path to and from the event, and a multitude of available parking. In the Czech Republic, events are done in a different manner. While visiting some of the locate festivals and events, we found that it was taking us forever to locate the actual events. Once we found them, we realized it was because there were little to no signs altering passersby of the festivities. In addition to little to no signage, since outdoor spaces are utilized heavily, a foreigner is easily confused without a clear path. Due to the fact that walking and public transportation are encouraged more than owning individual vehicles, events need to be placed closer to walkways and tram/metro exits. My trip abroad helped me gain a better understanding of the professional world I will be entering into soon!

Memorable experience

The most memorable experience I took part in while in the Czech Republic was our weekend in Moravia. While exploring the wine country, we were encouraged to tour small historic towns filled with hundred year old architecture and sculptures. Along with these great sights, we were treated to one of the most amazing meals I have ever had, beautiful music, dance lessons, and a stay in the winery in which we got to sample true Czech Wine. Though I would have been delighted with these experiences alone, our tour guide and Mrs. McClain organized a tour of a grouping of caves in Moravia. The caves were filled with beautiful formations as far as the eye could see and in the middle of the tour we found ourselves in a gorge in which the beauty could not be put into words or photographs.

What did you not expect?

One aspect of my time spent abroad that surprised me was much the people of the Czech Republic value sustainability. It turns out, the Czech Republic is one of the greenest countries in the world! You can tell by their sorted collection bins, glass instead of aluminum bottles, electricity run metros, and the people’s ability to walk multiple miles a day instead of driving a vehicle. Not only did this show me how American cities can improve but it also improved my professional understanding of more of the world’s opinion on sustainability. I know now that as I begin to practice with my Event Management degree, this will be another key item on my list of necessities.

What advice would you give?

Take the chance because it is worth it! Go down a street you’ve never ventured down, try the dish you can’t begin to pronounce, try out the language (they will just smile when you mess up), take part in their cultural events, visit a museum to see how their treasured pieces differ from ours, and see how your personal interests are translated across cultures. You won’t regret it.

How has this experience impacted your life?

My experience in the Czech Republic has solidified my love of people. Thanks to our tour guides, helpers, and all of the other citizens we interacted with, we were able to interact with a variety of people who all enjoyed different parts of Czech Republic culture. Some preferred the Festivals over the Museums and others loved Czech food for every meal while others ate it periodically. It was great from an Event Management point of view because it showed me how many places and events I could work with to appeal to a variety of people if I chose to move abroad to work after completing my degree. Though everyone I met while studying abroad had their different interests, a part of the citizens will travel back to the United States with me as I continue to look back on their shared love for their country that it made it almost impossible to leave.

How did you learn about this experience?

I first learned about the opportunity to study abroad in the Czech Republic in one of my classes. The professor who taught my class, Mrs. Rita McClain, was ecstatic about being able to offer the trip to the students in our department and being able to be the adult on our trip!

International Connections