Prague Yale Summer Session Program



  5-week program: Saturday, July 2 – Saturday, August 6, 2011              

YOU are embarking on the most exciting Yale Summer Session: Prague 2011, combined with a two-day orientation trip Dresden, Germany, and a visit of Vienna.  Once you arrive in the Prague Airport (PRAHA LETIŠTĚ RUZYNĚ) on Saturday July 2, your cab driver will take you to your housing JABOK (JBK) in downtown Prague. 

PRAGUE and VIENNA are two of the most picturesque cities in the world, and before you begin this wonderful YSS 2011 Prague journey of learning and absorbing the culture of modern Central Europe, check the breathtaking Prague and Vienna photo galleries below:

Your JBK rooms are the most comfortable, and all you need to bring are your personal things, your laptop and the books needed for the course.  Below are interior photos of JBK:

Program Objectives


  • You retrace Franz Kafka’s Prague Physical and Spiritual outings under the direction of the program guides. 
  • You discover Jewish history in its complexity and marvels.
  • In a seminar-style group, you analyze the greatest works by modern Czech film directors, writers and playwrights. 
  • You are inspired by the writers’ and artists’ insights into human condition and notion of responsibility.  You are provided with an opportunity to meet with some of these artists at informal discussions.   
  • You visit the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary where you watch as many films as you want, and rub the shoulders with famous filmmakers.
  • In the 4-day Filmmaking Practicum (directed by a well-known Czech director, Josef Lustig, Ph.D. FAMU), you make a short film based on your own screenplay.  Your film might be proposed for a submission to Czech film festivals. 
  • You have an opportunity to meet with Tomáš Sedláček, the bestselling author-economist, a former Yale World Fellow, and an advisor to the former Czech President Václav Havel.
  • You are introduced to the works of two Czech cultural giants, internationally prominent: Milan Kundera, the novelist, and Milos Forman, the film director. 
  • You learn basics of Czech, and develop survival conversational, reading and writing skills.  You order food, ask for directions, and invite a Czech for a date in Czech. 
  • You travel across the country and visit the neighboring Germany and Austria.  Everything you see and experience you internalize, and use as a departing point for your understanding and interpretation of cultural differences and diversities.  
  • You see curiosities that you cannot find elsewhere in the world. 
  • You’ll taste the best of what the country has to offer.
  • You’ll return home enlightened, and with memories for a lifetime.  Like many other previous program participants, you might say: “This was my best summer ever.”


  • The grade distribution roughly goes: 25 percent to performance in Czech language, 25 percent to participation in making the film, 25 percent to work in literature/film, and 25 percent to final paper. 
  • In addition to class attendance and participation, you submit five 350-word analytical responses, one at the end of each week.  You write a screenplay (or a short story) in lieu of the midterm paper, and you write an analytical 10-page final paper by the end of the program. 
  • If you complete all requirements for this course, you receive two Yale course credits in the humanities and/or film, not in language proficiency. 
  • If you show exceptional performance in Czech language, you might be able to satisfy requirements to be admitted into L2 or L3 in case you decide to continue with study of Czech during the academic year.  The manual for Czech language instruction is James Naughton’s Colloquial Czech, available in Yale bookstore.

Click here for daily schedule in Prague

Dr. Karen von Kunes, Yale University Senior Lector in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, and Film Studies, is author of Beyond Imaginable: 240 Ways of Looking at Czech, and Czech-English English-Czech Dictionary.  Dr. von Kunes published articles on Czech literature and film (Kundera, Forman and Havel), fiction, and is an author of a screenplay.  She wrote textbooks Czech Step by Step and  Check Your Czech, and her Czech in Nutshell: Learn Everday Czech in 20 Lessons is in progress (to be used in 2011 YSS in Prague).

1. All students, unless holders of US, Canadian, European Union, and Australian passports, must receive an invitation letter from Yale and apply for a Schengen Visa at the Czech Consulate in NYC by April 15. 

2. The currency used in the Czech Republic is Czech Koruna, and the currency in Slovakia and Austria is Euro.  Exchange about $50 at the Prague airport to be able to pay for the taxi (it should cost no more than $25).  Set the price with the driver before getting into the taxi.  The rest of money can be exchanged in center of Prague upon your arrival. 

3. Purchase at Yale bookstore or elsewhere and read these books before the trip:

  • Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
  • Franz Kafka, The Trial
  • Václav Havel, Largo Desolato
  • Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace
  • Bohumil Hrabal, I Served the King of England
  • Milan Kundera, Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Milan Kundera, Ignorance
  • James Naughton, Colloquial Czech (without cassette)
  • Paul Argentini, Elements of Style for Screenwriters
  • The remaining books and learning materials will be available in Prague.

4. All students will be covered under HTH Worldwide Health Insurance for the duration of the study abroad program.  Information about this can be found in your “My CIE” profile.

5. Your friends and relatives are not allowed to participate in the program.  You should plan to meet with your visitors in your free time.

6. No one is allowed to bring overnight guests to the JBK rooms.  The program and JBK access is restricted to the registered participants only. 

7. There are many fitness centers in Prague, and the best is to explore them after your arrival in Prague.

8. You don’t need to have knowledge of Czech language or culture to participate in this program.  If you know some Czech, you will be provided with a tutor to enhance your knowledge. 

9. Dress causally for summer weather.  Mountains regions and caves tend to be cold, so bring one warm outfit (sweat shirt, sweat pants, warm jacket).  Bring one pair of sneakers and another pair of (comfortable shoes).  Warning: It is difficult to walk in too high heel shoes on Prague cobblestone streets). Bring a bathing suit, and one formal outfit (nice dress).  Bring one towel since JBK towels tend to be of small size. 

10. Bring at least two pairs of very comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking. 

11. Washer (and dryer) is available to you in JBK.

12. You must be 18 years of age to participate in this program. 

13. You must let know the program director of your dietary needs, such as vegetarian.

14. You should let know the program director of any significant health issues, such as asthma, seizures, fainting spills, etc.  Bring enough medicine with you to last the entire 5 weeks of the program.  Bring your prescription with you in case you lose your medication. You can contact HTH Worldwide Health insurance for assistance if you lose your medication while abroad.   

15. Bring your laptop (with a built-in automatic current adaptor).  Bring an electrical plug for standard European outlets (available at Radio Shock).  Don’t bring electrical appliances unless they have an adaptor for 220-volt current. 

16. Bring your cell phone if your service is extended in Europe.  You can purchase a cell phone in Prague inexpensively, and resell it at the end of the program. 

17. If you plan to visit other cities and countries, do it before or after the program.  The intensity of the program doesn’t easily allow you to travel independently during the program.

18. All group transportation on the site is by a private air-conditioned bus. 

19. Breakfast and all group meals and program activities are included in the program fees.