Monday, June 30, 2014

Long day of traveling

Kenzi here for our long trip back home! Our last night in Prague seemed to fly by with our group dinner and trying to spend our last few Czech Crowns. 3am came way too fast for us to board the bus. Petr was nice enough to meet early in the morning to guide us from the bus to the airport to make sure we got to the correct place. Prague’s airport was much different than any I have ever seen. It was definitely on a smaller scale and it just had one big area to wait and check in. We arrived plenty early and many of us were ready to hop on the plane when it was finally ready for us. Besides Grant experiencing a fellow passenger passing out and having some sort of medical problem, the first flight seemed to go rather quickly and getting through customs at the Amsterdam airport went smoothly when we landed. Finally, it was time for our nine hour flight back to the United States. I think most of us were dreading that one and it wasn't nearly as exciting as it was on the way to Europe! Delta provided us with many snacks and movies to keep us occupied throughout our bumpy ride. Due to some weather conflicts the pilot seemed to have some trouble finding smooth air and we got to experience quite a bit of turbulence towards the last couple hours of the flight. When we landed half of the plane passengers were cheering, so I think there was some nervous souls during that ride! We finally arrived in Minneapolis around one o’clock, somewhat caught up on sleep we’ve been lacking. The airport security allowed us to cut in front of everybody since we were in a big group. This situation caused quite a bit of anger from some people in line but we tried our best to go with the flow to what we were told to do.
Although this trip was an absolutely amazing experience, it was quite the relief when we landed in Kansas City. Many of us seemed to be ready to sleep in our own beds and see our friends and family at home. I really can’t believe it’s already over! The group has started talking about having a reunion when we get back to Maryville. This just shows how much fun we truly had together and that studying abroad is a great way to bond with new people and students with similar interests as you!

Taking off!

3am loading luggage

Prague airport

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last full day in Prague :(

Abby here blogging on our last full day in Prague/Europe. Our trip is sadly coming to an end…but it has been nothing but exciting and a trip none of us will forget! For our last full day, our guide Peter took us to the Prague Castle. It was absolutely beautiful! We got to go inside multiple buildings that were all used by royalty. 

The first building we went into was the Cathedral of St. Vitus. The Cathedral was built in the mid 1300's during the reign of Charles the 4th. Charles the 4th was very well liked because of his goals of boosting Prague's culture. The Charles Bridge is also named after him. The inside of the Cathedral was amazing. The original decor on the inside of the church was destroyed by protestants, but after the thirty years war, the decorations were restored. Charles the 4th and his four wives, along with the Hapsburg's, are all buried in the church. 

Here is the outside of the Cathedral.

Here is one one of the beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral.

Another well known name buried in the church is St. John. St. John's casket is pure sterling silver, extremely detailed, and very prestige. St. John is buried in the Cathedral because of his honorable bravery. 

Here is St. John's casket.

Along with Charles, the Hapsburg's, and St. John, is the tomb of St. Wenceslas (929). The room his tomb is in, was designed around the tomb itself. This room is very prestige also because of it's beautiful decorations such as a beautiful chandelier and gems in the walls. Inside this tomb room is a small door in the corner. Behind the door is where the Czech jewels are stored. They are stored so they do not experience damage from sunlight, humidity, etc. An interesting fact is that in order to open the door, there are seven locks, each with a different key. And each key belongs to a different person. So in order for this door to be unlocked, all seven key holders need to be present.

Here is the tomb of St. Wenceslas.

The next large building we went inside was the old royal palace. The palace experienced a fire in 1451, which destroyed the original decoration. Inside the palace is what is known as the biggest vaulted hall in Europe. Inside this vaulted hall, the king would meet with his important guests, and this room is also still used in the present when a new Czech president is elected. 

Here is the biggest vaulted hall.

Another building we went inside was the St. George basilica. The basilica is one of the oldest churches in this region, built in the early 900s. The inside is Romanesque style, which is an indicator that it came before the gothic styled cathedral. This basilica is made completely out of stone, and is historically important because it represents the beginning of the Czech kingdom.

While we were in the vicinity of the castle, we got to go down Golden Lane and also down into a jail/torture chamber. It was a very informational and educational day! 

Tonight we conclude our European adventures with a farewell dinner with Peter, and head for the airport at 3:30 A.M. Sad for this trip to be coming to an end, but so glad we got to have this experience!

Beautiful view of Prague from the castle!

Team Wanderlust

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Day 13


Shelby coming at you with today's activities. WE HAD A FREE DAY! Our business visits are all finished, so today we had a day to ourselves. We haven't been able to sleep in that much, so today was refreshing to catch up on some sleep. Around eleven, we took to the streets! I remembered that I had brought a sharpie on this trip, so a few of us decided to make our mark on the John Lennon Wall. Below is a picture of me! I wrote my name and one of my favorite song lyrics by Kenny Chesney: "Never wanted nothing more." And it's true, I don't need anything more but this beautiful city!

After writing on the wall, we had a nice lunch near the Charles Bridge. We were all craving some spaghetti and the cafe had a great dish! Next, we browsed the shops on the bridge. A few of them were very pricy, so we just looked. After that, me and Abby went paddle boating! Although it was tiring at times, it was worth it. The views were spectacular and the weather could not have been more perfect. The water was a little crowded and we actually got honked at twice! It was a great little ride and very reasonably priced! Here is a picture of Abby on the boat.

We were pretty tired after the ride, so we sat at a nearby cafe along the river. The view was like a postcard. Even as you are looking at it, you think "is this real?". It is the most amazing city that I have ever been to and it will carry some of the most amazing memories.

Tomorrow we will meet up with our guide, Petr. We are going to visit the famous Prague Castle. We have heard so many amazing things about it such as the Gothic Church and many other buildings inside. It should be an amazing final day. I am so sad to leave but am so thankful to have had this opportunity. These two short weeks flew by and I am so happy I got to experience this. After all, not many people can say the same. I hope to come back someday and visit other fantastic European countries. This was only the beginning to my book of travels!

Until next time…

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 12

Today we went to Hewlett-Packard and the Prague College. HP was interesting because she spoke about their hiring and training process. They focus more on individual people and their skills. The interview process is an assessment test where each individual has a task. By doing these tasks it identifies each person's skills and then human resource decides if they are selected for the next interview. HP is present in over 170 countries with 324,000 employees. They spoke about a new style of IT which involves printers and personal systems, converged infrastructure, and HP software.

HP's training involves each new employee getting a mentor to show them around. This is called the Young Guns program. Then after about 6 month period the new employees could decide if they wanted to continue working or find something else. They are very focused on new graduates and really appreciate them and try to find the perfect career for them. They also mentioned a new program they're implementing at the Czech location. It involves the younger employees mentoring older employees about the new IT systems. It is very new and they have a few problems but
 they are excited for the outcome.

The Prague College has 600 students with a business, IT networking, and arts program. They seem very student focused and about 80% of students are placed with a job or continue their education. After the presentation, we broke into groups and each group spoke with a professor. Our professor was from the UK and he spoke about the cultural differences in Czech and UK. He said that Czech is still very socialist and more introverted. We all noticed how customer service was definitely not like America. He also agreed, and said he goes to Germany just to grocery shop because they are nice. He also said Hard Rock CafĂ© and TGIF's is his favorite restaurants because of the cultural atmosphere the restaurants offer.

After that a large group of us went down into the neighborhood around the college which was a little bit more developed than the other parts of the city like the Old Town that we were used to seeing.  The wait-staff at the restaurant we went to was more friendly and accommodating than most of the other places we went to.  We were so used to waiters being short with us and not friendly, but I feel that's because the area we were in wasn't so heavily trafficked with tourists so it may be that their tolerances for tourists and people are a lot higher than that of a waiter who only serves tourists.  Tomorrow is our free day off so we get the who day to do whatever we want.  About time!  I'm going with a group of people to the highest point in Prague that leads to a tower which was recommended to us by our tour guide Petr.  We're also going to the gardens and the Parliament building.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 11

Kenzi here for day 11!
Today was a somewhat relaxing morning, because our first business visit wasn't until 10:00 AND the speaker came to us at the hotel! We rented out a meeting room and listened to the Johnson and Johnson presentation so no traveling was involved and my feet were really thankful for that! We know Johnson and Johnson for their baby lotion and other products, but we found out today that they do much more than that. They have been  operating for 127 years worldwide and they have 11 different devices that they use for surgeries or other procedures. Doctors also don't make nearly as much as we do in the United States and often work overtime.
After Johnson and Johnson, we got a few hours for lunch which many people used to walk around the city and enjoy the close proximity of Prague.
Then we went to Cisco, an IT Company. The presenters explained that there are going to be many advancements in the next few years. For example, light fixtures will be connected to the network and controlled by apps on phones or tablets, and you will also be able to change the color of the light in the room because they'll be LED's. Cisco now has 940 Ethernet ports it won't be long before they reach 5,000. This company is now number one in the market, this fact surprised me because I had never heard of Cisco before.
After our visits we went out to a local pub as a group to watch the US vs. Germany soccer game and eat dinner. It was a great atmosphere and it was fun to get the full "football" experience in Europe while cheering on our own team! Even though the outcome wasn't what we had hoped, we all had a lot of fun!

Cisco Lab                  

USA soccer game!

Local synagogue on the way to Cisco!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 10!

Abby here!

Day 9 in Europe also marks our 2nd day in Prague. It was a little rainy and chilly today, but we had two business visits to keep us inside and dry.

Our day began with a visit to T-Mobile, where we had two speakers. One was a public relations representative, then we were honored to listen to the Czech T-Mobile CEO. The first speaker began with a lot of background information on T-Mobile.

T-Mobile was established in 1996 as a telecommunications company through Deutsche Telekom Group. As of now, T-Mobile has 5.8 million customers, which is over 50% of the Czech Republic's population. Also, the company employees 3,300. T-Mobile has been a fairly rapid growing business. When they were first established in 1996, by 2000, they had reached 1 million customers. By 2006, 6 million customers. As of now, T-Mobile has 99.3% coverage in the Czech area, making them the best network since 2011.

Deustche Telekom Group operates in 50 countries, with a net revenue recorded in 2012 of 60.1 billion EUR. In the end of 2013, Deustche Telecom had 142.5 million customers. But one thing I picked up, especially from the CEO, is that T-Mobile and Deustche Telecom are heavily regulated by the EU, and that causes a lot of disagreeing.

The CEO was Milan Vasina, and he discussed with us his job as a CEO and being a leader in a challenging time. He presented to us steps in being a successful CEO/businessman and those are to…
1. Listen
2. Be able to change and provide the vision
3. Provide a clear strategy and take action
4. Involve others and increase power
5. Communicate
6. Celebrate and boost confidence in success
7. Change corporate culture
8. Self development

Milan also shared with us T-Mobile's strategy which is to be the first choice in communications. With that it includes…
1. Best data network
2. Best customer experience
3. Innovative
4. Growt in business

Overall, the T-Mobile visit was very informational and interesting. Being able to hear directly from the CEO was very cool. Here is a picture of the outside of the T-Mobile building, and also a picture of Milan speaking to our group.

After a lunch break, our next visit was at AVAST! Software where our speaker was Milos Korenoko. AVAST is a free antivirus company with a very long history that has brought them to where they are today. Beginning back in 1960's, AVAST  has become a very successful business. AVAST became Window's computer friendly in 1995, in 2001 was launched, and by 2004 had 1 million users! Thanks to the help of their product being marketed by SanDisk.

But SanDisk has really been AVAST's only true marketing help. Since then, AVAST has not paid for ANY marketing at all. Which is astounding to me! Considering how many users they have for their product. A quote Milos used was: "Find out what she wants…and give it to her," to describe their marketing plan. They find out what the people need, make it, and let it take its course.

Overall, AVAST is the most installed antivirus in the world with over 1 million users in 41 countries, with it reaching to 234 countries. AVAST gets over a billion downloads weekly, just to put into perspective how the company is literally exploding out of the seams!

Milos, when we got there, had already done some previous Facebook stalking to find out a little more about us, so the picture I am posting is of when he put our picture into his powerpoint!

Today, we were given a lot of information and got to see two very different businesses. One that spends millions on advertising (T-Mobile), and one that tries not to spend a penny (AVAST). That wasn't the only difference in the two companies, but the one that stuck out the most to me. Even when we got to T-Mobile, they had notebooks, pens, and goodies with their logo all over them on our chairs waiting for us. AVAST did nothing of the sort. So seeing two different marketing styles was very interesting!

Overall another great day in Europe!

Team Wanderlust

Tuesday, June 24, 2014



It's Shelby reporting from the wonderful capital city of Prague in the Czech Republic! Today was a long day of travel, as we left Vienna at 8 o'clock sharp. We then traveled by train for five hours to Prague. The train even had some water leakage which made for a very wet floor. Let's just say we were happy to be off of there! As we arrived in Prague, we met our new tour guide, Petr. We then got settled into our rooms and then we were off to see the city of Prague! Prague is all original architecture and was the only city out of the capital cities that did not get bombed during World War 2. It is a purely Czech city, because Prague lost its diversity after the war. Before the war, there were about 45,000 Jews, but now there is only about 1500 today. There are only three train lines throughout the city, which is much different than Budapest and Vienna. It is a much smaller city, and Petr said we would definitely be walking a lot.

One of the buildings that we saw today was the Parliament building. This was a very beautiful building and is pictured below. It is the upper chamber parliament building and is also open to the public on Saturday's and Sunday's. It has the most beautiful interior of the 1600s. The lower chamber is also pictured below with the crest. These were located right up the hill from each other.


Another one of our favorite spots today was the John Lennon wall. John Lennon was shot and killed in 1980, and an individual painted his face on the wall. The communists would keep painting over it but people kept painting the wall over and over again. They would also play his music. The communists boarded it up but the boards were finally removed in 1989. It serves as a inspirational wall now! This was one of my favorite quotes I found.


My personal favorite spot was at the Charles Bridge. This bridge was built in 1357 and is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. For our online class, I looked up a lot of information about this bridge and I could not wait to see it! It definitely did not disappoint. Its views were incredible and it was a wonderful sight to see. I can't wait to go back on it this week! Here are two pictures. 

Well, (half) day of Prague is complete! I am already in love with the city and cannot wait to see more of it. I already know it is my favorite city of all three, and I am so excited to see more of what Praha has to offer!!