Kelly Vetter, a senior communications major from Louisville, spent the summer studying at the University of Economics in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of UofL’s Study Abroad program.
When she pursued the study abroad opportunity, Vetter had her sights set on Prague because of its central location in Europe and because she heard great things about the city from people who have been there before. Still, she admits it was well beyond her comfort zone.
“There’s a lot of excitement, but it’s also really nerve-wracking. Culture shock is a real threat and I know a lot of us on my trip felt that in one way or another,” she said. “Luckily, this day in age we have so many ways to communicate, so it’s a lot easier to stay in touch with family and friends who you may be missing. The culture shock eventually went away and by the time I was supposed to go home, it was the last thing I wanted to do.”
Her courses were also a challenge. While they were all taught in English, Vetter’s professors were Czech natives, so there was an adjustment period with getting to know how a college classroom runs in the Czech Republic, she said.
“You really learn a lot being in a new environment. You’re left to fend for yourself in a totally new place and I feel like I matured more,” she said. “Of course I learned a lot in my classes, but I learned to have a new appreciation for things that I don’t necessarily experience at home, like meeting new people, living in a really busy city and constantly traveling.”
While Vetter was “constantly traveling” overseas this summer, she spent a lot of time shooting video to capture her perspective of the city and Europe. The video went onto win the Best Overall prize for AIFS Study Abroad Capture Video Contest.
“Before going to Europe, I made a promise to myself to take a lot of pictures, considering other trips and vacations I’ve been on in the past where I didn’t take enough pictures and really regretted it,” Vetter said. “Once I had been there for about two weeks, I thought of taking videos of things, too.”
Vetter recorded video of “anything I thought was cool” with her iPhone, which added up to about 75 total 5 to 10-second clips of scenes all over Europe. She edited the clips and sent them off to the AIFS photo contest.
“I had honestly forgotten that I entered, and a few weeks later, I got the email,” Vetter said. “It made me think I should take some production classes or try and make a career out of this.”
Vetter doesn’t have definitive post-graduation plans at the moment, though she intends on sticking with marketing or communications. For now, she’s content with reflecting on her summer study abroad trip.
“Everything moves differently in other countries and I loved being able to learn in that new and exciting environment,” she said. “I was also able to meet so many cool people along the way who were studying abroad who have become good friends.”
She now considers Prague to be her favorite city and she intends on visiting again within the next 10 years.
In the meantime, check out Vetter’s award-winning video below: